Failed Supreme Court battle cost California $1.8M - Report

State's bill reported to total nearly $2 million for payments made to ESA and for its own legal fees; law sponsor, governor's office have no regrets.

The legal proceedings behind the Supreme Court battle over violent games have proven costly for the state of California. The Sacramento Bee reported this week that the Golden State has run itself a total bill of $1.8 million in costs associated with its overturned law.

California racked itself up quite a legal tab.

In January, California had agreed to pay $950,000 to the Entertainment Software Association, on top of reimbursements of $283,000 and $94,000 from previous lower court fees. The Bee reports that the cost of the state's own billable hours added on another $500,000 to the running tab, bringing the total cost of the failed effort for California to $1.8 million.

Despite the hefty bill California taxpayers are saddled with, the overturned law's sponsor, Senator Leeland Yee, has no regrets.

"When you fight the good fight for a cause you know is right and just, and it's about protecting kids, you don't ever regret that," he said.

Similarly, California governor Jerry Brown's office felt the fight was right and worth its cost.

"I think we felt the issue was so important that it warranted the costs associated with it," said Jim Humes, Brown's executive gubernatorial secretary.

Those on the victorious side of the issue, however, see the situation in a different light. Attorney Paul M. Smith, who represented the game industry during the proceedings, claimed warning was given to the industry and that the fees could have been avoided.

"I think it's fair to say the industry warned the state that they were just getting themselves into a big legal mess and they would end up having to pay attorney fees--and that's exactly what happened," Smith said.

Smith, as well as fellow industry attorney Ken Doroshow, will receive this year's Ambassador award at the 2012 Game Developers Choice Awards for their work on the high-profile case.

Drafted by Yee and signed by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005, the law would have criminalized the sale of violent games to minors. It also would have required a 2-inch-by-2-inch sticker with a solid white "18" outlined in black to appear on the front cover of such games.

For more on the overturned law, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.

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Discussion

64 comments
Spacerac
Spacerac

@HollowNinja Free speech > lazy failure parents

Spacerac
Spacerac

Wow. Seriously, California needs to wake up and vote these losers out of office. This man literally said he's fine with putting the state another 1.8 million in debt over a stupid cause.

ZeroX91
ZeroX91

Yet another pointless abuse of the legal system, you know sometimes I wish we could go back to the good ol' "eye for an eye" method. lol

SauhlGood
SauhlGood

f*ing ridiculous wheres the outrage against movies? CSI shows utterly gross crap on tv on a daily basis, wheres the outrage!? the only fight these lawyers are fighting is the fight to fatten their wallets while trying to justify their frivolous lawsuit to taxpayers. they get rich while pretending to fight the 'just' fight for society... they need to be reprecussions for such utter waste of peoples money

torrne667
torrne667

Er.. forget about the stickers and just get the effing guns off the streets...violent videogames might cause aggression, but its a lot harder to kill someone with a melee weapon, well...its a lot more tiring! oops think i just let something slip.. :s

toddx77
toddx77

So let me get this straight. The government tries to ruin out video games and loses, expects us to pay the bill, has no regrets about how much money they wasted, and they want us to vote for them this fall? This is why I have 0 respect for people involved in politics.

starfox15
starfox15

I think they should ask the California citizens if they felt that this case was justified and "for a good cause."

commando1992
commando1992

Can't they just make these idiot politicians pay? No wonder the state is broke.

lusafis518
lusafis518

i dont see why Arnold schwarzenegger made the bill in the first place the movie the terminator they made toys of it and it was a Rated R movie... so that means little kids where seeing it (i sure was) so was he mad about that? or even predator toys

Merex760
Merex760

One of the many questionable things this state government does to waste money. No wonder this state is bankrupt. I need to GTFO.

Jaxith
Jaxith

@HollowNinja It's pretty old news, but if I remember correctly, the major concern over the law was that it completely disregarded the ESRB, and basically amounted to an arbitrary ruling by the state that any given game was violent. Therefore, since they were ignoring ESRB, it was a concern that rulings would be made that games like Jak and Daxter, or Ratchet and Clank were violent; which they are, but not in a way to legitimize a sticker on the package denoting it only for people 18 years or older, which in turn would make it illegal for the target audience to purchase them. In a perfect world, I would have absolutely no problem with it being illegal to sell an M rated game, or violent movie to a minor, but the fact is we just dont' live in a perfect world. So my vote goes in with the, "If you want something done right, the parents are the ones who will have to do it," lot. P.S. On a secondary note, I've still seen retailers where I live (not anywhere near California) still request to see ID when purchasing a violent game. Witnessing this enough times has made me feel that making it outright illegal to sell the games to minors is outright pointless.

MrHatnClogs
MrHatnClogs

Wow, I would be seriously pissed off right now if I lived in California. Talk about wasted money.......

gullgullgull
gullgullgull

People will never stop deluding themselves into stupid causes in the name of "the children". If I was a California taxpayer I'd be absolutely livid that they're wasting their time and money going after video games.

HollowNinja
HollowNinja

I still disagree with the ruling. This law wouldn't have banned the sale of violent video games, it would have only banned their sale to minors, who shouldn't be playing such games anyways. Those who are saying that the parents should be responsible for this... well, you're right, but it's impossible for a parent to keep track of their child for every moment of their life. The only problem that I have is that it shouldn't be limited to video games.

kinstar2002
kinstar2002

I remember when I needed a guardian to buy rated M games. I'm 20 and could less now! lol.

SaverofHumens
SaverofHumens

Score one for the people. You can't legislate morality, you silly politicians.

kiopta1
kiopta1

So many major issues need to be addressed and yet diots would rather take the fight to games, gays, women, and on and on. Its like yelling at kids on your lawn while your house is on fire.

aussiemuscle
aussiemuscle

Why would they care? it's not their money.

Nzilla
Nzilla

giant waste of money for a state that already owes so much.

findingaplace
findingaplace

It is the job of the parent to watch after what their under aged children are playing. Simple as that.

shooters125
shooters125

It's our money and we decide what we do with it, but hey feel free to waste our hard-earned, tax payer money on a case as stupid as this.

josephl64
josephl64

nice it was overturned, it should be the role of the parents instead of the government if they wanted to restrict it or not

jsmoke03
jsmoke03

if these government officials are going to use our tax dollars to pay for stupid laws that are going to be overturned, they should run it by us tax payers first...government officials never really get how regular people think

Jaxith
Jaxith

Protecting children is indeed a noble goal. ...However, I can think of better ways to accomplish that goal with 1.8 million dollars... Informational pamphlets given for free to all parents explaining what ESRB is for example... Heck, let's make them really fancy pamphlets for good measure. ...Now, what to do with the other 1.7 million dollars... Perhaps some sort of internet safety course to teach parents how to keep their children safe while they're online? Or maybe a billboard outside of stores explaining what the heck ESRB is? That still leaves alot of money left over though... How about going the extra mile, and initiating programs that explain why R rated means restricted; funding youth help programs to keep the kids out of gangs. Financial aid for struggling parents. In my opinion, my list of suggestions here range from silly, to unnecissary, to down right practical and useful. But they all share two things in common: They're all better uses of 1.8 million dollars than lawyer fees, and they all do more to protect children than what these guys accomplished... You can't hide stupidity and ignorance by claiming you were 'protecting the children'. And if you really cared, you should have funded your crusade for yourself, or at least asked for donations rather than just taking what you need from the unwitting citizens you were supposed to be serving.

gameconsolewads
gameconsolewads

Well is Mr. Leeland Yee up for reelection? Cause if he is...DON'T VOTE FOR HIM! VOTE EM OUT! Same goes for any idiot Senator that brings up B$ like this. Remember senators & representatives...we're watching!

Yuusha09
Yuusha09

It's not your job as a senator to protect my child, it's MY job to protect my child. STFU, stop over reaching your boundaries, and get back to making meaningful legislation. Here, I'll start for you: Balance your damn budget by stopping these futile lawsuits and wasting tax dollars.

Chico_Azteca
Chico_Azteca

...wait they were still at this? just STOP!

Decessus
Decessus

@DeFiLeDTitan I don't know where you live, but in the US it is not illegal to sell mature video games to people under the age of 18. They also are not put in a separate section. Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto can be found right next to Mario and Sesame Street.

nurnberg
nurnberg

"Protecting the kids" has become the new code word for oppressive laws. When you hear these words, it's almost guaranteed that it's a new repressive law that will remove freedom.

nurnberg
nurnberg

Owned! What's your deficit, California?

supertom221
supertom221

"When you fight the good fight for a cause you know is right and just, and it's about protecting kids, you don't ever regret that," he said. Eeeeeverybody's a hero nowadays. And they dare call themselves a democratic state.... Bastards and liars, delusionals bigots, all of them. I feel bad for Californian gamers, being stuck under such a s**tty primitive government. Should have lost a lot more, the bigots. 1.8Million is like spare change to them.

DeFiLeDTitan
DeFiLeDTitan

Thank you nanny state for spending tax money trying to take away freedoms. Glad I live somewhere else. And isn't it supposed to be illegal to sell mature games to people under 18 anyway? That's where the violent games are if I'm not mistaken.

Barighm
Barighm

I wonder if Yee would feel the same way if the money came out of his pocket? Yeah, not such a good fight now, is it?

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

$1.8 Million could end poverty, or cure for diseases, :roll:

Decessus
Decessus

@rarson The government doesn't work doing what?

wwlettsome
wwlettsome

maybe the voters in california should reconsider some of their choices and then their money may be spent more wisely.

PixelAddict
PixelAddict

I still find it ironical (it's a word, it's MY word) that Aaaaaaarnold shoot-em-all-n-get-to-da-choppaaaah Schwarzenegger helped draft this piece of garbage. Hypocrite, much?

nocoolnamejim
nocoolnamejim moderator

This article is a little misleading in that people, in general, have no idea how big of a GSP (Gross State Product) the state of California has. Link It's the ninth largest economy in the entire world by itself. While $1.8M sounds like a lot of money, and it is, for the state of California that's the equivalent of the change you find under the seat cushions of your couch when put into context. Not that I supported the lawsuit, but this isn't the budget killer that the article implies.

rarson
rarson

@trust2112 The fact that you focus on Republicans tells me you really don't understand the problem here. The state is the problem. You can replace people all you want, you're still going to end up with the same bad decisions.

rarson
rarson

California has no problem with wasting your money. This is why government doesn't work. Because it doesn't have to compete. Any company that operated like this would quickly lose funding (try not paying your taxes and see what happens!).

Marky360
Marky360

Wow California is already broke and now there law makers just added another $1.8 million bill onto there tab that will have to be payed by the Taxpayers. I find it Ironic that the california government tries to making a aspect of gaming illegal then fails and now the adult gamers of california are the one who have to pay the bill.

Darkreaper_1
Darkreaper_1

Of course they'd say they are fighting the good fight. They probably haven't spent a cent of their own money. Maybe Senator Leeland Yee and the people in California governor Jerry Brown's office should foot the bill instead of the tax payer. Then people might have more believe in their motivation for their cause.

trust2112
trust2112

Republicans never learn ANY lessons. That is why they force the rest of America too keep reliving the past.

airshocker
airshocker

Owned. Maybe this will teach them to mind their own business.

hunter8man
hunter8man

Tell that to the taxpayers since you feel it was justified spending that much on a law that made no sense and had no chance of passing.

amdreallyfast
amdreallyfast

"It's for the children" and "Defend our nation" are the BFGs of politics. If money is being spent inappropriately on education in a particular area and a more efficient budget is found, opponents cry foul and say the proponents want to take money away from the children. If money is being spend redundantly for military purposes (contracted data processing, intel, and security come to mind) and a budget is made that does away with most of the redundancy without compromising the returns, opponents gather everything into a generic military funding subject and say that proponents want to defund national security. It makes me sad. Why do we leave politics to the likes of Udina?