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Did RPGs Keep This Judge From Doing His Job?

Two Civil Case Parties Allege So

Published: 12/05/2013, Last Updated: 12/06/2013 04:00am
The Honorable Clark A. Peterson, a judge in Kootenai County, Idaho, may be facing formal complaints from two separate civil litigants that passed through his court, who allege Peterson has been letting his hobby get in the way of his judicial duties at work, according to the local Spokane, Washington Spokesman-Review newspaper.
 
Though it’s hardly playing World of Warcraft while on the bench, or even Candy Crush in his office for that matter, parties in two civil cases allege that Peterson’s involvement on RPG message boards (such as Paizo.com) while on breaks and lunch hours while at work at the county justice building "distracted the judge from his duties, drew out their cases and cost them far more in legal bills than necessary."  They also contend that some of the message content, "from playful content to sexually suggestive banter," falls short of the moral conduct standards expected of a judge.
 
Peterson has been a publisher and game designer for many years, co-designing games for Legendary Games, and was founder of Necromancer Games, one of the first companies to use the Open Game License to produce independent d20 product back in 2001 (see "White Wolf Mounts d20 Offensive"). 
 
Administrative District Judge Lansing Haynes, Peterson’s colleague, sees no problem with his co-worker’s conduct. “Rather than being distracted, I find him to be an extraordinarily focused judge on the cases that are before him,” Haynes said.
 
Peterson himself added in the article, "I can honestly say it has never impacted my time... I don’t find it to be a distraction.  And I’ve certainly not ever delayed a hearing or not done work as a result of that, that’s for sure."

Although there’s been a fair amount of public (mostly misinformed) criticism of RPGs due to content over the years, this is the first time we can remember a public official being criticized for involvement in the hobby game space because it was distracting.
 
 
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