Gamer Judge Has 'Immature' Hobby, Litigants Claim

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Gamer Judge Has 'Immature' Hobby, Litigants Claim

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The Honorable Clark A. Peterson, aka Orcus, Lord of the Undead, is catching flak for his RPG habits.

Civil litigants in Idaho complain that the Judge assigned to hear their cases, the Honorable Clark A. Peterson - aka the founder of Necromancer Games, the founder of Legendary Games and a long-time RPG fan - has allowed his "immature" hobby to distract him from his judicial duties. Peterson spent time, during work hours, posting on blogs and social networks about his hobby. This, the litigants claim, extended their cases by months, costing them thousands in fees.

"Here I'm sitting at $250 an hour with my attorney, and Peterson is costing me money by the minute because he's showing up late," claims Tina Stevens, who argues that Peterson's behaviour stretched her divorce hearing. "I just remember thinking, wow, why are we waiting so long to see the judge? And why should he be blogging from his office?"

Stevens claims her case ended up costing her $65,000, and thanks to her expenses she now lives in an RV with her new husband. She also lost custody of her children and her house.

Another litigant, Michael Tyner, has made Peterson's hobby part of the basis of his appeal, in his probate challenge case. Tyner alleges that the trial took far too long to complete.

When Peterson ruled in favor of Tyner's sister, Tyner claimed that "had this judge been doing his job instead of playing games, his mind somewhere else, he would probably have done the right thing."

Peterson denied Tyler's request for a new trial, stating that any delay in judgement was primarily due to the actions of Tyner's lawyer, which included improper correspondence with Peterson.

Peterson certainly has a lot on his mind at the moment, over and beyond anything to do with his hobby. He's recently been through a divorce, filed for bankruptcy, has had significant overdue income tax issues, and fought a custody battle. However his hobby is apparently the only thing the disappointed litigants can talk about.

While Peterson has posted on gaming boards, and boosted his company's products, in work hours on official machines, Peterson says every post is made during break time. Under departmental policy Peterson, like all Judicial branch employees, is entitled to use state-owned machines and email for personal use on personal time.

Peterson has since promised to scale back his online activities during work hours, and change his Orcus, Lord of the Undead avatar. Not because he has to, he points out, but because it would be politic to do so. "It seems a slight modification to my current practices could substantially address many of the concerns and it would be little more than stubbornness on my part not to make such changes."

Sources: Examiner, Spokesman

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Don't judges make a fair bit of cash? How does one go bankrupt?!

Well, if he's adjusting his habits accordingly I think it should be fine for now on. Shame he was letting it cut into his work time and therefore the time of public law. He went through a divorce so I can see why he would want to escape more than he used to but he is in a pretty high station in the legal system. I doubt he could let it happen again without repercussions.

Gregory Wollf:
Don't judges make a fair bit of cash? How does one go bankrupt?!

Having a lot of income and having money sense doesn't come hand in hand. My guess is his spending habits aren't the greatest and he may have lost some in a settlement with his ex-wife.

Interesting case, however I think the issue is less him being a gamer, and more a matter of him trying to hold down two jobs, one as a business owner. I could easily see a hobby business like this distracting from someone's real career. His actual gaming habit is doubtlessly irrelevant since the same criticisms could be said about anything non job related a judge (or employee in general) does, but I could see demands being made that someone in his position should not be running a side business this way, especially after complaints.

That said the legal system is infamous for delays and problems to begin with, what it seems we have is a couple of people angry with the judge, and groping for any excuse they can to try and get money or a new hearing. Once someone alleges something against a Judge it seems everyone with a grudge decides to try and jump on it.

While Peterson has posted on gaming boards, and boosted his company's products, in work hours on official machines, Peterson says every post is made during break time. Under departmental policy Peterson, like all Judicial branch employees, is entitled to use state-owned machines and email for personal use on personal time.

The rules, of course, vary state by state. But in my own state, this is not allowed.

I work in a government-paid position, and we have pretty strict rules about not using state property for personal gain. If I were to write a novel on my work PC, it would become property of the state. Even if I did it during breaks.

Interesting to hear that they do it differently in Idaho.

I wish he went in the opposite direction. "You don't like my how I spend my free time? Then I will judge you as, ORCUS LORD OF THE UNDEAD. I sentence you to death by flaying and then to be resurrected into my undead army. As for the assets in the case, THEY WILL BE USED TO BUILD MY THRONE OF SKULLS!!!!"

MinionJoe:

While Peterson has posted on gaming boards, and boosted his company's products, in work hours on official machines, Peterson says every post is made during break time. Under departmental policy Peterson, like all Judicial branch employees, is entitled to use state-owned machines and email for personal use on personal time.

The rules, of course, vary state by state. But in my own state, this is not allowed.

I work in a government-paid position, and we have pretty strict rules about not using state property for personal gain. If I were to write a novel on my work PC, it would become property of the state. Even if I did it during breaks.

Interesting to hear that they do it differently in Idaho.

This in Canada, too. We're allowed personal use of the computers to a point, but anything made on a work computer is property of our work, relevant or not. I post here a lot from work, but don't play games or work on any of my hobbies at work as I know if they wanted to push, anything I 'created' could be claimed by the government.

As for the Judge... I dunno, sounds a bit sketchy to me. He probably was playing too much online and not working enough (every single one of us is guilty of that), but it's bad form for people to again rag on video games.

Probably just has too much on his plate at the moment. Since starting work I've had to scale back the amount of gaming and internet browsing I do a lot, so I can only imagine what it's like for someone with such a highly stated job as well as being a business owner (even if it's just a hobby). I can't even imagine adding a divorce and bankruptcy onto that as well.

As people have said, defendants are grasping at straws to try and re try their cases and unfortunately this guy is their target fall guy.

Ignoring the "immature" jab, if he's dicking around at work he should be responsible for it regardless of hobby.

Only in America...
Dilbert should make a comic about this!

Yay for tabletop RPG's, btw :)

Phrozenflame500:
Ignoring the "immature" jab, if he's dicking around at work he should be responsible for it regardless of hobby.

Agreed, but I think the problem is that people are tunnel visioned on the fact that he plays games, and not that he seems to just have a lazy ass. They're implying he is a lazy ass BECAUSE he plays games.

Sounds like, to me, the people are just upset because the case didn't go their way. Based on all the other things he's going through, I think the games would be the last thing that is eating up his time. This man sounds like he's a wreck and the fact that he's able to keep it together as well as he has is impressive.

"It seems a slight modification to my current practices could substantially address many of the concerns and it would be little more than stubbornness on my part not to make such changes."

I like this attutide. People complaining about something petty? Humor them. If it shuts them up, fine. If they start pulling new things out of their asses to complain about, even better - it probably proves that they were full of it to begin with and you can stop listening to them.

Wouldn't any posts he makes have times associated with them?

Should be relatively easy to validate how much time he actually spends on such things. I mean even if it's a single post you'd probably need a few minutes to first find the topic, then a few minutes to find the post and then a few minutes to get started on work again.

How much break time he has should be regulated and pretty easy to find, subtract a reasonable amount of time for eating and see how many posts he makes in a day and how spread out they are.

No need to engage in baseless assumptions and accusations when in this case the facts would be trivially easy to find.

You're right. Practicing law is indeed an immature hobby.

I can understand the point of allowing the hobby to interfere with his work, but I can also understand the most likely mental and emotional exhaustion of going through a divorce and bankruptcy to add to the distraction, making the gaming habit all the more palatable as an escape from real life woes. Its not an excuse, just an understanding of the mindset. Showing up to work every day to get that paycheck to pay lawyer fees, probably alimony too was in part on his mind, but the weight of all that can push anyone to distraction and its so easy to latch on the one thing that brings happiness to an otherwise dark day. It sucks because they don't focus on all the circumstances, just the gaming habit which is only part of it. I feel for this guy, I really do because I've had to deal with being at the bottom of the barrel and only having gaming to help you through it... and I also know how it feels to realize you're lax in the responsibility department and have to tone down, tighten the belt and buck up.
Shit sandwich situation.

Hah.

An interesting read. I wonder if things would be different if the judge owned a used-car dealership or a deli or some non-game related business. And when it comes to court cases, things that happen to the losers of these cases are nothing new. Did the judge's hobby/other job lead to their cases turning against them? There's not enough information in the article to determine that (not that I expected there to be). And trials may take a long time to finish; it's not like a judge works on one case at a time. So, I don't know exactly who to side with here, but seriously: "immature"? Go figure.

There is a lesson to be learned: work out your $#@! with your family instead of going to court, because you never know how the judge will rule. Because after that, it takes A LOT to get the ruling reversed or expunged, if there is even a chance.

Having witnessed how biased against the father the courts in Idaho are, the fact that the woman making her case LOST... well... it means she's more than likely a complete train wreck of a person, and this is just a last ditch attempt for something. I mean... how did all this info about how the judge spends his free time get out? It's like she hired a PI to monitor his activities in an attempt to show incompetence (which again, in ID, HAHAHAHA. Good luck. Any higher judge then him nearby probably knows him personally, or at least 1st name basis)

I know others have posted this but I can't help noticing that it is the losers of the cases who are complaining and the winners haven't said anything. Even if the winners didn't have to pay legal fees I would think they'd grumble if the verdict took longer than it should have. No this to me sounds like losers whining and since they can't go after the source of their grievance any-more they are going after the judge, if that fails probably their lawyers next, and so on and so forth.

Oh no! A gaming judge has been caught indulging in games! What a scandal!

Wait, no. Not scandal. I meant to say 'completely normal and understandable thing for him to be doing'.

Loki_The_Good:
I wish he went in the opposite direction. "You don't like my how I spend my free time? Then I will judge you as, ORCUS LORD OF THE UNDEAD. I sentence you to death by flaying and then to be resurrected into my undead army. As for the assets in the case, THEY WILL BE USED TO BUILD MY THRONE OF SKULLS!!!!"

That post just made my morning. AND caused me to spit all over my keyboard. You, sir, now officially rule the Internet. *Bows*.

FalloutJack:
Oh no! A gaming judge has been caught indulging in games! What a scandal!

Wait, no. Not scandal. I meant to say 'completely normal and understandable thing for him to be doing'.

Well, yeah... but I wouldn't want my bus driver to be "indulging in games" while driving at 60mph down the motorway.

I don't think this is about the gaming part, per se, although the "juvenile" part definitely bothers me.

...There's probably a reason that the woman and Tyner were complaining about Orcus. I'm thinknig it might have more to do with the underlying reasons behind her divorce, living in and RV, and Tyner's court battle against his own sister...

Hagi:
Wouldn't any posts he makes have times associated with them?

Should be relatively easy to validate how much time he actually spends on such things. I mean even if it's a single post you'd probably need a few minutes to first find the topic, then a few minutes to find the post and then a few minutes to get started on work again.

How much break time he has should be regulated and pretty easy to find, subtract a reasonable amount of time for eating and see how many posts he makes in a day and how spread out they are.

No need to engage in baseless assumptions and accusations when in this case the facts would be trivially easy to find.

yes, its easy to track this down, however the article claims he was writing blogs, which can take over an hour to write if extensive, and the psot date will tell quite little. for example i coudl have replied just after reading the title, or i could ahve read all the responses, significant difference in time spent.
I also disagree about substracting time for eating. I always eat my lunch at work in front of PC watching Escapist videos or browsing forums.

Strazdas:

Hagi:
Wouldn't any posts he makes have times associated with them?

Should be relatively easy to validate how much time he actually spends on such things. I mean even if it's a single post you'd probably need a few minutes to first find the topic, then a few minutes to find the post and then a few minutes to get started on work again.

How much break time he has should be regulated and pretty easy to find, subtract a reasonable amount of time for eating and see how many posts he makes in a day and how spread out they are.

No need to engage in baseless assumptions and accusations when in this case the facts would be trivially easy to find.

yes, its easy to track this down, however the article claims he was writing blogs, which can take over an hour to write if extensive, and the psot date will tell quite little. for example i coudl have replied just after reading the title, or i could ahve read all the responses, significant difference in time spent.
I also disagree about substracting time for eating. I always eat my lunch at work in front of PC watching Escapist videos or browsing forums.

It's not hard to take the length of a post into account.

Plus if you're eating in front of your PC you'll both be eating and posting slower, still warranting a reasonable subtraction.

It's really simple I'd say. If there were several big blog posts, or dozens of smaller forum posts, spread throughout the day then obviously the guy's in the wrong, you can't fit all that within your lunch-time. If there's fewer posts or they're all concentrated in a single moment in the day then there's no reason for suspicion.

I want to defend this guy, but can't.
While people complaining of him, most probably are full of shit, doing something like that during work time isn't exactly appropriate.
Especially if you're working on the state and spending tax money.

Headline: zOMG evil anti-gamez NAZIS attackin' our b00t3ful hobbiez!!!!!11!!1!!one!!

Body of article: Some idiot that spent time he recorded as work/billable time was actually dicking around on the internet and gaming, and is now in trouble for it because employers and customers kind of want you to do your actual job.

So the guy goes through a divorce and is fighting a custody battle but sure, the only thing that must have distracted him during a trial is posting blogs. Definitely.

The only people complaining are the ones he ruled against... what a weird coincidence.

I have to call shenanigans, if there was an actual case, it would be nothing for the state building to pull his computer records. All state buildings have their internet traffic logged (even on wifi) for these very purposes, and it would take nothing for IT to pull those logs and say either, Yes he was using government resources to promote himself during work hours, or no he was not. Meanwhile this case is getting bandied about with because he it a geek in his spare time.

His hobby, and it doesn't matter what it is, is getting in the way of his job, said job heavily concerning others' wellbeing and future state of life. He needs to learn how to balance these two things, or he's going to get in lots of trouble (can you even sue a judge?)

Still, I suppose it's cool that a role-model kind of person like a judge is into video games... albeit, he's balancing it poorly.

Peterson certainly has a lot on his mind at the moment, over and beyond anything to do with his hobby. He's recently been through a divorce, filed for bankruptcy, has had significant overdue income tax issues, and fought a custody battle. However his hobby is apparently the only thing the disappointed litigants can talk about.

Videogames MUST be the problem. Not the undue amount of stress in dealing with divorce.

Loki_The_Good:
I wish he went in the opposite direction. "You don't like my how I spend my free time? Then I will judge you as, ORCUS LORD OF THE UNDEAD. I sentence you to death by flaying and then to be resurrected into my undead army. As for the assets in the case, THEY WILL BE USED TO BUILD MY THRONE OF SKULLS!!!!"

.....Can they still appeal?

With all the things this man has to put up with, I suppose I would prefer having power over the undead as well rather than having to deal with the living sometimes.

The need for escapism happens to everyone and sometimes for very good reasons. Is he overdoing it? Maybe, but unless they can conclusively prove with timestamps that he was playing when he should have been ruling, and not just on his allotted personal breaks, I don't expect a great amount of returns for the litigants...

If he's posting during break times (how you manage to describe them as 'work hours' I have no idea) I don't see the problem. Perhaps if one of the people he ruled in favour of said something I could dismiss the suspicion that the US is just a ridiculous country where some people will say anything.

FalloutJack:
Oh no! A gaming judge has been caught indulging in games! What a scandal!

Wait, no. Not scandal. I meant to say 'completely normal and understandable thing for him to be doing'.

While he should have been working? I think that's a bit of a problem there.

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