Alex Jones’ Connecticut attorney could be suspended over confidential records dump
Norm Pattis, the attorney representing Infowars host Alex Jones in a $1 billion defamation lawsuit over lies about the Sandy Hook school shooting, could face a six-month suspension. This is according to recent filings in a disciplinary proceeding in Connecticut.
Pattis did not return requests for comment about the potential six-month suspension, which is being considered amid disciplinary hearings that aim to get to the bottom of how and why his office shared confidential medical records of Sandy Hook parents who sued Jones in Connecticut.
“There is clear and convincing evidence that Pattis knowingly transferred Connecticut plaintiffs’ discovery to a non-authorized individual,” said Brian Staines, the chief disciplinary officer in the state’s judicial branch, in a Nov. 16 court filing.
Judge Barbara Bellis, the same judge who presided over the lawsuit against Jones filed in Connecticut by eight relatives of Sandy Hook victims in Waterbury Superior Court, launched the disciplinary proceedings in August. She was concerned about the sharing of an external hard drive among attorneys representing Jones in separate cases, because it wasn’t disclosed to her court. Instead, she found out at the same time as a public broadcast.
During a Texas lawsuit trial, which was streamed by the local court, an attorney representing the parents of Sandy Hook victim Jesse Lewis revealed that a law firm representing Jones mistakenly shared with his office two years’ worth of Jones’ text messages and confidential psychiatric records of families who sued Jones in Connecticut.
That attorney, Mark Bankston, said Jones’ defense attorneys in Texas must have gotten those records from Pattis in Connecticut. Bankston told the court he destroyed the files once he realized what they were and notified Jones’ attorneys, who had 10 days to act.
Staines wrote in a filing this month that Pattis should’ve been careful, particularly during “one of the most significant litigations pending in Connecticut.”
“Pattis was aware of and subject to [a] protective order. He instructed his associate to transfer, without limitation, plaintiff’s discovery to [Texas bankruptcy attorney Kyung S.] Lee who is not an authorized person to receive the documents,” Staines wrote.
Andino Reynal, Jones’ defamation defense attorney in Texas, acknowledged while testifying in Waterbury Superior Court earlier this year that he received the hard drive from Lee, the bankruptcy attorney hired to represent three companies owned by Jones. Reynal told the court that he didn’t realize he had the confidential records and that the incident was “incredibly embarrassing.”
Staines recommends that Reynal be suspended from practicing law in Connecticut for three months, while Pattis’ recommended suspension is six months.
Reynal came up in the Connecticut case as Jones considered dismissing Pattis as counsel. Bellis briefly granted Reynal conditional “pro hac vice” status to represent Jones in Connecticut, but he never completed his application. Reynal still got hold of a drive containing highly confidential information of the Connecticut plaintiffs, even though he was not authorized to do so, according to Staines.
“There is clear and convincing evidence that it was not competent for Reynal to take possession of several gigabytes of data received by Lee from Pattis, without having a complete understanding as to what information he was receiving,” Staines said in a recent filing.
Staines said in the Nov. 16 filing that Reynal compounded that mistake of not knowing what he had by failing to disclose to Bellis a potential exposure of the plaintiffs’ confidential records. Staines says in his disciplinary filing that Reynal did nothing for at least 10 days after his office was notified by opposing counsel that they had shared the confidential files.
When asked about the records-sharing controversy at an August hearing, Pattis asserted his Fifth Amendment rights and refused to answer any questions.
Both attorneys for Pattis and Reynal are scheduled to argue their cases in a Jan. 13 hearing.