|By Tony Russell|
"Whatever happened to your poker pot?" asked Patty last night, as she
was dishing out the black bean soup. "Who won it, George or Al?"
I was surprised. Patty usually knows everything that's going on.
"Didn't you see the papers?" I asked. "It's been in the local news
for weeks. They took it to court. George got the pot."
"They took a poker game to court?" Patty said incredulously. "Why
would the court have anything to do with a poker game?"
I hate it when she asks questions like that. I start out explaining
something to her, and by the time she's finished, I realize I don't
really understand it either. "I guess it's up to the court to decide
what it wants to decide," I offered lamely. "Did you already salt
"Of course I already salted it. That's never stopped you before. How
did they decide to give it to George?" she asked.
"As I understand it, there were two factors," I said, adding salt and
pepper. "The first was the equal protection clause. The judge
figured that if they included the three bent cards in this hand,
they'd have to replay all the hands that night. And the other was
time. The judge put off the case until the day before his vacation,
and then said there wasn't time to replay those hands before he had to
She snorted. "Who was the judge?" she wanted to know.
"Judge Unrecht," I told her.
"Unrecht," she said thoughtfully. "I think I know him. Doesn't
his wife work in George's office?"
"Now that you mention it, I guess she does."
"Sure she does," said Patty. "That blonde. You know who I mean. And
doesn't his son work for George's lawyer? That short, intense
"I think you're right. "She mused for a moment. "Unrecht," she
repeated. "Wasn't he appointed by a friend of George's?"
"And doesn't he plan to have friends of George name his replacement
when he retires?"
"This soup's too salty," I complained. "What's your point, Patty?"
"I thought there were standards--I don't know what you call them,
codes of ethics?--that judges were supposed to follow. Like if you
had a relative or a financial interest or something like that tangled
up in a case, you were supposed to refuse yourself."
"Recuse yourself," I said. "Look, Patty, that's only when you're
dealing with something important. Who's going to complain about the
outcome of a poker game?"