Constitutional Law

Controversial Fla. Lawyer is Disbarred; Jack Thompson Alleges 'Enemies List'

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Updated: Going beyond previous sanctions imposed on a controversial Florida lawyer, the state supreme court today has permanently disbarred Jack Thompson in agreement with a referee’s report (PDF) issued in July that said Thompson repeatedly attempted to harm his opponents’ reputations “with utter disregard to the administration of justice and complete indifference to the consequences his conduct would have on their lives, law firms, judicial careers, clients, families and reputations.”

Thompson, who is known for his advocacy against violent video games and pornography, reportedly has 30 days to appeal, and based on his past history is likely to do so. Meanwhile, he has filed (PDF) to seek an emergency stay of the state supreme court ruling in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida. “This type of infringement of the civil rights of U.S. citizens by state governments is precisely why we have federal civil rights laws, and in this instance 42 USC 1983. I shall be vindicated, and The Florida Bar will be harmed, probably grievously, by its own hand. I can’t wait for my day in court,” he tells in an e-mail.

Last week, Thompson filed a federal civil rights suit (PDF) against the Florida Bar and state supreme court and dozens of related individual defendants, contending that they have all, jointly and severally, “labored arduously over the last 49 months to punish plaintiff John B. Thompson for his fully protected First Amendment speech and activities.”

The suit also alleges that a former disciplinary prosecutor says the bar has an “enemies list” akin to the infamous one reportedly kept by former President Richard M. Nixon, and that Thompson is on it.

The Florida Bar’s website lists Thompson as disbarred, effective today (click “Yes” to the right of “10-Year Discipline History”), and a copy of the Florida Supreme Court written opinion (PDF) disbarring Thompson is provided by the Game|Life blog on Wired magazine’s website.

The blog post says Thompson also has responded to the disbarment by issuing a press release.

The release contends, as the blog post puts it, that Thompson’s disbarment is “in retaliation for Thompson’s Tyndale House book Out of Harm’s Way, published in 2005, which blew the whistle on the Florida Supreme Court’s earlier efforts in the 1990s to literally pathologize his faith-based and successful activism against the American entertainment industry.”

The 42-page federal suit Thompson filed last week contends that defendants, including the supreme court and Florida bar, have engaged in “illegal activity, some of which is criminal in nature,” and has been since 1988 seeking to discipline and discourage him from what he describes as his “faith-based and constitutionally protected social activism and public interest law practice.” It has been focused on seeking to curtail distribution of pornography and violent video games to minors.

Filed in the Southern District of Florida, the suit seeks declaratory and injunctive relief and compensatory and punitive damages.

Earlier coverage: “Referee: Anti-Porn Lawyer Should Be Disbarred for Acting ‘With Vengeance’” “Lawyer Walks Out of Hearing, Misses 10-Year Disbarment Recommendation” “Fla. Court Responds to ‘Make My Day’ Invitation, Sanctions Lawyer” “Lawyer Could Face Sanctions After Adding Images of Kangaroos, Swastikas to Filing”

Updated at 4:30 p.m. to include information provided by Thompson; updated at 11:39 a.m. Sept. 26 to include link to the referee’s report.

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