Yes, it’s regular Overlawyered mentionee Jack Thompson (Aug. 17, Jul. 24, Jun. 25, etc.) at it again — how did you guess? This time he wants $600 million from Take-Two Interactive, Sony and other defendants over the rampage by 14-year-old Cody Posey on newsman Sam Donaldson’s New Mexico ranch, which left three members of the youth’s family dead in July 2004. It seems Posey had “obsessively” played the game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. (AP/Washington Post, Sept. 25)(via KipEsquire). More: Lattman, Sept. 27.
Take-Two Interactive/Rockstar, a controversy magnet for its Grand Theft Auto game, has unveiled a new game called Bully, set at a boarding school. Despite the predictions of some anti-game activists that the new production would glorify bullying, a reviewer for the New York Times says it does nothing of the sort: “the entire point of the game is that bullies (noticeable at a distance by their distinctive white shirts) are everyone’s enemies”. (Seth Schiesel, “With Bully, Rockstar Looks to Beat the Grand Theft Auto Rap”, New York Times, Aug. 10). None of which stopped Overlawyered favorite Jack Thompson (Jul. 24, Jun. 25 and many others) from firing off a letter to Take Two and Wal-Mart vowing to file suit to stop the game’s Oct. 1 release unless they provide him with an advance copy to criticize. Bit-Tech has the gory details (Brett Thomas, “Jack is back to beat up on Bully”, Aug. 15). And now it’s reported that Thompson having gotten no satisfactory answer to his demand letter, he’s proceeded to sue under Florida nuisance law to demand such an advance copy (Eric Bangeman, “Jack Thompson sues over upcoming “Bully” title”, Ars Technica, Aug. 16). Update Oct. 14: judge demands to inspect the game.
More: Steve Chapman, as usual, has a relevant observation: “Like adults, who can enjoy murder mysteries without ever feeling the need to commit murder, adolescents apparently can separate the fantasies of mass entertainment from the realities of how they want to live their own lives.” (“Teens’ lives don’t always imitate art”, syndicated/Chicago Tribune, Aug. 10).
Overlawyered favorite Jack Thompson (Jun. 9, Apr. 14, ad infinitum) is perturbed that his publishing house, Tyndale House, is licensing a video game based on the Left Behind books. Thompson is especially upset that the game will offer players the option to take the role of the anti-Christ. He’s certainly entitled to break off his publishing relationship (doing so shows admirable consistency) and attempt to enlist others in a boycott, but his threat to take “legal action” on grounds of unspecified “tortious conduct” seems questionable. (via Rickey)
Perennial anti-videogame action-filer (and Overlawyered favorite) Jack Thompson is at it again, this time in Louisiana:
Acting on a Florida lawyer’s suggestion that violent video games may have figured in Tuesday’s slaying of a West Feliciana Parish man, sheriff’s deputies searched the home of one teenage suspect again on Thursday.
West Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Capt. Spence Dilworth said deputies seized several video games rated “M” for “Mature” from the residence of Kurt Edward Neher, 16, but the detective said he is not drawing any conclusions from his findings.
Thompson says “published reports of Gore’s injuries ‘raised a red flag’ in his, Thompson’s, mind.” For instance? Well, reports that the youths killed their victim because he would not lend them his car reminded Thompson of scenarios in “Grand Theft Auto”, and that “the apparent repeated ‘pummeling’ of the victim is consistent with scenes in violent video games.” Douglas Lowenstein, president of the Entertainment Software Association, responded in a rather restrained fashion, pointing out that “Violent crime involving kids predates video games”. (James Minton, “Video games seized from teen’s home”, Baton Rouge Advocate, Jun. 3).
Overlawyered favorite Jack Thompson has followed through his threat to sue the Florida Bar for daring to investigate him for ethical violations. He also complained to the interim U.S. Attorney, who punted to the FBI, which will likely give the complaint the sound ignoring it deserves. The Daily Business Review story for some reason refers to the Alabama suit against video game “Grand Theft Auto,” which we had previously reported Jack Thompson had quit. (Carl Jones, “Anti-Porn Crusader Sues Over Bar Probe”, Daily Business Review, Apr. 14).
“Jack Thompson, the colorful Miami attorney who has become synonymous with lawsuits against video game companies, withdrew as the attorney for the plaintiffs in Fayette’s video game trial.”
…Thompson’s withdrawal comes after a hearing on a motion from the defense attorneys, who represent video game manufacturers and distributors, to revoke Thompson’s privilege to practice law in Alabama during the case. Judge James Moore granted Thompson, pro hac vice, the legal term for the temporary privilege, when the suit was filed.
Defense Attorney Jim Smith claimed that Thompson bombarded him, his co-counsel Rebecca Ward and his law firm, Blank Rome, with threatening and harassing e-mails and letters. He also accused Thompson of violating legal ethics, misrepresenting an alleged past history of disciplinary problems and attempting to poison the jury pool with frequent press releases and appearances in the news media….
Since defense attorneys filed the motion, Thompson has claimed they were “coming after” him. He said Blank Rome’s strategy has always been to attack its opponents.
(“Robert DeWitt, “Attorney in Fayette case bows out”, Tuscaloosa News, Nov. 8). More coverage: IGN, GamePolitics.com, GameSpot News, The Inquirer. For more on Thompson’s antics, see Feb. 19, Oct. 21, etc.
We’ve previously documented the escapades of attorney Jack Thompson, who’s led a number of lawsuits against the video game industry seeking to blame violent crimes on them (Feb. 19, Sep. 26, 2003, Apr. 3-4, 2002), once even taking the time to write us a memorable letter.
Thompson’s latest publicity stunt was to propose that someone create a video game depicting a “victim” of video-game violence violently going after video-game executives, even offering $10,000 to the charity of the choice of the designer. Unfortunately for him, someone actually followed up and did it, and then asked to collect; Thompson reneged, and then threatened litigation against a net cartoon (NSFW language) that satirized him. Enough readers of the strip have complained to the Florida Bar Association that they claim to be investigating, though I personally doubt anything will come of it. Ars Technica (via Radosh) is more optimistic, and has more details.
Update: I missed a more recent and entertaining development: Thompson is apparently threatening suit against the Florida Bar if it takes action on the ethics complaints.
Devin Thompson, 16 at the time, is charged with murdering two Fayette, Ala. policemen and an emergency dispatcher in June 2003. Now members of the victims’ families are suing the maker of the Grand Theft Auto video game, retailers Wal-Mart and Gamestop, and Sony, which manufactures the PlayStation, as well as Thompson himself, on the grounds that the violent game “trained” the teen to commit the real-life killings. Representing the families, if you haven’t already guessed, is attorney Jack Thompson, whose anti-videogame crusade has for years provided material for these columns (Sept. 26 and Dec. 17, 2003, etc.)(Johnny Kampis, “Lawsuit claims video violence precipitated Fayette police shootings”, Tuscaloosa News, Feb. 15; Tony Smith, “Grand Theft Auto firm faces ‘murder training’ lawsuit”, The Register (UK), Feb. 17). More: “The supporters [of anti-videogame government action] think violent games produce violent teens, but the evidence is lacking.” (Steve Chapman, “Violent video games and Illinois’ loopy legislators”, syndicated/Chicago Tribune, Mar. 20)
Beth Plocharczyk of Crescat Sententia responds (Dec. 15) to Dr. Kurt Kooyer’s Calvin College memoir on medical liability, recently referenced in this space, and takes issue with Kooyer’s assertion that the obligations of the medical profession toward patients are necessarily of a “covenantal” rather than contractual nature. David Giacalone (Dec. 15) notes that a star witness has emerged to support the state of Massachusetts in its dispute with law firm Brown Rudnick over $2 billion in tobacco fees (see Nov. 4): none other than Thomas Sobol, who served at Brown Rudnick as lead attorney on the state’s case, later departed, and now has testified that it would be “absolutely, clearly excessive” for his former firm to pocket the higher sum. Brian Sack (“Banterist”), provoked by a CBS “60 Minutes” segment (Dec. 8), wonders whether the courts will really award money to complainants who say they couldn’t get jobs at Abercrombie & Fitch because they weren’t “pretty enough” or “All-American enough” (see Dec. 26-28, 2000). (Update Nov. 17, 2004: Abercrombie settles three cases for nearly $50 million.) Professor Bainbridge (Dec. 5, Dec. 11, Dec. 15, Dec. 16) has been hammering away at New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer for using prosecutorial negotiations to induce mutual fund companies to lower their fees: “Spitzer has no authority — none, nada, zilch — to regulate mutual fund fees. Spitzer’s use of his leverage to extort a reduction in fees is a gross abuse of discretion.” And Curmudgeonly Clerk (Dec. 14) documents the latest adventures of anti-videogame attorney Jack Thompson, already much chronicled in this space (see Sept. 26).