Connecticut judge Barbara Bellos has found Alex Jones liable in a lawsuit brought by the husband of one of the victims killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The finding followed Judge Bellis’ defaulting of Jones and his companies for “failure to produce critical material information that the plaintiffs needed to prove their claims.” The next step will be a hearing to determine the amount of damages Jones will have to pay.
On Oct. 1, Texas judge Maya Guerra Gamble also found Jones to be in default in three defamation suits brought against him by other Sandy Hook families. The amount of damages Jones and other defendants will have to pay in those cases will be determined in jury trials.
In all cases, Alex Jones and his companies, which include InfoWars and Free Speech Systems, refused or failed to turn over documents and information the court had ordered them to produce.
AP News reports on the Connecticut decision:
Judge Barbara Bellis took the rare step of defaulting Jones in the defamation lawsuits for his and his companies’ “failure to produce critical material information that the plaintiffs needed to prove their claims.”
AP News also covered the October decision in the Texas cases:
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.
At the time of the Texas ruling, Jones and his Connecticut attorney, Norman Pattis, said the judgement “takes no account of the tens of thousands of documents produced by the defendants, the hours spent sitting for depositions and the various sworn statements filed in these cases.” They added that they were “distressed by what we regard as a blatant abuse of discretion by the trial court. We are determined to see that these cases are heard on the merits.”
In the Connecticut case, AP News reports that “Jones’ lawyers have denied violating court rules on document disclosure and have asked that Bellis be removed from the case, alleging she has not been impartial.”
In 2013, Alex Jones began promoting the theory that the Sandy Hook massacre had been a hoax, perpetrated in order to help anti-gun organizations crack down on Second Amendment rights, and that no one had actually been killed there.
Victims’ families’ legal complaints against Jones claim the broadcaster did not actually believe the shooting was a hoax but had concocted the theory as a way to profit off the incident, and that part of his profiteering included encouraging his followers to “investigate” for themselves. Jones’s instigation led to extremely painful ongoing harassment and abuse of surviving family members.
Jones and the other defendants have sought to frame the lawsuits as a free speech case. In one motion to dismiss, they describe a suit as “a strategic device used by Plaintiffs to silence Defendants’ free speech and an attempt to hold Defendants liable for simply expressing their opinions regarding questioning the government.” The motion states, “The goal of this lawsuit is to silence Defendants, as well as anyone else who refuses to accept what the mainstream media and government tell them, and prevent them from expressing any doubt or raising questions.”
So far, however, over the history of the Connecticut case and the three Texas cases, Jones and the other defendants have had little or no success as they seek to defend themselves.