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.
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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