BoingBoing's Cory Doctorow: People Believe V-Tech Killer Was a Gamer

August 7, 2008 -

BoingBoing co-author Cory Doctorow gives a wide-ranging interview to the Chicago Tribune in which he touches on misperceptions about violent video games and the Virginia Tech massacre.

There’s this broad consensus that the Virginia Tech murders had something to do with violent video games. When you actually read the coroner's inquest report, video games are mentioned twice. The first is his mother saying he never wanted to play those video games. The second is his roommate saying, "We always thought he was weird because he never wanted to play video games." Yet it’s still a [popularly held] truism that violent video games must be responsible for Virginia Tech.

 

GP: As GamePolitics has reported in the past, the official commission investigating the Virginia Tech rampage found only one game that the killer played - Sonic The Hedgehog.

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No Surprise Dept: Jack Thompson Wades into Thai GTA Case

August 5, 2008 -

You knew it was only a matter of time.

In the wake of reports that a 19-year-old Thai man murdered a cab driver after playing Grand Theft Auto, embattled Miami attorney Jack Thompson has written a menacing e-mail to the top executives of Take-Two Interactive, publisher of the controversial series.

In the e-mail to T2 chairman Strauss Zelnick and CEO Ben Feder (and copied to dozens of other people, including GamePolitics), Thompson writes:

I warned you both that copycat killings by teens would occur upon the release of Grand Theft Auto IV. Now my prediction has come true...
GP: Except that it's unclear whether the alleged killer was even playing GTA IV. In fact, as we reported, it's not at all clear that GTA IV has even been imported into the Thai market as of yet.
 
In addition to multiple written warnings, I told you of this coming mayhem in a face-to-face meeting with you, Mr. Zelnick, on Central Park West on May 15, 2007... I am working with authorities now...  as well as other remedies against Take-Two for its reckless worldwide distribution of its murder simulation training products...
 
This is just the latest killing incident prompted by your murder simulators. I aim to make it the last...
 
GP: We covered the Central Park meeting which Thompson refers to here. It took place shortly after Zelnick had seized control of T2, ousting Thompson's previous favorite target, CEO Paul Eibeler.
 
As to "working with authorities," Thompson often makes such claims.
PS: The above latest copycat killing will help fuel federal legislation in the United States because of your company’s chronic marketing and sale of its mature-rated video games to minors. You are selling GTA IV, for example, to anyone of any age via the Internet.

 

JT Has New URL

July 28, 2008 -

We've often wondered why game-hatin' Florida attorney Jack Thompson didn't get his own website where he could push his opinions and his frequent URGENT! press releases to his heart's content.

It appears that he soon will.

On Friday Thompson, who is expected to be permanently disbarred in the near future, circulated a press release touting www.copycatviolence.com, a website designed, he says, to:

...help victims as well as alleged criminals prove the causal link between violent entertainment and specific acts of violence.

Claiming that the site, which is currently in parked status at GoDaddy, will be online "soon," Thompson promises:

...a host of resources available to help others prove, in civil and criminal courtrooms as well as in legislatures, the fact that violent entertainment, particularly adult-rated entertainment marketed and sold to children, leads to violent criminal acts. 

 

This inescapable causal link between violent entertainment and acts of aggression has already been proven by various healthcare providers, including the American Psychological Association, but no one to date has provided comprehensive resources to pin the tail on the entertainment industry’s reckless practices. 

 
GP: We're wondering if the new website signals a move on Thompson's part to market himself as a so-called expert witness in "violent media made me do it" defense cases...

 

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Jack Thompson Plays it For Laughs on Jace Hall Show

July 24, 2008 -

The much-anticipated Jace Hall Show segment with game-hatin' Florida attorney Jack Thompson is now live...

Clearly, as Thompson has suggested, the episode was scripted for laughs.

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GTA IV Car Named After Game Violence Researcher

July 21, 2008 -

Last September game-hatin' attorney Jack Thompson claimed in a federal court filing that a corrupt attorney marked for assassination in Grand Theft Auto IV was him. But then, Thompson says a lot of things...

What seems more clear is that a hybrid car (left) available for jacking in GTA IV is named after a well-known game violence researcher, Dr. Karen Dill of North Carolina's Lenoir-Rhyne College.

As reported by the Chronicle of Higher Education:

The "Karin Dilettante" is a sporty hybrid sedan that appears in Grand Theft Auto IV, the latest installment in the famously violent and sexualized series of video games. "Chicks love electronic gadgets" is the slogan in fake ads for the car.

 

Ms. Dill says she couldn't believe that Rockstar Games, the maker of Grand Theft Auto, had taken the trouble to name a car for her: "I was kind of like, whoa, they actually do care about video-game research."

Dill, who has testified on game violence issues before Congress, apparently took the parody good-naturedly. Reportedly, she was simply relieved to find that she was not portrayed as one of the game's hookers.

Renewed Controversy over Iraqi Artist's Virtual Jihadi Game

July 21, 2008 -

Controversy seems to follow Virtual Jihadi, artist Wafaa Bilal's computer game commentary on America's Iraq war policy.

As GamePolitics reported earlier this year, Bilal and his exhibit were uninvited from Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute following complaints about the game from the school's College Republican club. After moving the exhibit to an art gallery in nearby Troy, New York, Republican city officials intervened, closing the gallery over alleged building code violations. Art gallery officials charged that the closure was politically motivated. The New York Civil Liberties Union eventually filed a lawsuit against the city over the issue. 

Fast forward to this month. Bilal, an American citizen as well as a faculty member at the Art Institute of Chicago, is currently exhibiting Virtual Jihadi at the Windy City's FLATFILE galleries, accompanied by a renewed round of controversy.

So, what's the uproar about? By way of background, GamePolitics reader Zachary Miner described the game as the RPI/Troy flap was raging earlier this year. Bilal's exhibit is, essentially, a mod of an al Qaeda mod of a forgettable PC game called Quest for Saddam:

During his speech, Bilal said that the idea for the game started with Quest for Saddam... in which the object is to find and kill Saddam Hussein. Apparently someone in Al Qaeda obtained a copy of the game, changed the skins of the soldiers and Saddam so that now the player is an Iraqi killing Americans and hunting George Bush [the so-called Night of Bush Capturing game].

[Bilal changed] the game from the Al Qaeda version so that instead of the player himself killing Bush, he now has to recruit someone else - in this case, a character skinned to look like Bilal himself... to become a suicide bomber and attack Bush. Bilial said that the point of this is to show the vulnerabilty of Iraqi citizens to recruitment for such purposes.

Negative reaction to the Chicago exhibit has come from a variety of critics:

  • Conservative pundit Michelle Malkin: If you’re a left-wing artist looking for attention, you can never go wrong with assassination chic. The latest entrant is one Wafaa Bilal. He’s got issues, as they say... And Obama and his grievance-mongering supporters have the nerve to whine about that New Yorker cartoon…
  • Glenn Reynolds of InstaPundit: If somebody did this about Obama it would be a national scandal and evidence of America's incurable bigotry. But since it's an artist named Wafaa Bilal and it's about Bush it's just "confrontational art"... In an earlier age, this kind of thing would have been considered unacceptable enemy propaganda. On the other hand, this is just more proof that all the lefty bleating about George Bush's fascism is just self-indulgent -- and utterly dishonest -- twaddle.
  • Jihad Watch: There is freedom of speech and there is incitement to murder. A cartoon of Muhammad harms no one, although there are those who chose to consider themselves harmed by it, and think that it gives them a license to commit murder. This video game, on the other hand, encourages the murder of a living human being. Yet no one will be particularly concerned about this, while attempts to limit free speech because of the cartoons continue... It isn't as if anyone drew a cartoon of Muhammad in this exhibit. That would be crossing the line, now, wouldn't it?
  • Israeli game blogger Avi Green : This is really obscene and disgusting, and that it should be shown at an exhibition where I'm guessing they wouldn't even think of displaying the Mohammed cartoons from Denmark, should tell something about the true nature of the institute. Whoever Flatfile are, anyone with common sense should stay away from them.

Meanwhile, embattled anti-game lawyer Jack Thompson has inserted himself into the situation. As reported by Time Out Chicago, Thompson issued one of his typical legal threats to FLATFILE director Susan  Aurinko:

Either you immediately remove [Virtual Jihadi] from your ‘art gallery,’ or I shall take the necessary legal action to have it removed. I have already contacted the Secret Service.  Your public display of this game is a criminal act. 

It's unclear on what basis Thompson assumes the exhibit constitutes a crime. The FBI reportedly reviewed Bilal's game when it was first exhibited at RPI in March and took no action. Thompson subsequently claimed in an e-mail that Bilal "threatened" him in a phone call last Friday, although the nature of the "threat" is not specified. 

UPDATE: Executive Protection News has weighed in on Bilal's project:

Executive protection specialists should not dismiss these games no matter how distasteful they might be. Suicide bombers have been very effective in targeting VIPs and have successfully assassinated national leaders, military officials and other key figures. The threat of suicide bombers to key persons is real...

 

While it is doubtful that this game will result in a direct threat to President Bush or even an immediate suicide bomber attempt, these games give legitimacy to the tactic and hence encourage those who are already predisposed to use suicide bomber tactics.

 

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Jack Thompson on Jace Hall Show Next Thursday

July 18, 2008 -

Jack Thompson will be featured in an interview on the July 24th episode of the normally light-hearted Jace Hall show.

We don't think this one will be a walk in the park, however. The segment, according to Thompson, was filmed in a video game store in Salt Lake City. The likely-to-be-disbarred attorney was there recently to be honored by America's Freedom Festival. Why Thompson was feted remains a mystery, as officials of the festival have not responded to our requests for information.

As to Thompson's Jace Hall appearance, the show apparently provided two brief clips to Thompson, who forwarded them to GamePolitics (sorry, we have no clearance to make them generally available). Here's the dialogue:

(first clip)

Jace Hall: Having created mature-rated video games myself, and just listening to you, effectively I'm one of the damned, apparently.

Jack Thompson: Yes... permanently

(second clip)

Jace Hall: Now that you've had a chance to talk to me, do you think of me as some bad guy who's trying to hurt children?

Jack Thompson: No, I don't think of you, Jason, as a bad guy. I think of you as pure evil, and there's a special room in Hell for you...

GP: If you're not familiar with Jace Hall, he is co-founder of Monolith and a former VP at Warner Brothers. He has a long list of game projects to his credit. 

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G4 Parodies, Pleases Jack Thompson; Spanks YouTube

July 17, 2008 -

With his remaining time as a licensed attorney likely numbered in days rather than decades, you might think that anti-game campaigner Jack Thompson would be in something of a funk.

However, Thompson has e-mailed GamePolitics with a YouTube link to a new G4TV parody called Jack Thompson Was Right. His subject line? "Very Funny, Really"...

However, when we jumped over to YouTube the video was gone, and the following notice posted: "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by g4 Media Inc."

No worries. G4TV still has the video...

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Jack Thompson Reacts to ESA Head's "Rearview Mirror" Comment

July 14, 2008 -

On Saturday VentureBeat posted Dean Takahashi's excellent, eve-of-E3 interview with ESA CEO Michael Gallagher.

Among his remarks, Gallagher took a rare shot at embattled anti-game attorney Jack Thompson, telling Takahashi:

[Thompson] is in the rear view mirror... The bright future that lies in front of us does not include Jack Thompson...

Naturally, we couldn't resist asking the volatile Thompson for his reaction to Gallagher's remarks. In an e-mail to Gallagher, cc'd to GamePolitics, Thompson wrote:

Dear Mike:

 

I really enjoyed your "Jack Thompson is in the rearview mirror" comment.  I think it is a reasonable thing to say, based upon what you think you know about what is going on between me and The Florida Bar, but in fact it is not accurate.  You don't know what is going on behind the scenes.
 
What I would like you to know, however, is that I plan to file a lawsuit this week against the ESA.  It's about time.  If you think my current, soon to be past, Bar problems are an impediment to that suit, think again...

 
I look forward to the entire video game industry having the  ESA and the ESRB in its rearview mirror.  That should be accomplished soon.

GP: The lawsuit of which Thompson speaks is apparently some type of RICO allegation. We've asked for more details but are taking a wait-and-see attitude as to whether this one ever happens. Not every lawsuit Thompson threatens actually gets filed, and this one in particular has the whiff of a non-starter.

Thompson also sent Gallagher the picture included in this report, which is, we have to admit, an amusing touch.

Getting all of the Thompson news out of the way so we can focus on E3, the controversial barrister has - not unexpectedly - filed several motions with the Florida Supreme Court, objecting to last week's report by Judge Dava Tunis which recommended that he be disbarred for life.

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Philippine Game Law Proposal Could Jail Retailers for a Year

July 14, 2008 -

A lawmaker in the Philippines has introduced a bill designed to prevent minors from puchasing violent video games.

As reported by the Asian Journal, the measure proposed by Rep. Narciso Santiago (left) could imprison retailers for up to one year for selling mature-themed games to underage buyers.

Santiago cited studies showing increased aggressiveness following violent game play. The lawmaker commented:

[The state has] compelling interests to prevent violent, aggressive, asocial behavior [and] prevent psychological harm to minors who play violent video games, and prevent physical harm to the victims of violent minors, including other minors....  It is also the responsibility of the state to eliminate any societal factors that may inhibit the psychological and neurological development of the youth and facilitate the health development of the youth  into well-meaning productive adults.

GP: Our old pal Jack Thompson wrote in a comment to another story that Santiago's bill is patterned after his 2006 legislation from Louisiana. That bill failed miserably under US constitutional law, but made for good theater, nonetheless (see: The Circus Comes to Louisiana)...

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Dean Takahashi Interviews ESA Boss on Eve of E3

July 12, 2008 -

Over at VentureBeat, Dean Takahashi serves up a terrific Q&A-style interview with ESA CEO Mike Gallagher (left).

The interview comes on the eve of E3 and Takahashi fires some tough questions at Gallagher.

Highlights include:

VB: How did you choose the Texas governor, Rick Perry, for the other keynote?

 

MG: It makes complete sense Gov. Perry would be an invitee. Texas is a leading state when it comes to game development. They have an environment where they welcome the video game publishers and developers. They are reaping the economic benefit because of that... We’re delighted for the first time to bring such a high level politician to E3. It’s a sign of respect for the industry and maturity.

 

VB: The industry still has its share of political battles regarding censorship. How are those going?

 

MG: We are winning those but we are not out of the woods... There are many in the state and federal arenas that operate off a broken, flawed historical stereotype. That problem is a top priority for us. We’re trying to set a positive image for this industry and to make sure politicians understand it... 

 

VB: Would you say Jack Thompson (the crusading Florida anti-game attorney) embodies your opponents and their views?

 

MG: He is in the rear view mirror... The bright future that lies in front of us does not include Jack Thompson...

 

VB: Some companies have dropped out of the ESA. There seem to be several reasons. Some may not get along with you. Some don’t like the higher dues... 

 

MG: Who says they don’t get along with me?

 

VB: I can’t specifically answer that.

 

MG: I would press you on your sources. I haven’t heard that element come through where there is a personal disagreement with me, or, more importantly, there is a disagreement with the ESA’s mission. Every company that has left has embraced the ESA’s mission... When it comes to the ESA mission... we are making sure that the states and federal constituencies understand it...

Read the entire interview at VentureBeat.

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Florida Attorney: Jack Thompson's Attacks are the "Emotional Equivalent of Stalking"

July 12, 2008 -

In 2005, Jack Thompson wrote Out of Harm's Way, an autobiography which detailed his brand of activism. Toward the end of book he lists 25 Culture War Tips From the Trenches.

These include "Be mean" and "Take the Offensive."

Thompson apparently put his philosophy into practice with zest, if one judges by transcripts of his November, 2007 Bar trial. Judge Dava Tunis cites large chunks of those transcripts in her 169-page report to the Florida Supreme Court in which she recommends that Thompson be disbarred for life.

While GamePolitics has already offered exclusive coverage of the transcripts involving Thompson Bar trial witnesses related to video game cases, we had not previously read the testimony of Florida attorneys Larry Kellogg and Al Cardenas (left) of the Tew Cardenas law firm. In 2005 Kellogg was hired by Beasley Communications to deal with Thompson. Beasley owns radio stations and Thompson had targeted some of their shock jock programming. From the transcripts cited by Judge Tunis:

Kellogg: ...what [Thompson] does in these situations -- is he attacks the lawyers for those he wants to do something with... once he learned that I was involved, he started sending me communications to me about my client and about me to others. He also started copying me with all the communications he was sending to others... the F.C.C., third parties of every sort...

I had another matter out in Denver... So I went out to Denver and I didn't get back to Mr. Thompson quick enough for him. So I started getting e-mails threatening that he was going to sue me personally if I didn't arrange a meeting. He sent me an e-mail giving me deadlines. I must have this meeting -- agree to this meeting -- by a certain date or things were going to happen. I was getting all these e-mails, but I was out on another matter and I didn't think it was the most important thing in my life was to arrange a meeting with him. So because I didn't do it fast enough for him, he sent a series of letters... and this was the basis for my initial Bar complaint, why I got involved for the first time in 26 years in a Bar proceeding. I've never filed a Bar complaint and I've never been involved in one prior to this day. This is what made me do it...

Al Cardenas is my partner. Al Cardenas has never represented Beasley and he had never done anything
personally on behalf of Beasley up to that time and never has since. He's never billed an hour of time. He's never talked to them about any legal matter. He's never represented them in any way. He was simply an innocent bystander, who happens to have been the co-chair of President Bush's Florida campaign. He is involved in politics. He's well known as being involved in politics on the Republican side and he knows very well Jeb Bush and he knows George Bush and [Florida Governor] Charlie Crist. He knows them all and they all know who he is.... So Mr. Thompson, because I wouldn't get a meeting with him fast enough...[made the following statements regarding Mr. Cardenas.]:

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We Have the Judge's Report Recommending PERMANENT DISBARMENT for Jack Thompson

July 9, 2008 -

Hot off the press... Be warned - it's a 169-page pdf file.

Get it here.

UPDATE: In addition to her recommendation that Jack Thompson be permanently disbarred with no opportunity for reinstatement, Judge Tunis recommends an assessment of $43,675 for the costs incurred by the Florida Bar in prosecuting his case.

The report by Judge Tunis is quite lengthy. We will break it down and comment on it beginning tomorrow. For now, we will note the Judge's conclusion regarding the evidence presented at Thompson's Bar trial, as she definitely knows Jack:

The Florida Bar has recommended disbarment for a period of ten (10) years. This Court respectfully declines to follow the Bar’s recommendation... This case involves factual findings of cumulative misconduct, a repeated pattern of behavior relentlessly forced upon numerous unconnected individuals, a total lack of remorse or even slight acknowledgement of inappropriate conduct... 

 

Additionally, the Court is taking into consideration a review of the Respondent’s conduct not only as proven by the evidence, but by what this Court has witnessed of the Respondent’s behavior throughout the eighteen (18) months of litigation. The undersigned finds no evidence whatsoever to indicate that the Respondent is amenable to rehabilitation, or even remotely appreciates the basis upon which a need or purpose for such rehabilitation is warranted...

  

Over a very extended period of time involving a number of totally unrelated cases and individuals, the Respondent has demonstrated a pattern of conduct to strike out harshly, extensively, repeatedly and willfully to simply try to bring as much difficulty, distraction and anguish to those he considers in opposition to his causes. He does not proceed within the guidelines of appropriate professional behavior, but rather uses other means available to intimidate, harass, or bring public disrepute to those whom he perceives oppose him.

 

Thus, after careful consideration of the underlying facts in the instant cases, together with the Florida Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions, the applicable aggravating and mitigating factors and the precedent case law, this Court makes the following recommendations for John Bruce Thompson:


A. Permanent disbarment, with no leave to reapply for admission.
B. Disciplinary costs currently totaling $43,675.35.

 

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BREAKING: Disbar Jack Thompson Forever, Bar Trial Referee Says

July 9, 2008 -

This story is evolving. Here's what we know so far...

Jack Thompson began circulating e-mails a short while ago claiming that Judge Dava Tunis (left), the referee in his November, 2007 trial on ethics charges brought by the Florida Bar, has recommended that he be disbarred for life.

As in forever...

In May, GamePolitics broke the news that Judge Tunis had recommended to the Florida Supreme Court that Thompson be found guilty on 27 of 31 counts of professional misconduct.

In June, Florida Bar prosecutors requested a 10-year "enhanced" disbarment for the controversial attorney, who stormed out of the hearing. 

Tunis had until September 5th to provide her final report to the Florida Supreme Court, which will make the ultimate determination of Thompson's professional fate. Apparently the judge has finished her task ahead of schedule.

We are presently working on confirming Thompson's claim as well as obtaining a copy of Judge Tunis's report. In the meantime, we note that Thompson wrote in an e-mail circulated at 1:12 PM today:

I got the always helpful Dava Tunis’ final Referee’s Report today, recommending a life-time disbarment (my life, not hers).  The Bar only asked for ten years. 

A second e-mail from Thompson to the Florida Supreme Court begins with:

Your Referee down here, Dava Tunis, the one who does not have a federally-mandated loyalty oath even to be on the bench, just today issued her final Referee’s Report in the above matter, and she rejected The Bar’s recommendation of a ten-year disbarment for me and instead is asking you to disbar me permanently with no opportunity ever to apply for reinstatement.

GP: It's important to point out that Judge Tunis is only making a recommendation. Thompson has not been disbarred. Only the Florida Supreme Court can make that determination.

 (more to follow)

While you're waiting, check out all of GP's coverage of the Thompson Bar Trial...

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Stopped at Courthouse Door, Jack Thompson Says He Will Sue U.S. Marshal

July 9, 2008 -

 

Embattled Miami attorney Jack Thompson filed yet another federal lawsuit against the Florida Bar yesterday.

The far more interesting development, however, is Thompson's allegation that he was denied entry to the federal court building in Miami by U.S. Marshals. In an e-mail court filing this morning, Thompson says that he intends to file a federal civil rights action against Chief Judge Federico Moreno and U.S. Marshal Christina Pharo of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Here is Thompson's version, which also includes additional information on the cautionary visit paid to his residence by a pair of U.S. Marshals last month (a story broken by GamePolitics):

The [US Marshal and the Chief Judge] have undertaken to surveil me and then harass me because of my whistle-blowing...  The two Deputy Marshals who came to my home on June 17... told me that they have been monitoring me for quite sometime because “we have been told you are at the end of your rope and might be a danger to the physical safety of others.” 

 

...When I showed up at the federal courthouse yesterday... the harassment intensified.  When I presented my [ID] I was immediately (not after checking any list) informed that “You have been disbarred.”  I pointed out to the Deputy Marshal that that was news to me...  It is absolutely patently clear that these people were waiting for me.

 

The Deputy Marshall, Willie Bell, then proceeded to berate me when I asked why I was not allowed to enter a public place, the Clerk’s Office, after passing through all of the security scanners, etc.  He told me, “You just want an audience Mr. Thompson.”  I informed him, “No, I simply want to file a civil complaint in the Clerk’s Office.”

 

Mr. Bell, who apparently was instructed to harass me rather than just accompany me... continued to berate me personally, and he trapped me in the elevator to further harass me, which detention constituted a false imprisonment. 

Additional details of the incident (from Thompson's perspective) are to be found in a document filed with the U.S. District Court by Thompson yesterday:

When plaintiff showed up at the federal courthouse today... he was met by federal Deputy Marshals who... informed him that he could not enter the building alone because “Mr. Thompson, you have been disbarred.”

 

...Deputy Marshal (or whatever his title might be) Mr. Willie Bell told Thompson that he would be escorted to the clerk’s office for security reasons...

 

Mr. Bell then proceeded to berate Thompson... but in doing so Mr. Bell made it clear that his job was not just to escort Thompson... His job was to harass Thompson and make the filing of this complaint just about as difficult as it could be... 

 

...the incredible rudeness and extra-legal assigned duties of the US Marshal’s Mr. Bell makes it clear that some communications of some kind have emanated downward from the Chief Judge to the US Marshal... which has “poisoned the well” of this entire federal district court. It is not paranoia to assert such a thing... somebody who is in charge of this federal district court wants to mess with Jack Thompson...

Thompson writes that he is seeking $10 million dollars for the new claim.

GP: Thompson is playing a dangerous hand. While he claims that a conspiracy against him is afoot, it now seems clear that his behavior has some officials concerned that he is a potential security risk. In this regard we note Thompson's own version of a comment he claims was made by U.S. Marshals who paid him a visit last month: We have been told you are at the end of your rope and might be a danger to the physical safety of others.

Funniest Line: Since Mr. Bell apparently had to share an elevator with Thompson while escorting him to the 8th floor, Thompson claims this is "false imprisonment."
 

131 comments

Editorial: Jack Thompson a Curious Choice for Freedom Award

July 3, 2008 -

Jack Thompson is a hero.

At least, that's the word from America's Freedom Festival, an event taking place in Provo, Utah this week. As reported by the Deseret News:

America's Freedom Festival at Provo honored four individuals with 2008 Freedom Awards Wednesday night... The honorees... personified some or all of the festival's four traditional values of family, freedom, God and country...

 

A lawyer dedicated to protecting children from violence, obscenity and pornography in the media, Jack Thompson was honored especially for his defense and support of families.

 

Thompson... said that while his life has been filled with persecution and ridicule, he would go back and do it all over again, with even more fervor than before.

Now, Utah County, where the festival takes place, is an extremely conservative corner of the United States. So it is perhaps understandable that organizers there value Thompson's conservative Christian agenda. That's their call.

However, to consider Thompson only on his values crusade ignores a troubling list of negatives that stretches from Orem to Salt Lake City. Consider that this "American hero":

  • has been recommended for a 10-year disbarment by the Florida Bar
  • has been judged guilty of 27 ethical offenses by a Florida judge, who is sending her recommendation to the Florida Supreme Court
  • the 27 offenses include things like: "Knowingly making a false statement", "Engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation" and " Engaging in conduct in connection with the practice of law that is prejudicial to the administration of justice"
  • may no longer submit filings to the Florida Supreme Court, in part because he included porn pictures in a motion (and NOT in a pornography case)
  • included gay porn pictures in a federal court filing (also not a pornography case)
  • received a cautionary visit from the U.S. Marshals following a federal court filing in which he wrote "...enemy combatants at Guantanamo are to get more due process from federal judges than what I am to have. I guess my "mistake" was not killing 3000 people to make my point..."
  • called for the impeachment of Utah's Republican Attorney General when the AG suggested that a video game bill written by Thompson would be unconstitutional

These items are strictly a matter of record, and do not include Thompson's strident cultural rhetoric (with which one may or may not agree) or his penchant for sheer vitriol. Moreover, Thompson himself has written that he expects to be disbarred by the Florida Supreme Court.

There seem to be two possibilities here. One is that the selection committee did not conduct due diligence on its nominee. The other is that they just didn't care. Perhaps the committee was aware of Thompson's issues but chose to believe that they are part of some vast cultural conspiracy against him waged by liberals, the video game industry, the Florida Bar, Florida Supreme Court, US District Court, gays, shock radio, the Republican Blank-Rome law firm, various judges, the Alabama Bar, etc. 

But at some point the idea of a conspiracy that large becomes silly. What's happening to Thompson now is more like a judicial consensus on the man's behavior.

How did America's Freedom Festival fail to see that?

GP: We've made several attempts in recent weeks to get an explanation from the committee as to why Thompson was chosen for the award, but got little more than the fact that he was nominated and ultimately selected. That lack of openness is especially troubling in light of the fact Utah County's government is the sponsor of the award event (i.e. - the taxpayers footed the bill for this award).

More local coverage in the Provo Herald-Extra...

249 comments

NIMF's David Walsh Interviewed in Game Informer

July 2, 2008 -

Dr. David Walsh, president of the National Institute on Media and the Family, is the subject of an  interview in the July issue of Game Informer.

The politically-connected Walsh, whose organization delivers its Annual Video Game Report Card each holiday season, is described by the magazine as "one of gaming's most thoughtful and reasoned critics." He dishes on a number of topics, including:

  • ESRB ratings (watchdog-ish, cautiously supportive)
  • his criticism of the Grand Theft Childhood book (disagrees with its premise)
  • his thoughts on video game legislation (opposes censorship)
  • Jack Thompson (publicly distanced himself from Thompson)

Regarding legislation, Walsh told GI:

I'm not in favor of censorship. Once we delegate to the government what we can and can't say and freedom of expression - and video games are a form of expression - that's a very slippery slope. I think government can have a role. I think the role they've been playing is the "bully pulpit" to raise awareness.

As to Thompson, Walsh said:

Extreme positions create a lot of heat but very little light. Television and talk radio love extreme positions. So there are folks out there who do not hesitate to take positions that they can't defend. You get the these food fights going on that talk radio loves, but don't really advance our knowledge and understanding whatsoever. It got to the point where I had to publlcily distance myself from Jack Thompson. 

Distance himself, indeed.

The high-profile split with Thompson came in October, 2005. The story was broken by GamePolitics, and set Internet tongues wagging for days. Read Walsh's letter breaking ties with Thompson here.

If There's a GTA IV Controversy WITHOUT Jack Thompson, Does it Make a Sound?

June 28, 2008 -

GamePolitics reported on a pair of tempests involving Grand Theft Auto IV this week.

First came Wednesday's report on shoot-from-the-lip comments attributed to Connecticut State Sen. Gayle Slossberg (D), who apparently used the terms Grand Theft Auto IV, rape, legislation and sociopaths [as in GTA gamers are...] in a rant that she only thought was off-the-record.

Oops...

A day later, cops in Nassau County, New York busted six teenagers for a bat-swinging, crowbar-wielding rampage that one of them apparently said was inspired by Nico Bellic, protagonist of GTA IV.

The week's happenings - in particular their sizeable publicity potential - were not lost on GTA-hatin' attorney Jack Thompson, who has waded into both situations with press releases blazing.

First, Thompson dashed off a breathless paean to Sen. Slossberg:

I commend you for your concerns about the Grand Theft Auto games.  I have been on 60 Minutes about the killing of police officers by teens who train on the game to do so.  I have addressed NOW in New York about the targeting of women by the game.
 
I do not believe there is a "rape" in the game, unless it is in a mission that has yet been discovered (that is possible), but there is plenty in the game by way of forced sex, killing of women after sex, and murdering police officers that must be addressed.  I am, for better or worse, the leader of the effort against this game, and if you saw the New York Post yesterday, a gang of teens went on a crime spree on Long Island in acting out the game!  Please contact me asap, and I can help on this.
 

Miami Jack, please explain how there is no rape in the game, but there is "forced sex"?

The likely-to-be-disbarred barrister also weighed in on the Nassau Six, cc'ing GP on an exchange with someone at G4TV. Not surprisingly, the camera-cravin' Thompson hopes to grab some air time for his mug:

...G4TV, as usual, gets it wrong.  Why am I not suprised?  The headline on this story is ridiculous.  The "hoods" are not the ones blaming the game.  The cops are!  Note this from Detective Cote: "These teens have difficulty separating fact from fiction, fantasy from reality . . . It was quite alarming." 

 

...Thus, Cote has handed all of the defendants a "video game defense."  It will be used.  How do I know?  Wouldn't you like to know.
 
I think it is time for Jack Thompson to be back on G4TV, don't you all think.  There's so much disinformation on the channel and so little time to correct it all.  Somebody tell Kevin to get off his lazy butt and give me a call...  
 
 

 

172 comments

BREAKING: U.S. Marshals Pay Jack Thompson "a Visit"

June 16, 2008 -

A pair of U.S. Marshals were apparently dispatched to Jack Thompson's house today.

The controversial attorney complained about the visit from the law enforcement officials in a filing with the U.S. District Court in Miami. Among the U.S. Marshals' duties are providing security for federal courthouses.

Although the purpose of the marshals' visit is not entirely clear, judging from Thompson's tone, it seems that they carried a warning of sorts. In wake of the visit, Thompson charged that he is being harassed by the Justice Department. The embattled attorney wrote to Chief Judge Federico Moreno:

I was visited today by two U.S. Marshals who were nice gentlemen, and very professional and courteous in their dealings with me.  My complaint is not with them...

 

I have been asking the Justice Department simply to meet with me about [the video game industry's] criminal targeting of me for harm...  Our US Attorney here has obstructed that effort... Instead of being afforded the Justice Department investigation to which I am entitled, I get today harassment from that same Justice Department...

 

When you and the Justice Department dispatch U.S. Marshals to my home because of a letter I wrote you last week complaining about misconduct by District Court Judges here in the Southern District, the purpose of that visit was  to intimidate and harass me...

 

The notion that I pose some sort of physical threat to you or to the judiciary or to anyone else down here is a cruel joke.  The two Marshals said, “If you had actually hand-delivered the letter to Judge Moreno, we would be concerned.”  To that I said, “But I did.  I did that last week because the gentlemen at the metal detectors would not deliver it, and THEY TOLD ME TO DELIVER IT TO YOU.  I buzzed into  your inner offices on the thirteenth floor, and I politely handed the letter to your clerk, who politely took it.

 

If I were a danger to anyone, that would have been the time for me to have proven it, right?  In fact, I have never threatened anyone in my entire life, and you know that, and the Marshals said they knew that.  They were apologetic about being dispatched to my home.  This is outrageous, Judge.  Simply outrageous.   

As GamePolitics reported in April, Thompson complained that the FBI would no longer take his calls (see: JT+FBI=LOL).

 

UPDATE: What seems to have prompted Judge Moreno to dispatch the US Marshals was a letter written by Thompson to Moreno on Friday in which he alleged that al Qaeda suspects at Guantanamo Bay have more rights than he:

 

We find yesterday that enemy combatants at Guantanamo are to get more due process from federal judges than what I am to have. I guess my "mistake" was not killing 3000 people to make my point...

 

I demand a hearing.

Thompson's anger with the U.S. District Court apparently stems from a string of failed attempts to gain federal judicial relief in his ongoing struggle with the Florida bar. The Bar, as we've been reporting, has recommended that Thompson, 56, be disbarred for a minimum of ten years.

UPDATE 2: Thompson has written to the counsel for the House Judiciary Committee requesting a meeting in Washington to air his complaint that the Justice Department is harassing him.

UPDATE 3: Thompson has filed yet another document with the federal court, this one containing a copy of a Freedom of Information Act request which Thompson sent to the Attorney General's office. He is seeking any Justice Department records relating to him since 1992.

280 comments

Jack Thompson Has Political Aspirations

June 14, 2008 -

With his legal career hanging by a very slender thread, controversial Miami attorney Jack Thompson is apparently considering a move into politics.

The news comes by way of a lengthy Thompson appearance on The Justice Hour, a local Florida radio program. Although Thompson was a guest on Memorial Day, we didn't have a chance to catch the show until this morning. While his appearance is mostly standard-issue Thompson rhetoric, the embattled attorney did let slip one startling piece of information.

Thompson, a Republican, is eyeing a run for the Florida legislature. He made the revelation while answering a caller's question about immigration. Here's the quote:

...My hope is that maybe one day I'll be in that legislature and sponsor and get through certain things we can do at the state level about [immigration]...

Listen to the excerpt here...

If he does run for the Florida legislature, it won't be Thompson's first political campaign. In 1988, Thompson ran unsuccessfully against Janet Reno for the position of Dade County State Attorney.

In 2006 Thompson announced that he would run against Judge Ronald Friedman, following Friedman's dismissal of Thompson's attempt to have controversial Rockstar game Bully declared a public nuisance. The run against Friedman never came about, however.

On the other hand, Thompson seemed to nix any political aspirations in a 2005 interview with GamePolitics:

I ran against Janet Reno in 1988. If I ever ran for anything again I'd need a divorce lawyer. I got that out of my system...

 

89 comments

Audio of Jack Thompson Storming Out of Court

June 11, 2008 -

The Daily Business Review has the audio of Jack Thompson storming out of last week's sanctions hearing before Judge Dava Tunis.

GamePolitics posted the transcript of the hearing yesterday.

 Via: Overlawyered

106 comments

GP EXCLUSIVE: Read the Transcript as Jack Thompson Storms Out of Court

June 10, 2008 -

In March of this year GamePolitics serialized the courtroom transcripts of Jack Thompson's Florida Bar trial. The response was overwhelming.

Based on that, we knew GP readers would be interested in reading the transcript of last Wednesday's sanctions hearing before Judge Dava Tunis - the one that Thompson stormed out of and in which the Bar recommended that the 56-year-old Thompson be disbarred for a minimum of ten years.

So we broke open the GP piggy bank and purchased a copy from the court reporter.

To set the scene (in case you haven't been following the Florida Bar vs. John B. Thompson saga): Judge Tunis, who was selected by the Florida Supreme Court to preside over the Bar trial and who recently recommended to the Court that Thompson be found guilty of 27 violations of professional misconduct, scheduled last week's hearing to hear arguments from both Thompson and the Florida Bar concerning possible sanctions. Judge Tunis has until September 3rd to provide her final report to the Florida Supreme Court, which will make the final determination of Thompson's fate.

(GP: The transcript that follows is abridged where noted)

JUDGE = Judge Dava Tunis

JT = Jack Thompson

TUMA = Florida Bar prosecutor Sheila Tuma

JUDGE: Good afternoon, everybody... I trust everyone has some water at their table?... so, for the record, we are here on the matter of the Florida Bar versus John Bruce Thompson... If all the lawyers would like to announce their presence for the record.

TUMA: Sheila Tuma, counsel for the Florida Bar

JT: Jack Thompson, presently a lawyer.

JUDGE: ...Miss Tuma, my understanding would be that, pursuant to the rules, you would be going first?

JT: Your Honor, may I please--

TUMA: Yes.

JT: -- so that I can state at the appropriate time, which would be now, my objections to this proceeding on the record?

JUDGE: And you have done so through writing --

JT: No. I have to do it here, Judge.

JUDGE: Go right ahead.

JT: May I move the podium?

JUDGE: No. Just everybody leave it in one spot. That's the way we usually do it in the courtroom.

JT: Can we change that one spot? No?

JUDGE: I'd prefer that you leave it right there.

JT: Nice. Can I pivot it?

JUDGE: Is that what you'd like, sir?

JT: I'm asking you.

JUDGE: Okay. That's fine.

197 comments | Read more

Jack Thompson: American Hero?

June 9, 2008 -

Is controversial Miami attorney Jack Thompson a freedom fighter?

While the Florida Bar argued last week that the anti-game activist should be disbarred for a minimum of ten years, Thompson is scheduled to be honored at America's Freedom Festival on July 2nd in Provo, Utah. While information is sketchy, the web page for the Freedom Awards describes them as intended:

...to honor individuals who have espoused the cause of freedom throughout the world.

In light of his current legal difficulties, Thompson is an interesting choice, to say the least. His selection could potentially stir up some local controversy in Utah, as well. In 2007 Thompson called for the indictment of the state's Republican Attorney General, Mark Shurtleff, over Shurtleff's recommendation that a Thompson-authored video game law then under consideration in the legislature was unconstitutional.

GamePolitics has made three attempts in recent weeks to contact event organizers in order to determine who submitted Thompson for the award and on what basis. Although we have yet to receive a response, we know that our e-mail was viewed by chairperson Vicki Garbutt since she forwarded a copy to Thompson on May 28th, inquiring about our "agenda." Thompson forwarded the e-mail back to us the following day with the warning, "Careful, Dennis."

The awards dinner is sponsored by Utah County, described as "the most Republican county in the most Republican state in the United States."

In the past, Garbutt has explained the Freedom Award as follows:

It's what gets at the heart of what we talk about with freedom — celebrating the individuals who sacrifice for their own freedom and the freedom of others.

Thompson has forwarded a copy of what appears to be his page from the event program. However, it offers few specifics regarding his selection.

UPDATE: I should point out that it's not my intent to frame this story as any type of commentary on Republicans. Thompson has certainly had his issues with Republicans in Florida and elsewhere (as I noted, he was ridiculously harsh in his criticism of Utah's A.G. Shurtleff, a Republican). 

242 comments

Music Video: When Jack Thompson Talks to God

June 7, 2008 -

This video uses the music from Bright Eyes' When The President Talks to God to parody anti-game activist Jack Thompson.

The new lyrics were penned by Super Columbine Massacre RPG creator Danny Ledonne and singer/guitarist Cory Antiel, who performs the song.

64 comments

Jack Thompson: Sweet & Sour

June 5, 2008 -

A Florida Judge recently recommended that Jack Thompson be found guilty on 27 counts of professional misconduct. A federal judge tossed his lawsuit against the Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday. And the Florida Bar yesterday moved to have him disbarred for a decade.

But, don't fear for Jack Thompson.

No dummy he, the controversial anti-game activist has his detractors right where he wants them. At least, according to Thompson.

Under the subject line of SWEET! (GP: I kid you not), an e-mail circulated by Thompson this morning cites today's Daily Business Review coverage of his case and reads, in part:

Because of the [DBR] article, which contains my entire Objections filing, I am now getting phone calls from highly respected people who are proving to me the criminal conduct of The Florida Bar... We are meeting with law enforcement officials about that. 
 
This is all wonderful.  Light is now being shone in some very dark places, and the Daily Business Review has assisted in that wonderfully.
 
I am now going to win this fight, by the grace of God and because of the First Amendment, most particularly the right to freedom of the press.  Certain Florida Bar officials need to hire criminal defense lawyers today.  The investigations are already underway.  And if you think I'm kidding, then you don't know Jack.
 

So much for the sweet. Or should we say, the SWEET!

On the SOUR! side, after Thompson declared in a recent sworn federal court motion that Bar trial referee Dava Tunis had leaked case documents to GamePolitics, we pointed out that his claim - which he wrote that he was making under penalty of perjury - was untrue. We also explained that we had received the documents from Eunice Sigler, Director of the Office of Government Liaison and Public Relations for the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida, pursuant to our various public records requests.

Just one day after our story debunking Thompson's false claim regarding Judge Tunis ran, the controversial attorney filed a document with Eunice Sigler's boss, demanding to see her official loyalty oath. Readers will recall that he has unsuccessfully targeted Judge Tunis over the loyalty oath issue as well.

Thompson's focus on Ms. Sigler, a court administrator simply carrying out her duties, seems from here like a case of very sour grapes.

214 comments

Jack Thompson's Suit vs. Florida Supreme Court Dismissed by Federal Judge

June 5, 2008 -

The Florida Bar's motion to disbar Jack Thompson for a decade wasn't the only bad news the 56-year-old anti-game activist received this week.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Joan Lenard dismissed - with prejudice - a federal lawsuit filed by Thompson in March, alleging that the Florida Supreme Court had unconstitutionally barred him from representing himself before that body.

Readers may recall that Florida's high court sanctioned Thompson for, among other things, including pornographic pictures in a court filing and styling another motion as a children's picture book for adults.

The dismissal with prejudice means that Thompson can bring no further federal action on the claim.

Although the suit against the Florida Supreme Court is now a dead issue, Thompson has two additional federal suits pending in South Florida. One, against the Florida Bar, was placed on hold by Thompson recently, pending the state-level resolution of his Bar issues. Another, filed late last month against the State of Florida, deals with Thompson's contention that the legal status of Bar trial referee Judge Dava Tunis is invalid due to a clerk's apparent forging of her signature on a loyalty oath.

Read U.S. District Court Judge Joan Lenard's decision here.

77 comments

Florida Bar Wants Jack Thompson Disbarred For 10 Years; Thompson Storms Out of Hearing

June 4, 2008 -

GamePolitics has learned that the Florida Bar has requested that controversial attorney Jack Thompson, 56, be disbarred for ten years for 27 violations of professional misconduct.

The request came today at a sanctions hearing before Judge Dava Tunis in Miami.

Thompson reportedly stormed out of the hearing after Tunis refused to let him read a lengthy objection aloud. Tunis, acting as referee on behalf of the Florida Supreme Court, did permit Thompson to submit a copy of his objection for the record. 

Prior to that there was apparently some disagreement between Tunis and Thompson over the placement of the podium. We're told Thompson lost that argument as well.

By leaving the courtroom, Thompson missed the opportunity to argue any mitigating factors to the Bar's recommendation for harsh punishment.

A GamePolitics reader, Nevext , apparently was present today and posted impressions in comments to this morning's preview piece on the hearing. Here's Nevext's version of events:

I was able to tag along with an actual attorney, so we drove to the courthouse, went up to the courtroom, waited outside until 2pm. Baliff opened the door and I held it open. Sadly, I even held it open for the beast himself.

So the judge came in. Judge Tunis seems like a real nice lady.

Thompson wanted to make known that he had a objection in writing. He was able to submit it to the record, but the judge said he couldn't read it aloud. That really pissed him off, I think. He also passed around copies of the objection to various reporters and a member of the legal community known as "Mr. Mim". He also claimed that "Mr. Mim" was not supposed to be there. So he dropped the objection into his lap and went back to his side of the court. The judge was NOT pleased.

Eventually, he made comments about the judge not being a judge(This is relating to the Loyalty Oath stuff), said the hearing was moot, and WALKED OUT.

"The court acknowledges that Mr. Thompson has voluntarily left the proceedings"

Then the Florida Bar presented it's evidence. Lalalala, bunch of legal crap.

The Bar recommends that Thompson's punishment should be: "Enhanced disbarment, with a reapplyment wait of 10 years"

After more legalese, the court was ajorned.

Mr Mim threw away his copy of the objection. A friend of mine who happened to be attending reached to get it at the same time a State Attorney was. We ended up getting a copy of it because the State Attorney was a nice guy.

And we went home.

End of story

GP: Thanks much, Nevext, for that first-hand account. "Mim" would be Florida Bar prosecutor Barnaby Min. Don't invite Thompson and Min to the same party. If you're having a party...

351 comments

Jack Thompson Faces Sanctions Hearing Today in Miami

June 4, 2008 -

Jack Thompson has a date in court today.

As previously reported by GamePolitics, the embattled attorney faces a sanctions hearing before Judge Dava Tunis in Miami at 2 p.m.

Judge Tunis, appointed by the Florida Supreme Court to serve as referee in the Florida Bar's prosecution of Thompson on professional misconduct charges, recently recommended that Thompson be found guilty on 27 of 31 counts.

Today, the judge is expected to issue her recommendation on penalties for Thompson, which could include disbarment. Recent comments by Thompson indicate that he expects to be disbarred.

Whatever Tunis recommends, the final say belongs to the Florida Supreme Court, which will receive Tunis's final report on September 2nd.

GamePolitics will update Thompson's situation as soon as we get word from Miami.

166 comments

With Sanctions Hearing Looming, Jack Thompson Accuses Bar Trial Judge of Leaking Documents to GamePolitics

June 3, 2008 -

As GamePolitics has previously reported, embattled anti-game attorney Jack Thompson faces a sanctions hearing tomorrow before Judge Dava Tunis in Miami.

Tunis, the referee appointed by the Florida Supreme Court to preside over the Florida Bar's prosecution of Thompson on professional misconduct charges, recently issued a recommendation that the controversial attorney be found guilty on 27 of 31 counts, including "Knowingly making a false statement of material fact or law to a tribunal" and "Engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation."

For his part, Thompson has been actively seeking to discredit Tunis, including charging that she is not a valid Florida judge due to her state loyalty oath apparently being signed by a clerk without her knowledge.

On May 30th, Thompson upped the ante against Tunis, charging in a document filed with U.S. District Court that the judge had leaked documents to GamePolitics. Although the name of this website is not specified in Thompson's motion, it is clear from the document's context that he is referring to GP. Thompson writes:

In the last 36 hours, plaintiff has discovered that the referee in the state Bar "disciplinary" proceedings has leaked documents to a video game industry web site that only she had. This has resulted in more harassment of Thompson by "video gamers" who have been threatening to kill Thompson and his son.

 

The referee knew to leak these documents, which only she had, to this particular gaming web site because it came out at Thompson's bar "trial" that this site had filed a Bar complaint against Thompson (which was so bizarre that even this Bar dismissed it) and that this site was in fact orchestrating harassment of Thompson during his trial.

 

This same site had orchestrated postings at Amazon.com, when Thompson's Tyndale House book was published, that there was a "Canadian edition" of Thompson's book in which Thompson disclosed his internal struggles with homosexuality and drug use. Thompson has had no such struggles; there was no "Canadian edition."

There's just one problem with Thompson's charge that Judge Tunis leaked anything to GamePolitics: It is not true. I don't know Judge Tunis. I've never spoken to her, exchanged e-mail with her, or had any contact with her. I did call her office once, many months ago, to inquire as to when we might expect a ruling on Thompson's trial. A staffer referred me to Eunice Sigler, Director of the Office of Government Liaison and Public Relations for the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida.

GamePolitics has obtained three documents relating to Thompson's case in recent days. All came from public records requests with court administrators.

On May 20th , GamePolitics broke the news concerning Judge Tunis's recommendations as to Thompson's guilt. That document came from the aforementioned Ms. Sigler. I've been tracking the Thompson Bar trial since it took place in late 2007. Months ago I contacted Ms. Sigler and made a media request for any developments. As per my request, she forwarded me the recommendations. These were also published in the Daily Business Review, which apparently obtained them via its own public records request.

The following day, in a filing with Judge Tunis, Thompson alluded to having 33 witnesses that he hoped to subpoena for his June 4th sanctions hearing. Curious about these, I asked Thompson for the names. He refused. I contacted Ms. Sigler on May 23rd and made a public records request regarding Thompson's proposed subpoenas. I received the subpoena document from her on May 28th and published it later that day.

Also obtained via public records request was the Miami-Dade State Attorney's investigative report into Judge Tunis's loyalty oath. This document came from Public Information Officer Ed Griffith.

Thompson may not like it, but he has made himself into a very public figure. His case is a matter of public record. His court filings are not sealed, nor are they classified information. They are a matter of public record, readily available through the proper channels.

In a series of e-mails, Thompson demanded several times to know where I had obtained the documents. Being under no obligation to do so, I declined to tell him. Moreover, he is an attorney. He should understand that these are public records.

Regarding his comments that I orchestrated harassment of him or orchestrated bogus reviews of his book, these are utterly false. I've addressed his allegations on the book issue in some detail in the past, and I've also discussed my filing a 2006 Bar complaint against him. Nor, as Thompson alleges, is GamePolitics a "video game industry web site." Readers need look no further than today's story on E3 and Gov. Rick Perry to confirm that.

So what will happen at tomorrow's sanctions hearing?

It's impossible to know, although Thompson's e-mails of late have indicated that he expects to be disbarred. In any case, Judge Tunis does not have the final word. That responsibility lies with the Florida Supreme Court.

138 comments

Analyzing Jack Thompson's Would-be Witnesses

May 29, 2008 -

As GamePolitics reported yesterday, controversial attorney Jack Thompson was unsuccessful in a bid to subpoena 33 witnesses for a June 4th sanctions hearing before Judge Dava Tunis.

Tunis, the Florida Supreme Court-appointed referee who presided over the Florida Bar's prosecution of professional misconduct charges against Thompson, quashed the subpoenas in response to a motion from the Bar. In doing so, Tunis ruled that:

[Thompson] is precluded from presenting witnesses or documentary evidence in mitigation in this case due to his failure to comply with the bar's discovery requests.

An order issued by Tunis in October, 2007 elaborates on what the referee terms Thompson's "failure to comply." The upshot is that Judge Tunis will not allow Thompson to subpoena witnesses for next week's hearing. Thompson has indicated that he will boycott the hearing.

In any event, GamePolitics has obtained the list of Thompson's proposed witnesses (although not from Thompson, who declined our request). Read on as we analyze the 33 names and guess at Thompson's legal strategy (never an easy task):

  • Jeb Bush: Former Governor of Florida, brother of President Bush; Last week Thompson sent the ex-Guv a rant explaining (sort of) why he wanted him to appear.
  • Strauss Zelnick: Chairman of Grand Theft Auto publisher Take-Two Interactive; a longtime target of Thompson's. Four of the five Bar complaints against Thompson stem from his involvement in cases targeting Take-Two games.
  • Judge Ronald Friedman: presided over the 2006 Bully case; testified against Thompson at last year's Bar trial.
  • Ian Comisky: Partner in Philadelphia law firm Blank-Rome; the firm defended Take-Two in Thompson's Alabama lawsuit and two of its attorneys testified against Thompson at last year's Bar trial.
  • Norm Kent: Florida attorney who has represented shock radio in Florida; he and Thompson have a long and contentious legal history.
  • Gwynne Alice Young: an attorney at the Miami firm where Thompson's wife is a partner; during the course of the Bar's prosecution against him, Thompson has been critical of what he claims is Judge Tunis's lack of sensitivity to his wife's battle against cancer; possibly related to that issue
  • Various Past & Present Florida Bar officials: John Berry, Kenneth Marvin, Tony Boggs, Mary Ellen Bateman, John Harkness, Jan Wichrowski, Lorraine Hoffmann, Arlene Sankel, Barnaby Min, Frank Angones, Jesse Diner, Kelly Overstreet Johnson, Hank Coxe, Barry Richard, Ben Kuehne, John White
  • Florida Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero: unknown why Thompson would single out Cantero from the other justices; the Florida Supreme Court oversees the Bar disciplinary process. Thompson is currently suing the justices in federal court
  • Florida 11th Circuit Court Chief Judge Joseph Farina: Judge Tunis's boss.
  • Al Cardenas: Prominent Florida attorney; his firm's complaint was part of last year's Bar trial (the non-video game related part); Judge Tunis has recommended two findings of guilt against Thompson in regard to Tew-Cardenas
  • David Pollack, Florida attorney: Thompson has claimed in court filings that Pollack was appointed by the Bar to investigate a complaint against Thompson, found no evidence, but was overruled by the Bar
  • Sam Partridge, General Counsel, Alabama State Bar: Alabama Circuit Court Judge James Moore testified against Thompson at his 2007 Bar trial; however, Partridge's specific connection to the case is not known.
  • Oren Wunderman, PhD: Thompson has written that Wunderman gave him a clean bill of mental health.
  • Kenneth Harms, former Miami Police Chief: he was mentioned as a potential witness in Thompson's 2006 attempt to have Rockstar's Bully declared a public nuisance before Judge Friedman in a Miami Court.
  • Janet Folger, Christian conservative commentator, author and activist - possibly a Thompson character witness.
  • Judge Richard Yale Feder: a Florida jurist with experience in Bar disciplinary matters; connection to Thompson's case unknown.
  • Randall Marshall, Legal Director, ACLU of Florida: connection unknown, but Thompson claimed recently that he had joined the ACLU and might be seeking its support on what he deems an issue of expressing his Christian views.
  • JR Rosskamp: Jo Edda Rosskamp filed a lawsuit last year against a partner in the Tew-Cardenas law firm; Thompson represented her. A JR Rosskamp is a South Florida financial advisor. It's unknown to GP whether they are the same person.

 

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MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/07/28/gaymerx-in-dire-straits-after-nis-america-allegedly-backs-out-of/ NISA backs out of GaymerX support, but it seems like the only people crying foul are GaymerX.07/29/2014 - 6:30am
Papa MidnightIt's not bad so far, but I am honestly not sure what to make of it (or where it's going for that matter)07/28/2014 - 9:44pm
Matthew Wilsonis it any good?07/28/2014 - 9:36pm
Papa Midnight"Love Child" on HBO -- anyone else watching this?07/28/2014 - 9:27pm
MaskedPixelanteNah, I'm fine purple monkey dishwasher.07/28/2014 - 4:05pm
Sleaker@MP - I hope you didn't suffer a loss of your mental faculties attempting that.07/28/2014 - 3:48pm
MaskedPixelanteOK, so my brief research looking at GameFAQs forums (protip, don't do that if you wish to keep your sanity intact.), the 3DS doesn't have the power to run anything more powerful than the NES/GBC/GG AND run the 3DS system in the background.07/28/2014 - 11:01am
ZenMatthew, the 3DS already has GBA games in the form of the ambassador tittles. And I an just as curious about them not releasing them on there like they did the NES ones. I do like them on the Wii U as well, but seems weird. And where are the N64 games?07/28/2014 - 10:40am
james_fudgeNo. They already cut the price. Unless they release a new version that has a higher price point.07/28/2014 - 10:19am
E. Zachary KnightMatthew, It most likely is. The question is whether Nintendo wants to do it.07/28/2014 - 10:12am
Matthew WilsonI am sure the 3ds im more then powerful enough to emulate a GBA game.07/28/2014 - 9:54am
Sleaker@IanC - while the processor is effectively the same or very similar, the issue is how they setup the peripheral hardware. It would probably require creating some kind of emulation for the 3DS to handle interfacing with the audio and input methods for GBA07/28/2014 - 9:30am
Sleaker@EZK - hmmm, that makes sense. I could have sworn I had played GB/GBC games on it too though (emud of course)07/28/2014 - 9:23am
E. Zachary KnightSleaker, the DS has a built in GBA chipset in the system. That is why it played GBA games. The GBA had a seperate chipset for GB and GBColor games. The DS did not have that GB/GBC chipset and that is why the DS could not play GB and GBC games.07/28/2014 - 7:25am
IanCI dont think Nintendo ever gave reason why GBA games a reason why GBA games aren't on the 3DS eshop. The 3DS uses chips that are backwards compatable with the GBA ob GBA processor, after all.07/28/2014 - 6:46am
Sleakerhmmm that's odd I could play GBA games natively in my original DS.07/28/2014 - 1:39am
Matthew Wilsonbasically "we do not want to put these games on a system more then 10 people own" just joking07/27/2014 - 8:13pm
MaskedPixelanteSomething, something, the 3DS can't properly emulate GBA games and it was a massive struggle to get the ambassador games running properly.07/27/2014 - 8:06pm
Andrew EisenIdeally, you'd be able to play such games on either platform but until that time, I think Nintendo's using the exclusivity in an attempt to further drive Wii U sales.07/27/2014 - 7:21pm
Matthew WilsonI am kind of surprised games like battle network are not out on the 3ds.07/27/2014 - 7:01pm
 

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