Are Judges ever 'off duty'?


Out of curiousity... are Judges ever given 'free time'? What's a Judge like when they're off duty? Are there any protocols that keep a Judge from making civil conversation with a citizen (say, during the JD equivalent of a coffee break... if there is one)?

For that matter, what kind of hobbies (in your opinion) would a typical Judge undertake?

I'm just wondering, from a roleplaying standpoint... I'm considering playing a Judge who's surprisingly charismatic (for a Judge), and I dont' want to take him too far around the bend.
Over the past 26 years of the comics history, Dredd has been seen off duty a few times, mostly catching up with reading up on new laws and such, but judges tend to not get any time to themselves for obvious reasons.

I do remember reading in a copy of 2000AD that judges can be allotted personal time if they request it in advance (Judge Giant did so to visit his grandfather) from their Sector Chief.

Yeah I have to agree with Dredd Times, from what I've seen there are four reasons a Judge is not on duty.

1. The Judge makes the rare request for time off
2. The Judge is sleeping
3. The Judge is in traction
4. The Judge is dead

Every other time (s)he is on duty.
I agree with the the above posts. Judges are rarely off duty, and still function like Judges even when they are not officialy on duty due to the 15 years of intensive training they have been through.

The only exception would be psi judges, who are still on duty even when sleeping, in traction, or in some cases, dead.

Great question though.

Judges do get time off (i'd argue) its just its not like the time off we'd imagine. For example case work, interviewing, cross referencing, profiling and training, are all examples of when a judge could be considered off.

Also judges need to build up informants, contacts and knowledge of the area, much of which may not be immediately avalible. Also informants are likely to not want to meet with a judge on duty, in uniform, acting like a Judge (also all those wally squad guys and gals come from somewhere).

The Problem here is what works in a comic, doesn't necessarily work in a Role Playing Enviroment. Especially as Dredd is not strictly your arch-typical judge, but the embodyment of it.

Also medical treatment and injuries are likely causes for a judge to be off the street, along with undercover work and basic administration.

Its probably unlikely that judges work full time, for 24 hours, 7 days a week, simply because of the stress this causes. Though off duty judges are likely to be found hanging around the sector house, some must get out more, or they'd be no corrupt judge feat.

For an effective force, its probably essential to ensure they have some kind of off duty activity time, even if its just to think over the days events.

In my game the judges work 8 hour shifts, with 6 days on, 1 day off rotation. The second 8 hours is catching up on current events, crimes, briefing and paperwork (inc Interviews), with a rest phase (sleep machine) followed by personal time, before they head out again.

However I also break cannon in having a MC-1 Detective Force rather than just relying on street judges. This remains an option for those wounded in the line of duty and an alternative to the long walk or accademy.

Interestingly Judges can retire (Judge DeMarco does), but most simply choose the way of the law, because thats who they are. Otherwise why would a judge go bent, if they didn't have the possibilty to spend their ill gotten gains.

I think when dealing with the game one must expand outside of the actual comics in order to bring dimensions to the game. The comic gets away with it simply because it only has to fill reading time (either 3 double sided pages or say 3/4 hour in a graphic novel) where as a game might cover 6-10 hours of time.
I partially agree with you hass. I like the idea of Judges going back to their Sector House, or in the case of Senior Judges, going back to their apartments. There are gyms available for them to keep fit, mandatory medical checkups would be carried out when you are not on duty on the streets, paperwork, and probably just hanging around in the Sector House with fellow judges watching newsvids or something. During this time though, while they are not on the streets, they are still mentally on duty. I don't think of being a judge as having a job, it's more of a lifestyle and you never switch it off.

That's why I have a hard time accepting that judges would ever been out of Sector House while not wearing their uniform. If I remeber rightly, when DeMarco was still a judge, after getting out of bed with a fellow judge (that's another story) the first thing she does is put on her uniform. I don't think they even have other clothes.

Dredd has met all of his contacts and informants while on duty, and it's the intimidation of a judge in uniform that will often turn a citizen into an informer either out of fear, self preservation, or respect for the law.

I do agree that it's hard to create something beyond the comics when that is all we have seen. I guess I just prefer to keep it as close to the right feel as possible. Having judges going off duty and going to play at the boing dome or play shuggy (without betting since that is illegal) just seems wrong to me.

Each to their own I guess.

There is another point too add to Hass's statments above and that is under the Volt reform, all judges must take a mandatory 8 hours natural sleep for every 14 days of active duty and use of a sleep machine.

I would argue that any time judges have off duty is more than likely spent catching up on paper work (all perps need to be logged) and each judge must be proficant with not only their Lawgiver, but also new weapons and equipment issued by the Justice Department and as such will spend many off duty hours practicing on the firing ranges.

As Hass points out judges can retire, but many will end their days either teaching at the Academy or taking the Long Walk rather than living out their last days in a eldster con-apt. DeMarco is a prime example of this having more money at her disposal than most citizens in the Big Meg can ever dream of having.

Hi there! Long time lurker, first time poster - hope this comes out right . . .

In general, judges do seem to have little in the way of free time and a private life. Dredd certainly devotes himself to the Law 24/7, and only recently has he started taking time out to do "nonjudicial" things - witness the reintroduction of his niece Vienna into the comic strip.

However, Dredd is notoriously and possibly uniquely rigid in his conduct, and other judges do seem to find some time for themselves. I don't have the prog numbers to hand, but I seem to recall a story in the Megazine in which Hershey takes time out to accompany her young nephew to a circus (I think the story featured a harlequin-like character who kidnaps children). Of course, that was before she became chief judge. Nevertheless, this story, like the recent one in the Megazine where Giant meets with his grandfather, John Clay, does illustrate that judges can take some personal time (and may choose to spend it with family members).

There was also an old Anderson story where she and the late Empath Corey change into civilian clothing and go nightclubbing! The story is reprinted in one of the Anderson collections (and by the way, does anyone ever get the feeling that Psi-Div operatives are really coddled by Justice Department? Any time we've seen Anderson's quarters, they seem a heck of a lot more comfortable than the typical street judge's accommodations. And she has a Dredd plush!)

A third example - there was a one-shot story (illustrated by Ian Gibson, if I'm remembering this right) where Dredd is on a mandatory 24-hour rest period but can't sleep. He isn't allowed back on patrol, so he ends up in a bar near a spaceport, where he shares a (nonalcoholic) drink and a chat with some decent citizens, including an Apocolypse War vet. I think that story refers to some sort of new policy encouraging off-duty judges to interact with citizens, but I'll have to dig out that prog to see if I'm recalling that correctly.

Way, way back when the Dredd strip first began, we often saw Dredd in his apartment in Rowdy Yates block, interacting with (i.e., being exasperated by) Walter and Maria. I suspect that prior to the Apocalypse War, judges probably did have more free personal time. Since then, MC1 has been hit by major disasters (the war, Necropolis, Judgement Day, the events of Inferno, etc.) on a fairly regular basis, and it has been mentioned several times that Justice Department is undermanned, which has probably led to a scaling back of the amount of down-time afforded to judges. Plus, given their sense of duty, many judges probably choose to forego any leave they might accumulate, spending it instead dispensing justice on the streets.

It's also been mentioned in one or two stories that Hershey's reign as chief judge is somewhat more liberal than those of previous chief judges, so if you want your PC judge to have more off-duty time, you could frame it as being part of a new experimental scheme whereby judges are given an opportunity to better understand the citizens they police by interacting with them on a more personal basis.

In the campaign that I play in, my psi-judge keeps threatening to take the street judges in her new squad out dancing in a nightclub. I don't think they realise that she's not joking . . .

I love Psi-Div - you can get away with sooooo much stuff that would have a regular street judge booted off into traffic control.

Indeed Psi-Judges are cut a lot more slack, probably more than anyone, simply because they are rare, incredibly valuable and highly strung. I seem to remember Anderson taking off across the stars and still being allowed back in.

Anderson was a teenager when she was signed up, so its fairly apparent that the Psi-Judges are more about talents than skills, but then few are street judges.

Interestingly Brit City dectectives fit very very nicely into the niche between Street Judge and Psi-Judge..... And allows the use of an excellent class outside of its normal permissions. In my game these are those judges too old for the typical justice dept work, but too skilled for early retirement. This was born out of an exchange program between brit-cit and MC-1. Currently two Brit Detectives are heading it up and training four detectives... Its Senior-Det Regan and Det Carter.... I can't wait for my PCs to meet them.... :twisted:
I love some of the ideas you guys come up with for working around difficulties. I keep making notes of the ideas posted here to help prompt me later when I'm good enough to be creating my own stuff.

I just read the story last night where Anderson goes to the nightclub... very interesting. She seems very young in that story, so I'm guessing this was before the apocalypse war which wiped out so many of the cities judges, not to mention the citizens and buildings. I noticed that they had to sign a book (real paper and pen stuff) to say they were leaving the Sector House, where they were going, and when they would be back... but being Psi judges, they left the return time blank and got away with it. So it may be that it is possible for judges to get a break occasionally, but it's a rare thing. Normal judges have to have a major reason, like family issues (Dredd and Giant) or Psi judges whenever they want just because they are so valuable that they have to take breaks so their minds don't snap.

I've not read the story where Dredd goes to a bar, but I do know he always used to sit around his home in his uniform. Did he wear his uniform to the bar? I think the only times I have seen him out of his full uniform is after he talk the long walk (you actually got to see his rotting face when he was starting to resemble Judge Death himself) and once when he came out of the shower as Sector House and was talking to Hershey... but he had his back to us of course. I don't think he even owns any other clothing. I remember in the early days, Dredd did a stint working on Luna-1 and upon returning the Mega-City One, he was not officially a judge at all for a short time, pending the paperwork... but he still stayed in uniform.

I think I would allow some leave if the story seemed to move in that direction, as that's what it's all about, but I wouldn't make it a regular part of my roleplaying sessions.

Its a common theme in most comic books to throw in a 'downtime' story after a major story arc, and most often these are the most loved, simply because they are wildly different and show the person behind the hero.

Of course with Judges this is a bit different. Obviously Psi's get the break, but theres never a shortage of ideas to get out of the uniform...

Undercover work (wallys can't always be around)
Offical Functions (Public Relations, Tourism, Inspections)
Accidents at the Laundry-mat (always a classic)
Meeting up with snouts
Suspension - Pending Sentence
Mandatory Leave (enforced by the Accounts Divsion of Human Resources)
Unoffical Work (such as following up a closed case on the QT).
Works Party (good for one weird and very mental session - Judges Required to have FUN)
Dress Down Day in the Sector House (we all know how weird some HR ideas can be!)
Visiting a Secret Mistress

Basically any idea can be incorporated into Dredd simply exaggerate and satarise it from the real world. The most fun can be had when you force Judges to have fun. Remember they have to deal with all kinds of matters from military through to political and PR.
hassanisabbah said:
Visiting a Secret Mistress

Some great comments there Hass. Some of those things you mentioned would still require a uniform, but would be great to break away from the norm. The comment I quoted brings up some interesting questions though.

I remember DeMarco sleeping with a fellow judge, which is against the rules/Law, but I don't recall any other judge every having a relationship that was permitted. Are judges even allowed to have relationships at all, or are they supposed to repress all such feelings since it is unfitting conduct for a judge?

Reading the Judge Anderson GN last night called Hour of the Wolf, it showed a young Anderson trying to do some telepathic work while a gruff Dredd-like judge (can't remember his name) looked on and kept complaining about how long it was taking and when she tried to explain that it's not easy, he responded that he doesn't want to hear her problem, only her results. They went off together and stopped near a bus crashsite and Anderson was hit by the emotion of all the people dying, but the gruff judge told her to stop being childish. She made some comment about him not being able to feel anything since that was driven out of him at the academy.

That kind of implies that emotions and personal needs are surpressed... and it also hints that maybe Psi Judges do not go through the same training... or at least, not all of it.

Any thoughts on this?

Since my local comic shop doesn't any more carry British comics I can't keep up with Dredd anymore except when they get something that is published in US. But I remember an old story where two judges were in love and since it was not allowed for the judges they took bribes or something. Of course old stoney face took them down and said that "Love, there should be a law against it!" So yes, I think judges are in a way monks (and nuns) of the Law and that kind of personal relationships or even feelings are not allowed. I am pretty sure that judges are indoctrinated to suppress their feelings but since no indoctrination is perfect some judges will begin to feel some stress others more than others.

Since PSI judges have to relay on their empathic abilities to use their PSI abilities they can't be indoctrinated to suppress their feelings like normal street judges.

I think that most of the "off-duty" time that judges have is spent on training and interacting with other judges. After all their training they still are only humans and they have to share their experiences with others and as with combat soldiers the only ones who could truly understand them are other judges who do the same job. I don't know about interacting with the citizens unless they have accomodations outside the sector house as I would put that to on-duty time. Then they are out there in the public anyway and I suppose they don't have to be mean fascists (sp?) all the time especially to law abiding citizens.

Apart from DeMarco, the only other one that springs to mind is Judge Giant, but he got away with it. But its against the rules for Judges to form relationships of a sexual nature (though I don't think its a Titan matter). Dekker had an infatuation with Dredd, as did DeMarco, and Dredd still reckoned Dekker was the best cadet he'd seen bar none. Its against the rules both in and outside the dept. Dredd meet DeMarco investigating a sector house where this was occuring.

More than once has a citizen become obessed with Dredd.... It would appear that its probably not entirley unheard of for Judges to stray from their hard regime (Dredd himself has questioned the law), one way or another. Despite 15 years training they are human (although Travis Perkins should have been the first non human judge). Particually it seems as they get older, their faith is more tested.

Giant actually had fathered a son, who became a judge, the second Judge Giant. The first giant was killed prior to the sov-invasion. Dekker died defending MC-1 from the zombie hordes (Dredd saw her as a future chief judge). Judges have emotions, Dredd is clearly moved by the death by both of these Judges (Giant and Dekker), but their emotions seem to be more akin to samuari.

Now whether this applies to Psi Judges is possibly a different matter. I suspect it does, but a blind eye might be turned if it doesn't interfere with duty (most Psi's don't work the streets). Prehaps the sleep machines take care of this desire (like the bromine in the 8th Armys Water Supplies) It probably doesn't apply to those who retire, or those who fail but still work alongside the Justice dept, and presumably Wally Squad stray in the course of duty.
My understanding of downtime / off duty time / personal relationships goes like this:

Street Judges have a mandatory eight hours natural sleep a week (that'd be minimum) wheras Psis probably have much more (it has never been established in the comics as far as I can tell, and I have all of them!) - certainly, as has been mentioned, Psis have much more much more personalised sleeping quarters than Street Judges (only seen one picture of Dredd with a teddy bear!) Judges are also supposed to take the occasional day off - under the Volt reforms I think. The recent(ish) story with Dredd meeting some decent cits in a bar was a good one. Several references have been made to downtime over the years but it's difficult to work out exactly what the entitlements and requirements actually are. In my game, the Judges get downtime when it fits in with the flow of my plotlines ;) - I feel basically that whatever the GM decides is right for thier sector is fine - I kind of feel 16 hour tours of duty 6 days a week is probably a good balance, with the rest of the time there for paperwork, working out, meeting Joe Cit (public relations!), having sneaky illegal affairs (makes the game so much more interesting if the GM and one player can work out a whole secret life for thier character and with the player drop in tiny little clues when the rest of the squad are playing - I in fact used this as a major plotline over a couple of years where the player knew my intentions and happily went along with the whole thing - it took a bit of work but it did work really well and ended up in a shootout when he was finally caught (I basically ripped off the plotline of Se7en - none of my players has seen that movie and it worked fantastically well)

Wally Squad, Apocalypse Squad and other divisions will have different rules, too, though at all times it should be remembered that these are Judges, and thier first love should always be the Law - those struggling with suppressing other human emotions should be torn between thier genuine love of the Law and thier 'human side' - I find this makes for some great roleplaying experiences and is one of the reasons I never get it when I read that playing Judges is boring as they have no depth of character.
Before she was Chief Judge, Hershey put personal time into working out in a civilian gym and also visiting her orphaned nephew.
Dredd and Rico have found (limited) time to pay social calls on Vienna Pasternak.
havercake lad said:
Before she was Chief Judge, Hershey put personal time into working out in a civilian gym and also visiting her orphaned nephew.
Dredd and Rico have found (limited) time to pay social calls on Vienna Pasternak.
And wasn't Dredd awkward in a social setting? He keeps going into "menacing mode" whenever he meets Vienna's guests...
The first Judge Giant was apparantly granted a whole month's leave back in 2100. The reasons are unspecified, I would guess at re-cuperation from injuries being the cause. Possibly a time when he lapsed into an 'extra-judicial' relatonship ?
Some judges in the comic strip clearly find time to occasionally view tri-dee shows example being the one Vienna played a bimbo in.
Sector 13 Sector House, Human Resources Department.
HR Judge Pedant: 'Ah, Judge Smith, do come in. So, I see you've submitted me this [brandishes a slip of pink paper]. Care to explain it?

Smith: 'Sir, its a holiday request slip sir.'

Pedant: 'Really. Did you, er, make it yourself?'

Smith: 'Yes sir. Bought the paper and everything.'

Pedant: 'How very creative. I didn't know we taught art at the Academy, but there you go. Now, would care to explain what this is for?'

Smith: 'Sir, yes, sir. I want to take some time off. Have a break. Recharge the batteries.'

Pedant: 'We have machines for recharging batteries. See the Tek Division...'

Smith: 'No sir, I mean, my batteries, figuratively speaking.'

Pedant: 'You run on batteries?'

Smith: 'No sir... er, never mind sir. Its just that, I think I need to take a holiday sir. Somewhere warm.'

Pedant: 'A holiday? A HOLIDAY? [checks personnel records] 'But it says here that you've had your requisite real-time and sleep machine rest as per Justice Department regulations. Am I missing something here Judge Smith?'

Smith: 'Well sir, its just... I think it'd be nice to have a little time away from Mega City One sir. Change of scene. Get out of the uniform for a bit. Not catch perps.'

Pedant: 'Ah, now we get to nub of it. I see from your arrest records that you've been having some issues in that regard. Two arrests in the last twelve hours. That's 80% below Sector House average...'

Smith: 'Its because I need a holiday sir.'

Pedant: 'Now look here Smith. You don't need a bloody holiday. No Judge needs a bloody holiday. Holidays happen to citizens. Makes them lazy. Lazy citizens have a 99% chance of becoming a perp. Do you want to become a perp, Judge Smith?'

Smith: 'No sir... its just that, they say a change is as good as a rest.'

Pedant: 'Well, I think we've established that your arrests aren't very good. [Ponders] As for changing... you actually might have something there.'

Smith: [brightening] 'You mean I can...?'

Pedant: [smiling] 'Yes. A change. Good idea. Get those - erm - batteries recharged.'

Smith: 'Aw, thank you very much sir.'

Pedant: 'Think nothing of it Smith. Shall we say, six months?

Smith: 'That'd be marvellous sir.'

Pedant: 'Excellent. From tomorrow I'm moving you to Cursed Earth patrols for six months with an option to extend for a full year. Let's see how that helps you 'change' and 'recharge your batteries' eh?'

Smith: 'But... sir!'

Pedant: 'No, no... don't thank me any more Smith. Its the least we can do. We are a human resources department after all!'

Smith: [under his breath] 'Wanker...'