Insanity, or non compos mentis, meaning “not of sound mind,” has been an acceptable plea since the M’Naghten Rule of 1843, so we needn’t go into it beyond listing several legal precedents: “I’m crazy for trying” (Willie Nelson, 1961); “I’m going off the rails on a crazy train” (Ozzie Osbourne, 1980); and “I remember, I remember when I lost my mind” (Gnarls Barkley, 2006). None of these people is currently incarcerated, suggesting binding precedent applies.
Lethargy, or complanata torporem, meaning “flattened by torpor.” Use this defense when you’re desperately late out the door because it’s a cold winter morning and you made the mistake of finishing your coffee near the woodburning stove, whose radiant heat caused you to slip into a prone position and be rendered nearly unconscious. No person who unwittingly enters into such circumstances may be found legally responsible for missing an 8 AM dentist appointment in February.
Allowing Insufficient Time, or satis temporis permittens, the condition of knowing perfectly well that a meeting is 40 minutes away, 50 when traffic is heavy and you get stopped by all the lights (desunt omnia lumina), but you just forgot, the way you forgot the papers you were supposed to sign and also, was that meeting today? Prosecutors will threaten and wave their hands around, but that a person can’t remember everything is settled law, so relax.
Phone Maintenance Memory Lapse or telephonum sustentationem memoria lapsu, the tendency to forget to note appointments in one’s cell phone and then failing to show up, is common. We love devices that remind us of our obligations, but until a phone can record appointments independent of the device’s owner, telephonum sustentationem memoria lapsu will trouble the waters of our daily existence. Fortunately, prison sentences for electronic forgetfulness are as rare as being thrown into debtors’ prison. Pleading the legal equivalent of “my bad” will almost always get you off.
Choosing the Easy Way, or eligens facilem viam, is widely condemned. “Never choose the easy path“ posters are staples in classrooms everywhere. Taking the easy way isn’t a crime, but an individual who travels the shortest distance between two points (paritaria prosa) instead of walking to the corner and waiting for the traffic light may be issued a court summons. Take heart. An alert defense will establish that eligens facilem viam is both wise and efficient by citing the motion study work of Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, which revolutionized American industry. Have confidence in our legal system, but remember: minor violations are not cheaper by the dozen.
Understandable Deliberate Indolence, or comprehensibilis deliberata inertia, takes many forms: Reading instead of vacuuming, playing Wordle instead of showering, snoozing by the stove instead of going to the dentist, and singing along to “Killer Queen” instead of putting your rescheduled dentist appointment into your damn phone, to list just a few. Understandable Deliberate Indolence was established as a valid legal plea in 1928, when a scientist named Alexander Fleming went on vacation, leaving a laboratory sink piled with dirty petri dishes. When he returned, the dishes were moldy. Fleming’s comprehensibilis deliberata inertia resulted in penicillin.
We rest our case. We rest all our cases. Now leave us alone.