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Up in Smoke

A woman in upstate New York has been ordered by a judge to refrain from smoking cigarettes in her own house or her own car... ever.

Judge Robert Julian ruled that Johnita Dematteo can't smoke in her own apartment or her own car because second hand smoke — however old and stale it may be — poses a health risk for her son who comes to visit from time to time.

So it's not merely that she cannot smoke when her son is in the apartment, or she can't smoke when her son is in the car, she can't smoke in those places ever because the old smoke may cause some problem for her son.

In this case there is no present health problem even alleged in the son. He just doesn't like his mom smoking — doesn't like the smell — and he asked the judge to order his mom to not smoke as a way to try to get her to quit.

The judge bought it and has ordered Ms. Dematteo to not smoke in her own home, even when she is alone, to not smoke in her own car, even when she is alone.

I used to smoke. I quit because it probably would have killed me if I kept it up.

Having said that, I still think it is a horrendous invasion of Ms. Dematteo's rights for Judge Julian to order her to stop doing something she wants to do and has a legal right to do or had a legal right to do.

The court is using its powers of coercion to help a boy make his mother quit smoking, and she is left with some bitter decisions.

She can bow to the will of the court — and that would stick in my craw for a very long time.

Or she can disown her son. Or she can quit smoking. Or she can stand outside in the rain and smoke. Or she can hang out in bars, if it's still legal to smoke in bars, way more than she evidently wants to.

In this case I do think some quitting is in order.

I think Judge Julian is out of line and he should quit. Not quit smoking, but quit being a judge.

This is an example of a judge turning into a black robed monster, dictating life decisions for people whose only offense is to have made the mistake of living in his jurisdiction.

As for Ms. Dematteo's son, one day he will be old enough to think clearly and he will see what a mistake he has made setting the judge on his mother.

That's my word.

That's My Word.

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