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Alex Jones during a Stop the Steal rally of far-right leaders at the Governor's Mansion in Georgia on Nov. 19, 2020. Photo: Zach Roberts/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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.

Go deeper

Justice Department again urges courts to suspend Texas abortion law

People rally in support of abortion rights in New York City on Oct. 2. Photo: Yana Paskova/Getty Images

The Department of Justice asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late Monday to suspend Texas' new law that bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, or roughly six weeks — before many people know they are pregnant.

Why it matters: Medical providers in the state briefly resumed performing abortions last week after a federal judge ruled that the law was unconstitutional, though it was temporarily reinstated by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport to "drop off some members" when the gang abducted them in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.

Venezuela suspends talks with opposition after Maduro ally extradited to U.S.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, in June. Photo: Gaby Oraa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key ally of Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro was extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. Saturday to face money laundering charges in Florida, Bloomberg first reported.

Why it matters: Venezuela's government called off negotiations with opposition officials that were scheduled for Sunday in Mexico in response to the extradition of Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman and financial fixer for Maduro. Security forces placed six U.S. oil executives under house arrest later Saturday, per AP.