A superior court judge in Connecticut found InfoWar’s Alex Jones guilty by default in the defamation case brought against him.
Parents of children who died in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012 sued Jones for calling the incident a hoax.
After being ordered by the courts, Jones and his companies, Infowars and Free Speech Systems, did not turn over documents. For the past two years, the court has sought to compel Jones to turn over financial records and web analytic data.
The documents could prove or disprove if Jones profited from the publicity following the controversy.
Lawyers representing the deceased children’s family have argued that Jones “deliberately capitalized on the conspiracy theories about the shooting order to grow his online Infowars audience, growing the reach for the products he sold online and in turn his companies’ profits,” per The Hartford Courant.
Judge Barbara Bellis issued the ruling, saying Jones’s attorneys acted with “callous disregard of their obligation” when they did not supply the information to the court. She said the legal team’s behavior constituted “a pattern of obstructive conduct” which in turn caused her “last resort” ruling.
“Neither the court nor the parties can expect perfection when it comes to the discovery process,” Bellis wrote in the ruling. “What is required, however, and what all parties are entitled to, is fundamental fairness that the other side produces information which is within their knowledge, possession and power and that the other side meet its continuing duty to disclose additional and new material.”
The case will not have a civil trial, but will be directed to a jury to award damages.
“What’s clear from Judge Bellis’ ruling is that Alex Jones and the Jones defendants have engaged in a long, continuous course of misconduct in this case designed to prevent the plaintiffs from getting evidence about Mr. Jones’ business and about his motives for publishing lies about them and their families,” said Christopher Mattei, a lawyer for relatives of eight of the victims who sued Jones in Connecticut.
Jay Wolman, Jones’s lead defense attorney, dismissed Mattei’s claim as “ridiculous.”
“This is not a sanctions issue, this is a way to try to circumvent the merits … and the plaintiffs cannot circumvent the merits,” Wolman said in court. “They’re trying to find a needle in a haystack where there is no needle. This is a classic fishing expedition.”
Jones has said his comments were protected by the First Amendment. Since the school shooting, he has publicly stated he was wrong and the shooting was not a hoax. He is scheduled to be deposed on Dec. 14, the ninth anniversary of the shooting.
Judge Maya Guerra Gamble of Austin, Texas had previously issued a default judgment in three defamation lawsuits against Jones and InfoWars.
“It takes no account of the tens of thousands of documents produced by the defendants, the hours spent sitting for depositions and the various sworn statements filed in these cases,” Jones and Connecticut attorney Norman Pattis said in a statement on the InfoWars website.
“We are distressed by what we regard as a blatant abuse of discretion by the trial court. We are determined to see that these cases are heard on the merits.”