Football Justice

     Who says sports are not important?
     Really, who says that?
     OK, maybe a lot of you do, but apparently you’re wrong.
     A couple of researchers at Louisiana State University have published a report for the National Bureau of Economic Research that concludes that juvenile offenders get harsher sentences if their judge’s college football team has just surprisingly lost.
     It seems that the “emotional shocks associated with unexpected outcomes of football games played by a prominent college team in the state” increase sentence lengths imposed during the week after the loss and this is “asymmetrically borne by black defendants.”
     The study focuses on LSU and judges who went to LSU, so maybe this is a local problem — something to do with swamp water — but there are crazy football fans everywhere. This is likely a national problem.
     If you’re a judge and you’re mad, you get to take it out on someone.
     There are some important unanswered questions that need to be asked.
     For example, what happens after an unexpected basketball loss?
     What happens if the judge’s spouse has just filed for divorce?
     What happens if the judge is hungry?
     That last question isn’t idle — the LSU study mentions another study that showed that “judges’ propensity to be lenient jumps up after a food break.”
     You want a happy judge, not a grumpy judge if you’re a defendant.
     This is obviously a serious problem, but the study doesn’t offer any suggestions as to what to do about it.
     Fortunately, I’m here to help.
     But first more questions need to be asked. So many questions.
     For example, does this mean that every defendant sentenced during an upset loss for a local team has grounds for appeal?
     Is it malpractice for a criminal defense lawyer to fail to ask for a continuance or a recusal after a team loss?
     Is it unfair to the prosecution — and, hence, the public — for a judge to rule during a week after an important team win?
     Should ESPN be available on courthouse monitors?
     Are lawyers now ethically required to bring snacks for their judges?
     Should judges be required to announce in court all things that are currently making them happy or sad?
     Can the happiness or sadness of a judge be independently verified?
     Should mood stabilization drugs be administered to all judges? If so, are zombie judges equipped to pass judgment on the mental state of criminal defendants? Would they be biased in drug cases?
     Now let’s consider possible solutions. The most obvious ones might work, but they’re not practical.
     These include banning all sports in the name of justice or closing down courthouses during sports seasons.
     The difficulties there are obvious. A lot of judges who are unable to watch sports would become even grumpier. And if courts were closed while athletes roamed free, how could we bring all the criminal athletes to trial?
     Desegregation is an option. In Los Angeles County, for example, courthouses could be stocked with equal numbers of UCLA, USC fans and judges who couldn’t care less football. Judges could also be bused between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
     You run the risk, however, of open warfare between gangs of rival judges stuck in the same buildings.
     The only really practical solution is to sequester judges during rotating judging seasons so that no outside influences can affect them.
     Just keep them well fed.

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