Columnists

HomeColumnists ( October 13, 2021 )

Letter of the Law

By Jason J. Legg

Erik Scharritter and his wife, Terra, were separated and Terra had obtained a protective order against Erik. The protective order prohibited Erik from coming within 100 yards of Terra's residence – the same residence where the parties' resided together as husband and wife. Erik made extra money mowing lawns. While the parties lived together, Erik cut the next-door neighbor's lawn. After their protective order was entered, the question arose whether Erik could still cut the neighbor's lawn without as the lawn was within 100 yards of Terra's residence.

Erik contacted his attorney to seek some guidance and was provided a legal opinion that he could mow the neighbor's yard without such conduct being considered a violation of the protective order. Erik took his truck and trailer over to the neighbor's residence and cut the lawn. After he had finished, Erik was sitting in his truck talking to the neighbor when Terra pulled into her driveway.

Terra immediately recognized Erik's truck and trailer – and Erik's trailer was partially blocking her driveway but not to the extent that she could not get by the trailer. Terra also saw Erik talking to the neighbor as she pulled into the driveway. Erik never looked in her direction, never said anything to her, never attempted to talk to her and never initiated any kind of contact whatsoever. Terra parked her car, ran into her house and called the police.

Before the police arrived, Erik had finished his conversation with the neighbor and left. When the police arrived, they verified that the neighbor's grass had been cut, that Erik had cut it, that Erik was present, that Erik parked his truck on the public street about 30 yards from Terra's residence, and that Erik had talked with a neighbor after completing the lawn work. The police charged Erik with violating the protective order based upon Erik being within 100 yards of Terra's residence.

At the hearing, the parties stipulated that Erik had been told by his attorney that he could mow the neighbor's yard and it would not be a violation of the protective order. After hearing the evidence, the court found Erik guilty of an indirect criminal contempt for violating the protective order and, as a sanction, extended the protective order for an additional year. Erik filed an appeal.

On appeal, Erik argued that he could not been guilty of a criminal contempt because he was not motivated by a willful intent to violate the protective order. In support of this argument, Erik focused on the undisputed evidence that his attorney told him that he could mow the neighbor's yard without violating the protective order. In other words, Erik was seeking to comply with the order, sought legal advice, and was told that his acts would not constitute a violation. Thus, Erik contended that he should not have been found guilty of contemptuous conduct.

The Superior Court noted that the protective order clearly stated that Erik could not be within 100 yards of Terra's residence. There was no ambiguity or uncertainty as to that prohibition. While Erik had sought out legal advice prior to performing the lawn work, the Superior Court noted that when reviewing a conviction on appeal, the law requires the facts to be considered in a light most favorable to the verdict winner. When consider in this light, the Superior Court noted that Erik's solicitation of legal advice could be viewed as a "premeditated, bad faith attempt . . . to insulate himself from the legal repercussions of appearing within 100 yards of [Terra's] home and violating the PFA order." In dismissing the significance of Erik's reliance on his counsel's legal advice, the Superior Court concluded: "However, even if an attorney's advice could, potentially, negate a finding of wrongful intent, it does not do so here. Certainly, [Erik] does not contest the fact that he was aware of the 100-yard stay-away provision and [Erik's] attorney never advised [Erik] that he could park his vehicle in front of [Terra's] home – let alone that [Erik] could block half of her driveway with his vehicle. . . [Erik] did not leave the area immediately after cutting the grass. Rather, he stayed and talked to [Terra's] next door neighbor, which led to [Terra] entering her house and calling the police." For these reasons, the Superior Court affirmed Erik's conviction.

Erik's attorney is likely grateful to the Superior Court for providing some cover for the bad legal advice. If Erik had parked his truck far from Terra's residence, quietly mowed the lawn and left immediately after mowing the lawn, would the bad legal advice then be a valid defense? There is no good answer to that question. The only thing we know is that Erik was prohibited from being within 100 yards of Terra's home – he should have let someone else mow the neighbor's yard.

Back to Top

How To Take Pills©

By Dr. Ron Gasbarro

Why we will eat anything to lose weight

SueEllen is one of the pharmacist's patients. For years, she has been trying to lose weight. She never really succeeds. She falls into the category of those who want to lose a lot of weight very quickly. It's a plan that sabotages one's efforts and usually results in unwanted weight gain. But – God love her – she does try. And sometimes, in so doing, she endangers her own health.

"Where can I find the cotton balls?" SueEllen asked the pharmacist. After he told her where they were, she asked, "Ever hear of the cotton ball diet?" She explained to the pharmacist that in this diet, one dips up to five cotton balls into a smoothie, fruit juice, or liquid gelatin. Then, one swallows the cotton balls. "It gets rid of those hunger pangs, and you feel like you're full," she told the pharmacist. "That one European supermodel uses this diet, and boy, is she skinny!"

Talk about a toxic diet, thought the pharmacist. And this smooth-sounding cotton ball diet has some rough edges. First, humans cannot digest cotton. Hence, it will accumulate in the GI tract as a hard, painful mass that must be surgically removed. Also, cotton balls are not plucked from the cotton plant. Instead, the cotton is processed using various chemicals, including dioxin. Dioxin damages the immune and reproductive systems, mucks up hormones, and can lead to various cancers, including lung. "So, no, SueEllen," the pharmacist said. "The risks outweigh the benefits."

Fad diets, like the cotton ball diet, are really eating disorders. An eating disorder is a psychiatric condition, such as anorexia, in which one adopts destructive eating behaviors at the expense of one's physical and mental health. So why do we fall for fad diets? Mostly, we want to drop a ton of weight at warp speed. This is physiologically improbable, but it is everyone's fantasy.

What other fad diets have popped up in the media and embraced by the gullible masses? The Twinkie diet was started almost 100 years ago by a bakery manager. His diet consisted of only eating Twinkies (And no milk to dunk them in! Brutal!). Since they were 150 calories each, one could eat 10 of them a day and lose weight. Although after 3 or 4 days, one would tire of eating only the sugary snack cake and plunge face-first into a vat of fettuccine alfredo.

Let's dip south of the border. The Mexican diet tongue patch is a piece of mesh that is stitched right on the tongue. Ouch! One keeps it on for 6 weeks. The mesh makes it unbelievably painful to eat solid foods. Dieters are restricted to a daily liquid diet of 800 calories (Someone pass me the tequila!). But the inventor of this sadistic device says it is not about the pain. After the patch is snipped out, patients remember the discomfort and would be more on guard as to what they put in their mouths. Even though counseling is advised following mesh removal, there are no available data showing how many continued to recall the pain as an aversion to pigging out. ¡Ay, caramba!

People on fad diets will see a quick weight loss, but it is mostly water and muscle mass that they are dumping – not body fat. "Lose no more than 2 pounds a week," urge diet experts. Gradual weight loss stays off. In an expose by the US News & World Report, the popular ketogenic (keto) diet was ranked one of the worst out of 35 diets. It only provides short-term weight loss coupled with an earlier death from heart disease and various cancers. Loading up on red and processed meats and saturated fat while restricting carbohydrate-rich vegetables, fruits, and whole grains is a ticket to bad health. For people like SueEllen, roller coaster bodyweight experiences are not good for her heart, her immune system, or her overall health. Relax SueEllen! Have a nutritious sandwich and think it through like an intelligent person. And never put cotton balls in your mouth again.

Ron Gasbarro, PharmD, is a recovering pharmacist and writer-in-residence at Rx-Press.

Back to Top

Don't Settle for Local

By Valerie Senese

When the Shop Local mantra began to emerge, there was a hushed murmuring that felt like community hypocrisy. "But I don't like to shop local", a common thought process that can often times be difficult to articulate, and if it's not communicated healthfully it cannot pave the way to remediation and future success. Common grievances are: brand of featured products, business atmosphere, parking structure, assumption of poor quality, variety, etc. When these complaints don't come to the surface, the businesses miss the opportunity to change, or to share what they do provide as opposed to their giant counterparts.

Local relationships don't grow because there is a divide between shopper and owner. The perks and benefits of shopping local can be: less stress, knowing your name, seeing the people you support, having a waitress who knows how you like your coffee before you even ask, the local baker knows you have a food allergy and tries new recipes, the ability to have input of stocked items, the local grocer who made sure you had what you needed in the height of a pandemic, the ice cream parlor who tailors your ice cream sundae to perfection, the ability to request different store hours, and more.

There is a relational aspect that cannot go unappreciated, but often times goes unnoticed. When a community can open up about what they feel inhibits them from shopping local, it also leaves them open to notice what is done right. Small businesses cannot compete with big box multimillion-dollar companies, but if given the chance, they can and will, prove they are the pride in shopping local.

Back to Top