Utah Attorney General: We Had Concerns About Jack Thompson Video Game Bill

The Salt Lake Tribune reports this morning that Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff (R) harbored reservations about the legality of HB 353, the video game/movie bill conceived by Jack Thompson.

Trib reporter Robert Gehrke writes:

Attorney General Mark Shurtleff… told me last night that his office had expressed its concerns "with several different iterations of the bill" while it was pending before the Legislature.

"Ultimately, we could probably make an argument to defend it, but we will be sued, it will be costly. If we lose we will pay attorneys fees. Wouldn’t you rather spend that money educating people about the rating system?" he asked. "The governor apparently decided it wasn’t worth the risk."

There would seem to be little love lost between Shurtleff and Thompson. During the disbarred attorney’s previous attempt to legislate games in Utah, he called for Shurtleff’s impeachment after the A.G. opined that Thompson’s 2007 bill was constitutionally-challenged. The bill was subsequently tabled by the Utah House.

Thompson, who apparently got wind of Shurtleff’s comments in advance, disputed the A.G.’s remarks in a harshly-worded e-mail sent last evening:

We told you for weeks that if you had any constitutional concerns, we wanted to provide you any information you wanted in that regard.  I offered repeatedly to meet with you and talk with you, and you ignored my repeated plaintive requests to do so… 

We heard absolutely NOTHING from you as to the bill’s alleged unconstitutionality, and yet now we hear… that you were badmouthing it in that regard, I presume to Gov. Huntsman as well… 

For his part, Shurtleff has been both a critic of violent video games as well as a supporter of the ESRB rating system. In 2005, for example, he urged Utah retailers to boycott Eidos’s controversial cops-and-robbers shooter, 25 to Life.

In 2006 Shurtleff made an industry-funded public service announcement in which he urged parents to utilize ESRB ratings. As GamePolitics has reported, Shurtleff received a $3,000 campaign donation from the ESA in May of 2008.

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53 comments

  1. 0
    Quindo says:

    I just had a thought, some stores already ID people when selling them M+(games rated M or above) rated games.  Why shouldn’t people need to get a GAME ID that has their pic and age on them(like a drivers permit).  That way the minors would be fined for FAKING A GOVERNMENT ID.  If some created a fake drivers permit they would get fined big time.  A different take is to give kids ‘kid-credit-cards’ linked to their parents accont and they can have their allowence/own money put on the cards.  When selling M+ games to minors or possible minors require the use of this card so the parents can be informed.

    — Currently doing a research project on the short-short term effects SWBF:2 has on peoples abilities to focus.

  2. 0
    BearDogg-X says:

    Besides that, Minnesota tried that and it was ruled unconstitutional.

    Geaux Saints, Geaux Tigers, Geaux Hornets, Jack Thompson can geaux chase a chupacabra.


    Proud supporter of the New Orleans Saints, LSU, 1st Amendment; Real American; Hound of Justice; Even through the darkest days, this fire burns always

    Saints(3-4), LSU(7-0)

  3. 0
    Ryno says:

    Good idea, but game store employees don’t have the authority to fine people, and cops aren’t going to waste their time being stationed at stores to enforce it.

  4. 0
    Quindo says:

    What kind of law/bill that helped keep M and AO rated games out of the hands of minors would the video gamer communitys accept?  One idea i have is that if a minor tries to buy a M-rated game then the minor would recieve a ticket thats more like a warning.  2nd offense results in a fine.  This might get parents to be more awar of the kinds of games their kids are buying so that they don’t get stuck with a fine.

     

     

    — Currently doing a research project on the short-short term effects SWBF:2 has on peoples abilities to focus.

  5. 0
    PHX Corp says:

    I think the Utah AG should Throw JT out of the state Permantly (for the comment that he made towards Gamers, himself and the Gov) as a response

    Watching JT on GP is just like watching an episode of Jerry springer only as funny as the fights

  6. 0
    Deamian says:

    "We told you for weeks that if you had any constitutional concerns, we wanted to provide you any information you wanted in that regard."

    He’s a governor, he doesn’t need a disbarred zealous attorney to explain to him why your bill is unconstitutional.

     

    "We heard absolutely NOTHING from you as to the bill’s alleged unconstitutionality, and yet now we hear… that you were badmouthing it in that regard, I presume to Gov. Huntsman as well… "

    He dind’t. However, if he did, who dind’t see it coming?

     

     

  7. 0
    Gabriel Celesta says:

    With all due respect, Shoehorn, I think he was from Floridqa, not Flobida.

    Oh, and Potato, what do you expect with Thompson? He once declared that Halo 3’s release date was October 25, 2007.

  8. 0
    Monte says:

     I think it was back during the whole RICO thing that Jack was trying to pull, but i recall him submitting an official document where he spelt "Florida" with a "Q"

  9. 0
    JDKJ says:

    Because some things become more hilarious in retrospect:

    "Immediate News Release [from Jack Thompson] – March 3, 2009 

    Video Game/Movie Bill Passes in Utah House, 70-2
     

    A bill drafted by Miami attorney Jack Thompson and sponsored by Utah Rep.
    Mike Morley, has today passed the Utah House of Representatives by a vote of
    70-2.  That’s ten touchdowns against one safety.

    . . . .

    This legislation will likely become a model for federal legislation on this
    issue.  It threatens the entertainment industry’s long-standing assault upon
    minors with its adult products.

    . . . .

    He who laughs last laughs best, and nobody at Take-Two, the makers of
    the "Grand Theft Auto" games, is laughing this evening."
     

    Maybe the folks at Take-Two weren’t laughing that evening, but I’ll bet they’re laughing now . . . laughing at Jack "Failed Again" Thompson (who loves to count his chickens before they hatch).

     

  10. 0
    BearDogg-X says:

    And Thompson cries again. How pathetic.

    Geaux Saints, Geaux Tigers, Geaux Hornets, Jack Thompson can geaux chase a chupacabra.


    Proud supporter of the New Orleans Saints, LSU, 1st Amendment; Real American; Hound of Justice; Even through the darkest days, this fire burns always

    Saints(3-4), LSU(7-0)

  11. 0
    Attack_Gypsy says:

    $3k? They donated $3k? I remember Thompson saying something about it, but I didn’t put it together until now.

    $3k is a joke. I checked out his campaign finances in 2008. Not quite 900k. ESA doesn’t even make the Top 20.

     

    Yes, I am a liberal. I also believe in a strong military, less government, and the right to bear arms. ~ Me

    Calling an illegal alien an undocumented worker is like calling a crack dealer an unlicensed pharmacist. ~ Me

  12. 0
    JC says:

    Thompson runs his head into the wall repeatedly and he asks why others won’t follow his example and do the same…

    He continues to amuse us.

    Even with the economy slumping he still manages to entertain us for free.

  13. 0
    PHX Corp says:

    If you can spell florida wrong then, somthing is wrong with you

    Watching JT on GP is just like watching an episode of Jerry springer only as funny as the fights

  14. 0
    PHX Corp says:

    JT is a Dumb@$$ before and contunes to be one now

    Watching JT on GP is just like watching an episode of Jerry springer only as funny as the fights

  15. 0
    Shoehorn Oplenty says:

    This is par for the course for Jack, all of his court filings were riddled with bad grammar and spelling, on top of all the lies and hate of course.

    My favourite was where he referred to himself as an attorney in the state of Flobida.

  16. 0
    potatojones83 says:

    Thompson said in a press release. "Maybe Huntsman can start his own lobbying firm with Ron Blagojevich once both are out of office."

    Ron Blagojevich, presumably, is some relation to the former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

    Me thinks someone should take just a little bit of time to proof-read his inane, insulting and inconsequential little letters. He’ll still come across as an [insert you favorite name here] but at least he’ll come across as an [insert same name as before] who can spell, has decent grammer and can get a persons name right.

  17. 0
    Kincyr says:

    also mentioned in the article:

    Thompson is a former attorney, although he was disbarred in Florida last year for misconduct. (Hat Tip to Game Politics.)

    the truth is out. the article is also skeptical of Thompson’s bribe theory:

     

    But Thompson sees something even more nefarious. He alleges that Huntsman was bought off by the industry. His proof? A $500 contribution from the Electronic Software Association the governor received in 2006.

    Evidently, the video game industry bought off the governor for about the price of a new Playstation 3 and a copy of Grand Theft Auto IV. A crappy economy leads to some very good bargains, apparently.

     

    岩「…Where do masochists go when they die?」

  18. 0
    hellfire7885 says:

    He’ll and anyone else who so much as questioned the bill will need ot be concerned as well, because anyone who doesn’t agree with Thompson 200% is officially and permanently on his hit list.

    And why would the A.G. want ot meet with someone who wanted him impeached?


  19. 0
    JDKJ says:

    He still continues to (willingly?) completely misunderstand that the ECA serves the interests of consumers and not those of manufacturers. 

    It’s part of his personality disorder. Once he determines that "X" is a fact, there’s no convincing him otherwise because doing so would neccessarily involve him having to admit that he was mistaken about "X" being a fact. Have you ever known Jack Thompson to admit that he was wrong? Despite the countless times he’s been proved wrong beyond all reasonable doubt?     

  20. 0
    Zerodash says:

    One of the big problems is that Thompson continues to (willingly?) completely misunderstand just about everything.  And this is aside from his "games magically turn normal people into killers" bullshit, or "the gays are conspiring to get me" insanity.

    First, he still thinks the ESRB and the ESA have anything to do with dictating how retailers work.  Wal-Mart and Best Buy are hardly going to have their business practices dictated by the ESA.  He has, and continues to do so, lashed out at the games developers, publishers, and the ESRB as being the final point-of-sale entity.  This belief also spills over into his reaction over the veto.  He says the ESA is blackmailing the govenor by threatening to drop the ESRB and age sales-restrictions.  Funny how the ESA isn’t a retailer.

  21. 0
    nighstalker160 says:

    I’m guessing the AG realized that the "assistance"  Jack was offering was:

    Tell us why you think the bill is unconstitutional. I’ll call you an idiot, threaten to impeach you, and scream that the bill is absolutely constitutional…under my twisted interpretation of the constitution which has been rejected by 9 other courts.

    Obviously, I will  not alter the bill in and way, shape or form.

  22. 0
    Liekos says:

    So what you’re saying is that Jack has Tourette’s?  Meh, I wouldn’t be surprised if he occasionally screams at mice or swears at a bowl of fruit.

  23. 0
    Zerodash says:

    That would require Jack to actually plan things out.

    The problem is that Thompson acts purely out of impulse.  He says stupid, crazy shit and throws threats around on a whim.  That’s why his spelling & grammer is so poor in his leagal docs and press releases.  It also explains why he is able to get so many empty threats and promises out there.  Had he taken the time to think things through before communicating, his career would be in a much better place by now. 

    How else can we explain Jack’s shareholder revolt at Take Two or Jack’s RICO lawsuit against the ESA (supposed to have happened last summer).  These were merely threats he blurted out because he has a bad temper or simply crazy.  The man is unable to think ahead enough to have any real strategy behind his actions.

  24. 0
    CMiner says:

    "I offered repeatedly to meet with you and talk with you, and you ignored my repeated plaintive requests to do so… "

    Why the heck would anyone want to meet with you, JT?  Even disregarding your vicious, vindictive and complete uncivil nature towards anyone not on your team, you are simply not a reliable or accurate source of information.  Your counsel on legal matters is about as helpful as an anchor to a drowning man.

  25. 0
    Liekos says:

    My guess?  JT only wanted such an absurd law to pass so that it would be easier for kids to get hands on Mature titles…and thus he could advance his agenda of trying to get video games banned in general and feel more vindicated because kids really are getting their hands on them.

     

    It’s like trying to prove there should be tighter restrictions on guns by going around and shooting people…which…I guess fits in with Thompson’s unique brand of ‘logic’ sadly.

     

     

  26. 0
    Azhrarn says:

    Those were my thoughts aswell.
    Urging to boycott is one thing, anyone is allowed to do that.
    (although his name probably carries more weight than the average persons)
    Trying to legislate a ban is a very different proposition, glad he choose the non-legislative route.
    Promoting the ESRB is also a good thing, awareness probably does more good than any law they can attempt to wiggle by the 1st amendement.

  27. 0
    Michael Chandra says:

    He asked them to boycott it but took no action, nor threatened them? Interesting, it means he doesn’t resort to legal means just to support his personal opinion. Not bad, not bad.

  28. 0
    elsimer says:

    wait, JT didn’t say anything about Shurtleff being "bought" by the ECA even though he received 6x the contribution that the Governor did?? He must be slipping (further) into senility.

  29. 0
    Vake Xeacons says:

    More like Jack’s “won’t someone please think of my career” card. Jack, you gotta realize: the more constitutional info they get, the more they are going to be against you.

  30. 0
    SimonBob says:

    Ah, the ideal opening for Jack to play the ‘won’t somebody think of the children’ card.  "Who cares how much money we have to spend defending it?  You can’t put a price on a child’s innocent, violence-free nature!"  (Of course, he’d completely miss the fact that children are duplicitous, bloodsucking pests who should be seen and not heard.  But that’s just one angry young man’s opinion.) ;D


    The Mammon Philosophy

  31. 0
    JDKJ says:

    What’s noteworthy — but not at all surprising — is that Jack-O isn’t squarely addressing the constitutional concerns expressed by the Governor — namely, First Amendment and Dormant Commerce Clause. He completely sidesteps those concerns and goes off on some rubbish about how empty threats by the industries to pull their rating systems "suckered" the Governor into a veto. Not surprising — Jack-O knows less about the Dormant Commerce Clause than he does about the First Amendment. He couldn’t find the Dormant Commerce Clause if you sprayed it with glow-in-the-dark paint and turned off all the lights.  

  32. 0
    Benji says:

    If the Attorney General for the state of Utah has concerns about a piece of pending legislation, why would he seek advice on the matter from a former attorney from the state of Florida?  Just saying, you know… even if JT wasn’t JT, a non-practicing former plaintiff attorney still wouldn’t be the primary source of legal advice for the top lawyer of a state that’s two time zones away from his own.

  33. 0
    AM says:

     "We heard absolutely NOTHING from you as to the bill’s alleged unconstitutionality, and yet now we hear… that you were badmouthing it in that regard, I presume to Gov. Huntsman as well…"

    I’m not entirely sure I’d want to get my advice on constitutionality from a disbarred attorney, myself.

     

  34. 0
    Shoehorn Oplenty says:

    "We heard absolutely NOTHING from you as to the bill’s alleged unconstitutionality, and yet now we hear… that you were badmouthing it in that regard, I presume to Gov. Huntsman as well… "

    What about all of the other people who questioned it’s unconstitutionality? Is criticism about that aspect of this crappy bill only valid if it comes from the mouth of Mark Shurtleff?

    I love how Jack is able to try and turn any little thing into an attack on his critics. When multitudes of people all over the internet are saying how the bill is unconstitutional, he tries to pick on a single man for not doing the same. They heard PLENTY about it’s unconstitutionality but ignored it. WHat would make this man’s comments any different.

    I suppose with their history, Mr. Shurtleff was going to get insulted by Jack anyway. If he had spoken up about the matter, Jack would have claimed he was in the pocket of the industry, etc.

  35. 0
    Zerodash says:

    If Jack really wants to get these anti-games laws passed, then he needs to step out of the spotlight and work strictly behind-the-scenes.  Let a more charasmatic person push this agenda. 

    Of course, for someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, such an arragement would be impossible- which is why he fails.

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