Da Vinci Judge’s Code Cracked

The Da Vinci code judge had some fun with his ruling, incorporating a hidden code in his opinion. It has been cracked.

British High Court Justice Peter Smith, who handed down a ruling that Brown had not plagiarized his book, had embedded his own secret message in his judgment by italicizing letters scattered throughout the 71-page document. In Brown’s book, a secret code reveals an ancient conspiracy to hide facts about Jesus Christ.

The judge’s own code briefly caused a wave of amused speculation when it was discovered by a lawyer this week, nearly a month after the ruling was handed down. But the lawyer, Dan Tench, cracked it after a day of puzzling. The judge’s code was based on the Fibonacci sequence, a mathematical progression discussed in the book. “After much trial and error, we found a formula which fitted,” wrote Tench, who had nothing to do with the Brown case but discovered the italicized letters when studying the ruling.

The judge’s secret message was: “Jackie Fisher, who are you? Dreadnought,” Tench wrote in the Guardian newspaper. Judge Smith is known as a navy buff, and Fisher was a Royal Navy admiral who developed the idea for a giant battleship called the HMS Dreadnought in the early 20th century. Tench wrote that the judge had e-mailed him to confirm he had guessed the secret code right.

The judge later confirmed the existence of the code, and revealed that the Fibonacci sequence was indeed the secret to its solution. “The message reveals a significant but now overlooked event that occurred virtually 100 years to the day of the start of the trial,” he said in a statement. He said that he is not normally much of a fan of puzzles, such as the Japanese number puzzles that have become an obsession of the British press. “The preparation of the Code took about 40 minutes and its insertion another 40 minutes or so,” he wrote. “I hate crosswords and do not do Sudoku as I do not have the patience.”

While I am no fan of activist judges or creative sentencing, creative judges are just fine. I therefore second Marshall Manson‘s, “Bravo, Sir!”

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.