Archives for posts with tag: d&d

Recall prior D&D cases in NinjaLaw
– Thompson v Dixon
– Meyer v Branker
– Singer v. Raemisch

This case below, like the Singer case, is about obtaining D&D books in prison, and cites to Meyer and Thompson:

Defendant also cites several cases that have recognized the dangerous influence Dungeons and Dragons can have on its participants. See Meyer v. Branker, 506 F.3d 358, 370 (4th Cir. 2007) (noting that defendant was obsessed with Dungeons and Dragons and that this obsession caused him to retreat into a fantasy world of ninja warriors); Thompson v. Dixon, 987 F.2d 1038, 1039 (4th Cir. 1993) (affirming the conviction of one of two men who brought a Dungeons and Dragons adventure to life by entering the home of an elderly couple and assassinating them);

going on to mention

Watters v. TSR, Inc., 904 F.2d 378, 380 (6th Cir. 1990) (describing a teenager who committed suicide as a devoted Dungeons and Dragons player who became absorbed by the game to the point of losing touch with reality).

These citations are from the case:

COREY GLASSMAN,
Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES YATES, et al.,
Defendants.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

CASE NO. 1:08-cv-01485-OWW-SKO PC
2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10075
February 1, 2011, Decided
February 2, 2011, Filed

The opinion is by US Magistrate Judge Sheila Oberto, writing:

Plaintiff alleges he is a prisoner at Pleasant Valley State Prison (“PVSP”) in Coalinga, California, at the time of the events relevant to this lawsuit. Plaintiff claims his First Amendment right to free speech was violated because PVSP officials prohibited inmates from possessing publications related to role-playing games, such as Dungeons and Dragons.

Specifically, Plaintiff alleges his copy of “The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun” was confiscated by PVSP officials in the mailroom sometime around June 21, 2006. On June 27, 2006, Plaintiff received a notification informing him that the publication was banned because it violated Operational Procedure 59, § RR(14), which bans any materials containing “[c]oded messages or any other item that may be deemed a threat to the safety or security of the prison.”

Concluding:

The Court finds that Plaintiff has failed to come forward with evidence seriously challenging Defendant’s contention that the prohibition against Dungeons and Dragons materials is rationally related to legitimate security interests. Accordingly, the Court will recommend that Defendant’s motion for summary judgment be granted.

In this case decided in 2010, a prisoner had his Dungeons and Dragons material confiscated and was prevented from engaging in gameplay or possessing the book materials. This Court of Appeals affirmed. There are no first amendment rights to play dungeon and dragons in prison. The Court cites to Meyer v Branker (Ninjalaw 68) amongst other cases that legitimize a claim that D&D can lead to unhealthy fantasy-seeking escapist-behaviors, at least in some people. Therefore the government prison has a legitimate interest in banning the content.

KEVIN T. SINGER, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
RICHARD RAEMISCH, * PHILLIP KINGSTON, BRUCE C. MURASK I, and MARC J. MASSIE, Defendants-Appellees.
* Pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 43(c)(2), Richard Raemisch, the current Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, is automatically substituted for former Secretary Matthew J. Frank.

No. 07-3400

UNITED STATES
COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT

593 F.3d 529
2010 U.S. App. LEXIS 1506

Argued September 18, 2009
Decided January 25, 2010

Before Chief Judge Easterbrook and Circuit Judges Williams and Tinder

Opinion by Circuit Judge Tinder:

After concluding that the popular role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons (“D&D”) represented a threat to prison security, officials at Wisconsin’s Waupun Correctional Institution took action to eradicate D&D within the prison’s walls. Inmate Kevin T. Singer found himself on the front lines of Waupun’s war on D&D when prison officials confiscated a large quantity of D&D-related publications from his cell. Singer sought relief from the prison’s new regulations–and the return of his D&D materials–through the prison’s complaint system, a pursuit which ultimately proved fruitless. Singer then brought this action against a variety of prison officials pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He alleged that Waupun’s confiscation of his D&D materials and imposition of a ban on D&D play violated his First Amendment right to free speech and his Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process and equal protection. The prison officials moved for summary judgment on all of Singer’s claims, and the district court granted their motion in full. Singer appeals the grant of summary judgment with respect to his First Amendment claims, and we affirm.

I. Background

Kevin T. Singer is an inmate at Wisconsin’s Waupun Correctional Institution. He is also a devoted player of D&D, a fantasy role-playing game in which players collectively develop a story around characters whose personae they adopt. Singer has been a D&D enthusiast since childhood and over time has acquired numerous D&D-related publications. His enthusiasm for D&D is such that he has handwritten a ninety-six page manuscript outlining the specific details of a “campaign setting” he developed for use in D&D gameplay. Footnote #1: A typical D&D game is made up of an “adventure,” or single story that players develop as a group. A related series of games and adventures becomes a “campaign.” The fictional locations in which the adventures and campaigns take place–ranging in size and complexity from cities to entire universes–are called “campaign settings.” For more information about D&D and D&D gameplay, see Wizards of the Coast, What is D&D?, http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/whatisdnd (last visited Jan. 20, 2010).

Singer’s devotion to D&D was unwavering during his incarceration at Waupun. He frequently ordered D&D publications and game materials by mail and had them delivered to his cell. Singer was able to order and possess his D&D materials without incident from June 2002 until November 2004. This all changed on or about November 14, 2004, when Waupun’s long-serving Disruptive Group Coordinator, Captain Bruce Muraski, received an anonymous letter from an inmate. The letter expressed concern that Singer and three other inmates were forming a D&D gang and were trying to recruit others to join by passing around their D&D publications and touting the “rush” they got from playing the game. Muraski, Waupun’s expert on gang activity, decided to heed the letter’s advice and “check into this gang before it gets out of hand.”

On November 15, 2004, Muraski ordered Waupun staff to search the cells of the inmates named in the letter. The search of Singer’s cell turned up twenty-one books, fourteen magazines, and Singer’s handwritten D&D manuscript, all of which were confiscated. Muraski examined the confiscated materials and determined that they were all D&D related. In a December 6, 2004 letter to Singer, Muraski informed Singer that “inmates are not allowed to engage in or possess written material that details rules, codes, dogma of games/activities such as ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ because it promotes fantasy role playing, competitive hostility, violence, addictive escape behaviors, and possible gambling.” This prohibition was later reiterated in a daily bulletin that was posted throughout the prison. It was also incorporated into a broader policy prohibiting inmates from engaging in all types of fantasy games.

Though plaintiff cited “a literacy tutor and a role-playing game analyst, testified to a positive relationship between D&D and rehabilitation, none disputed or even acknowledged the prison officials’ assertions that there are valid reasons to fear a relationship running in the opposite direction”:

The prison officials pointed to a few published circuit court cases to give traction to their views. We view these cases as persuasive evidence that for some individuals, games like D&D can impede rehabilitation, lead to escapist tendencies, or result in more dire consequences. See Meyer v. Branker, 506 F.3d 358, 370 (4th Cir. 2007) (noting that defendant Meyer “was obsessed with Dungeons and Dragons,” and that “this obsession caused ‘[him] to retreat into a fantasy world of Ninja warriors’ “); Thompson v. Dixon, 987 F.2d 1038, 1039 (4th Cir. 1993) (affirming the conviction of one of two men who brought a D&D adventure to life by entering the home of an elderly couple and assassinating them); cf. Sellers v. Ward, 135 F.3d 1333, 1335 (10th Cir. 1998) (defense counsel argued that Sellers’s addiction to D&D dictated his actions and disconnected him from any consciousness of wrongdoing or [**20] responsibility for three murders); Watters v. TSR, Inc., 904 F.2d 378, 380 (6th Cir. 1990) (describing a teenager who committed suicide as “a ‘devoted’ Dungeons and Dragons player who became absorbed by the game to the point of losing touch with reality”).

And therefore,

Conclusion

Despite Singer’s large quantum of affidavit testimony asserting that D&D is not associated with gangs and that the game can improve inmate rehabilitation, he has failed to demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact concerning the reasonableness of the relationship between Waupun’s D&D ban and the prison’s clearly legitimate penological interests. The district court’s grant of summary judgment is therefore AFFIRMED.

This case relates back to NinjaLaw post “Dungeons and Dragons Ninja Assassin insanity defense” about co-perpetrator Mark Edward Thompson. Mr. Thompson was sentenced to multiple life sentences but Mr. Meyer has been sentenced to death.

JEFFREY KARL MEYER, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
GERALD J. BRANKER, Warden, Central Prison, Raleigh, North Carolina, Respondent-Appellee.

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT
No. 06-26; 506 F.3d 358
September 25, 2007, Argued
November 13, 2007, Decided

Before WILKINSON, NIEMEYER, and SHEDD, Circuit Judges.
Judge Wilkinson wrote the opinion, in which Judge Niemeyer and Judge Shedd joined:

Nearly twenty years ago, Jeffrey Karl Meyer pled guilty to two counts of first degree murder for fatally stabbing an elderly couple during the commission of a robbery. Since then, three separate capital juries have sentenced him to death, and the North Carolina Supreme Court has twice vacated his sentence on direct appeal due to irregularities in the sentencing proceedings. Throughout this time, Meyer’s guilt has never been in doubt, and he has never argued that he did not commit the crimes in question.

Meyer now challenges his third capital sentence, raising claims relating to the effectiveness of his counsel, his awareness of the consequences of his plea, and the sentencing court’s refusal to admit potentially mitigating evidence. These claims have been heard and rejected by the same state courts that twice vacated Meyer’s earlier death sentences. We have reviewed Meyer’s claims with care, and we affirm the district court’s dismissal of Meyer’s federal habeas petition.

Summarizing the evidence:

On December 1, 1986, Jeffrey Karl Meyer and Mark Thompson broke into a home owned by Paul and Janie Kutz. At the time, Meyer and Thompson were heavily armed and dressed in the clothing of “ninja” warriors: “oriental assassins from feudal times, highly trained in martial arts and stealth.” State v. Meyer, 330 N.C. 738, 741, 412 S.E.2d 339, 341 (1992). Meyer and Thompson, soldiers stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, had been planning to rob the elderly Kutzs for some time.

Upon entering the house, Meyer and Thompson encountered the sixty-eight year-old Mr. Kutz. Meyer initially shot Mr. Kutz with a blow gun, a martial arts weapon that launches sharp darts from a hollow tube. After Mr. Kutz continued to advance, Meyer stabbed him with a butterfly knife. Meyer and Thompson proceeded to stab Mr. Kutz above the left eye, above the right collar bone, across the neck, twice in the upper left chest, in the rib cage, above the left elbow, four times in the back of his chest, and to the left and right of his spine. In addition, defensive wounds were found on Mr. Kutz’s left hand, demonstrating an attempt to fend off an attacker. Testimony at trial indicates that Mr. Kutz may have remained alive and conscious for between thirty seconds and five minutes after the stab wounds were inflicted.

Meyer and Thompson then proceeded to stab and kill the sixty-two year-old Mrs. Kutz with butterfly knives. Mrs. Kutz, who was found in a bedroom down the hallway from Mr. Kutz, was stabbed approximately twenty-five times. She also displayed defensive wounds on her hands. Due to the fact the autopsy found Mrs. Kutz’s lungs markedly expanded with trapped air and blood, it is likely that Mrs. Kutz remained alive after receiving the stab wounds.

Overwhelming evidence linked Meyer and Thompson to the crimes. First, in the early morning hours after the killing, a military police officer, Robert Provalenko, intercepted Meyer and Thompson, dressed in “ninja” pants and boots, as they drove through a restricted area of Fort Bragg. In their car, Officer Provalenko found jewelry, a TV, and credit cards that were later found to be stolen from the Kutzs’ house, as well as a significant arsenal of weaponry, including butterfly knives, nunchucks, and a blowgun.

Second, forensic evidence placed Meyer and Thompson at the scene of the crime. A police investigation found footprints consistent with ninja boots in the dirt around the house, as well as on a dining room chair. Human blood consistent with the type of both victims was present on the butterfly knives recovered by Provalenko, and fibers found on one or both of the knives were consistent with the upholstery of the chair in which Mr. Kutz’s body was found, a blue blanket found with Mrs. Kutz’s body, and the pink nightgown worn by Mrs. Kutz at the time of her death. Fibers from the blanket and sheets in the Kutzs’ bedroom were also found on the “ninja” clothing worn by both Meyer and Thompson on the night of the murders.

Third, Dale Wayne Wyatt, a soldier stationed at Fort Bragg waiting to appear in court on a worthless-check charge, testified that he met Meyer on December 3, 1986 in a holding facility during his detention. According to Wyatt, Meyer confessed to shooting Mr. Kutz with a blowgun and then stabbing him. Meyer also told Wyatt that he had been dressed as a “ninja” at the time of the crime.

On February 2, 1987, Meyer was indicted on one count of burglary, two counts of armed robbery, and two counts of first degree murder. On May 12, 1988, Meyer pled guilty to the robbery and burglary charges. Four days later, Meyer pled guilty to two counts of first degree murder. The trial judge accepted the murder pleas and, in open court, confirmed that Meyer had discussed the charges with counsel, understood what they meant, and knew he would be sentenced to either life imprisonment or death on each count. The pleas were accepted and recorded the next day after the State’s presentation of their factual basis.

AND

At his 1988 sentencing hearing, Meyer introduced testimonial evidence from two psychiatrists. First, Dr. Selwyn Rose testified that Meyer was obsessed with Dungeons and Dragons, a role-playing game set in medieval times, and that this obsession caused “defendant to retreat into a fantasy world of Ninja warriors.” Meyer, 412 S.E.2d at 342. Second, Dr. Thomas E. Radecki testified that Meyer “was so out of touch with reality . . . I don’t think that he really appreciated that he was really killing people. I think that he was living out a game, living out a fantasy . . . . I really don’t think he appreciated really seriously what he was doing. He’s a very sick man . . . .” Id.

This appeals court affirms the district court denial of habeas corpus peitition. Writ of certiorari was denied, and petition for rehearing also denied. Meyer awaits execution in a North Carolina federal prison.

This 1993 Ninja case might be called a failure of the “Dungeons and Dragons” insanity defense. The narrative of the appeals court decision explains an adventure game gone crazy as two soldiers become ninja assassins. And I wonder what was up with ninja in North Carolina in the early 1990’s because this is the third NinjaLaw post in a row that is from that area (Ninja Pants was also Fort Bragg and Motorcyle Bank Robbers was also NC).

ninja dungeons

MARK EDWARD THOMPSON, Petitioner-Appellant, v. GARY T. DIXON, Warden, Central Prison, Respondent-Appellee.
No. 92-6779
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT
987 F.2d 1038

Decided – February 19, 1993

Opinion by Judge Morgan:

In the fall of 1986 the Petitioner was a 17-year old enlisted soldier in the Army stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. There he met Jeffrey Karl Meyer, and the two began playing “Dungeons and Dragons,” an adventure game in which the participants enact roles and carry out adventures in a medieval setting. In November 1986, the Petitioner and Meyer were playing a game of Dungeons and Dragons which called for several “Ninja” assassins to enter the house of an elderly couple and assassinate them. The two chose the home of Mr. and Mrs Paul Kutz in rural Cumberland County, North Carolina, because it had what resembled a moat around their house. On December 1, 1986, the Petitioner and Meyer went to the Kutz’s home around 11:15 p.m. and broke in. They found Mr. Kutz, age 69, in his recliner and Mrs. Kutz, age 62, asleep in her bed. They killed Mr. Kutz by stabbing him 17 times and cutting his throat. The two killed Mrs. Kutz by holding her down and stabbing her numerous times. After stealing jewelry, credit cards and a television set, the Petitioner and Meyer returned to Fort Bragg. They were stopped by military police who discovered the stolen property. The military police notified Cumberland County authorities who discovered the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Kutz. The Petitioner and Meyer were subsequently arrested.

The Petitioner confessed to being present at the murders, stealing the property and watching Meyer stab the Kutz’s. The Petitioner later confessed to his psychologist that he participated in the stabbing of Mrs. Kutz. At trial, the Petitioner contended that he was not guilty by reason of insanity and that he lacked the mental capacity to formulate the requisite intent required for murder. In his instructions at the close of trial, Judge Herring instructed the jury that “sanity or soundness of mind is the natural and normal condition of people; therefore, everyone is presumed sane until the contrary is made to appear.” (J.A. 64). On October 26, 1989, the jury rejected the Petitioner’s insanity and mental illness defenses and found him guilty of two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon, and one count of first-degree burglary. He was convicted and sentenced to three consecutive life terms of imprisonment plus two forty-year terms which were combined to run subsequent to the expiration of the life sentences.

The Petitioner appealed all judgments to the North Carolina Supreme Court. The North Carolina Supreme Court found no constitutional error in his trial. State v. Thompson, 328 N.C. 477, 402 S.E.2d 386 (1991). The Petitioner filed a habeas corpus petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 with the district court on November 25, 1991. His sole claim was that the state trial court violated his due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment when it instructed the jury that he was presumed to be sane unless he proved otherwise. On January 8, 1992, the State filed its answer to the Petitioner’s habeas corpus petition and moved for summary judgment. On July 2, 1992, the district court granted the State’s motion for summary judgment, finding the state trial court’s presumption-of-sanity instruction did not in any way relieve the State of its burden of proving the intent which was an element of the offenses of which he was convicted by the jury. (J.A. 38). The Petitioner argues on appeal that these presumptions deprived him of his due process rights by removing the presumption of innocence and relieving the State of its burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that he intentionally committed the felonies of which he was convicted.

So defendants can’t just say playing Dungeons & Dragons made them insane and that they thought they were a ninja. The Japanese ninja was a D&D class in first edition D&D, in a 1985 expansion called “Oriental Adventures”. The character class only resumed recently in the 3rd edition. Perhaps the defendant was frustrated by the unavailability of the ninja character class in the middle editions of the game. If so, it is fair under due process and North Carolina law, to obligate the defendant to prove his insanity and this court does not find a violation of rights to innocence until proven guilt. Defendants are presumed sane.

A similar example of a case in which a defendant performed criminal acts by referencing to a role playing game involved the Vampire Masquerade game. I’ll tell you more about it when I get around to writing VampireLaw (soon enough but not today!). In the meantime, I hope you are reading ZombieLaw which is so far the most active.