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Alex Jones liable for defamation in Sandy Hook 'hoax' case

Newtown Shooting Infowars Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones
AP Photo / Matt York, File
In this Nov. 5, 2020, file photo, radio host Alex Jones rallies pro-Trump supporters outside the Maricopa County Recorder's Office in Phoenix. The U.S. Supreme Court on April 5, 2021, declined to hear an appeal by the Infowars host and conspiracy theorist, who was fighting a Connecticut court sanction in a defamation lawsuit brought by relatives of some of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

A Connecticut judge has issued a sweeping ruling against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, finding him liable in a long-running defamation lawsuit brought by families of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre.

Jones had made repeated claims that the shooting was a hoax.

In her default judgment against Jones, Connecticut Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis cited “willful noncompliance” by Jones and his various entities.

(Listen to the audio recording of the ruling.)

“Their failure to produce critical documents, their disregard for the discovery process and procedure and for court orders is a pattern of obstructive conduct that interferes with the ability of the plaintiffs to conduct meaningful discovery and prevents the plaintiffs from properly prosecuting their claims,” Bellis said in her ruling from the bench.

The case now moves to a jury to decide what damages Jones owes the families. In October, a Texas judge ruled against Jones in three similar defamation cases.

The plaintiffs in the case include the families of eight victims of the shooting and one FBI first responder.

Attorney Chris Mattei, who represented the plaintiffs, says that default judgments are not common but that Jones refused to comply with the court’s orders.

“He fabricated evidence, he falsely withheld evidence,” Mattei said. “And, as a result of that, the judge concluded that the unusual remedy of default was the only just outcome here.”

Lawyers for Jones and his companies have denied violating rules on turning over documents.

“Thank God for appellate courts,” said attorney Norm Pattis in a statement emailed to Connecticut Public. Pattis represents some of the companies associated with Jones in the case. “The ruling is founded neither in law or fact. Indeed, we had appealed Judge Bellis’ decision to refuse to step aside to the state Supreme Court on Friday. We remain confident that, in the end, the Sandy Hook families cannot prove either liability or damages. We think their lawyers know this; hence, the desperate effort to obtain a default.”

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.

Updated: November 15, 2021 at 12:20 PM EST
This post has been updated.
Diane Orson is a special correspondent with Connecticut Public. She is a longtime reporter and contributor to National Public Radio. Her stories have been heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition and Here And Now. Diane spent seven years as CT Public Radio's local host for Morning Edition.

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