Alex Jones found guilty in all 4 Sandy Hook defamation suits and now liable for damages in all cases filed against him by victims’ families.
Alex Jones, the host of Infowars and right-wing conspiracy theorist, has been found guilty by default in all four defamation cases filed against him over his claims that the Sandy Hook school massacre was ‘a giant hoax’ aimed at increasing gun control.
A superior court judge in Connecticut made the ruling Monday morning after Jones refused to turn over documents ordered by the courts to back up his defense, including financial records, according to the New York Times.
His conviction is a sweeping victory for the parents of eight people killed in the Newtown massacre, now making the far right media personality liable for damages in all four defamation suits brought against him by the parents of the slain children.
On December 14, 2012 gunman Adam Lanza, 20, killed 20 first-graders and six teachers. Lanza fatally shot his mother at their home before going to the school, and later killed himself as police arrived.
Juries in both states have not yet determined how much in damages Jones and the other defendants will have to pay the families. Trials on the matter are scheduled in both states for next year.
Profiting by spreading lies
The conviction combines with three rulings in Texas last month that found Jones liable for damages in defamation lawsuits that stemmed from his statements about the Newtown massacre.
The shooting was portrayed on Jones’ Infowars show as a ‘giant hoax’ and the families involved were all ‘crisis actors’ hired to perpetuate a government agenda to increase gun control. Jones has since acknowledged the school shooting did occur.
The Sandy Hook families that sued Jones claim that he profited by spreading lives about the murders of their loved ones. Jones has disputed their claims, but failed to turn over documents and financial records to support his stance after ordered todo so in court.
Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis made the ruling after years of what she called inappropriate conduct by Jones and his attorneys regarding depositions and the ‘callous disregard of their obligation’ to turn over financial and web analytics documents as ordered by the court, reported the Hartford Courant.
‘Mr. Jones is very used to saying whatever he wants to say from the comfort of his own studio, but what I think this case has shown is that when he is forced to defend his conduct in a court of law and comply with court orders, that it’s a very different ballgame,’ attorney Chris Mattei, a lawyer representing the Sandy Hook families, told the news outlet.
Adding, ‘The fact that the court was left with no choice but to default him shows just how unwilling Mr. Jones was to have his conduct exposed to the light of day in front of a jury.’
The ruling is the most severe sanction Bellis could issue by sending the case directly to a jury and skipping the long-anticipated civil trial. Jones previously claimed that his statements and claims were protected by the First Amendment, despite admitting that he was wrong and conceding in court that the shooting was real.
— Media Matters (@mmfa) April 17, 2018
‘flagrant bad faith and callous disregard’
Last month, Judge Maya Guerra Gamble in Austin, home of Infowars, entered default judgments against Jones, Infowars and other defendants for what she called their ‘flagrant bad faith and callous disregard’ of court orders to turn over documents to the parents’ lawyers.
While the amount of damages has yet to be determined, it could send Jones on the brink of financial ruin. Though his finances are murky, with nearly all of his income thought to be derived from the sale of health supplements to his followers, he is thought to have a net worth of roughly $5 million according to the dailymail.
In a video released on his website after the court ruling last month, Jones claimed the state of Texas was ‘coming after’ him because he’s ‘standing in their way’ after they ‘crucified’ the First Amendment.
‘Every basic form of American liberty is being abolished and overturn as we speak. They’re coming after me because I’m standing in their way. They’re coming after me because they’re coming after you,’ he stated.
He also claims that Texas law states ‘you can’t sue someone if you didn’t say their name for defamation,’ he said before claiming he hadn’t mentioned anyone’s name.
‘I’m being sued by people whose names I’ve never said. This is clearly a way to attack the first amendment.’
‘I talk four hours a day, and I can’t remember what I talked about sometimes a week ago,’
US libel law states the defendant can be sued for using someone else’s name, likeness, or other personal attributes. Although the law can vary by state, such as the statue of limitations, the basics of the law stay the same state-by-state.
Jones also attributes his loss to his entry-level lawyers because the judge and previous judge ‘will never let me have the lawyers I want that are well known, famous, First Amendment lawyers.’
During a sworn deposition in 2019, Jones blamed his previous statements about the school shooting on ‘a form of psychosis.’
‘I talk four hours a day, and I can’t remember what I talked about sometimes a week ago,’ he claimed at the time.
Families of some of the school shooting victims sued Jones, Infowars and others in courts in Texas and Connecticut over the hoax conspiracy, saying they have been subjected to harassment and death threats from Jones’ followers.
Jones’ lawyers have denied the defamations allegations and argued his comments about the school shooting were protected by free speech.
Bill Ogden, a Houston lawyer representing the four parents in the Texas cases, said Jones and Infowars have failed to turn over documents for the past few years. He added such default judgments are rare.
‘My clients have and continue to endure Defendants’ five-year campaign of repulsive lies,’ Ogden said in a statement, which quoted the judge’s ruling. ‘We believe the Court hit this nail on the head when it considered Alex Jones´ and Infowars´ ‘bad faith approach to this litigation,’ Mr. Jones’ ‘public threats,’ and Jones’ ‘professed belief that these proceedings are show trials.”