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Disorderly Conduct

Updated: Apr 9, 2021

This is surely the strangest board game find, especially in a UK discount store (The Works). On the surface, this is a game modelled on Trivial Pursuit. Players roll a die and move their tokens (brightly coloured wooden tetrahedrons) around a triangular board trying to land on the seven different topics and correctly answer a multiple choice question on that topic.

Disorderly Conduct is not so much a board game as an American Bar study aid. All of the topics are areas of law: criminal law, evidence, property, constitutional law, tort, contract and ‘general practice’, and all relate to US federal law. If from the movies we’ve learned one thing about American law students, it’s that for exam revision they organise themselves into study groups. Disorderly Conduct recognises this: it’s designed not to be played by individual players but by competing teams. In a small nod to this being a game rather than homework, ‘Contempt’, ‘Motion Day’ and ‘Blind Justice’ cards introduce Monopoly-style Chance or Community Chest elements: mostly allowing a team to steal a legal topic card or forcing them to miss a turn.

Not having sat the US Bar exams, I can’t say how helpful this game would be to American law students. I suspect its use would be rather limited: many of the questions seemed pretty basic to me. I have a degree in law, albeit from a very long time ago and under the English rather than American legal system, and so for me it is interesting to see the many similarities between the two jurisdictions. In many respects, the federal legal system in the US has preserved a purer version of English law than we now have in the UK. The notion of jury ‘voir dire’, for example, goes back to the time of the early Plantagenet (Anglo-Norman) English kings and meant that lawyers could question jurors and disqualify individual jurors on the basis of their answers. This remains a fundamental component of criminal trials in the US but it was abolished decades ago in England. You will find questions in Disorderly Conduct about voir dire, alongside questions about landmark US Supreme Court judgements. Sadly, you won’t find much of a game - so this is one for novelty value only. Whom do I sue?

(Review by Selwyn Ward)

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