Alex Jones heads to court again to take on other Sandy Hook families

New York
CNN Business

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones will stand trial again on Tuesday, facing other family members of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims, weeks after a Texas jury determined he and his company should paying nearly $50 million to a student’s parents for defaming the student’s father and inflicting emotional distress on both parents.

A Connecticut jury of three men and three women will now determine how much Jones and his company Free Speech Systems (FSS) will pay the other families of more students and employees killed in the 2012 shootings, which Jones and his colleagues told their audience was a hoax.

Connecticut Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis ruled in November 2021 that Jones and FSS were liable for the defamation of the 15 plaintiffs in that lawsuit, primarily because Jones and his company failed to cooperate in delivering the documents in part of the discovery process.

Plaintiffs in three lawsuits against Jones and FSS, including family members of eight school students and employees and a former FBI agent who responded to the scene, have all been condensed into the lawsuit which begins this week .

Several family members are expected to be in the courtroom for the trial and testify in the case, according to plaintiffs’ attorney Chris Mattei.

Jones is also expected to testify at some point, but it’s unclear whether he will be present in the courtroom for the duration of the trial.

The plaintiffs allege their reputations were tarnished and they endured years of emotional distress due to harassment and public disregard following Jones’s coverage of the shooting, according to court documents.

They also say Jones and FSS violated the state’s Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA) after profiting from the dissemination of his account that the shooting was a hoax.

Connecticut law generally limits punitive damages in a civil lawsuit to the cost of legal fees and litigation costs, but Judge Bellis could rule that plaintiffs are entitled to more under the CUTPA claim.

Although the Texas jury determined that Jones and his company should pay the plaintiffs in this lawsuit nearly $50 million in punitive and compensatory damages for defamation and willful infliction of emotional distress, Jones’ attorney disagreed. opposed to awarding punitive damages under Texas state law, which caps damages. The final amount of compensation in this case has yet to be determined by the court, and Jones’ attorneys have indicated they will appeal.

One of the plaintiffs in that lawsuit, Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse was just six years old when he was killed, spoke directly to Jones as she testified.

“In a way, you’ve had a negative impact on every day of my life since – almost since Jesse was murdered. Since 2013 when your videos were circulating,” Lewis said.

“It’s not staged like one of your men said. It’s a real event. It seems so unbelievable to me that we have to do this, that we have to implore you – not just implore you, punishing you to stop lying, saying it’s a hoax. It happened. It’s like surreal what’s happening.

In a deposition for one of the trials, Jones acknowledged the shooting was real and blamed his claims it was a hoax on “psychosis”.

“I never intentionally tried to hurt you. I never even said your name until this case came to court. I didn’t even know who you were until a few years ago when this all started. The internet had a lot of questions. I had questions,” Jones said while on the witness stand during the trial in Texas last month. “And that’s really been my big frustration is that people have said that I personally try to hurt them or come after when I question every big event.”

During a nearly three-hour preliminary hearing last week, Judge Bellis ruled on several topics that Jones and his legal team can and cannot talk about before the jury, often referencing hot moments in the widely publicized lawsuit in Texas.

“I’m not going to have those kinds of problems. It’s a different courtroom, different law, everything’s different,” Judge Bellis said, referring to the judge in the Texas case who reprimanded Jones repeatedly for making inappropriate or false statements in front of him. the jury.

Bellis also said she would question Jones outside of the presence of the jury before he testified in Connecticut to confirm he understood the parameters of her orders.

“I’m not going to have a situation where we now have to deviate from the mid-trial course and I have to deal with a contempt of court situation with your client where he blatantly ignores an order,” the judge said. Bellis to Jones. lawyer.

“If he needs to write it 10 times over and over until he gets it, then that’s what he needs to do,” Bellis said.

Jones’ defense cannot tell the jury that being held liable for damages in this lawsuit is unfair or violates Jones’ First Amendment rights, Bellis said.

“There will be no evidence or argument that the Jones defendants have satisfied their discovery obligations by making a substantial production nor can they attack at the trial court level during the jury trial, that the decision was unfair,” Bellis said.

The judge also ruled that jurors could not hear about a $73 million settlement reached in February between major arms maker Remington and certain plaintiffs in that lawsuit, a point Jones’ attorney wanted to raise. At the trial.

Against defense objections, Judge Bellis also said she would allow expert witness testimony for the plaintiffs about the Jones hearing and the political leanings and behaviors that may have caused some members of that hearing to adhering to Jones’ conspiracy theory that the 2012 elementary school shooting was not real.

About Jessica J. Bass

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