By Attorney David Engler
In Florida if you punch a guy over 65 in the nose it is a felony. No matter what.
A Sheet and Tube Mill retired mid-level executive and his retired school teacher wife moved to a Condo golf course townhouse near Naples. A boy who had grown-up in Brier Hill during the forties, went to Korea, worked at a mill in purchasing, was now taking it easy. He would visit the grandchildren every winter holiday back in Youngstown, Ohio, play golf and sometimes drive over to see the dogs race. Brier Hill was a melting pot of immigrants and their children. Everybody had a church…Poles, Italians and the Irish like him. Mac learned to play golf at the nine-hole-public course, up Fifth Avenue, closer to where the wealthier people lived. You could not spend more than $20 for a season. The beer gardens were nearby for after a round, where everyone knew who was a golfer or a sandbagger.
Down South, where he and Lorraine now lived, just outside his very modest townhouse; the sliding glass patio door was just 10 feet away from the practice putting green. Every day another retiree from New Jersey who had worked in retail clothing and lived at an even more modest condo further away from the Ocean, practiced his putting and very little chipping. The 30 by 30 green was close to one of those many man-made drainage ponds that courses gussy-up and call a lake. Herb, the guy from Jersey, apparently suffered from a BiPolar Disorder and retired early and moved to Florida. He was 69. His wife was happy anytime Herb was out of the house. So Herb joined the closest golf course at River Wind and obsessed over putting. He was on the practice green for more than three hours a day, 10 feet from Mac. Mac was getting older by the day and had always been an unreasonable man. And it is suggested by research, that early onset dementia can start to turn a cranky person, even crankier.
Day after day Mac either sat in his condo looking out the screen door, past the small concrete slab of a porch, at Herb, the skinny guy from New Jersey putting hour after hour. Or if it wasn’t too hot, Mac would sit on his porch and look at him. Mac believed that a man ought to be able to sit on his back porch drink Buds, eat grapes and spit seeds and not have to look at Herb. So after Year 3, Month 4 of the incessant putting, Mac starts with the comments. Mac had no idea of Herb’s ethnic background, place in life or mental history. He decided to call him everything and anything for days under his breath, but loud enough for a 69-year-old guy to hear. The day In August was hotter and stickier than most Florida days; and the war began. Herb mouthed something back and Mac arose from his canvas-back camp chair, strode 7 f feet and landed a blow to Herb’s nose. Down goes Herb. One of the dozens of other old people simply looking out their screen doors for amusement and a chance to spot the book club girls making the turn at 10, called the Police.
Herb was okay. But since he was a senior (someone over 65 in Florida) it was more than a misdemeanor assault; it was a felony. Herb could care less than he got decked by a guy 11 years older than him with two replacement knees. No, Mac had to be stopped. A couple of the condo ladies agreed and let the Judge know it. Mac was too proud to hire an attorney. The Judge would have to be a fool to see that a man should not have to look at the same lame golfer taking thousands of putts all within the reach of a grape seed spit. Maybe one of the condo commandos had some clout because the Man in the robe came down heavy on Mac. He was given a death sentence. Five Years reporting probation and HE WAS NOT ALLOWED TO GOLF! The $500 dollar fine and court cost was nothing All those years paying a silly HOA fee and paying off the mortgage so he would never had to see another house payment in his life; and “this is what he gets?”
If he wants to go back North, he needs the permission of his probation officer. He stills sits on the porch and reruns the injustice in his mind. None of his kids bring it up at family celebrations, because they know Dad won’t stop talking about it. Herb no longer plays golf at River Wind anymore. In fact someone thought he had died. Two more years of probation and maybe he’ll play again. Or maybe he won’t since that would be a good way to show the traitors that turned him in that he could hold a grudge.
There is no real moral other than 1) get an attorney, 2) older people can get cranky and could use the help of a therapists 3) the law shouldn’t apply if you are an older person hitting a younger person and 4) do not in any manner, piss off a guy from Brier Hill!
As with all of our stories, the people and stories are real, but the names have been changed. In every case we have received the permission of our client to tell the story.