- A Texas jury has ordered Alex Jones to pay more than $49 million in damages to the parents of a boy killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
- The founder and host of Infowars faces two more lawsuits to determine the damages he and his company Free Speech Systems owe to the families of the victims of the massacre.
- The Jan. 6 panel is also expected to subpoena Jones’ cellphone data presented as evidence in the Texas trial.
An Austin, Texas jury has awarded the defamatory behavior of Infowars founder and host Alex Jones a total of more than $49 million in damages awarded to the parents of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis , who at age six were among 20 first graders and six educators killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
The damages, awarded by the jury on Friday, were significantly lower than the $150 million sought by parents Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, who testified how the conspiracy theorist’s false claims that the school massacre was a hoax have made their life a “living hell” of death. threats, online abuse and other trauma to Jones and his followers, and Texas law could further reduce the damage.
However, Jones faces two other upcoming libel lawsuits involving Sandy Hook families, which are expected to result in additional damages awarded by juries.
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What’s next for Alex Jones?
Jones’ attorneys could appeal the damages finding, including an argument that evidence not intended for the case – two years of cellphone data – was presented to the jury. However, that argument would likely not convince a judge, John Browning, trial attorney and former Texas appellate judge, told Bloomberg Law.
“The fact that (Federico Andino Reynal, lead attorney for Jones) filed this emergency motion after the testimony, it smelt of desperation,” Browning said.
Later this year, Austin-based Jones and his companies, including Infowars and Free Speech Systems, face lawsuits for damages in two additional defamation lawsuits — one filed in Texas by Noah Pozner’s family and another in Connecticut filed by eight families. victims of Sandy Hook. The trial in the Connecticut case is scheduled to begin next month.
The cellphone data snafu could also catch up with Jones in a number of ways. Mark Bankston, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, said cellphone evidence suggests Jones may have committed perjury during the discovery period of the trial by lying about his text messages.
Palm Beach, Fla. County District Attorney Dave Aronberg agreed that prosecutors could eventually file perjury charges against Jones. “His legal issues aren’t over,” he told CNN.
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Bankston also said the Jan. 6 committee, which deposed Jones in January 2022, requested the phone records, but was unsure whether the data covered the period before and after the incident. In the subpoena letter, Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Democratic speaker, accused Jones of helping organize the Jan. 6 rally and repeatedly promoting President Trump’s false allegations of voter fraud.
What is Alex Jones net worth? Is he bankrupt?
Jones certainly attempted to portray himself and his operation as suffering financially. At the end of July, Jones’ main company, Free Speech Systems, the parent company of Infowars, filed for bankruptcy. This came months after three of Jones’ other companies, including InfoW, formerly known as InfoWars, also filed for bankruptcy. During this week’s trial, Jones said any award over $2 million would “sink us.”
But Bernard Pettingill, an economist hired by the plaintiffs, testified that Jones and the company were worth up to $270 million, and records showed Jones withdrew $62 million for himself in 2021. “He has money placed in a bank account somewhere,” Pettingill said.
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What are Sandy Hook families saying about the price?
After the jury announced its decision, Scarlett Lewis said the jury held Jones accountable — and so did she.
Lewis recalled when she took the helm and looked Jones in the eye, she thought of her son, who was credited with saving lives by shouting “run” when the killer stopped in his rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School. “I hope I did justice to that incredible courage when I got to face off against Alex Jones, who is also a bully,” she said. “I hope this inspires others to do the same.”
How much will Alex Jones end up paying? Is the damage capped?
Reynal, Jones’ lead attorney, told the judge he would appeal and seek a reduction in damages. After the hearing, he said he thought the punitive amount could be reduced to just $1.5 million, based on a Texas law capping punitive damages at $750,000 per plaintiff.
However, plaintiffs’ attorney Mark Bankston said he thought he could challenge any attempt to reduce damages. “We do not believe that punitive damages caps are constitutional as applied to our case and we will certainly litigate this issue if necessary,” Bankston told Bloomberg Law.
And despite the cap, Bankston still believes damages will total at least $4.5 million, taking into account emotional distress and reputational damage, as well as punitive damages. He plans to argue against the reduced damages in bankruptcy court and notes that the other defamation lawsuits will result in additional damages.
“What this is heading towards is that there are going to be a large number of plaintiffs who are going to share the corpse of Infowars in the state of bankruptcy,” he said outside the room. hearing on Friday, according to a video posted to Twitter by Avery. Travis, a reporter for KXAN News, an NBC station in Austin, Texas.
“During this process it can become very, very dangerous for Mr. Jones because there is going to be a new level of financial control,” Bankston said.
What happened during the Alex Jones defamation trial?
After years of false prank allegations, Jones admitted under oath that the shooting was “100% real” and even shook hands with the parents.
However, he still had moments of grandstanding inside and outside the courtroom. On the first day of the trial, he arrived at the courthouse with “Save the 1st” written in silver tape over his mouth, a sign of his statement that the trial represented a crackdown on his free speech rights.
Jones, who was not present for the verdict, often missed portions of the trial to do his daily Infowars program. During one broadcast, he said the jury was made up of a group of people who “don’t know what planet they live on.”
When in the courtroom, Jones tended to speak out of turn. But Judge Maya Guerra Gamble cut him off when he exposed conspiracies, ranging from the staged 9/11 terror attacks to a bogus United Nations effort on global depopulation.
“This,” the judge told him, “is not your show.”
Contributor: The Associated Press
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @mikesnider.