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December 2012 Newsletter

December 1, 2012

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News to UseRichard A. Pignatiello - Attorney at Law

December 2012

This publication is intended to educate the general public and is for information purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. Prior to acting on any information contained here, you should seek and retain competent counsel. The information in this newsletter may be freely copied and distributed as long as the newsletter is copied in its entirety.


When my son was a toddler, I put up a string of Christmas lights outside the window. A set of old Christmas Light Displayfashioned red C9 lights would do the trick. Over the next several years and many "after Christmas sales", I had amassed quite a collection. I was hooked.

One year a friend drove by to check out my lights. She knew that I was quite pleased with them. Her opinion? They were "okay". Well, I heard fighting words.

A large group of us decided to compete. No real rules, no prizes. If there was a theme, it was "more is better". A viewing date was established. A dozen locations were mapped out. A large passenger van acquired and we were off.

The friend who had dismissed my lights? Her excuse for a minimal display was the recent birth of her first child had kept her off the ladder. Amateur.

One friend hung a decorative basket on her tree lawn. It was filled with candy to sway the voting. Bonus points for creativity. Another spent the fall drilling through his brick home to bring more power and outlets to the front of his house. Skilled? Absolutely. A little extreme? Perhaps.

My favorite was the friend who had recent shoulder surgery. As we approached his house, a cell phone call was placed. We pulled up and he stepped out onto the porch and waved a flashlight around. Finally we returned home. I had stopped counting at 26,000 lights but there they were. And every one of them was lit. For now. We did not dare open the garage door or use the microwave. Run the washing machine? That would plunge whole sections into darkness. But for that moment it was gorgeous.

I never did anything like that again.

We still do lights every year. No major displays or themes. It’s a part of our Christmas traditions. Clinging to the ladder in strong winds. Having the sleet sting your face. Good times. The year that everything on the moving reindeer lit up but the head? A little sick, but funny. Or the year I had to climb on the roof every night to prop up what looked like Suicidal Santa? I had bungeed him to the chimney. He was happy and waving every morning. And trying to take a header off the roof every evening. I finally gave up and left the ladder up on the side of the house.

Whatever your Christmas traditions are, I hope that they bring you and your family Peace, Love and Joy. My family and I wish for you all the blessings of Christmas.

Richard A. Pignatiello's signature

PS - I am looking for a new Nativity. If you have a suggestion, call me.


The importance of proper rest is often given short shrift in our society. As a nation, we don’t get enough sleep. This bad habit is now being passed to the next  generation…much to their detriment.

A recent article published in the journal Pediatrics describes a study in which healthy children ages 7-11 were either deprived of one hour of sleep over a span of five nights, or had one hour added to their normal sleep. The study was conducted in the everyday home setting of each child.

The results indicated that those kids who were deprived of one hour of sleep were prone to exhibit more irritability and frustration, and were more emotional and impulsive. Not surprisingly, those children who slept an extra hour showed a decline in these conditions.

In addition, a child who’s even slightly sleep deprived may find it difficult to focus, which can affect learning, and may miss out on opportunities to be creative. Lack of sleep can interfere with social relationships as well.

Sometimes, it’s the small stuff that makes a world of difference. Saving the rest of a movie for the next day or playing one less video game—and hitting the hay instead—can affect how a child reacts to their world andthe relationships they form with others.

Diet and exercise often steal the spotlight when it comes to factors that most affect a child's (and adult's) physical and mental well-being. Sleep, it appears, is deserving of equal consideration.


This is a favorite family recipe. My mother-in-law gets requests all the time. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Hungarian Nut or Poppyseed Rolls
Makes 4 rolls
Recipe courtesy of Mary Nehez

4 cups all purpose flourHungarian Nut and Poppyseed Rolls
1/2 lbs margarine
2 tablespoons sugar
2 egg yolks
2 oz yeast (cake) - be sure to check date
3/4 cup lukewarm water

Crumble yeast into bowl, add sugar and water. Let stand while mixing flour into room temperature magarine. When mixed, make a well and drop egg yolks and yeast mixture in. Mix well and place on floured board and cut into four pieces. Let rest while preparing the filling.

Nut Filling
(enough for 4 rolls)6 egg whites
1-2 cups sugar (as desired)
1 lbs. ground walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon


Poppyseed Filling
(enough for 5 rolls)
Heat 2 cups milk, and 1 lbs. ground poppyseed, 1 cup sugar, and 1 egg. Mix together. Cook for 1 hour. When cool, add 1 teaspoon vanilla. Poppyseed when cooked can be frozen and then used at a later date.

Roll out on a floured board into a rectangle. Spread with desired filling, roll up like a jelly roll.

Place on a greased pan. Two rolls can fit onto a 10 x 15 pan size. Brush tops with beaten egg yolk and prick rolls. Let rise 20 minutes. Bake 1/2 hour at 350 degrees.


She had nothing to lose.

She told me her story. And she told me the names of the other attorneys she had met with. Most of them I knew. Some of them I even liked. And they had all given her good advice. She had nothing to lose.

The Judge she had drawn had a well documented history of handing down the maximum sentence. In this case, six months in jail for a second offense. No exceptions. Pleading guilty would also mean six months in jail. So I told her again, “you have nothing to lose by taking this to trial”.

And then she told me something that changed everything.

Her ex-husband was just waiting for an opportunity to strip her of custody of their five year old son. He had been threatening to do so. And the ex-husband? He lived in California. If she pled guilty or was found guilty, she would most certainly lose custody of her son.

The threat of jail time? That didn’t scare her. The thought that she might lose her child? That was destroying her. She had, in fact, everything to lose.

So I said to her, “Let’s start over”.

Car stuck on side of slippery roadShe was employed part-time in the evening as a bartender at a local establishment. The grandmother cared for her son in the grandmother’s home while she worked. She had worked her shift one evening. And she had a few drinks. Her shift over, she headed for home driving her car in the freezing rain. Her car hit a patch of black ice and skidded off the road. It became stuck in the hard snow packed on the side of the road. She tried to free the car. Forward. Reverse. Forward.  Reverse.

With the weather turning worse and no help in sight, she left her car at the site of the accident and started to walk home. As she walked a driver pulled up. He offered her a ride. She accepted.

Once home, shaken by the experience, she drank an entire bottle of wine and went to bed. In the middle of the night, there was a knock at the door.

She opened the door to find two police officers standing on her front porch. She was arrested for DUI in her own home.

Now I know what you are thinking, and I am not saying you are wrong. Don’t drink and drive. But my job was not to judge her. It was to help.

We decided I would take the case to trial. We knew the outcome if she were convicted. But because of her son, we would try.

In the months since we first met, with my investigator, we continued to piece together the events of the night in question. And the trial date moved closer. New facts came to light. It was the driver.
The one who had offered her the ride home. He thought he smelled alcohol on her breath. After he drove her home, he called the police.

The expert witnesses and police officers who were called to the stand were skilled at court room testimony. The prosecutor was experienced and it showed. After watching the case put on by the
prosecution, everyone would agree that this was indeed a very strong DUI case against my client.

Then it was our turn.

And I didn’t see it that way.

I believed the arresting officers had no right to arrest my client, at her home. They charged her with a crime that neither they nor anyone else witnessed. You have a witness who provided a ride home who did not actually witness anything. Yes, she failed the field sobriety test the police administered in her driveway at the time of the arrest. Yes, she failed the breathalyzer they gave her at the police station hours after the accident.

But was she legally drunk at the time of the accident? Could they prove it?

While the jury was in deliberations, we reviewed the plans she had made in preparing for this moment. Her boss had agreed to hold her job for her until she was released. The grandma would take care of her son.

The jury returned. The Foreman read the verdict. And then he said something that changed everything.

Not guilty.

This is a true account of an actual case from my files. Identifying information may have been changed or omitted to protect both the innocent and the guilty.


If so, keep these 6 important tips from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in mind:Gift Cards

  1. Buy from sources you know and trust. Avoid buying gift cards from online auction sites, because the cards may be counterfeit or may have been obtained fraudulently.
  2. Read the fine print before you buy. Is there a fee to buy the card? If you buy a card by phone or online, are there shipping and handling fees?
  3. See whether any fees will be deducted from the card after you purchase it.
  4. Inspect the card before you buy it. Make sure that it hasn't been tampered with and that the PIN number isn't showing.
  5. Give the recipient your original receipt so they can verify the card's purchase in case it is lost or stolen.
  6. Consider the financial condition of the retailer or restaurant; a bankruptcy may make it difficult to redeem a gift card.

For additional tips about giving or redeeming gift cards, please go to

Contact Attorney Richard A. Pignatiello Today

We invite you to contact the Ohio law office of Richard A. Pignatiello at 216-524-1000 to schedule a free, initial consultation with our lawyer regarding your legal needs. We return phone calls within 24 hours. In addition to our regular office hours, evening and weekend appointments are available upon request. We offer payment plans.

The law office of Richard A. Pignatiello is based in Seven Hills, Ohio. We represent clients throughout the cities of Independence, Bedford, Parma, Brecksville, Broadview Heights, North Royalton, Strongsville, Berea, Middleburg Heights, and Valley View, as well as Cuyahoga County and Medina County.

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