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Sex offender gets second hearing because his case was decided on fonts, not facts

The hearing officer in a sex offender case was biased against the defendant’s choice of font.


Gaby Dunn

Internet Culture

A convicted sex offender in Massachusetts received a second hearing after the hearing officer who decided his case was found to be biased. The officer had posted to Facebook numerous times about the “perv.”

In one example, the officer, Tyson Lynch, mocked the offender for using the Arial typeface, saying he “can’t trust someone who drafts a letter in arial font!” and “I might be biased. I think arial is inappropriate for most things.” 

He also called the man a “perv” on Facebook and wrote that he “thinks attorneys should know that arial font is not appropriate for motions.” 

The man Lynch wrote about was challenging the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board’s decision that he needed to register as a level 3 sex offender. Lynch oversaw the man’s administrative hearing, and ruled against him.

But then it was shown that Lynch allegedly posted numerous times on Facebook regarding the case, during both off-hours and work hours. A Massachusetts appeals court agreed that the comments proved Lynch had a known bias against the people he evaluated, and that his remarks were “unquestionably inappropriate, unprofessional, troubling, and suggestive of a prejudicial predisposition.”

Due to his remarks, the sex offender was given another hearing, and other cases Lynch heard are under review for bias. 

Font biases are nothing new. In 2001, designer Mark Simonson lamented in a piece called “The Scourge of Arial” that Microsoft’s “homely” knockoff of the famous typeface Helvetica has become more common than the real thing.

“To professional designers, Arial is looked down on as a not-very-faithful imitation of a typeface that is no longer fashionable. It has what you might call a low-end stigma,’” he wrote.

Fortunately for the John Doe in this case, being unfashionable isn’t grounds for a legal judgment. 

H/T Slashdot / Photo via Bobbi Newman/Flickr

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