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Man who shaved body before follicle drug test wins appeal

Talk about a close shave.

A Rockville Centre father was nearly sent to jail for 90 days after shaving his entire body in an attempt to skirt a hair follicle drug test.

According to a recent appellate court decision in his favor, the situation for Robert De Paz Jr. first got hairy last summer when Nassau Family Court Judge Julianne S. Eisman ordered him to take a hair follicle test as part of a custody case.

When the lawyer for the children's mother asked Eisman to direct De Paz "not to cut his hair again until the hair follicle test is done," Eisman said not to worry, according to the decision. From the bench, she said whoever did the test would "find a hair on his body wherever it is and have it tested."

But when De Paz reported to the testing center five days later, he had shaved his entire body and the test could not be performed, according to the state Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department.

Eisman found De Paz Jr. in contempt of court and ordered him to jail for 90 days -- a sentence he never served because it was stayed when he filed his appeal. Earlier this month, the appellate court ruled that the judge saying the hair follicle tester would find a hair to test was not the same as ordering De Paz not to shave and they overturned Eisman's ruling.

"Contrary to the Family Court's determination, its statement in open court . . . that the individual designated to perform the hair follicle test would find a hair on the father's 'body wherever it is and have it tested' does not qualify as the lawful order of the court clearly expressing an unequivocal mandate which is necessary to support a finding of contempt," the decision said.

Daniel Bagnuola, a spokesman for Eisman and other Nassau judges, said he was told Eisman did in fact direct De Paz not to shave.

"According to the information I was given, the judge did direct the respondent from bench not to alter his appearance or shave," Bagnuola said.

De Paz's appellate lawyer, Thomas Keating of Dobbs Ferry, said the appellate decision is a reminder that judges must say exactly what they mean.

"If you are going to tell an individual to do something, you have to spell it out," Keating said.

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