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Jack Thompson fights to get his day in court

Anti-videogame campaigner Jack Thompson has appeared in court to defend his right to practice law in Alabama, following accusations that he violated legal ethics ahead of a civil case against companies involved in creating and selling Grand Theft Auto.

Thompson is representing the families of two police officers and a dispatcher who were murdered by 18 year old Devin Moore in June 2003. In a lawsuit filed against Sony, Take-Two, Rockstar, Wal-Mart and GameStop, Thompson claims that Grand Theft Auto trained Moore to become a killer.

But now law firm Blank Rome has filed a motion to have Thompson taken off the case and to have his legal license revoked. The firm alleges that Thompson has attacked and threatened their lawyers in dozens of press releases which also accused Blank Rome of conspiracy.

"He can't proceed with the civility the rules require. All lawyers have to conduct themselves with honesty, integrity and civility. This isn't a street fight," said Blank Rome's Jim Smith.

"He's going to turn the courtroom into a circus and we can't have it."

In response, Thompson accused the law firm of attempting to run a smear campaign against him, telling Judge James Moore: "I didn't start this food fight. They started it and I have a right to respond because, believe it or not, I have a life outside of this case."

When Judge Moore asked Thompson to justify some of the statements made in his press releases, he replied: "I'm not pretending I'm not a nice guy. I'm not pretending I don't have a temper."

"Why did you do this?" Moore asked Thompson, pointing to a huge stack of press releases and letters submitted by Blank Rome as evidence of Thompson's legal violations.

"You said after the criminal trial to 'have at it'," Thompson said. The judge had imposed a gag order on lawyers until Devin Moore's trial was over.

"Your 'have at it' and my 'have at it' are not the same," the judge replied.

Judge Moore has taken the motion to revoke Thompson's license under advisement, and is also considering a motion to have the entire suit dismissed on the grounds that the First Amendment, which provides for freedom of speech, applies to videogames. The defendants' laywers also claim that Devin Moore's actions could not have been foreseen.

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Ellie Gibson

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Ellie spent nearly a decade working at Eurogamer, specialising in hard-hitting executive interviews and nob jokes. These days she does a comedy show and podcast. She pops back now and again to write the odd article and steal our biscuits.

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