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Game Over: ESA Files Motion for Legal Expenses

By Robyn Hagan Cain on July 27, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The video game industry wants California to pay its bills, bills, bills.

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and Entertainment Merchants Association filed a motion in the Supreme Court on Monday asking for reimbursement of over one million dollars in legal expenses they incurred in fighting a California law restricting the sale of violent video games to minors. Last month, the Supreme Court decided in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association that the law violated the First Amendment right to free speech.

Of the $1,144,602.64 requested in the motion, The Washington Post reports that $1.1 million covers fees for nine Jenner & Block attorneys, including Supreme Court advocate Paul M. Smith. Smith bills at $765 per hour, which seems to be the going rate for Supreme Court litigators.

ESA argues that it warned then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the California Legislature that courts were voiding similar laws in other states. The Seventh Circuit struck the Illinois Sexually Explicit Video Game Law in 2006, and federal district judges found violent video game sales bans in Michigan and Louisiana unconstitutional in 2006. ESA categorized California’s “misguided legislation” as “unconstitutional and thus a waste of taxpayers’ money, government time, and state resources.”

While cash-strapped California can hardly afford to pay its bills, the state would find itself in fine company should the Court grant ESA’s motion; ESA has won legal expenses totaling $1.71 million through similar motions in Louisiana, Michigan, and Illinois.

Good news for ESA: The Court’s decision will finally put an end to new video game violence legislation. Bad news for ESA’s lawyers: The Court’s decision has put an end to video game violence legislation court battles.

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