In early 2007 the Florida Bar filed a five count, 38-page complaint against Florida Lawyer Jack Thompson, seeking sanctions against the outspoken critic of video games. "This is frankly once again just the Bar going off the deep end trying to use Bar rules to limit my First Amendment activism," Thompson said about the matter, according to Law.com. The trial ended in December 2007, and the verdict was expected in late April of this year. Judge Dava Tunis had asked for an extension in order to, among other things, deal with 400 "pleadings, e-mails, letters and missives (including pictorials)" sent by Thompson since the end of the trial. Judge Tunis has now released her report, with recommendations that Thompson be found guilty of 27 of the 31 charges.
These are not small offenses, as Judge Tunis recommended a guilty verdict for, among other things, "knowingly making a false statement of material fact or law to a tribunal," "using means that have no purpose other than to embarrass, delay, or burden a third person," "engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation," and "making statements that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to the truth or falsity concerning to the qualifications or integrity of a judge."
It's hard to take Thompson's communications with the courts, the press, or government officials seriously at this point. Thompson has included gay pornography in his court filings, causing the Judge presiding over the case to note that "Mr. Thompson made available for unlimited public viewing, on the court’s docketing system, these graphic images." In this most recent case, Thompson created a picture book in reaction to "the court's inability to comprehend" what he was saying. The book contained pictures of swastikas, a copied dollar bill, monkeys, and, in a surreal touch, a handprint with the word "slap" written under it. That's leaving out the cartoon squirrels. Earlier this year, Thompson asked why another gaming writer doesn't "just molest children directly rather than through Rockstar. It would be more personal that way."
Before the release of Grand Theft Auto IV, Jack Thompson wrote Ars Technica a letter that compared the game to polio. These frenzied, nearly constant communications are at the heart of most of Thompson's troubles. Wisely, the Florida Supreme Court has declared that it will no longer accept any filings from the man unless they have been signed by another lawyer.
Thompson still has time before the Supreme Court makes a final ruling on these charges. A hearing covering possible sanctions will be held on June 4; Judge Tunis' final report is not due until early September.
The majority of the primary reporting on this case was done by GamePolitics.com, with the backing of the ECA. "I want to mention that without ECA president Hal Halpin, this series would not have been possible," writer Dennis McAuley wrote. "When I pitched the idea to Hal and asked that the gamer advocacy organization (which owns GamePolitics) cover the not-insignificant cost of acquiring the initial round of transcripts, he didn't hesitate. When we needed additional transcripts later, Hal insisted that the ECA cover the expense."
McCauley invited Thompson to share his closing statement, and any other insights he had about the trial. After ranting at the writer, Thompson finally stated that he "spent nine days in trial. I don't have to relive it for a twit who couldn't care less what really happened there, *******."
Despite the ambivalence of the mainstream media in reporting on this case, and no matter what the final outcome turns out to be, the coverage of the trial has done something more damaging than any attack Thompson could have dreamed up on his own: it has let the public judge the man through his own actions and words.
GamePolitics was able to get Thompson's closing statement, and the man spoke like a captain straightening his coat as the ship goes down. "I'm simply making the argument, Judge, that my motivations—which I have tried to make clear, maybe to the point of nausea—are religious and that my efforts against the distribution of adult material, pornographic material, violent material, adult rated material to children is violative of the law as well as violative of Scripture. I quoted the biblical passage where Jesus says, reportedly: 'If any one of you should cause one of these little ones to stumble, it would be better that a millstone be tied around your neck and that you be cast in the uttermost depths of the sea.'"