Wednesday, September 6th, 2006

Jack Thompson Rips Judge in Louisiana Video Game Case

From the Louisiana Governor's office on down, Jack Thompson has ripped a number of high-level officials in the ugly reality show surrounding the court fight over the state's video game law. Now the volatile Miami attorney has added a new target.

In a letter sent yesterday to Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco and Attorney General Charles Foti, Thompson unleashed a string of criticism upon Federal District Court James Brady, who is hearing the case. Among other comments, Thompson accuses Judge Brady of bias:

"As to Judge Brady, you two (Blanco and Foti), as fellow Democrats, know of his liberal views and his past Chairmanship of the Louisiana Democratic Party. He was nominated by President Clinton because of his liberalism, and with that liberalism goes an absolutist view of the First Amendment that the Founders would not recognize."
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Saturday, September 2nd, 2006

Louisiana Attorney General to Jack Thompson: "Put Up or Shut Up"

The strange, contentious situation surrounding the legal defense of Louisiana's video game law has gotten even stranger and more contentious.

Yesterday, Miami attorney Jack Thompson (left) forwarded to GamePolitics a pair of e-mails. The first was from Deputy Louisiana Attorney General Burton Guidry to Thompson, sent late Wednesday afternoon:

"Ok Mr. Thompson, put up or shut up. I need affidavits and other documentation to defeat a motion for summary judgment. If you really want to help just get me the affidavits and some scientific data that can defeat this motion as soon as possible. Time is of the essence since [the game industry's motion] has been filed today. I need the information by Monday in my hands for filing. Can you and will you?"

Guidry is referring to the video game industry's motion for summary judgment, filed with Federal Judge James Brady's court earlier that day.
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Thursday, August 31st, 2006

Video Game Industry Moves to Dismiss Louisiana Video Game Law

As expected, lawyers for the ESA (publishers) and EMA (retailers) filed a motion for summary judgment with Federal Judge James Brady (left) yesterday in Baton Rouge.

The industry is requesting that Brady issue a permanent injunction against Louisiana's video game statute, which was signed into law by Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco in June. If the industry's motion is approved by the judge, it would bring and end to a situation that has become something of an embarrassment to the Louisiana state government.

As reported by GamePolitics, a temporary injunction blocking the law was issued by Judge Brady last week. GP readers can see the industry's memorandum in support of the summary judgment motion here.

For all of GP's recent coverage of the Louisiana video game legislation, click here.

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Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

EDITORIAL: Are Lives - or Egos - at Stake in Louisiana?

Are lives really at stake in the legal fight over Louisiana's video game law, or has the situation devolved into a finger-pointing battle of bruised egos?

Over the last 18 months GamePolitics has reported extensively on anti-game attorney Jack Thompson's relentless crusade against video game violence. Nowhere during that time has Thompson enjoyed the kind of political success he found recently in Louisiana. Readers will recall that Thompson drafted the state's video game law, testified on its behalf, and basked in its unanimous approval by the legislature.
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Saturday, August 26th, 2006

Louisiana Press Covers Video Game Law Setback

Louisiana newspapers are providing additional coverage to the stinging judicial rebuke which a federal judge administered to the state's controversial video game law on Thursday evening.

An AP report out of Baton Rouge quotes Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (pictured) on the judicial reversal:

"I'm calling on all parents to diligently monitor the video games that their children are allowed to play. If the courts can not protect our children, then we need to do it by rejecting the merchant of violence," she said.

The Advocate spoke with a disappointed Rep. Roy Burrell (D), sponsor of the bill.

"If you can train a military-type person using these video games, you can do it to kids," Burrell told the newspaper. He added that courts aren't yet ready to accept that premise.

GP: Maybe the court would pay more attention if Burrell provided some, you know, evidence, rather than the nonsense he put forth during the legislative debate on the bill. Just a thought. Judge Brady took note of this as well when he wrote in Thursday's ruling:

"The evidence that was submitted to the legislature in connection with the bill that became the statute is sparse and could hardly be called in any sense reliable. Much of the 'evidece' presented consisted of newspaper articles on the evils of video games..."
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Friday, August 25th, 2006

E-mails Show Louisiana Court Defeat Reaction

GP was just forwarded a series of e-mails by controversial Miami attorney Jack Thompson. The e-mails were provided, without comment, by Thompson. They appear to reflect reactions by key Louisiana political figures to the news that Federal Judge James Brady had just issued a preliminary injunction blocking the state's video game law.

We'll let the e-mails tell their tale. For new GP readers, the exchange will make more sense if you understand that Thompson and the Louisiana Attorney General's office have been feuding over the handling of the court case.

The first of three e-mails included here was sent last night from Deputy Attorney General Burton Guidry to Rep. Roy Burrell (left), sponsor of the ill-fated bill:

"For your information this is the courts ruling which was issued today. i anticipate a motion for summary judgement to be filed by the plaintiffs in the next two weeks. Unfortunately we have no facts or experts to contradict their motions due to Mr. Thompsons reluctance to help. We have very little choice but to wait for the bomb to fall."
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GP on Joystiq: "The Circus Comes to Louisiana"

Check out GamePolitics on Joystiq...

In today's column GP examines the circus atmosphere surrounding Louisiana's video game legislation. It's especially timely given Federal District Court Judge James Brady's trashing of the Louisiana law in a preliminary injunction ruling issued last night.

By the way, it looks like the GP column will appear every Friday on Joystiq. There was some discussion of Thursdays, but that's the day GP feeds his WoW addiction...

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Judge Issues Preliminary Injunction Against Louisiana Law

Jack Thompson's Louisiana video game law was supposedly written as to be immune from constitutional challenges.

But it's not looking that way this morning.

Last evening Federal District Court Judge James Brady ruled in favor of the video game industry's request for a preliminary injunction to keep the law from taking effect. Granting the preliminary injunction indicates that Judge Brady believes the industry is likely to win the case on its merits when a final decision is rendered at some future point.

The judge's 30-page ruling took Thompson's law apart piece-by-piece. Judge Brady wrote, in part:

"The State's argument overlooks a line of cases holding that video games are protected free speech..."

"Defendants (Louisiana) contend that the legislative record contains social science evidence demonstrating that violent video games are harmful. It appears that much of the same evidence has been considered by numerous courts and in each case the connection was found to be tenuous and speculative..."
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Saturday, August 19th, 2006

Louisiana Pol Wants Game Industry Biz AND Game Legislation

Tricky bunch, politicians...

In an article posted at St. Tammany.com, Louisiana State Rep. Steve Scalise (R) discusses his desire to attract video game developers to the Katrina-ravaged state.

"Content production in video is similar to film." Scalise said. "It is a market sector that the state has not tapped into that could generate millions of dollars in revenue. It is mobile, driven by creative talent, is a big growth industry that provides a large number of high paying jobs - it is the kind of business we want to bring to Louisiana."

Scalise told St. Tammany that he and others had reached out to the game industry nearly two years ago, but Katrina "knocked everything back to square one."
Read more... )

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Thursday, August 17th, 2006

Judge in Louisiana Game Case Issues Deadline, Promises a Ruling

The federal judge presiding over ESA/EMA vs. Foti, the video game industry's constitutional challenge to Louisiana's new video game law, has indicated he will rule soon on the industry's request for a preliminary injunction.

Federal District Court Judge James Brady held what is known as a "status conference" yesterday in his chambers. Representing the video game industry were local attorney James Brown and lead attorney Paul Smith, who was conferenced in via speakerphone. Smith (left) has enjoyed a string of victories on behalf of the video game industry of late, including big wins in Ilinois, Michigan and Minnesota.
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Wednesday, August 16th, 2006

Louisiana's OTHER Video Game Law Takes Effect Today

As of today, a new Louisiana law goes into effect making it illegal to distribute sexually explicit video games to minors.

While in theory that is a good thing, the reality is that there aren't any sexually-explicit games available, at least none distributed by the game publishers and retailers generally thought of as the "video game industry."
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Tuesday, August 8th, 2006

Louisiana Video Game Bill Sponsor Sticking By Jack Thompson

State Rep. Roy Burrell (D) is standing by his man.

The sponsor of Louisiana's contested video game law refused to be drawn into the nasty fight Jack Thompson picked in recent days with Attorney General Charles Foti (D) and his deputy, Burton Guidry (see yesterday's GP coverage for details).
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Monday, August 7th, 2006

Suddenly, Jack Thompson is Feuding With Former Louisiana Allies

Controversial Miami attorney Jack Thompson appears to be burning bridges in Louisiana, the state where he has enjoyed the most success to date in his long-standing crusade against violent video games.

A series of e-mails forwarded to GamePolitics by Thompson detail a rapidly deteriorating relationship with the office of Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti. Foti is a named defendant in ESA/EMA vs. Foti, the video game industry's constitutional challenge to the state's recently-passed video game law.
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Thursday, July 20th, 2006

Motion Denied... Federal Judge Says No to Jack Thompson

In a terse, one-page ruling, Federal District Court Judge James Brady has refused to permit controversial Miami attorney Jack Thompson to file an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief in the ongoing lawsuit over Louisiana's recently-enacted video game law.

Thompson, of course, was heavily involved in the Louisiana statute, helping Rep. Roy Burrell (D) draft the underlying legislation, HB 1381. The anti-game attorney claimed in his request to the court that Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti, a named defendant in the case, approved of Thompson's amicus motion.

As previously reported here on GamePolitics, Thompson's request to file an amicus brief - if granted - would have permitted the long-time video game industry nemesis to provide information to the court even though he is not a party to the lawsuit.

Shortly after Thompson made his request to the court, game industry lawyers objected to the Miami attorney's participation on a variety of technical grounds. Among these was Thompson's signature on his amicus motion, which lists him as "Defendant and Co-Counsel." The game industry contends that he is neither. For his part, Judge Brady appears to have found the industry's argument convincing.

Thompson's amicus motion (in MS Word format) can be seen here. The industry's objection (pdf) is here. For all GamePolitics coverage of the Thompson amicus issue, click here.

Want to talk about it? You can discuss this story via the "comments" feature (click below), or in the new GamePolitics Forums...

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Tuesday, July 11th, 2006

Thompson Seeks to File Amicus Brief in Louisiana Video Game Case

The ever-controversial Jack Thompson is seeking to file an Amicus Curiae ("friend of the court") brief in ESA/EMA vs. Foti. The constitutional battle between the video game industry and Louisiana over the state's newly-enacted video game sales law is currently before a Federal District Court judge in Baton Rouge.

Aside from the Miami attorney's standard "I've been on the Today Show" bluster, Thompson's motion includes the following:

"Thompson drafted this video game bill, which has now become law, at the request of Representative Roy Burrell."

GP: Rep. Burrell and Thompson are pictured at left during the May 10th session of the Criminal Justice Committee of the Louisiana House. For GamePolitics coverage of the Louisiana law, click here. More from Thompson's motion:

"...Grand Theft Auto: Vice City... is not even speech, let alone 'First Amendment-protected speech.' For example, hand-held controllers... delivers (sic) a jolt back into (players') hands to give them a visceral, pleasurable 'buzz' when a car tire runs over a skull or a machete cuts off the head of a prostitute immediately after intercourse."
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Thursday, July 6th, 2006

Louisiana Pols Lining Up to Voice Support for Jack Thompson Video Game Law

For a law that seems very likely to be enjoined by a Federal judge, perhaps as early as this week, Louisiana's new video game statute has some powerful - and vocal - supporters.

As recently reported by GamePolitics, Louisiana's Attorney General Charles Foti has vowed to appeal the state's video game law to the U.S. Supreme Court should it be overturned on constitutional grounds by Federal District Court Judge James Brady.

Now comes word that State Senator Mike Michot (R) wants to see another video game bill in next year's session should the current law be struck down.
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Friday, June 30th, 2006

Judge Extends Louisiana Restraining Order ...Criticizes Video Game Law During Hearing

Is it back to the drawing board for Jack Thompson?

Based on a breaking news report in the Shreveport Times, a Federal judge today seemed quite critical of Louisiana's new law which seeks to declare video game violence as harmful to minors. Thompson, the Miami attorney and anti-game activist, authored the Louisiana bill while assisting its sponsor, Rep. Roy Burrell.

Judge James Brady extended the temporary restraining order he issued on June 16th while he rules on today's request by the video game industry for an injunction.

According to the Times, Assistant Attorney General Burton Guidry and East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Doug Moreau argued that Louisiana already bans sales of alcohol, tobacco and pornography as items deemed harmful to minors.

"That's not speech," Judge Brady said from the bench. Although he did allow that the violence in some games is "horrible, but it's protected... Where is violence not protected (in the First Amendment)?"
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A.G. Confident as Injunction Hearing Looms on Jack Thompson Video Game Law

Today marks an important court date for the video game industry, the state of Louisiana and for Miami attorney and anti-game activist Jack Thompson.

Attorneys representing the ESA (game publishers) and EMA (game retailers and renters) will face off against the Louisiana Attorney General's office in Federal District Court in Baton Rouge. At the hearing, the game industry will seek a preliminary injunction to block the state's new video game law from taking effect.

GamePolitics readers will recall that Louisiana Rep. Roy Burrell's violent video game bill was largely drafted by game industry nemesis Thompson. Gov. Kathleen Babineux Blanco signed the legislation into law earlier this month, and the new statute was scheduled to take effect immediately. However, in response to the video game industry's lawsuit, Federal District Court Judge James Brady issued a temporary restraining order pending today's hearing.
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Wednesday, June 21st, 2006

Thompson, Prof Debate Game Violence on CNBC

GP readers hoping to hear Jack Thompson's thoughts on the contested Louisiana game law that he helped author will have their chance tomorrow morning.

You'll need to get up early, however. Failing that, be sure to set your Tivo to record CNBC's Squawk Box program, which comes on the air at 6:00 A.M. According to an e-mail from Thompson his appearance will take place at 6:30.

Squawk Box is hosted by CNBC Stocks Editor Joe Kernen along with former Wall Street Journal reporters Becky Quick and Carl Quintanilla.

From GP's occasional viewings of Squawk Box, it's a very pro-business show, as one might expect on a channel devoted to the financial markets. With Louisiana's new law regarding as confusing and troublesome by Louisiana retailers and regarded as unconstitutional by the video game industry, does that mean Thompson is in for a grilling?

Only time - and Tivo - will tell...

UPDATE: Okay, GP just caught Squawk Box. Co-host Becky Quick (pictured) introduced the segment, which was structured as a point-counterpoint between Thompson and Paul Levinson, a professor of media studies at Fordham University.

Thompson offered his standard game violence comments. GP noticed that he seemed to imply that the motion picture rating system is regulatory in nature (actually it's voluntary, like the game rating system) when he said:

"40-some states have laws to prohibit the distribution of sexual materials harmful to minors. We have a movie rating system in that regard..."

Thompson also said, "The Federal Trade Commission found last month that roughly 42% of the time any kid of any age can walk into any retailer and buy any game like Grand Theft Auto San Andreas despite the game rating."

Actually the FTC's secret shopper numbers were 35% among the major retailers which account for over 90% of all video game sales. And the kids weren't "of any age." The FTC used mystery shoppers who were 13-16.
Read more... )

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Louisiana Bill Sponsor Reacts to 1st Amendment Lawsuit

Shocked, but not surprised.

That is how Louisiana Rep. Roy Burrell (D), sponsor of his state's contested video game law described his reaction to the video game industry's suit to have HB1381 overturned on constitutional grounds.

In an interview with the Shreveport Times, Burrell said, "I knew it would happen, but this being my first time, it shocked me. I'm all for free speech, but not at the detriment of children," Burrell said.

"If I'm wrong, I apologize, but I don't see it that way. When it relates to protecting these kids, I don't apologize."

Reacting to a line in the lawsuit which reads, "Like great literature, these games often involve themes such as good versus evil, triumph over adversity, struggle against corrupt powers, and quest for adventure," Burrell said, "The kind of literature I've seen in some of these games is not 'great.' It may be great for somebody but it's not great for children. It's great for profits and great for controlling the minds of kids, but literary value? None... You're the one who's killing the cops. You're the one who's beating the woman. Pavlov's Law kicks in, giving you a reward for this behavior."

Want to talk about it? You can discuss this story via the "comments" feature (click below), or in the new GamePolitics Forums...

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