Judge orders Alex Jones to pay damages to Sandy Hook families
Far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is responsible for all damages in two lawsuits instigated after he falsely called the Sandy Hook shooting a "giant hoax," a Texas judge ruled this week.
Why it matters: This is Jones' latest defeat in defamation lawsuits related to his false claims about the 2012 mass shooting. Nine families have filed suit against him since he first started making the unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, per the Washington Post.
Details: After the shooting killed 26 people, 20 of whom were young children, Jones caught backlash as he began to call the shooting a "false flag" operation planned by "crisis actors."
- After parents of two children killed in the shooting sued Jones in 2018, he repeatedly failed to comply with court orders to submit documents and evidence of the conspiracy theory he espoused.
- As a result, Travis County, Texas, District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble issued default judgments against Jones and his Infowars media system, ordering him to pay the parents for defamation and emotional distress.
What she's saying: "This Court finds that Defendants have intentionally disobeyed the Court's order," Gamble wrote in one of three similar orders.
- "The Court also finds that Defendants’ failure to comply with the discovery order in this case is greatly aggravated by Defendants’ consistent pattern of discovery abuse throughout the other similar cases pending before this Court."
- "An escalating series of judicial admonishments, monetary penalties, and non-dispositive sanctions have all been ineffective at deterring the abuse," Gamble wrote.
The rulings give the families "the closure they deserve," Mark Bankston, an attorney for the parents filing the lawsuits, said in a statement to CNN.
- "Mr. Jones was given ample opportunity to take these lawsuits seriously and obey the rule of law," Bankston said. "He chose not to do so, and now he will face the consequences for that decision."
Jones and Infowars attorney Norm Pattis released a statement shortly after calling the decision a "blatant abuse of discretion by the trial court."
- "It is not overstatement to say the first amendment was crucified today.”
What's next: The cases will move to jury trials to determine the amount of money owed to the families.
- Jones can still appeal the judgments, according to the Austin American-Statesman.