GamePolitics has learned that controversial Miami attorney Jack Thompson faces a disciplinary hearing before a referee appointed by the Florida Supreme Court.
The pending judicial review follows a recent recommendation by the Florida Bar that five counts of professional misconduct against Thompson should proceed to the state’s high court for action. If the charges are eventually upheld, Thompson could face disciplinary action up to and including disbarment.
Among the counts of misconduct facing Thompson, three are directly related to the activist attorney’s ongoing campaign against video game violence. Those counts involve Thompson’s participation as plaintiff’s attorney in Strickland vs. Sony, a high-profile lawsuit he brought against several video game industry defendants in Alabama in February, 2005.
In the suit, Thompson represented the families of two Fayette, Alabama police officers and a police dispatcher murdered by an 18-year-old Grand Theft Auto player in 2003. At the time of his arrest for the killings, Devin Moore reportedly said, “Life is like a video game. You have to die sometime.” Moore, subsequently convicted of the murders, now sits on Alabama’s Death Row. Thompson was not involved in the criminal case against Moore.
As reported by GamePolitics in November of 2005, Alabama Circuit Court Judge James Moore (no relation to Devin), presiding over Thompson’s lawsuit against Sony, Rockstar, Take Two, GameStop and Wal-Mart, revoked Thompson’s Pro Hac Vice (visiting) license to practice law in Alabama, essentially throwing Thompson off the Strickland case.
In upholding a pair of complaints against Thompson by Judge Moore, the Florida Bar alleges that the outspoken attorney violated numerous professional standards both before and after his Pro Hac Vice status was revoked in Alabama. Among the misconduct alleged by the Bar is Thompson’s assertion that a local Alabama attorney claimed he could fix cases before Judge Moore. Among other documents, the Bar’s complaint points to a November 28, 2005 motion filed by Thompson with Judge Moore which says:
It is clear that (Judge Moore), whether the ‘fixer’ is the reason or whether the ‘fixer’ has combined with other improper influences to jettison justice in this case, must no longer preside over this case
Also cited is a July, 2006 e-mail allegedly sent by Thompson to Judge Moore, the state Bars of Alabama and Florida as well as an attorney with law firm Blank Rome, which represents the video game industry defendants in the Strickland case. That e-mail reads:
You’re the guy who wants to give (Grand Theft Auto publisher) Take-Two my scalp. You chose to believe people that you knew were thieves and liars, and now you are their useful SLAPP Bar complainant… These are your corporate criminal buddies, Judge Moore. These are the folks with whom you made your bed, the folks whom your good friend said he could fix the case.
A third count to be considered by the Supreme Court involves a complaint made by Blank Rome, Thompson’s opposing counsel in the Strickland case. Among its numerous allegations is a charge that Thompson directly contacted Take Two CEO Paul Eibeler. Included in this count is a December, 2005 message, allegedly sent from Thompson to Eibeler which reads:
Maybe the absolutely dumbest you did was hire Philadelphia’s Blank Rome as your law firm of choice to represent you in courtrooms… Blank Rome, also very importantly, managed to lose all motions to dismiss our wrongful death suit in Alabama… We expect to try this case in 2006. We expect to take at that trial every single penny Take-Two currently has.
The two remaining counts alleged by the Florida Bar relate to Thompson’s professional conduct in relation to his ongoing battle against the airing of shock radio in South Florida.
Asked to comment by GamePolitics, Thompson said:
A referee is appointed and we have a trial. The Supreme Court reviews it later. The trial isn’t going to happen, however. I have sued The Bar in Circuit Court. It’s in far more trouble than I am.
Thompson declined GP’s request to share a copy of the current lawsuit against the Florida Bar. However, an earlier federal suit filed by Thompson against the Bar in October of 2006 was dismissed by U.S. District Court Judge Paul Huck in late December. In ruling against Thompson’s suit versus the Bar, Judge Huck wrote:
Thompson submits nothing beyond wild accusations of a vast conspiracy against him that the Bar is unfairly proceeding against him.
It is unclear at this point when a hearing on the Bar’s allegations may take place.