Virginia is for lovers (of video games). A judge in Wise, Virginia was so enamored of the shooting game Halo that he may have crossed ethical lines to play it.
The not-so Wise judge struck up a friendship with a defendant he’d previously sent to jail. Their gaming relationship came to light when Judge Joseph Carico got into a car accident while driving his Halo partner/courtroom visitor home after a night of shooting people up. From the Bristol Herald Courier:
The game of choice that night, said passenger Jeremy Hubbard, was the popular first-person shoot-’em-up Halo 3 on the X-Box 360 gaming platform.
The two also played some sports games on the Nintendo Wii platform, which Hubbard, 28, said is the judge’s preferred gaming system.
Carico may have quick reflexes in virtual reality but hit a tree when a real deer sprinted in front of his car while driving Hubbard home at one in the morning on a Saturday night. (At least, he wasn’t playing until the wee hours on a school night like some other judges we know.)
Hubbard and Carico first met due to Hubbard’s legal troubles — he’s previously been found guilty of felony shoplifting and heroin possession. Carico has now stepped down from the bench and area lawyers believe it’s because of the November car accident and gaming revelation. But c’mon, what’s the problem with a judge playing video games with a convicted felon?
Felons probably make great partners for Halo and Grand Theft Auto. They know what they’re doing after all.
And Carico did not throw his courtroom responsibilities to the wind. With regards to a judge’s ethical obligations, Carico was actually wary of those:
A year before the crash, Carico filed a request to be removed from a drug case involving Hubbard because of a possible conflict of interest, but he never stated the source of the problem.
By then, the justice had signed multiple orders revoking Hubbard’s bond and jailing him on the drug conviction and on a larceny case. Carico also signed three separate orders sentencing Hubbard to community service.
The conflict of interest, Hubbard said, happens to be the first conversation the two men ever had outside the court room. Carico sought the recusal within days of the meeting, Hubbard said.
That seems fair. Sure, playing video games on a regular basis with criminals isn’t great for a county judge’s image, but Judge Carico seems to understand that if a judge goes shooting with someone, he should recuse himself from ruling in cases involving that person. That’s a higher standard than some on the Highest Court hold.
Speculation by lawyers surround disappearance of Judge from bench [Bristol Herald Courier]
Gaming With Defendant Costs Judge His Seat [Kotaku]