MANY A PETITIONER ASKS:
“JUDGE JOHN HODGMAN, what do you look for when you choose which disputes you will settle in a BINDING, QUASI-LEGAL MANNER ON A PODCAST?”
THE CRITERIA are so subjective and mysterious, it is impossible to just list them.
AND YET: I HAVE DONE IT.
1. Has the petitioner emailed me at hodgman (at) maximumfun (dot) org?
If not, I probably have never even HEARD of your dumb argument!
2. Does the dispute exist in THE REAL WORLD?
While the occasional philosophical dispute—such as “Is a Machine Gun a Robot?”—may occasionally be heard due to SHEER ROBO-FASCINATION, in general the court seeks to resolve ACTUAL DISPUTES between ACTUAL HUMANS on the ACTUAL EARTH.
Debates over ownership of an actual toy giraffe, for example, will usually take precedence over debates over whether or not a bear would beat a ninja in a fight.
3. Are there DAMAGES?
The court does not merely seek to tell you that you are WRONG. It also wishes to dispense JUSTICE.
As such, the court is drawn to cases in which it may take positive action, either by issuing an INJUNCTION (“You may not run the Iron Man Triathlon, even though it will make every jock on the internet hate me”), issuing an ORDER (“You must put a holiday SADNESS TREE in your shed”) or by awarding DAMAGES (“Even though you live in Portland, you have to pay your friend actual money and give that person an actual, sincere hug”).
4. Is the dispute SETTLED?
The court wishes to MAKE HISTORY, and thus is not often attracted to settled law and old business. If you have already figured out how to share the apartment or divide up the sunken treasure, the court will likely not hear your case. UNLESS YOU ARE OFFERING THE COURT A ROOM IN YOUR APARTMENT FULL OF TREASURE.
5. Is the dispute FICTIONAL?
If the court senses that the disputants have ginned up an argument out of thin air simply to be on a podcast (aka MUNCHAUSEN’S-BY-PODCAST SYNDROME) the court will likely not hear the case.
The court frowns on this practice, but if the underlying dispute is compelling enough, it will hear the case.
7. Are the disputants MARRIED?
For a while, the court was hearing TOO MANY FIGHTS between spouses. But that time has changed: marital status shall no longer disqualify people from JUSTICE.
8. Are the disputants AUDIBLE?
While the court will never dismiss over a case PURELY due to audio quality, it is worth reminding here: the best way to partake in the AMERICAN INTERNET JUSTICE SYSTEM is as as follows:
-EACH disputant should have a computer with Skype on it.
-This computer should be HARDWIRED to a reliable broadband connection.
-AND SERIOUSLY: please arrange to have all traffic on your street suspended for at least 3 hours.
9. Is it SATSUMA season?
Then LET’S GO.
10. Does the dispute offer the court the chance to make references to GAME OF THRONES?
The court will not hear the case. This has gone TOO FAR.
THE CASE WILL BE HEARD AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
IN FACT, I am currently scheduled to hear cases THIS FRIDAY afternoon. So if you seek the Hodge’s Justice, email as soon as possible.
Until then, this is the sound of a gavel.
JUDGE JOHN HODGMAN RULES
That is all.
Drawing of me and Bailiff Jesse courtesy ERIN MCGRATH
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