InfoWars’ Alex Jones found in contempt of court in Sandy Hook defamation lawsuit
A judge found Alex Jones in contempt of court Wednesday in a defamation lawsuit brought against the InfoWars host for saying the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was fake.
Jones was sued in 2018 by families of victims killed in the shooting for repeating false claims he made about it. Though Jones has already been found liable for defamation, the case continues as a jury will determine how much Jones owes in damages.
Jones’ attorneys appear on his behalf in a hearing Wednesday to determine if Jones would be held in contempt of court for missing two full days of court-ordered depositions.
Judge Barbara Bellis said that starting April 1, Jones will be fined at least $25,000 each weekday that he does not appear for a deposition.
“The court finds that Mr. Jones intentionally failed to comply with the orders of the court and that there is no adequate factual basis to explain his failures to obey the orders of the court,” Bellis said.
The families requested through their attorneys that Jones be held in contempt of court. During the hearing, attorney Chris Mattei said their goal was to make Jones answer questions under oath on conspiracy theories he had based off the shooting.
“It seems to us that Mr. Jones has made a deliberate decision that he would rather suffer the contempt of the court than expose himself to deposition,” Mattei said. “What we’ve tried to do in fashioning the relief [we] requested is change that calculus to make it clear to Mr. Jones that the penalties that will accrue to him as a result of his further noncompliance are not worth it and that he should sit for deposition in order to avoid them.”
Meanwhile, the defense argued that Jones didn’t miss the depositions in bad faith; they said he skipped them under doctor’s orders. His attorneys said in a court filing earlier this week that he had a sinus blockage and several other medical conditions and that a doctor told him he should remain home in lieu of sitting for a deposition.
“He heeded his doctors,” attorney Cameron Atkinson said. “He’s not sought to permanently delay or escape his deposition in this case, and he forewent his deposition pending the results of further medical tests.”
But Bellis didn’t go for it. She said that he defied her order to show up on March 23. Even though she told him he could miss the deposition the following day if he’d been hospitalized, his attorneys never submitted evidence to her affirming a hospitalization. She also pointed out that while he was supposed to be home last week, he had broadcast his show from a studio away from his home multiple times.
Bellis said she won’t have Jones arrested, noting she recognized that the plaintiffs may pursue that with courts in Texas.
Bellis said the contempt can be purged provided Jones produces himself for two full days of depositions by April 15.
On the eve of the contempt hearing, Jones did try to settle the case. He offered the 13 plaintiffs $120,000 each and an apology for any "distress his remarks caused."
The families rejected the offer.
“The so-called offer is a transparent and desperate attempt by Alex Jones to escape a public reckoning under oath with his deceitful, profit-driven campaign against the plaintiffs and the memory of their loved ones lost at Sandy Hook,” according to a statement sent to Connecticut Public Tuesday on behalf of the families.
If Jones doesn’t sit for a deposition, Mattei intends to use it against him in the damages hearing currently slated for September.