Sunday, September 30, 2012

Let’s hold judges to the same standard as NFL referees

I’ve always been a bit of a contraian.  For example, growing up in Wisconsin I knew at the very young age of four that I really hated the Packers.  I just got so tired of seeing Packer fans wear those horrific colors—I challenge anyone to find uglier shades of green and gold—that I aligned myself with another team even before I started kindergarten.  (Unfortunately, I aligned myself with the Vikings—a team with much cooler uniforms, but no super bowl victories.  This brought me some pain as a child, but I’m happy to report that my interest in professional sports faded a couple of decades ago.)  In any case, even though I have zero interest in the Packers today, it does appear that a rule-breaking wide receiver for Seattle, and three blown calls on a single play, unjustly cost “the Pack” a victory.

First, there’s the Seattle receiver.  He’s a Notre Dame graduate and a Christian who claims to play the sport for his god first, and then for his team.  Despite this, on the last play of the game, he blatantly and illegally shoved a Packer defender in the back to get him out of the way so he could attempt to make a catch.  (Then, even though it was all caught on film, he denied any knowledge of it.  As a friend of mine stated, “He’ll have some ’splainin to do when he arrives at the pearly gates.”)  And despite his cheating, it appears that he never did make the catch; but three blown calls by the replacement referees—first missing the offensive pass interference, then calling the non-catch a touchdown, and then not reversing the call on instant replay—cost the Packers the victory. 

What resulted from this was nothing short of total outrage, not just among football fans, but pretty much across the country.  “[I]f you really want to feel the collective wrath of the American people, just starting messing with their football.”  It was literally treated like the most unjust event in world history.  And because of this nation-wide weeping and gnashing of teeth, the NFL took quick and swift action to rectify the horrible injustice.  It settled its labor dispute with the regular referees and got them back on the job virtually the next day.  And it was all done because of one poorly refereed play in one game that occurred early in the football season.

Now, shifting gears a bit, criminal court judges are in many ways referees themselves; they are required to make calls all of the time when citizens are accused of crimes.  This includes calls before trial, during trial, and, if there’s a conviction, at sentencing.  But unlike the overwhelmed replacement referee—who now, along with the NFL commissioner, has to deal with death threats—criminal court judges don’t have to make snap, bang-bang decisions based on incredibly fast-paced events involving world-class athletes that move near the speed of Knightly.  In other words, I can guarantee you that it’s much easier to make the right call in criminal cases than it is on an NFL football field.  And that’s good, because there’s a lot more at stake in criminal cases.  Most calls in a football game don’t directly decide the outcome and, when they do . . . well, it’s just a game.  But when a criminal court judge blows a call, the result is that a citizen could be wrongly convicted, falsely imprisoned, committed to the “supervision” of vindictive government bureaucrats for years or even for life, and stripped of numerous other freedoms and rights in the process. 

I’ve been griping about several of these blown calls by judges and the resulting, devastating effects on us citizens ever since I started this blog, and even long before.  (For example, see here, here, here, here, and here for some more of the interesting and devastating botched calls by our judiciary.)  Yet, sadly, there isn’t nearly the outrage that there is when one referee blows one play in one football game.  In fact, there usually isn’t any outrage at all.  That’s because a football fan is more directly affected by his favorite sports team losing a game than he is by someone he doesn’t know being convicted and incarcerated, or even executed.  And that’s why criminal court judges can pretty much call "the game" anyway they want, and still keep their jobs. 

Now, I’m not suggesting that people should care less about football.  But it’s too bad that criminal court judges aren’t elevated to the same level of importance as NFL referees.  After all, the typical football-watching, law-abiding guy might not have even an arrest on his record as of today, but with our ever-expanding criminal justice system, he could find himself sitting in jail facing criminal charges tomorrow—often for something he didn’t even know was criminal.  So with all of this at stake, shouldn’t criminal court judges suffer the same fate (or at least the same wrath, minus the death threats) as the NFL replacement referees when judges botch calls and make life-ruining decisions?  If they did, we’d all have a little more protection from our all-too-often overreaching government.  And our numerous freedoms—including the luxury of watching football on Sunday afternoons—would be a little safer. 


  1. Great observations, but the general public is absolutely never going to agree due to their personal beliefs of what is important and what might have an impact on them personally.

    I will never be wrongfully accused of a crime, because I'm a good person and wouldn't ever even be in a position to be wrongfully accused....besides, people who are in a position to be wrongfully accused are the kind of people that are probably guilty of something, so this doesn't impact me, can't happen to me, and I don't really care about the people that it's happening be it.

    If a referee makes a bad call that impacts a football game, EVEN IF IT IS NOT AGAINST MY TEAM, that proves that it COULD happen to my team. If it happens to my team, it does impact me, it can happen to me, and I do care significantly about the people it impacts. In fact, I would argue that if it happens to my team, it IS happening directly to me. So, therefore, it can't be allowed to happen, even to someone else's team.

    If someone else can be wrongfully accused, it CAN therefore happen to you, no matter your circumstances. And, that conclusion only requires you to use the same analysis you would use in the football scenario....yet you manage to miss the point. Because? Because the truth is that you at all times CARE about the well being and success of your football team and until it does happen to you, you do not care about the people that are wrongfully accused.

  2. Hello-
    I love your blog.
    I am routinely amazed at the things about which the American public will "rise up". We seem to need the simple problems with simple answers in order to exercise our gripes, relegating those things that really seem to matter to others - about whom we will then complain further.
    If you will forgive my words, it's easier to bitch and live in our little fantasy bubble, like anonymous notes above, than to step out and face the very frightening truth.
    I hear stories about 35 million people hungry in america, about our young men and women dying for unknown and originally false reasons, our politicians - our collective employees if you recall, lying, cheating, stealing, everyday and no one seems to have a solution; can't really fire them, can't be violent, can't do much but bitch. So, I guess we call the ref's blind and feel good.
    You know what really scares me, Mr.C ? .... is when news people comment that a particular judge ruled against party lines. Have you noticed this? Perhaps once becoming a judge, one should have only one party - law.
    Thanks again for a great blog. Hope to one day see you in my area on a book tour!
    -randy (