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Text messages and psychiatric records: Phone dump is one more problem for Jones defense

Newtown Shooting-Infowars
Briana Sanchez / AP
/
Pool Austin American-Statesman
Alex Jones attempts to answer questions about his text messages asked by Mark Bankston, lawyer for Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, during Jones' defamation damages trial at the Travis County Courthouse in Austin, Texas, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022. Jones testified Wednesday that he now understands it was irresponsible of him to declare the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre a hoax and that he now believes it was “100% real."

“Do you know what perjury is?”

A Texas attorney for parents of a child shot and killed during the 2012 Sandy Hook School shooting asked that question to Infowars host Alex Jones as he testified in one of his defamation trials.

It was a dramatic moment Wednesday as attorney Mark Bankston told Jones that he had his text messages he wasn’t supposed to have. And one of them made reference to Sandy Hook — the type of text Jones previously swore didn’t exist.

A default judgment was issued against Jones in two lawsuits for not turning over records to attorneys for families of victims killed in the shooting. A Connecticut judge cited Jones and his defense team’s failure “to produce critical documents” when she made the ruling in November.

The text message was one part of contents from Jones’ phone “sent in error” by his Texas defense team to Bankston’s law office. Bankston says the records included two years of text messages from Jones’ phone, as well as confidential psychiatric records from plaintiffs in the Connecticut case.

“Norm Pattis up in Connecticut was passing this file along to [Jones’ defense attorney in Texas, Andino] Reynal, and I know that because the directories contain … backups of Norm Pattis’ computer,” Bankston said to a Texas judge Thursday.

Now Pattis faces sanctions in Connecticut. The judge in the Connecticut case, Barbara Bellis, has ordered Pattis to appear for a show-cause hearing on Aug. 10 “as to whether he should be referred to disciplinary authorities or sanctioned by the court directly ... regarding the purported release of medical records of the plaintiffs, in violation of state and federal statute and this court’s protective order, to unauthorized individuals.”

Bankston said he immediately destroyed the confidential records. He also says the contents of Jones’ phone are now being sought by congressional officials investigating the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol.

Reynal, meanwhile, asked the judge on Thursday to force Bankston to destroy all records that he mistakenly shared. That decision is pending. Reynal also asked for a mistrial, which was denied.

With Jones being found liable for defamation in both cases, what’s left is for juries to assign a dollar figure to the damage Jones has done to the Sandy Hook families.

Jury selection in the Connecticut trial got underway Tuesday, but it was quickly interrupted when the case was removed to federal bankruptcy court.

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