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It’s now official: The “Shaggy defense” is a term of art

When Danville U.S. District Judge Jackson Kiser rules that the “Shaggy defense” won’t fly in a summary judgment motion, we can safely assume the term is now ensconced in the annals of legal terminology.

For those whose musical tastes don’t include R&B, the “Shaggy defense” refers to a 2000 hit by reggae star Shaggy (Jamaica native and U.S. Marine) who counseled a wayward lover to deny everything with the phrase “It wasn’t me,” despite all evidence to the contrary. The term is helpfully explained in footnote 3 in Kiser’s opinion in the case of Preston v. Morton. Kiser notes the term “Shaggy defense” gained popularity when used to describe another musician’s defense in a criminal case.

In the civil case before Kiser, Preston claimed he was working on traffic signals in a bucket truck and was injured when his bucket was hit by a passing tractor trailer driven by Morton. Morton’s main defense was, you guessed it – “It wasn’t me.” Kiser said the issue of whether Morton was the driver in question was a disputed material fact, holding “the so-called ‘Shaggy defense’ is inappropriate for summary judgment.”

We’ll look for the “Shaggy defense” in the next edition of Black’s.

By Peter Vieth

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