I.Should Jack Thompson be held in contempt of court under Michigan law for the statements he made in a letter sent to the media and Judge Friedman two days after rejecting Thompson's action initiated against Take-Two in an effort to stop the release of the video game "Bully?"
II.Under the Michigan statute, should the game "Bully" be held a public nuisance harmful to public health, affecting public morals?
I.Yes. Jack Thompson should be held in contempt of court. Court proceedings are not immune from criticism as a right of free speech. However, the publication of false or improper statements that reflect improperly on the dignity or authority of the court, and tends to obstruct, prevent or embarrass the due administration of justice, constitutes contempt. The Michigan contempt statute gives a court the inherent authority, as well as statutory authority to punish a person for contempt. Contempt in cases involving publication of statements must affect the outcome of a pending matter. Therefore, Jack Thompson should be held in contempt because he had reason to know that the comments he made about Judge Friedman would impede or impair the functionality of the courts power over the ongoing pending case. II.No. The game "Bully," should not be held to be a public nuisance. A public nuisance must be harmful to the public health, create interference in use of a way of travel, affect public morals, or prevent the public from the peaceful use of their land and the public streets. The public nuisance statute was designed to eliminate the use of property for or in connection with prostitution, gambling and the illicit possession or transfer of intoxicants and to promote public health, safety, and welfare. Since the game "Bully" has not been released yet it should not be held a nuisance to the public when it has not yet been exposed to the public. Additionally, the game has not created an interference with the way of travel, affected public morals, or prevented the public from the peaceful use of their land and the public streets. STATEMENTS OF FACTS
This case comes before the court on a petition against Jack Thompson for an order to show cause why he should not be held in contempt for statements he made about Judge Friedman in a letter and to decide whether the video game "Bully" should be held a public nuisance. In an effort to stop the release of the game "Bully," Michigan Attorney Jack Thompson filed a public nuisance complaint against Take-Two's subsidiary, Rockstar Games and petitioned Judge Ronald Friedman to preview the game before its release date. Judge Friedman ordered Take-Two to make available a copy of the game to view in his chambers to determine whether it met the standards set by Michigan's public nuisance statute. After viewing a live demonstration of the game played by one of Take-two's employees, Judge Friedman saw no reason to restrict sales and rejected Thompson's complaint. Thompson, critical of the judge's decision, sent a letter to Judge Friedman and the media, questioning the judges conduct in the court accusing him of preventing evidence from being presented and denying due process of the law.
Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. §§ 600. 1701 (West 2006)
The supreme court, circuit court, and all other courts of record, have power to punish by fine or imprisonment, or both, persons guilty of any neglect or violation of duty or misconduct in all of the following cases:
(c) All attorneys, counselors, clerks, registers, sheriffs, coroners, and all other persons in any manner elected or appointed to perform any judicial or ministerial services, for any misbehavior in their office or trust, or for any willful neglect or violation of duty, for disobedience of any process of the court, or any lawful order of the court, or any lawful order of a judge of the court or of any officer authorized to perform the duties of the judge.