I Didn’t Mean To Do It. It Is A Disease!

October 24, 2008

Charles O’Byrne is the top aide to New York Governor David A. Paterson.  He is being forced to resign because he didn’t file his income taxes between 2001 and 2005.  His defence?  According to his lawyer, Richard Kestenbaum, Mr O’Byrne suffered from “late filing syndrome“.  No, I’m serious.

They even have an “academic” tome to support them. In 1994, an article titled ” ‘Failure to File’ Syndrome: Legal and Medical Perspectives,” was published in the New York Law Journal by Eliott Silverman, a lawyer, and Dr. Stephen J. Coleman, a practicing psychiatrist.

“These people are not evading their taxes for personal gain,” the authors conclude. “Rather, they are suffering from a psychological condition that makes them unable to function normally.” In an interview, Dr. Coleman acknowledged that the affliction had not been recognized as an official syndrome, but he said he had treated 25 to 30 patients for it over the years. Most of them were lawyers, he said, including tax lawyers. “It really is a subset of obsessive compulsive disorder with people who have serious procrastination,” Dr. Coleman said. “You still see it. I think it is still quite valid today in a subset of people who are well-educated and know better, but put off dealing with their personal business.”

Money can’t buy you love, they say.  But it can sure buy you some fancy justifications.

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