Alex Jones held in contempt for dodging Sandy Hook deposition as he tells victims’ families to ‘move on’

A Connecticut judge moved to sanction Jones at a hearing on Wednesday, just as the Infowars host released a statement attacking the families’ rejection of his settlement offer

Megan Sheets
Wednesday 30 March 2022 21:25 BST
Newtown Shooting Infowars
Newtown Shooting Infowars (Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Alex Jones will be held in contempt of court after he twice skipped a deposition in his legal battle with the families of victims of the Sandy Hook massacre.

Connecticut Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis moved to sanction Mr Jones at a hearing on Wednesday, just as the Infowars host released a statement attacking the families’ rejection of his offer of a settlement the night before.

In her ruling, Judge Bellis offered Mr Jones the opportunity to purge the contempt if he sits for a deposition by 10 April - but said he will face a fine of $25,000 should he fail to do so by this Friday, and the fine will increase to $75,000 on Monday.

The deposition is in preparation for a jury trial to determine damages after Mr Jones was found guilty of defamation in multiple lawsuits last year over his false claims that the 2012 school shooting that left 26 dead was “a giant hoax”.

Two days before he was set to testify under oath last week on 23 March, Mr Jones’ lawyers made a last-ditch attempt to delay it by claiming he was too sick to attend due to unnamed “medical conditions” and that doctors had advised him to remain at home.

Judge Bellis turned down the requests, in part because he was seemingly well enough to continue broadcasting his hours-long show - leaving his home on at least one occasion to travel to his studio to film it.

It later emerged that the doctor who advised him that he was too unwell to attend the deposition was the same doctor who appeared on his show on 21 March to attack the Covid-19 vaccines as “poison” and call the US’s top doctor Dr Anthony Fauci “the greatest mass murderer in the history of the world”.

Mr Jones subsequently defied court orders by failing to show up for the original deposition and a rescheduled one, prompting attorneys for the Sandy Hook victims’ families to ask the judge to find him in contempt and have him arrested.

Hours before Wednesday’s hearing on the contempt motion, Mr Jones extended an offer to settle the defamation lawsuits with a “heartfelt apology” and $120,000 payout to each plaintiff.

Lawyers for the families quickly shut down the offer, telling the Associated Press on Tuesday the settlement was 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”.

Mr Jones responded to the rejection in a lengthy statement on Wednesday, which read in part: “The Sandy Hook shootings are almost a decade behind us. It’s time to put this case behind us, too. Most of the families affected never joined the suits; those who have are no doubt weary of it. The world is on the cusp of war and all the ambulance chasers care about is hatred.”

As Mr Jones called for a swift resolution of the cases, his lawyer Cameron Atkinson appeared on his behalf at the hearing and requested more time to collect evidence for why he should not be held in contempt.

Echoing arguments made in court filings, Mr Atkinson asserted that Mr Jones was justified in missing the depositions because of health concerns put forward by two doctors who advised him to remain at home or go to the emergency room.

Mr Atkinson also said that issuing a warrant for Mr Jones’ arrest could exacerbate his heath problems.

“Mr Jones recognizes that the plaintiffs have a right to take his deposition,” he said. “He sat for three, by my account, in cases related to the Sandy Hook litigation in Texas.

“What has occurred here is he has ultimately listened to his doctor’s advice. First, initially, and today, there was an uncontroverted record before this court, and there still is, that Mr Jones’s doctors thought his conditions were serious enough to require emergency medical care, and they rendered precautionary advice that included a recommendation that he go to the emergency room immediately.”

Judge Bellis took issue with Mr Atkinson’s use of the word “uncontroverted” - reminding him that it is up to the court to determine the validity of evidence presented by the defence. She noted that she had deemed the evidence of his ailments to be insufficient to warrant a delay prior to the first deposition - and that Mr Jones’ legal team did not submit any evidence of his condition worsening after her denial.

The judge also noted that Mr Jones hosted his Infowars show from the studio on Friday, the day after he willfully missed the second scheduled deposition.

In their response to the plaintiffs’ contempt motion on Monday, Mr Jones’ lawyers argued that sitting for the deposition would cause him “significant stress” and accused the plaintiffs of “blatantly” asking the judge to overrule his doctors.

“Here, the Plaintiffs have blatantly asked the Court to substitute its judgment for that of Mr Jones’ doctors,” a defence filing stated. “They have publicly made a pseudo-macho challenge as to Mr Jones’ courage in the media that has sullied this litigation, publicly accusing him of cowardice for ultimately listening to his doctors.”

At Wednesday’s hearing, Judge Bellis pointed out that the defence’s original motions to delay made no mention of a deposition worsening his condition.

Mr Jones defended himself against the plaintiffs’ efforts to have him arrested in a pre-recorded video on his Infowars website last Thursday - the same day he said he was too unwell to attend the second deposition date.

Titled “Sandy Hook mafia calls for Alex Jones’ arrest: Legendary talk show host responds”, he claimed he was being treated worse than death row prisoners.

“Somebody on death row is allowed to go get their medical treatment and hearings and things are postponed but I’m treated worse than somebody on death row,” he said.

Mr Jones addressed the case directly again on Wednesday when he released his statement in response to the plaintiffs rejecting his settlement offer.

“For more than a year, we have been trying to settle the litigation in private communications with counsel for the Sandy Hook plaintiffs. We have had no meaningful response from the plaintiffs, other than a suggestion that their real aim is to put Infowars out of business,” he wrote.

“Commentary on the shootings at Sandy Hook was a minuscule part of our programming in years past. To the degree we discuss it now, the discussion is generated by responding to the lawsuits filed against us.

“Yesterday in Connecticut we filed court documents indicating our willingness to settle the claims, and restating our apology for any offense our commentary caused the families. Within hours of making this filing, lawyers for the families filed a rejection of the claim suggesting that the timing of the offer was driven by fear and shame. We also wrote privately to counsel for Sandy Hook plaintiffs in Texas.

“Our desire to settle is genuine and longstanding, and the lawyers involved know it. Mr Jones has already sat for three depositions in these cases; he’s provided responses to written requests under oath; he has provided tens of thousands of documents. In response, the plaintiffs have claimed he has not done enough, and have obtained defaults; they now seek his arrest.

“We are not going to be driven out of business by ambitious lawyers or those who hate dissent.

“We would like to resolve these cases and stop wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fees. If the plaintiffs’ lawyers don’t want that because they crave playing the role of hero to mainstream media, let’s at least be honest about what is going on here. This case is becoming less about Sandy Hook than it is about the right to speak freely.”

On 14 December 2012, 20 students aged six and seven years old and six staff members were shot and killed by 20-year-old Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

In the aftermath, Mr Jones made several false claims on his show and through his website that the mass shooting was a “false flag” operation engineered by the government to bring about stricter gun control laws. Mr Jones later changed course and said the shooting, the worst crime in modern Connecticut history, did occur.

The families of eight of the victims, as well as an FBI agent who responded to the shooting, sued Mr Jones, alleging that they were subjected to years of in-person and online harassment over his false claims, all the while Mr Jones financially profited by spreading the conspiracies.

Mr Jones was found guilty by default in four separate suits, which will now head to jury trials to decide how much he has to pay them for damages and legal fees.

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