Alex Jones, the bombastic radio and online host who has already begun to face the legal consequences of insisting that the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax, says that he shouldn’t be held in contempt for failing—again and again—to appear for a deposition, citing unspecified medical concerns and saying it would cause him “significant stress.”
In a brief opposing a request that he be held in contempt, Jones, through his lawyer Norman Pattis, invoked the coronavirus pandemic in a line of reasoning that—in light of Jones’ own vocal opposition to the reality of COVID and the efficacy of the vaccines—is arguably more than a little ironic.
For the past year and a half, the world has given more deference to medical professionals than any time in human history. Even courts joined in granting this deference without question, and the world justified that deference as being necessary to protect human life and human health. Many of the recommendations made by doctors were precautionary, and they received the force of law in many instances.
Here, the Plaintiffs have blatantly asked the Court to substitute its judgment for that of Mr. Jones’ doctors. 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[.]
Pattis claims that the Sandy Hook families’ attorney Chris Mattei, a former federal prosecutor, is holding Jones to a standard they would denounce from a jury pool. Jones has a contentious relationship with Mattei, whose photograph Jones punched during a broadcast of his show.
Had Attorney Mattei’s statements been made about anyone following a COVID-19 precaution – including any one of the countless venirepersons who disregarded this Court’s summons to appear for jury duty in cases as Connecticut courts reopened but went to the grocery store or work, they would have been deemed the height of irresponsibility. Indeed, the venirepersons would have undoubtedly been lauded as acting responsibly – a position that this Court undoubtedly took as the undersigned are unaware of any Superior Court judge directing the penalization of any venireperson for failing to answer their summons.
Jones was supposed to appear for his deposition in Austin, Texas on Wednesday and Thursday, pursuant to a court order. He didn’t, claiming that a medical condition kept him away, although as Connecticut Superior Court Judge Barbara N. Bellis noted, Jones was still able to broadcast through his illness, and appeared to be doing so around the time his deposition was supposed to occur on Wednesday.
“In fact, Mr. Jones has been recording live from his studio and that despite the representations to the Court, he was not remaining at home,” Bellis said at a hearing Wednesday.
In response to Jones’ failure to appear, the plaintiffs in the case, plaintiffs Erica Lafferty and William Sherlach, requested both an order that he appear and an order that he be held in contempt for failing to appear so far.
Lafferty is the daughter of Dawn Hochsprung, the Sandy Hook Elementary School principal at the time of the shooting. Sherlach was married to Mary Sherlach, the school’s psychologist. Hochsprung and Sherlach were two of Adam Lanza‘s 26 victims, which included 20 children and six adults at the school.
They are suing Jones over his false claims that the massacre was a “hoax” that never happened.
Jones, the plaintiffs said in their brief, “is so afraid of being deposed in this case that he refused to attend his own deposition, even after the Court ordered him to do so. His invented excuses for his absence only confirm his contempt.”
Lafferty and Sherlach noted the convenient timing of both the appearance and resolution of Jones’s condition, which the host described on air as a “sinus blockage.”
“It is no coincidence that Mr. Jones’s sinus cleared as soon as plaintiffs’ counsel cleared Texas airspace,” the plaintiffs brief said.
In addition to asking that Jones be held in contempt, plaintiffs had additional requests in order to sanction the repeatedly recalcitrant Jones. The proposed penalties include a finding of fact that Jones had malicious intent to harm the plaintiffs by “broadcasting lies about the plaintiffs and the Sandy Hook shooting,” incarceration until he sits for his deposition, and payments of $25,000 to $50,000 per day until his deposition is complete.
“It is impossible to overstate the level of contempt that Mr. Jones has shown for the Court’s authority throughout this litigation,” the contempt brief said. “It is also impossible to overstate the contempt he has shown for the plaintiffs. With dignity and courage, the plaintiffs subjected themselves to hours and hours of painful questioning by Mr. Jones’s lawyers – and Mr. Jones plays sick when it is his turn to tell the truth under oath. He begs his audience to send him money to support his legal defense1 and then ducks his deposition.”
Jones’ attorney Norman Pattis said that on March 24, Jones’ heath conditions were so serious that his doctors told him to go to the emergency room. Jones refused those orders, but apparently decided to follow the recommendation that he “not submit himself to stress,” including attending his deposition.
In his opposition to the contempt request, Pattis argued that requiring Jones to sit for a deposition would be a “grueling ordeal” for the man who repeatedly insisted that the massacre didn’t actually happen.
Facing an all-day deposition conducted by a former federal prosecutor in a hotly contested case is no walk in Central Park for anyone in perfect health. It is a grueling ordeal made even more grueling when that former federal prosecutor is seeking to explore allegations that Mr. Jones maliciously weaponized a tragedy to inflict distress on those whom the prosecutor represents. Any one in Mr. Jones’ position would have experienced significant stress in preparing for such a deposition, and no ordinary person would have felt at ease sitting for such a deposition when their doctors were actively engaged in making a decision on whether they should go to the emergency room for a condition that could prove disastrous if exacerbated.
In his opposition to Lafferty and Sherlach’s request for a court order requiring Jones to appear for his deposition, Pattis insisted that Jones “has no desire or reason to evade a deposition in this case,” noting that Jones has already sat for three depositions in Texas on “the same subject.”
Read the plaintiffs’ motion, and Pattis’ oppositions, below.
[Image via YouTube screengrab.]
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