InfoWars blowhard Alex Jones has lost another set of defamation lawsuits brought by the targets of his bogus conspiracy theories about the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, this time in Connecticut.
Just like a separate round of lawsuits Jones, InfoWars, and parent company Free Speech Systems lost in Texas, the judge in the Connecticut cases ruled against Jones in default judgements—a type of binding sanction by a court issued against a party in a case for inappropriate conduct or failure to cooperate. Default judgements are sometimes referred to by lawyers as a legal “death sentence,” because it’s effectively a decision by the judge that one party in the case should be put out of its misery.
Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis handed down the default judgements on Monday in cases brought by family members of some of the 20 children and six teachers who died during the massacre. Jones had relentlessly promoted unfounded conspiracy theories that the Sandy Hook killings were a false flag operation staged by gun-grabbing deep state agents, and his audience responded by relentlessly harassing many of the victims’ families and loved ones, whom Jones accused of being paid-off “crisis actors.” Many of the families responded with defamation lawsuits, which Jones resisted on First Amendment grounds and the assertion he was merely making exaggerated, but legally protected, rhetorical claims. Combined with the Texas losses, Jones now has a 0-4 record in the Sandy Hook defamation claims.
In her decision, according to the Hartford Courant, Bellis cited unacceptable conduct by Jones’s attorneys regarding depositions and “callous disregard of their obligation” to hand over key financial and web analytics data as required by discovery, saying Jones’s lawyers engaged in a “pattern of obstructive conduct.” Like the default judgements in Texas, where a judge cited a pattern of Jones “intentionally disobeying” court orders and showing “flagrant bad faith and callous disregard” in the discovery process, the decision means the court has now found Jones and his companies officially liable for damages. Juries will determine how big the penalties will be in the cases.
“Neither the court nor the parties can expect perfection when it comes to the discovery process,” Bellis read from the ruling, the Courant wrote. “What is required, however, and what all parties are entitled to, is fundamental fairness that the other side produces information which is within their knowledge, possession and power and that the other side meet its continuing duty to disclose additional and new material.”
“Here the Jones defendants were not just careless,” she added. “Their failure to produce critical documents, (and) their disregard for the discovery process and procedure and court orders, is a pattern of obstructive conduct that interferes with the ability of the plaintiff to conduct meaningful discovery.”
Bellis had previously sanctioned the defense in 2019 on similar grounds, barring him from filing a motion to dismiss. She had particularly targeted Jones’s attorney Jay Wolman, according to the Courant.
Chris Mattei, an attorney representing the families in the Connecticut cases, suggested to the paper that Jones chose this route because he didn’t want the plaintiffs unveiling what happens behind the scenes at InfoWars: “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. 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.”
“We requested this information back in 2019, we’ve had to fight for it we’ve had to overcome deceit; false statements to us and the court,” Mattei added to the Courant.
Infowars didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Gizmodo. We’ll update this piece if we hear back, but Jones has already weighed in on the ruling by rambling incoherently on his show, according to ABC News.
“These individuals, again, are not allowing me to have a jury trial because they know the things they said I supposedly did didn’t happen,” Jones told viewers. “They know they don’t have a case for damages. And so the judge is saying, ‘you are guilty of damages, now a jury decides how guilty you are.’ It’s not guilty until proven guilty.”