"It amounts to pretending that something distressing doesn't exist, otherwise called denial," said Paul S. Appelbaum, a psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry, medicine and law at Columbia University in New York City. "At some level, most people will register that the summons to appear in court is for them, but it's what the mind does with that information that's important."
Another factor that can create a no-show mindset is how much they once got away with, he said. "People who are talented, smart or athletically gifted are often allowed to avoid unpleasant realities," said Appelbaum, noting it might be something as simple as being excused from chores because you're in a school play.
Jim Cohen, a professor of criminal law at Fordham Law School in New York City whose expertise is psychology and criminal law, said, "Once you feel entitled, it's very hard to think of yourself as unentitled, even if you're not in demand or fielding phone calls. People who consider themselves entitled are not happy being told what to do." (Neither Appelbaum nor Cohen have a personal connection to the Quaids.)
The couple wasn't always so troubled. Randy Quaid, 60, was once considered a talented actor, well-known for his roles in the "National Lampoon" series of comedies as well as "Independence Day" and "Brokeback Mountain," for which he earned an Oscar nomination.
Evi Quaid, 47, a photographer and filmmaker, married Randy Quaid in 1989.
The Quaids are the latest members of Hollywood to come up with a bizarre explanation for unlawful behavior.
Actor Jeremy London claimed in June that he was kidnapped, held at gunpoint and forced to smoke marijuana.
When his family said his story was indicative of his substance abuse issues, London slapped them with cease-and-desist orders and released a video statement to RadarOnline.com in which he declared, "They told a bunch of lies saying this never happened. I haven't even seen them in six months. They have no idea what's going on."
ABC News' Sarah Netter, Coeli Carr and the Associated Press contributed to this story.