Could Jack Thompson Be Jailed Over "Bully" Case?

October 23, 2006 -
GamePolitics has confirmed that lawyers representing Take-Two Interactive, publisher of Bully, are seeking to have Jack Thompson declared in contempt of court.

Although we haven't yet seen the motion, the request would appear to relate to Thompson's angry comments in the wake of Miami District Court Judge Ronald Friedman's refusal to block sales of Bully.

In a worst-case scenario for Thompson, the outspoken attorney could be jailed by Judge Friedman if he were ruled in contempt.

However, a knowledgeable legal source has told GamePolitics that options such as fines, judicial admonishment or censure are more likely.

Attorneys for Philadelphia law firm Blank-Rome, long a target of Thompson's ire, filed what is known as a "Petition for Order to Show Cause." The motion requests that Judge Friedman order Thompson to appear in court and show cause as to why he should not be held in contempt.

For his part, Thompson has reacted to the motion with typical bluster, directing his comments towards opposing counsel as well as the judge. Here are excerpts from recent e-mails cc'd to GamePolitics:
'You want to play hardball...?  You want to try to throw me in jail?  You have no idea what you are unleashing in doing this.  You're at the brink..."

"If this court in any fashion proceeds toward issuing a show cause order, given its utter baselessness and the bad faith goo in which it slithers, then Thompson will add whatever judge should do so as a defendant in the aforementioned federal civil rights action..."

UPDATE: A number of sites have linked to this story today, but not all of them have gotten it right. Thompson has NOT been found in contempt. Take-Two's attorneys are requesting that Judge Friedman hold a hearing on the matter to see whether he should be held in contempt.


The keen link to the Wikipedia definition of contempt thinks that contempt can occur in court (the kind you see in movies) or out of court (probably the one being dealt with.) Could make sense, as he basically insulted the way the judge handled the Bully hearing. I don't recall all the specifics of what he said and don't really care enough to go look, but I do remember him saying how the judge screwed up badly and now will be personally responsible for countless slingshot injuries that will be forthcoming. I'd say that definitely shows disrespect, though whether it's enough for contempt is a question for someone who knows more about legal things than I do.

Personally, I'd just like to see him have his license revoked. I'll admit, I do badly want to see him in the hotseat for once, but all he's been, quite honestly, is an annoyance. A very loud, verbal annoyance, but little more than that. If he goes to jail over this, yes, there is the possibility of him claiming to be "a martyr." Revoking his license would essentially remove from him his greatest asset; he's pushed himself around and into things using his status as a lawyer times before, so removing that would leave him just a simple citizen, speaking out about injustices only apparent to him. Defanged and declawed, if you will.
I could be missing something here, but that's the way to go, for now at least.

I agree, while it might be fun to have JT sent to jail, lesser punishment is more appropriate. It is far better that he be utterly discredited and his career destroyed then he be made a martyr.

Besides, it so much fun watching him make a fool of himself, and then fall face first into the pavement.

An interesting point that was brought up about this case is that 'Bully' is not that violent of a game (no shooting up of schools, sorry JT), but is instead has a positive message about standing up to Bullys. So why would JT want such a thing stopped?

The answer is that JT is on the side of the bullies, because he is one himself. He uses threats of legal action instead of a broken nose, but the principle is the same.

And like most bullies, when someone stands up to him he blusters, and then backs down. And if he chooses to fight someone who can actually fight back, he gets his butt kicked.

I find ironic that, while JT is known for his constant attempts to steal freedom of speech from others, he is surely one of the greatest abusers of this right. And he talks about how his civil rights are being breached. Now that's something that really bothers me.

I want to see him in jail, and heavily fined, where it will cost him his house!

I don't mean to be a wet blanket guys, but JBT hasn't been convicted of anything yet. Blank Rome haven't even been granted the Show Cause hearing yet.

It's another question entirely if Friedman will actually find in favour of BR on this one; surely if he thought JBT was in contempt during the hearing, he'd have done something already rather than wait for the opposing counsel to file an Order to Show Cause.

Happy day! *dance* this is the best news I've seen with his name in the headline ever. It's about time this old windbag got some backlash for being an utter moron. jail time or not, this is going to deflate old JT's reputation like someone letting the helium out of a balloon. My bet is that he doesn't even make it to the end of next year without quitting.

and btw. *MORE DANCING*


We're not just starting to vote, we ARE voting age now (24 and loving it).

It's about bloody time, JBT needs to have the wind taken out of his sails with some time in the cooler, to think about what an arse he'd made of himself.

Funny thing is, if Thompson were to go to jail, he'd likely end up at one of the nice furbished prisons. You know...the ones with the videogame machines.

And it's going to go on like this. Looking at his history of behavior, you can bet things are going to get a lot stranger. It seems as though he's become even more spiteful than usual lately, so all of this is going to just get worse. A lot of people talk about him losing his license, but I just don't see it happening. That would be a very dramatic step and that sort of thing is usually only invoked when a lawyer is clearly a criminal. Jack Thompson hasn't done anything like defraud his own clients, he's just an ass. I'm guessing Florida Bar rules about being an ass is a bit of a gray area. But who knows? If he becomes increasingly insane something might just happen.

The way that he's questioning the judg's ruling is ridiculous. It seems clear that when he walked into that court room he was going to accept only one kind of ruling. I remember when he said that if the judge ruled against him he'd "let it all go". That's funny as hell. I'm not surprised he called shenanigans on the judge when things didn't go his way. He's completely delusional about the content of this game.

I might have to pick it up too, I've heard nothing but good things. People are throwing around "best game in years" and a "triumph". Have to check it out.

Good riddance, and it's about time.

For the past few years and more Jack Thompson has tried to make a name for himself disparaging video games, a topic which he is sadly misinformed about. It is the primary responsibilty of the parent to educate and nurture their children in such a manner where even if their children are exposed to popular media, they make the right decisions, regardless of the media. Jack wanders from court to court, trying to wedge his way into every case against video game manufacturers that he can, using bluster and aggravation to have his way. He is not only in contempt of court, he's in contempt of most people. But also in contempt of several courts where his ironic Bully tactics are concerned.

He probably won't go to jail, but it would be a refreshing change of pace. What Jack, Hillary, Joe, Bayh, and a score of others fail to realize is that the the generation that grew up on video games is getting older... and we're starting to vote.

You know who Jack Thompson reminds me of? Scrappy Doo. He keeps making these grandious threats such as "You have until wednesday or I will destroy you!" but he has never really managed to really follow up on any of them.

How many times has he said that he would destroy Take Two/ESRB/Doug Lowestein/etc. He tried, and failed to even "destroy" two webcomic producers.

Utterly baseless?

Guess bad mouthing a judge for not giving you what you want is AOK in his book then.


We wouldn't know; I don't think anyone has actually bought his book ;)

I say go ahead and do it. Make a martyr out of him. In the end, will it do any good for his "cause?"

A lawyer that was thrown in jail for contempt? His lawyering career\crusade would be over, I'd think.

Jail isn't really the place for him. He's not a criminal, he's just a nut-job. I think some degree of professional admonishment is long overdue, but to those thinking of locking him up and throwing away the key, we don't want this guy to be made a martyr of.

I do wonder exactly what effect a contempt of court conviction would have on the issue or drafting laws though. While you would hope it would awaken politicians eyes to what sort of person JT is, I can't help but feel it will be ignored much like all the previous attempts at such laws being blocked were :/

Really? I'd rather see him go to jail. =)

This might put a bit of a cramp on JBT's judicial bid.

I'd like to be able to shout "Booyah!" about this, but for some reason even after all he's done to irritate and anger me, schadenfreude about this leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I guess I'd rather see Thompson utterly defested in court, than watch him go to prison, painting himself as the defiant martyr of parental concern taken out by an evil entertainment industry and corrupt judges.


Aw crap. Logic ruins my fun again. Cursed thinking, how you haunt me.

Solet me get this stright: Since he's in thouble for flinging filth, and in responce he decides to fling more filth to be used against him?

Wow, the court doesn't stand a chance, No, really, it's doomed, because clearly their up against a tactical genious here.

John Bruce Thompson, perhaps it is time to step back, just for a moment, and consider if perhaps you are wrong.

Lets look at things for a moment - you're facing 2 possible charges of contempt of court. You're being investigated for multiple ethics violations by your own BAR association. The law you said would stand up to a constitutional challenge... didn't. Is it perhaps possible that the rest of the world is right, and you really ARE a crazy mofo? I know it's difficult to comprehend, but your arguments really are ill-concieved piles that any five-year-old could (and has, ask my nephew) see are wrong.

Seriously, John... I'm telling you this one man to another - it's time to throw in the towel and seek some professional mental help. Just because you were certified sane quite a few years ago doesn't not mean that it's still true today, and sanity doesn't preclude ALL mental illness.

Just think about it - we know you read this stuff, one way or another. And remember, the first step to getting better is admitting you have a problem. Everyone else sees it, why can't you?

I'm wondering if the actual contempt violation stems from Thompson's vocal complaints about the game review process. He told the Destructoid blogger that a gag order restricted him from talking about what happened in those chambers. Sending complaints to the judge about an insufficient review process, and cross-copying assorted media outlits on those complaints, would seem to violate that edict.

[...] Source: [Game Politics] [...]

I think Jack is done.

If he loses either of these, even if he doesn't do a minute in jail, he's done.

The moment he loses one of these, the Flordia Bar will pounce on him like hyenas on a wounded antelope and rip his law licence away. They'll have plenty of good reason to.

And Jack will simply ramble off into the sunset, never to be heard from again.

Bye Jack!

Worrying part is, Jack can hardly eat humble pie and admit he's out of order after sending an entire series of letters, including barely veiled threats to Ms Vance. And he calls _us_ violently inclined? When you see lawsuits as 'punches' (which they are, they are a non-physical way of hurting something - punches for the 21st Century) there can be few people more 'violent' than Jack Thompson.

Like the Bully at school who threatens to punch you whenever you don't get your own way, he threatens to sue you, and the true irony is, he doesn't even comprehend the comparison.

Look at it this way, if a lawyer in the public eye can lose his grip and start attacking people verbally and legally at every occasion, why is the establishment so surprised that unknown teenagers slip through the cracks and start doing it physically?

[...] Update 1: Gamepolitics has released a more information on why he’s being held specifically in comtempt, and it has little to do with his spat with the judge as some of us may have presumed. Here is how we understand the situation at the moment: [...]

Sorry, double post, but after all, you've been able to have male/male or female/female couples in the Sims 2 and even Fable for a good long time.

Well, rallying against a game for having 'homosexual' content is prejudice pure and simple, simply by brazenly admitting that he considers the depiction of homosexuality or experimentation to be in some way 'illegal' reveals his level of prejudice to all I think :)

Jack Thompson may more than likey use conning, Christian overtones, accusations of a conspiracy, and the Chewbacca Defense to keep himself out.

I don't think he'll be thrown in. But it would be a brief sigh of relief if he does. (But that won't shut him up. Maybe he'll go mad and write a anti-gamer version of Mien Kampf.)

And a play on the Lord of the Rings....

"Jack Thompson, the enemy of freedom of speech, was defeated."

Remind me what's wrong with homosexual *kissing* that would violate a "T" rating? Is homosexuality some kind of illicit sex act by its very nature?

Odd... Jack wants it to be a "Mature" game for having homosexuality in it, but he's being anything but regarding the subject.

Pardon me, Jack, but your ignorance is showing.

Lets not be too hasty - Mr Thompson is one wriggly little worm.

And let's not forget, you don't HAVE to kiss boys. It's up to you if you want to try to kiss males or females.

By the way, that comment, more than anything, only confirms on a freakin' worldwide scale (If he HAD sent it to every known major news organization) that he is unfit to serve as a lawyer.

Mature Sexual Themes, Mild Language, Realistic Violence, Use of Tobacco and Alcohol

Those are the descriptors on the label of Bully.

There is nothing there that can't be found in a Rated-PG movie, on prime time television, on radio, or in a variety of books that can all be purchased, watched or listened to by a teenager.

"Make-out" inpliesheavy sexual actions that aren't considered really sex- more like extreme snuggling, cuddling and kissing, which isn't bad at all. Now his beef is that, rather than Jimmy Hopkins going out and getting the girl, he makes his own decisions and find an alternative to women in a guy, and kisses him instead? Discriminatory isn't the word I'd quite use- unreasonably hateful against anything different from his own views, more like. So it has a kid kissing another boy- The Sims is still Teen rated, despite the fact that they have such a thing in it as well.

[...] According to a report from gaming legislation news site GamePolitics, anti-game lawyer Jack Thompson has himself come under fire from lawyers representing publisher Take-Two Interactive, who have called for Thompson to be held in contempt of court. While it remains unclear as to the exact nature of this request, it most likely stems from comments following Thompson’s most recent failed attempt to prevent the recently released controversial title Bully from being sold in Florida. [...]

1. Dennis is it possible for us to see the entire email?

2. it's just like jack to say "anyone that tries to stop me from being an egomaniac is breaking the law and I will punish them in a lawsuit!"

As much as I want to see him put in jail for his idiocy, I highly doubt it'll actually happen. Still, getting fined or chewed out by the higher-ups will probably take him down a peg or two.

Aw there is justice in the world. All I can say is don't drop the soap jack.

John Bruce Thompson reminds me of a certain storytale wolf...

"I'm going to huff, and puff, and blow your Take Two brick house in..."

I'm not a lawyer, so I need to ask:

If there's a motion to find you in contempt of court, is it wise to spew even more blustery rhetoric and insults at the judge and opposing cousel?


If Jack does go to jail I'll be contacting The Smoking Gun to give them the heads-up on this. We'll need pictures of Jack Thompson's mug shots for posterity.

This might just be me, but I think that Thompson is sending way too much of his things to this site. Time and again I've seen "Thompson sent us this" or "CC'd us that" or "brought something to our attention". It seems to me that the only reason he would do that, as well as add those awful dramatic embellishments to his writing, is because he doesn't want to win so much as see his name "in the paper", so to speak.

I'm beginning to believe he is mentally unstable and perhaps lacked caring attention in his youth, and now seeks it in an unhealthy way.


‘You want to play hardball…? You want to try to throw me in jail? You have no idea what you are unleashing in doing this. You’re at the brink…

Its cute that he does not see how much of a failure he is. What is been unleashed? This from a man who gets wipped in court time after time and is pretty much a laughing stock with anyone who knows anything about him.

If he was capable of unleashing anything maybe he would have taken Take 2 down by now, like he promised he would years and years ago.

Sad little man out of his league that just got caught. I pity him.

Heh. Probably won't be anything too serious, but, i've found that crossing my fingers always helps ^^;

He speaks in the third person? lol He has one MASSIVE ego. I really hope he get's his law license revoked.

I'm sorry, but I totally fail to see how he feels he's a threatening presence anymore: I mean, he threatens every media group who reports bad things about him with jail time but never follows through. Why in God's name would one of the most powerful law firms in the country be even the least bit scared of his ranting?

This whole thing could actually embolden him. He likes to think he is some great martyr fighting in the name of his god.

In the end, he will probably get a fine and generally stray away from actual lawsuits in favor of lecturing, etc. His potty mouth will continue unabated, unfortunately.

Well, as Dennis' source pointed out, jail time for a contempt charge is pretty rare (and caps out at 30 days). As for martyrdom? In his own mind, perhaps, but most people understand that contempt of court is basically the equivalent of getting the sent to the principal for shooting spitballs at the blackboard and pulling on the pigtails of the girl in the next desk over.
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