Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Did Jerry Garcia's Drug-Induced Haze Compromise His Contractual Capacity?

Our textbooks still include voluntary intoxication as a basis for proving lack of contractual  capacity. However, I haven't seen an illustrative successful case based on the theory in the last several decades. The case featured below acts as a provocative entry point to presentation of the doctrine in class. 

The late Jerry Garcia of Grateful Dead fame apparently divorced second wife, Mountain Girl Garcia, in 1994.  There was a settlement agreement. Details are a bit unclear about the nature of the contract and the role of the court in judicially approving a settlement agreement. In any event, after Garcia's death, wife #3 sought to invalidate the contract.  According to the news report below, the principal legal argument was that Garcia was in a drug-induced haze when he was presented with the contract.  In the video, the lawyer for the estate argues:

“This man consumed, ingested, Persian heroin, cocaine, LSD, things I can’t even think of or remember – and more than anything else, it made him say, ‘The hell with it.’”
I'm pretty sure that argument does not meet the legal standard for voiding a contract. That sounds more like an argument that in his condition, "he didn't care" than "he couldn't comprehend."

Apparently, the hazy condition was contagious.  Bandmate Phil Lesch explaining during his testimony that he was sketchy on the details offered, “The last thirty years are one big smoky haze.”

How did the case come out?  You have to come to class to find out! (Or, watch the video, below.)

Classic Dead:

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