A Connecticut judge found InfoWars host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones liable by default in a defamation lawsuit brought by families of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis said that Jones’ refusal to hand over documents and financial records rendered him liable after years of dodging court orders to surrender the papers.
“All the defendants have failed to fully and fairly comply with their discovery obligations,” Bellis said during a virtual hearing, according to CNN.
The Monday decision in the lawsuit brought by eight families comes weeks after a judge in Texas found Jones liable for damages in three other cases brought by the parents of victims who were killed in the 2012 mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that claimed the lives of 20 first-graders and six educators. The gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, turned the gun on himself after the massacre.
On his show, Jones had portrayed the mass shooting as a “false flag” operation involving “crisis actors” seeking to boost gun control measures and failed to back up the bogus assertions.
After making the false claims, Jones repeatedly ignored court orders to provide evidence in the cases against him brought by the families of victims from the massacre who have accused Jones of enriching himself by spewing lies about the shooting.
In an effort to demonstrate the alleged link between Jones’ profits and his conspiracy theories about the shooting, lawyers for Sandy Hook families had requested detailed financial records and analytics that they said Jones ducked for more than two years.
Bellis concluded on Monday that Jones’ attorneys had provided only “sanitized, inaccurate” financial records and had repeatedly disregarded her rulings to supply the parents’ lawyers with more complete data, according to the Hartford Courant.
Chris Mattei, a lawyer representing the families, said that Jones had become accustomed to circulating falsehoods from the perch of his studio but was unable to defend his position when called on by the court.
“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,” Mattei said, according to the Courant.
“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,” he added.
Jones’ lawyer, Jay Wolman, has countered by suggesting the Sandy Hook families’ lawyers were needlessly digging, and that any claims that Jones was holding back documents were “ridiculous,” the Courant reported.
“They’re trying to find a needle in a haystack where there is no needle. This is a classic fishing expedition,” he said, according to the outlet.
In September, Judge Maya Guerra Gamble in Austin had similarly entered default judgments against Jones, Infowars, and other defendants. In her ruling, she blasted Jones and others for what she called their “flagrant bad faith and callous disregard” of court orders to hand over documents to the parents’ lawyers.
The recent legal battles aren’t the first time Jones has been dealt a blow for spreading lies over the airwaves related to the horrific shooting. In the near-decade since the shooting, nine families have filed lawsuits against the right-wing host.
After multiple losses in cases related to the bogus statements, Jones walked back the damaging claims, suggesting in a 2019 deposition that they were the result of “a form of psychosis.”
“I talk four hours a day, and I can’t remember what I talked about sometimes a week ago,” Jones said at the time.
In 2020, Jones was called on to cough up nearly $150,000 in legal fees to families suing over his falsehoods about the murders after he failed to provide documents in discovery to lawyers of Sandy Hook families.
After the court victory for victims’ families on Monday, juries in both Connecticut and Texas will decide how much Jones should pay to plaintiffs in the four cases in trials scheduled for next year.