By LARRY WOODY
It could be called the Sleepyhead Defense.
An airplane passenger goes bonkers, pitches a fit and has to be restrained, yet afterwards was found not guilty by reason of insomnia.
His attorney claimed that lack of sleep prompted the erratic behavior.
It could set a dreamy precedent for defense lawyers and become a nightmare for prosecutors.
It's easy to see where it could lead to:
Defense attorney: "Your Honor, my client hadn't enjoyed a good night's rest in days, which clearly explains why he robbed the neighborhood Quickie-Mart, mugged two little old ladies, hijacked an airliner and kidnapped the Lindbergh baby."
Judge: "Case dismissed. And I advise your client to get some shuteye."
Or a burglar pleads his case: "There I was, peacefully snoring away, when the neighbor's mutt started barking sometime around midnight and woke me up. Unable to go back to sleep, I got up, got dressed and - still drowsy - went next door and burglarized his house."
Tossing & turning leads to breaking & entering.
Welcome to Good-Night Court.
Imagine one of those lurid tabloid headlines: "Cops on Lookout for Sleepwalker Slasher."
Or: "Sleepy the Dwarf Mugs Six Co-Workers."
There was a time when going without sleep merely made you grouchy. Now apparently it can make you a felon.
The FBI's 10 Most Wanted List could be sponsored by No-Doze. (Motto: Don't get caught napping.)
Or a new national crime-prevention slogan: "Be a Snoozer, Not a Loser."
Or: "No Rest Can Mean Arrest."
Could we have stumbled onto the solution to the nation's soaring crime rate: a glass of warm milk before bedtime?
Remember when one way to fall asleep was to count sheep? Now, if one's missing we know where to look.
Frankly, I'm a tad suspicious about the latest excuse for criminal behavior. I suspect that if defense attorneys use the beddy-bye alibi too much they -- and their dozing desperadoes - are in for a rude awakening.
Then again, who knows? When all else fails, a sleep-deprived criminal can hire himself a shrewd Lullaby Lawyer and perhaps beat the rap.
What'll it be -- 40 winks or 40 years? "I'll take the 40 winks, Your Honor."
How about a new verse to an old song: "Mister Sandman, bring me reprieve."