Alex Jones, the host of Infowars and right-wing conspiracy theorist, has been found guilty by default in all four defamation cases 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 on Monday morning because 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. 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.
Though Jones’ finances are murky, with nearly all of his income thought to be derived from the sale of dubious health supplements to his loyal followers, he is thought to have a net worth of roughly $5 million.
Alex Jones has been found guilty by default in all four defamation cases involving the Sandy Hook shooting
Jones claimed on his Infowars show that the massacre in Connecticut was ‘a giant hoax’ involving ‘crisis actors’ meant to tighten gun control laws. Pictured are children being led out of the school during the shooting on December 14, 2012
Gunman Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut before killing himself. Pictured are mourners gathered at a makeshift memorial following the mass shooting in Newtown
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.
Juries in both states have not yet determined how much in damages Jones and the other defendants will have to pay the families. Above, he is seen speaking at a ‘ReAwaken America’ event in San Antonio, Texas, on Friday
The Sandy Hook families that sued Jones claim that he profited by spreading lives about the murders of their loved ones
‘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.
He added, ‘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.
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.
Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, pictured on Infowars, was sanctioned by a judge earlier this year over his outburst at Sandy Hook families
Leonard Pozner, who lost his six-year-old son, Noah, was one of the families to sue Jones and Infowars, claiming defamation
Neil Heslin , whose son Jesse was among the victims, was another parent who sued Jones and others over what their attorney described as ‘5-year campaign of repulsive lies’
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 dubious health supplements to his loyal followers, he is thought to have a net worth of roughly $5 million.
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 said.
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.’
Adam Lanza, 20, killed his mother before going to Sandy Hook Elementary School and opening fire on students and staff. He took his own life as police were closing in
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.’
He also claimed that Americans need to be ‘good’ and ‘steadfast’ and ‘love each other,’ before asking his followers to ‘pray for our accusers and pray for those that persecute us, because that’s what Christ told us to do.’
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 and his attorney in Connecticut, Norman Pattis, criticized the Texas judge’s ruling in a statement on the Infowars website.
‘It 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 said. ‘We are 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.’
The massacre claimed the lives of 20 first-grade students and six educators (pictured)
Jones’ lawyers have denied the defamations allegations and argued his comments about the school shooting were protected by free speech.
One of the Texas lawsuits was filed by Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, whose son Noah was killed in the shooting. The two others were filed by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse was killed. Several other families of the victims are suing on similar claims in Connecticut.
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.”
Guerra Gamble said in her rulings that she was defaulting Jones and the other defendants after an ‘escalating series’ of admonishments by judges, monetary fines and other actions was ineffective in getting the defendants to turn over documents.
In 2019, Jones was ordered by another Texas judge to pay $100,000 in legal fees to Heslin’s lawyers for disregarding a court order to produce witnesses.
Jones also was sanctioned in the Connecticut cases for violating numerous orders to turn over documents and for an angry outburst on his web show against an attorney for some of the victims’ relatives.
A judge barred Jones from filing a motion to the dismiss the case – a ruling that was upheld after being appealed all the way to the US Supreme Court, which declined to hear Jones’ appeal in April.