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DG4 Idea: Frivolous Lawsuit protection

Discussion in 'Civ3 - Demo Game III: Citizens' started by DaveShack, Oct 29, 2003.

  1. DaveShack

    DaveShack Inventor Retired Moderator

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    This is a bit out of order from the apparent track the DG4 discussions is taking, but I don't want to forget about it later...

    There have been several comments that PI's are inherently personal / political / emotional acts. That's not what was really intended by the DG founders, but there can be little doubt that the motivation to request a PI usually stems from one of these sources.

    How about something like the following, with each point inserted at the appropriate place. It probably needs a lot of work on wording, but I'm mainly interested in hearing how the idea itself is accepted.
    • No person shall bring charges against another without sufficient cause. Doing so knowingly or maliciously is an offense against the unjustly accused, and the people.
    • If the judiciary determines that a charge has "no merit", the case shall then be examined to determine if the accuser raised the charges knowing there was no merit, or in a malicious manner. If either is the case, a unanimous vote of the judiciary may result in counter-charges against the accuser.
    • To avoid an escalating cycle of charges and counter-charges, the charge of "knowing or malicious false accusation" may only be introduced by the judiciary, by unanimous vote.
     
  2. Donovan Zoi

    Donovan Zoi The Return

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    I think we can add that to the PI procedure in some form, Dave. Good idea though. :)

    Pressed for time.....more later......
     
  3. ravensfire

    ravensfire Member of the Opposition

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    Sounds interesting - not sure it's workable though.

    How will the Judiciary determine a "frivulous" suit? What criteria?

    If the Judiciary finds such a suit, is there a trial? Who judges then?

    What punishments could be levied for this? Similar to a vexaious (sp) litigant in US? ie - accusation on goes forth if a judge agrees with charge.

    Using the DG3 PI system would essentially deal with this. The JA reviews the accusation and decides to press charges or not. It takes the other two justices to overrule that decision. I think the current process adequately handles such issues. If we go with a different process for accusations, I would bring this concern to light again.

    If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I don't think the current system is broke.

    -- Ravensfire
     
  4. FortyJ

    FortyJ Deity

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    While on the surface this may appear to solve one problem, I suggest that it actually creates two more.

    First, it is generally accepted that PIs and other similar distractions from the game are counter-productive and potentially harmful to the enjoyment of the game by all. This process may acutally lengthen the PI process by adding a second round of investigations and trials instead of simply dismissing the charges.

    Second, the desired result may be more damaging than intended. Fear of countersuits may not only deter people from bringing frivolous suits before the court, but legitimate ones as well. Any individual who believes that his or her rights in the game have been violated by another citizen (official or not) should be free to bring charges against that individual without fear of retribution by the very governmental body that they depend on to protect their rights in the first place.

    I think that this plan, though good intentioned, is flawed and should not be implemented into the ruleset.
     
  5. eyrei

    eyrei Deity Retired Moderator

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    We could always add the stipulation that a frivolous or personal lawsuit results in a ban per the forum rules against attacking another poster. I am kidding BTW. ;)

    I think we basically have to leave it up to the players to be responsible when filing PIs. I still hold to my opinion that the charges should be brought up in private to the judiciary and then they decide whether to try the case or not.
     
  6. naervod

    naervod My current user title

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    I think that since the people will decide the results of the PI, then if there is malicious intent, the PI will fail at the voting stages.
     
  7. eyrei

    eyrei Deity Retired Moderator

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    Unfortunately, many people often vote in PIs based on who their 'buddies' are. If one of the more 'popular' players files the suit it is likely his 'buddies' will vote to convict the accused regardless of evidence.
     
  8. Sarevok

    Sarevok Civ3 Scenario Creator

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  9. DaveShack

    DaveShack Inventor Retired Moderator

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    Granted, the definition of frivolous would need to be stated very carefully to avoid this problem. The suggestion is aimed mostly at knee-jerk PIs (or attempts at PIs) like the one following the DG3-T2 unguarded settler incident.

    I only brought up the idea because there were comments from several veteran DGers that I took in their entirety to mean that most PIs are disguised (or not) personal attacks. This would cause less disruption to the tradition of the game than eliminating PIs entirely (as some have suggested), yet it has potential to narrow the PI process to eliminate the most obvious abuses of the system.
     
  10. DaveShack

    DaveShack Inventor Retired Moderator

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    sorry about responding to two sections in the same post in separate replies... it's late and doing it this way is easier :)

    The objective is to reduce total disruption:
    • Discourage unfounded personal attack PIs by effectively raising the standard under which accusations are made.
    • If an accusation is found to have no merit and not frivolous, then there is no change to the amount of overhead.
    • In the case where someone presses on with an attack accusation, the initial incident is dropped without charges, and then the would-be accuser is charged. This takes only slightly longer than a PI on sufficient grounds would.
     
  11. Sarevok

    Sarevok Civ3 Scenario Creator

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  12. FortyJ

    FortyJ Deity

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    The PI system is essentially a system designed to enforce the rules of conduct amongst our citizens. There is nothing inherently wrong with that system. However, if we decide to remove that system, then for the betterment of the game, it must be replaced with another system designed to accomplish the same thing.

    Consider the alternative for having no such system in place. Law abiding citizens would have no recourse to protect themselves and their enjoyment of the game from those that would break the rules for whatever reason. With no recourse for these law-abiding citizens, the game would lose its appeal for them and they would likely stop participating.

    Clearly then, there must be some system in place to protect the rights of the victims. In these situations, the victim must be allowed to seek justice through whatever system is in place to protect his or her rights.

    However, if we are to place restrictions on this process or somehow attach the possibility of reverse prosecution, then we are, in effect, discouraging those victims from using our legal system, which could likely have the same effect as having no legal system at all.

    I would suggest that for the purposes of the demogame, there are no such things as frivolous PIs. What may seem like a waste of time to many, may in fact be a very serious issue to the individual making the charge. The time needed for the Judiciary to dismiss the charges of a meritless case is minimal compared to the potential harm that any restrictions placed on this system could cause.

    Consider this as well: how seriously do you think anyone is going to take the charges filed by an individual that has repeatedly filed meritless accusations in the past? Any individual that persistently files meritless or frivolous charges will soon find himself or herself in the same situation as the boy who cried wolf one too many times.
     
  13. ravensfire

    ravensfire Member of the Opposition

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    DaveShack,

    I'm going to refer to some points that others have made in this reply.

    Let's consider the conceptual goal of the current PI process. The intention is that when the rights of a citizen are violated, or when a leader fails to fulfill a defined duty/responsibility, a mechanism is provided to correct that action.

    The first part of any such action is the alleged incident. When a person thinks someone has done something wrong, they are often emotionally attached to the accusation. In addition, they may or may not be familiar with the law. This presents the possibility of a situation where an emotionally charged accusation is made, with no indication of what specific law has been violated.

    This is where some accusations have been initiated as personal attacks or on grounds that are patently false.

    One of the duties (in the current system) of the JA is to act as a buffer between the People and the State. The implication is that ANY violation of a law/duty/responsibility is both an action against a specific citizen, and an action against the People. Everyone understands that emotions happen, and can be disruptive. The JA must be able to pierce the emotions and examine the facts of the situation. Should the JA determine that an accusation has no merit, a calm, reasoned post explaining the situation and the logic will do more the calm down the problem than anything else.

    Your concern about people filing PI after PI is somewhat valid. I would submit that a competant JA will be capable of handling the first few such filings. Once it gets beyond that point, the citizen filing the accusations has gone beyond the boundaries of the game, and probably ought to be dealt with by a Moderator. Even if the Judiciary had the capability to "sanction" a citizen for filing malicious PI's, in all probability that would not stop the citizen.

    The power to declare someone a vexacious litigant is rarely used, even in current culture. I have heard of only a few earning such an unenviable title. It takes significant time and number of lawsuits prior to a Court considering such an action. DS, I understand your concern about what can happen. I think, however, it's a concern that will never materialize. A warning from a Moderator carries much more weight that a warning from a Court. As we have seen, the Mods both actively participate and actively avoid censure when possible. When needed, they exercise the power needed to ensure the game continues to run.

    Whew - I must be in BS mode today - that's a lot of stuff!

    Summary: I agree with DaveShack's concern, but think that, in the event it happens, the Mods are better suited to deal with it than the Judiciary.

    -- Ravensfire

    Edit: Thanks 40J! It's correct now.
     
  14. FortyJ

    FortyJ Deity

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    An excellent post ravensfire. Although, I must object to one point on the grounds that any title with the term litigant involved must be considered an unenviable title. ;)
     
  15. Cyc

    Cyc Looking for the door...

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    I would agree that a law or restiction or procedural guidline of this nature is not needed and just add to a future list of rules that would overburden DG4.

    I definitely think FortyJ has nailed the essance of the topic and the problems could could arise. I would also say that Ravensfire's post supports what FortyJ has said.
     
  16. donsig

    donsig Low level intermediary

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    In three demogames we've had only one rule infraction. That was for playing the save, the citizen was reprimanded and life went on. The PI process was not all that necesary for that instance. In all the other instances PI's only distracted us from the game. No rules were broken but we had the PI's anyway. They were frivilous. I don't see how adding another level of PIs would help.

    Drop the whole idea of PI's and play the game.
     

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