The Medl in News
far higher than on most other days of the year. Coupled with the fact that 86% of adults bring alcohol to Halloween parties, you begin to see the danger. According to census statistics, over half of motor-vehicle deaths on Halloween in the past 40 years have involved alcohol. The facts are simple. If Halloween is always on the weekend, more parties are going to happen, and more irresponsible drivers are going to take to the road while kids are still out hunting for candy. As someone who deals with DWI and auto accident cases, I breathe a sigh of relief whenever Halloween isn’t on a weekend. Yes, I’ll be tired at work the next day after walking my daughter all over the neighborhood, but who isn’t tired when they go into work? Maybe this is just a generational gap, but when I was a kid, I didn’t even have supervision on Halloween, and I don’t remember any particular difficulties getting to school the next day. My biggest concern as a trick-or-treater was avoiding the older kids that might try to steal my candy. Regardless of what day Halloween lands on from year to year, there are always steps we can take to make the evening safer for everyone. Incorporating reflective tape into costumes, teaching kids to take off their masks and look both ways when crossing the street, and NEVER getting behind the wheel under the influence can help keep Oct. 31 a fun-filled night.
A HALLOWEEN THREAT
What Has Me Spooked This Year
Halloween is fast approaching, and I understand that it’s meant to be a “spooky” time of year. Ghosts and goblins are all well and good when it comes to kids looking for candy, but this year, there are some real specters looming over Oct. 31. I am, of course, talking about the special interest groups who are attempting to change the date of this fun-filled holiday. You may have seen the news stories. Earlier this year, a national petition launched by the Halloween & Costume Association garnered over 58,000 signatures to move the Halloween celebration to the last Saturday of October. At first glance, this seems pretty appealing. Kids and parents wouldn’t have to worry about school and work the next morning, and trick-or-treating could start earlier in the day. Of course, that also means that those distributing candy would have to be ready at the door all day long and have enough to last into the evening. (No wonder the candy companies are in favor of this move.) However, this isn’t my main concern with moving the date. As a parent and a lawyer, I have safety concerns when it comes to Halloween always landing on a Saturday. Sure, some kids may start trick-or-treating earlier in the day, but there will always be those who start or stay out later. This, paired with the many parties young adults throw on Halloween weekend, is a dangerous combination. Children already face an increased risk of being hit by an automobile during this particular holiday. The sheer number of kids out and about means the numbers are always going to be
– Gary L. Medlin, Esq.
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HALLOWEEN DECORATIONS OR FIGHTING WORDS?
A Grave Legal Matter
We’ve all played a harmless trick or two, but sometimes, Halloween shenanigans get out of hand. They can lead to hurt feelings, outraged neighbors, and, in the case of Purtell v. Mason, a lawsuit. In the days leading up to Halloween, all was not quiet in the village of Bloomingdale. Previously parked in a storage unit, Jeff and Vicki Purtell’s 38-foot RV was now parked in front of their house. In protest, neighbors petitioned to town officials, wanting an ordinance put in place to prohibit RV parking on residential property. While the ordinance was under consideration, Jeff Purtell took matters into his own hands. He erected six wooden tombstones in his front yard. They seemed to be innocuous Halloween decorations, but these tombstones displayed a special message for the neighbors. Each headstone was inscribed with a sarcastic message and house number, implying the occupants’ death dates. These messages soon caught the neighbors’ attention. The laws surrounding cannabis in the U.S. have been in flux for some time, and believe it or not, Texas is no exception. Thanks to the farm bill, which legalized the cultivation and use of hemp-based products nationally, a new state law has been passed to take this new federal reality into account. For those interested in using CBD oil for pain relief, or for people accused of possessing marijuana, this is positive news. Redefining Marijuana In the past, anything containing even a trace of THC (the chemical compound that gets users “high”) was considered marijuana in the state of Texas. Since it’s nearly impossible to completely eliminate THC from cannabis, this meant that everything made from the plant, including hemp products like CBD oil, were illegal. Now, the legislature has deemed that any substance with less than 0.3% THC is no longer considered marijuana, meaning possession of these products is no longer a crime. Repercussions This 0.3% rule has sent shock waves through the criminal justice system. Most crime labs in Texas lack the ability
“Bette wasn’t ready, but here she lies, ever since that night she died. Twelve feet deep in this trench, still wasn’t deep enough for that stench! 1690.”
Insulted and a little afraid, Purtell’s neighbors called the police to have the headstones removed. After a couple of visits, Officer Bruce Mason arrived and threatened to arrest Purtell if he didn’t take the tombstones down. Purtell obliged, but the matter wasn’t put to rest. The Verdict Purtell sued Officer Mason on the grounds of violating his rights to free speech, and the case made it all the way to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Sykes ruled that the tombstones did not constitute fighting words and were protected under the First Amendment. However, she also ruled that Officer Mason was entitled to qualified immunity, as any reasonable officer would act the same under the circumstances. The bigger question might be how this case made it all the way to the U.S. Court of Appeals. As Judge Sykes wrote in her opinion, “Lawsuits like this one cast the legal profession in a bad light and contribute to the impression that Americans are an overlawyered and excessively litigious people.”
THE DIFFERENCE A PERCENTAGE CAN MAKE
Texas Changes Its Stance on Marijuana
to measure amounts of THC, which has thrown many past and pending possession cases into question. In fact, many prosecutors responded to the law change by simply dropping marijuana possession charges where the level of THC in a product may have been questioned. Our criminal defense team has had far greater success defending what were once open-and-shut cases thanks to this new definition. Hope for Pain Sufferers This legalization of certain hemp-based products is also great news for those who have suffered an injury or are living with chronic pain. Research has shown that CBD can effectively reduce inflammatory and neuropathic pain, making it a favorable alternative to painkillers. However, those interested in trying CBD should do their homework. The industry still lacks regulation, and some products may hold more THC than they claim. Research a product ahead of time before you buy it; otherwise, you may risk being charged with a serious crime.
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DRIVING DURING THE WITCHING HOUR
Keep Kids Safe This Halloween
As Gary mentions on this month’s cover, Halloween can be a dangerous night for kids. Drivers need to be extra cautious when trick-or-treaters take to the streets, especially after it gets dark. Here are some ways you can help everyone stay safe while getting their fill of candy. Avoid Driving Naturally, the best way to cut down on accidents is to avoid getting behind the wheel in the first place. If you need to go somewhere, consider using a ride-share service like Lyft. In fact, if trick-or-treaters have already started coming out in your neighborhood, consider walking to a less-busy block to meet your ride. Of course, this isn’t always an option, but anything you can do to limit the number of cars coming in and out of your neighborhood will help keep kids safe. Be Overly Cautious If you do need to drive, do so defensively. Even while it’s light out, kids may not notice your car — especially if they’re wearing masks, veils, or other costume pieces that limit their vision. Being hyped up on candy and excitement only adds to the
danger, as children may completely forget to look both ways as they cross the street. Always assume pedestrians will not see your vehicle, and drive slowly enough to respond accordingly. Turn your lights on a little earlier than you normally would, too, because those dark costumes become harder to see at dusk. Be Smart In general, you should never drink and drive, but this advice bears repeating on Halloween. If you plan on attending a party with alcohol, make plans for transportation home that don’t involve you operating a vehicle. A DWI is a serious offense on its own, and you don’t want to endanger a child’s life in the process.
How to Assemble a Veggie Skeleton
Those who eat paleo may struggle to find a Halloween treat suitable to their diet. But no matter what your dietary restrictions are, everyone can enjoy some raw veggies with a healthy dip. Here are some tips for constructing your very own veggie skeleton — a spooky twist on a time-tested treat. For the Head Your favorite paleo-friendly dip makes a great canvas for a face. Pour it into a bowl and build features on top using different veggies. For the Ribcage Sliced cucumbers make for great vertebrae, and bell pepper slivers can be used to simulate ribs. Alternate between the two to give your skeleton some backbone. For the Arms and Legs Any long and straight vegetable will do the trick here. If you want to be anatomically accurate, consider using some spherical vegetables for joints. Don’t be afraid to get creative and wacky with your veggie skeleton. The whole point, after all, is to have some fun and give people a reason to smile.
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INSIDE THIS ISSUE
Is Halloween Changing?
2. Grave Matters of the Law
Texas Changes Its Stance on Marijuana
3. Don’t Have a Driving Scare
How to Assemble a Veggie Skeleton
4. The Real Legend of Sleepy Hollow
HAYRIDES AND HEADLESS HORSEMEN
Halloween Celebrations in Sleepy Hollow
In 1790, a school teacher named Ichabod Crane was riding home alone from a harvest festival in the village of Sleepy Hollowwhen he encountered a mysterious rider on horseback. Crane, horrified by the horseman’s missing head, turned and ran in the opposite direction. The Headless Horseman gave chase, hurling his own decapitated head at the terrified teacher. Ichabod Crane was never heard from again ... or so goes “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving. This story, first published in 1820, has become a Halloween favorite. The legend is so beloved that in 1997, the village of North Tarrytown, New York, where many events of the story take place, officially changed its name to Sleepy Hollow. Today, the town becomes one big Halloween party during the month of October. Sleepy Hollow is home to many historic landmarks, including the Headless Horseman Bridge and the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, whereWashington Irving himself was laid to rest. Evening lantern tours of the cemetery are a popular attraction, and Irving isn’t the only spooky celebrity buried there. Fans of the Gothic soap opera “Dark Shadows” will be delighted to enter the crypt of famed vampire Barnabas Collins.
Another highly anticipated stop for many guests is Sleepy Hollow’s premier annual attraction, Horseman’s Hollow, an experience not for the faint of heart. During the event, the 300-year-old Philipsburg Manor is transformed into a living nightmare, where vampires, witches, ghouls, and undead soldiers lurk in the shadows. They all serve the dreaded Headless Horseman and are determined to make sure guests don’t leave alive!
But it’s not all scares in Sleepy Hollow. There’s plenty of Halloween fun for all ages. Sleepy Hollow boasts relaxing hayrides, tours of
Irving’s home, live readings of famous Halloween stories, performances of a brand-new musical based on Irving’s spooky tale, and the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, an incredible exhibition of over 7,000 hand-carved pumpkins. If you want a real Halloween experience, you can’t go wrong in Sleepy Hollow. Just be careful not to lose your head!
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