Dear judge community,
As a consequence of attempts to damage the reputation of Wizards, the judge program had to face loosely veiled accusations of having sex offenders in our ranks. This was done by involving current and former members of the judge program in a series of messages that were intertwined with messages about sex crimes.
You can read our previous statement about it.
This behavior is potentially damaging, as a superficial reader may come to the idea that Magic Judges are dangerous people. However, we have witnessed over many years that judges are among the most trustworthy people we could meet in our lives. Of course, in a community of 7000+ people there may be some bad eggs, and the Judge Program already has had a mechanism in place for years to remove those people from the community.
Recently, Wizards of the Coast announced Tournament Organizers will be required to verify that they will “not employ or otherwise engage Staff or other individuals who interact with the public on [their] behalf who (i) appear on a sex offender registry (or its international equivalent), and/or (ii) have been convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction for a violent sexual offense or a crime against children”. This requirement applies specifically to Tournament Organizers via the WPN, which is their link to Wizards of the Coast. This responsibility is not on the shoulders of judges.
The Program Coordinators are aware there are many questions to be answered. Unfortunately, we don’t know all the answers; we don’t even know all the questions at this point! But, we believe it is our responsibility to keep the Judge Community up to date with our thoughts and actions on the matter.
–It is important to keep Magic tournaments safe for everybody. We believe this is the goal Wizards is aiming for, and we agree with this goal. However, the system, as presented, has some flaws and uncertainties that need to be addressed.
-The Program Coordinators together with the Regional Coordinators and some other leaders in the Judge Program are providing feedback to Wizards. Feel free to reach us at email@example.com with your concerns and ideas. We may not have answers for you, but we will listen. We will act on whatever we can, and will send suggestions to the proper places when we can’t.
-Background checks work differently in each country. We want to encourage judges to share their knowledge and findings in this matter with other judges. Nevertheless, please do it in a responsible way. Do not communicate anything you simply heard, but instead look for the source of that information and share links to official websites. Otherwise, a lot of good intentions may lead to a network of disinformation.
-We want to also encourage judges to collaborate and support Tournament Organizers. This is as unexpected for them as it is for us. Never go outside of the law or risk your safety, but help TOs when it’s reasonable (remind them that you are not offering legal advice, that they have the final responsibility and that they should contact their WPN representative in case of any doubt).
-At the same time we need to realize that the judge community is really large and it will continue growing as the game grows. We need to put in place some mechanism to keep our community safe from the wrong people. Those mechanisms need to balance security and respect of individual privacy, but, in the end, we need something. We believe the inclusion of fair and efficient mechanisms to keep dangerous people away from Magic would be positive for everybody. We don’t have any new processes to announce today, but we are working on what we can do to help keep everyone safe.
Finally, the current Program Coordinators, Alfonso and Riccardo, both members of the Judge Program for longer than 15 years, want to state:
“The vast majority of judges we have personally met are among the most trustworthy, honest, loyal, and kind people we could meet in our lives. We want to thank all judges for creating an environment that fosters this kind of person. We also consider it very unfair that these accusations are being made against a community that is always doing its best to provide a safe and welcoming environment at Magic events.”
Yours, the Program Coordinators. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org