For over a decade, Florida attorney Jack Thompson has been one of the most public--and vociferous--critics of video games. After helping spark a regulatory crackdown on radio shock jock Howard Stern and Miami rap group 2 Live Crew, he turned his sights on violent titles he termed "murder simulators." One of his first targets was the id shooter Doom, which he said was to blame for the 1999 Columbine massacre.
Thompson is most famous for his acrid criticism of Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto series. He represented the families of several police officers shot by a teen who professed to be an avid player of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. His most vociferous attacks came after the uncovering of sex minigames hidden in the code of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which was eventually recalled from retail.
Besides his tit-for-tat lawsuits with Take-Two--which were finally settled in April 2007--Jack Thompson has engaged in numerous other legal maneuvers against the game industry. In federal court, he unsuccessfully attempted to have another Take-Two game, Bully, labeled a public nuisance. He also coauthored a Louisiana bill banning the sale of obscene games to minors--a bill that was briefly made law before being struck down.
Now, though, it appears Thompson's crusade against games may be coming to an end--in the legal arena, anyway. A Kotaku correspondent on the scene reports that today, the Florida Bar requested in court that Thompson be given an "enhanced disbarment." According to 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida spokesperson Eunice Sigler, the measure--if imposed--would prohibit Thompson from practicing law in the state of Florida for the next 10 years.
Though Thompson and the Florida Bar have clashed before, today's disbarment recommendation follows last month's hearing in which Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dava Tunis concluded Thompson was guilty of 27 rule violations, including: Improperly practicing law in Alabama, making false statements to tribunals, and disparaging and humiliating litigants and other lawyers, according to a report on Law.com. At that time, Thompson tried to have Tunis removed from the case, claiming Tunis forged a signature on a 2000 loyalty oath and harbors a personal grudge against him.
According to both Kotaku and the blog GamePolitics, Thompson responded to today's flourish with even a greater amount of ardor. After declaring the judge had no authority over him, the agitated attorney stormed out of the courtroom, according to witnesses. Before leaving, he filed a 14-page, 4,500-word objection with the court, in which he blasted the proceedings as a "non-hearing sanctions 'hearing'" and--in a rare move--referred to himself in the first person.
In his objection, Thompson accused Judge Tunis and the Florida Supreme Court of being complicit in a Watergate-esque cover-up of forged loyalty oaths, citing a new oath signed in February as proof. Delcared Thompson: "The consequence of all of this post facto oath-taking is that all that the Florida Supreme Court has done in this case is invalid and will be voided, and if you think I will not accomplish that end then a) you do not understand the lawsuit already filed, and b) you don't know Jack."
Thompson's objection also dismissed the enhanced disbarment ruling as invalid since it did not specifically spell out his offenses. "I have said it before, and I will say it again to you, and of course you will not listen, but the record must be made clear: You can't charge a lawyer and you can't charge a rapist with anything unless you tell him in the charging document with specificity--with facts alleged--what he has done."
In what may be one of his last acts for some time as a Florida lawyer, Thompson went on to accuse two law firms and former Florida governor Jeb Bush as being the hidden hands behind the court's move to disbar him. He named the firms Blank Rome, which represents Take-Two Interactive, and Tew Cardenas, former employer of one of Thompson's clients.
"I am to be punished for trying to save lives, over the objection of Blank Rome, which gives more money to the Bush family than any other law firm in the world," said Thompson, addressing the Judge Tunis and the Florida Supreme Court directly. "This is the Bush family that put you on this bench and whom you have protected by refusing to give me a subpoena that puts Jeb Bush under oath about his personal, financial relationship with the two law firms that are behind all of these Bar complaints, Tew Cardenas and Blank Rome. You are Jeb Bush's protector and shield from Jack Thompson, and you have discharged your sordid task in that regard effectively."
Finally, after comparing Judge Tunis and the Florida Supreme Court to earthworms, deeming the proceedings a "Star Chamber kangaroo court," and invoking the horrors of the Nazi Third Reich, Thompson compared his plight at the disbarment hearings to the infamous 1991 confirmation of US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
"Clarence Thomas, at his Senate confirmation hearings, spoke of those proceedings as 'a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you. You will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the US Senate rather than hung from a tree.'"
"The US Senate, Referee Tunis, has nothing on you and your high-tech lynching of the uppity Christian who stands before you."