A Case Worth Discussing: The Banning of Zach Jesse


My apologies if you were expecting an EDH article this week from me. Normally today would be a day where we talk about the most recent Commander build I have brewed up for you guys and gals, but not this week. I’ve decided to take the time to voice my opinions on the matter of Zach Jesse being banned from Magic. For those of you who are unaware of the situation, let me explain. I do feel like putting in a fair warning, this article will get a bit touchy, as it does cover some sensitive subjects.

If you don’t wish to continue, I understand. If you do though, you have been warned. I will also say that this article may not reflect the same opinions that the rest of the crew here at MagicGatheringStrat have. These are my own opinions, and I feel like sharing them with you since I feel that this is a topic worth discussing. If you want to read more about the incident, there will be a link at the bottom of the page that will take you to Zach’s public response on Reddit pertaining to the situation.


Zach Jesse was convicted of sexual battery in 2004. During the trials, he took a plea bargain, as was suggested by his lawyer. His sentence was to serve three months of an eight year sentence. The court allowed him to serve his time on a work release program, so he could continue an internship. An article was written in the local paper about what had happened.

Many years passed since this incident. During that time, he had gotten married and had gotten a degree in law from the University of Richmond. In his application to the school, he stated how he wanted to use his conviction as a driving force to better himself and his community around him. During his time he school, he stated that he has logged 100 hours of community service, as to live up to his promises he made in the application. He has also had his civil rights reinstated by the governor of Virginia.

Currently, Zach says he does roughly 30-40 hours of community service a week doing various things. He also donates about 30 or more hours of his time a week volunteering his time at local law office to help people with legal aid that can’t afford it.

During Grand Prix Atlantic City, Zach made top 8. During the event, Drew Levin, a well known Magic player and content producer, tweeted about Zach’s criminal history. Drew ended up citing the article from the local newspaper written about the Zach’s conviction. This of course led to Zach being banned from all sanctioned Magic events, and having his MTGO account seized away from him.

Let me preface this by saying that I do not condone what Zach was convicted of. That type of behavior is deplorable, abhorrent, and shameful. I do not think he should have been banned though. In order to help explain my opinion, I feel like I need to tell a personal story. It’s something that I did in my past that I deeply regret. I do not think what I did is in any way, shape, or form as heinous as what Zach did. It will help convey my opinions though, so here we go.

Back in high school, I ended up getting into a relatively serious relationship, for the time at least, with a boy that we will call “Joey” for all intents and purposes. Joey and I hit it off great in the beginning. We were wonderful together. We ended up being together for quite a while. During the relationship, I ended up making a terrible mistake. I made the mistake of cheating on him. When Joey found out, he was devastated. We didn’t talk for what felt like months at the time. When we did end up talking, with me apologizing and begging for forgiveness, we reconciled and moved on. After that, our relationship was never the same, and we broke up later due to other complications. Even though that was long ago, I still think about it from time to time. I wonder what things would have been like if I didn’t make that mistake.

Since then, I have made strides to better myself. I’ve become more open and honest with people, and done my best to never hurt others again.  I feel like I have paid my dues, and put in the effort to learn from my mistakes. I know there is always more work to be done, but it’s a start. Zach has definitely done the same.

He has shown that he has put in the time and effort to improve himself as a person. His commitment to his community is a beacon of goodwill that we quite frankly don’t see too often anymore. He puts in so much effort into working on himself and helping out his community that it’s amazing that he even has time to play Magic at all. He’s a different man that he once was when he committed that horrible crime back in 2004. He deserves a second chance. Everybody has done wrong in there lifetime, some things much more severe than others, but if that person has put in the time to better themselves and learn from their mistakes, then I believe that they deserve a second chance.

Now if a person does not put in the effort to better themselves, then they don’t get that second chance. It’s not something that should be handed out willy-nilly, it has to be earned. Zach earned his second chance, though it doesn’t seem like WotC agrees.

I can understand from a business perspective why Wizards did what they did. They want to protect their image and promote a safe, healthy environment for every person involved. It makes sense that they don’t want a person who has convicted of these horrible acts as a part of the Magic community. They failed to delve deeper into the situation, and see what accomplishments Zach has done to help better himself and his community. I feel like they just followed their gut reaction and banned him without any further thought or research. It feels like they just blindly followed the angry mob that was rallied against him once Drew tweeted about his checkered past.

Wizards needs to take more time into looking into these situations in order to get the full picture of who this person is. They need to take these situations on a case by case basis, and take the time to analyze the person in question and see if they have made attempts to right their wrongs. If Zach just had commited this crime recently, then yes I would be behind banning him in the name of public safety. Since so much time has passed, and Zach clearly has changed himself for the better and learned his lesson, he should have not been cut out of competitive Magic. I believe Wizards needs to reconsider and give him a second chance.

Thank you guys for checking out my article this week. As I said before, I’m very sorry for not talking about Commander today. We will be back on track next week with another deck for you guys and gals to enjoy. I just felt like this was a topic worth discussing, as it affects the entire Magic community. If you have any comments, leave them below. I’ll take a look at them as soon as I can. See you soon, my friends.

-Steven Gulsby

Link to Zach’s Reddit response – https://www.reddit.com/r/magicTCG/comments/35q0yx/in_light_of_recent_discussion_a_post_by_zach_jesse/