The nearly $50 million defamation verdict against Alex Jones over his years-long lie about the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre is far from final reckoning.
Jones’ attorneys appealed, and a Texas jury found a Texas jury against his false claim that the nation’s deadliest school shooting, which killed 20 students and six teachers, was a hoax. I am planning to lower the price tag I put on it. Conspiracy theorists face bankruptcy and other defamation lawsuits. Jones and his attorney’s actions in court also prompted Infowars organizers to face potential sanctions, perjury allegations and renewed scrutiny in the January 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol riot investigation. exposed to new legal dangers.
It summarizes the impact from the successful lawsuit against Jones by the parents of one of the victims of the December 14, 2012 Newtown school shooting.
Will Jones pay?
A Travis County jury last week awarded Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis $4.1 million for the pain they suffered in the shooting that killed their 6-year-old son, Jesse Lewis, alleging it was staged to tighten gun control. ordered to pay compensatory damages for The jury also awarded her $45.2 million in punitive damages against Jones, making the total fine about one-third of her $150 million the couple had sought.
This is the first time Jones has been held financially accountable for repeatedly claiming the Sandy Hook massacre was fabricated. Lewis said after the trial that Jones was held responsible. His attorney plans to appeal and seek mitigation of damages.
Mr. Jones probably won’t pay the full amount, according to legal experts.
In most civil cases, Texas law limits the amount a defendant must pay as “exemplary” or punitive damages to twice “economic damages” plus a maximum of $750,000. . However, jurors are not informed about this cap, and eye-popping verdicts are often hacked by judges.
Austin’s attorney, Russ Houghton, said it was “virtually certain” that damages against Jones would be reduced to comply with the law, either by an appeals court or by a judge.
A Virginia judge did just that in a defamation lawsuit against Johnny Depp’s ex-wife Amber Heard. The $10 million compensatory damages awarded to Depp have been reduced to $350,000.
What Jones can afford is also debated.
He testified that a $2 million-plus ruling would “sink us,” and Infowars’ Austin-based parent company, Free Speech Systems, filed for bankruptcy protection in the first week of the trial.
But economist Bernard Pettingill testified that Jones and his company are worth up to $270 million.
Since the verdict, Jones has urged Infowars supporters to buy the nutritional supplements, survival gear and other products he sells, saying he needs funds to continue the show and the legal battle.
“If they don’t get solvency and enough money to get out of this bankruptcy, they will appoint a trustee and start selling the equipment,” he said Monday.
Before the Infowars studio was sold for parts, there was a major legal dispute.
Jones apparently told at least one lie while on the witness stand, revealing that the parents’ attorneys who sued him had digital copies of the texts and other content from Jones’ cell phone.Sandy A message containing correspondence about Hook was inadvertently emailed to plaintiffs’ attorneys by one of Jones’ attorneys.
Jones tried to ignore the revelation during cross-examination, mocking the opposing attorney and denying he lied. But legal experts say the episode could put Jones under perjury.
Criminal charges of perjury are rare and difficult to prove, but Jones’ prominence could make him an attractive target, especially in liberal Austin.
“It would be very difficult to imagine a state prosecutor going after someone for perjury in a civil case,” said Benson Varghese, an attorney in Fort Worth, Texas. Jones’ odds are slightly higher.”
Aggravated perjury is a frequent prosecution in Texas for lying on the witness stand and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
A spokesman for the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, which handles a potential criminal case against Jones, declined to comment.
Even if prosecutors do not pursue the case, Jones could face further consequences from Judge Maya Guerra Gamble.
Before the trial, attorneys for Jones’ parents filed a motion asking the judge to sanction Jones for failing to produce evidence. Gamble is set to make its move.
And in court, Gamble repeatedly advised Jones to tell the truth.
At one point, she kicked the juror out of the room and scolded him for telling the juror that he had complied with pretrial evidence collection when he hadn’t. And the judge further reprimanded him for testifying that he was bankrupt, which was not decided by the court and sparked outrage from lawyers opposing Jones.
“This is not your show,” Gamble told Jones.
Judges have wide discretion to set sanctions, including fines, imprisonment, and other penalties, but they are rarely seen imposed.
The parents’ attorney, Avi Moschenberg, declined to say whether they would seek other sanctions, but said, “There were definitely some nasty things that happened during the trial.”
Jones’ attorney, Andino Raynal, did not respond to a request for comment.
Jones and January. 6 Survey
Jones’ attorney accidentally handed over his text messages in the case, a U.S. House member investigating the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot that tried to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election. Subject him to further scrutiny from the Society.
The commission, which has spent months relentlessly pushing for false claims of election fraud by former President Donald Trump, subpoenaed Jones to testify. And the chairman of the committee accused him of helping organize a rally near the Capitol in advance of the riot.
Now, lawmakers reportedly have Jones’ texts.
Mark Bankston, the attorney for Jones’ parents who sued, gave the committee two years’ worth of Jones’ messages, CNN reported Monday, citing an unnamed person familiar with the matter.Bankston He told the Associated Press that he was “cooperating with the committee,” but declined to comment further.
On Tuesday’s show, Jones downplayed the importance of the message. He showed a photo of his wife in a bathing suit that he sent to Trump’s close friend Roger Stone, who was also subpoenaed by the January 6 committee, and the message contained nothing after April 2020. said no.
“This is six months of limited text,” says Jones. “It’s part of my phone.”
Prior to the Austin trial, Jones had already been convicted in separate defamation lawsuits by relatives of some of the Sandy Hook victims in Texas and Connecticut.
Another Texas lawsuit was filed by Leonard Posner and Veronique de la Rosa in which their son Noah died in the shooting. A larger ruling is likely as it consolidates three lawsuits filed by investigators and relatives of nine Sandy Hook victims.
In that case, a Connecticut jury would decide whether Jones’ debts were to be harmed, although the laws there may also limit the amount he must pay.
Trials for damages in both cases were set to begin next month, but progress has been delayed as Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy protection in July, proceeding to freeze pending litigation. got complicated.
Austin’s attorney, Houghton, said that while Free Speech Systems was in bankruptcy court, a lawsuit could proceed against Jones personally, and the Chapter 11 filing would allow the bankruptcy court to investigate Jones’ finances. warned that it would give you powerful powers to
“If you have something to hide, bankruptcy is no place to hide,” Horton said.