The sports pages recently related a story about a professional golfer, Lexie Thompson, who was penalized by four strokes for “cheating.”  This penalty ultimately resulted in her losing a golf tournament.  In short, Ms. Thompson did not replace her golf ball in precisely the same spot on the green, after she legally picked it up.  A television viewer noticed the error and emailed the tournament supervisors.  The next day, Ms. Thompson resumed play but was then advised that because she had “cheated” and that she signed an “illegal scorecard.”  For these two infractions she was penalized four strokes.  Critics of this ruling decried it as unfair because her misdeed was at best an innocent error.

I have faced similar situations over the past 40 years as I represented criminal defendants in cases which they were charged with violations with they felt were “unfair.” For example, before recent legislation that decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, I was often asked, “why was I arrested for possession of marijuana, when everyone smokes it, this is so unfair.”

My response to each such person, which would have been the same response given to Lexis Thompson, is that the laws that govern us are often unfair.  However, we cannot, and must not, ignore them.  You change a rule by contacting your legislators and by raising public sentiment for change.

If you have questions or find yourself in a difficult legal situation, please don’t hesitate to contact me for assistance.

~Paul Lewis, Esq.