Infowars host Alex Jones has paid to a Connecticut clerk of court’s office the first of what could be several fines in connection with a contempt of court ruling this week.
According to a notice of compliance filed in the Nutmeg State’s Waterbury Judicial District, Jones made a $25,000 payment on Friday. That was the first of the eleven days Judge Barbara Bellis ordered Jones to fork over fees for every day he failed to sit for a successful deposition in a civil lawsuit launched by families of the victims of the Dec. 14, 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre.
The relevant portion of the short compliance notice, which was signed by Jones attorneys Norm Pattis and Cameron Atkinson, reads as follows:
Pursuant to the Court’s order imposing a $25,000 per weekday escalating fine beginning April 1, 2022, Defendant Alex Jones hereby gives notice that he has paid $25,000 to the clerk’s office by way of his counsel tendering a check in the amount of $25,000 to the clerk’s office on April 1, 2022.
Judge Bellis found Jones in contempt of court on Wed., March 30, and ordered exponential fines starting at $25,000 per day for every weekday he was not deposed by attorneys for the plaintiffs. The sanctions were scheduled to kick in on Friday, April 1, and are set to end on April 15. The fines increase by $25,000 increments for each weekday Jones fails to sit and talk fully and completely as laid out in the judge’s order. If Jones fails to talk on Monday, the second date the sanctions apply, the fine will be $50,000. If he fails on Tuesday, the fine will be $75,000 — and so on and so forth. Weekends are excluded from the calculations. If and when Jones sits and talks, the money will be refunded, the judge has repeatedly noted.
Pattis and Atkinson asked the judge to reconsider the sanctions; she declined. They then took the case to the state supreme court via a combative filing that is classically characteristic of Pattis’s lawyering style in high-profile cases:
It would take a gift of understatement the undersigned do not possess to characterize as a mere abuse of discretion Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis’ decision to hold a defendant in a civil action in contempt and requiring him to pay fines totaling potentially $1.65 million for relying on a doctor’s note to not attend a deposition. Respect for the court as an institution and the Rules of Professional Conduct require reticence. But this Court can, and should, react promptly and swiftly in this public interest appeal. First, the defendant requests an immediate stay of the fine provision, ordered on the afternoon of March 30, 2022, and set to begin accruing on a daily basis on April 1, 2022. Second, the defendant requests permission to take a public interest appeal on this extraordinary fine and Judge Bellis’ order holding Jones in contempt. Whatever inherent authority the courts may have to enforce their orders, due process, proportionality, and a respect for orderly fact-finding all require setting aside this extraordinary order.
The statute relied upon by Jones for the maneuver, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-265a, allows the state’s highest court to pluck matters directly from superior courts if they involve matters of “public interest.” The statute reads, in part:
[A]ny party to an action who is aggrieved by an order or decision of the Superior Court in an action which involves a matter of substantial public interest and in which delay may work a substantial injustice, may appeal under this section from the order or decision to the Supreme Court within two weeks from the date of the issuance of the order or decision. The appeal shall state the question of law on which it is based.
According to its docket, the Connecticut Supreme Court did not issue a decision on the matter presented by Jones’s attorneys; the court simply marked the matter as “returned.”
Jones had been scheduled to be deposed in Texas on March 23 and 24, according to court records previously reported by Law&Crime. He cited health concerns for his failure to appear. The plaintiffs’ attorneys immediately noted that Jones was on the air when he claimed to be at home under the care of a doctor.
The plaintiffs on Friday again rubbished Jones for trying to avoid the order of sanctions.
“Last week, Alex Jones chose to go on the air rather than go under oath,” their argument went. “He asked the Court to excuse him, presenting ‘evidence’ and ‘argument’ to the Court that he could ‘not go to deposition because he was remaining home under [medical] supervision,’ which initially ‘deceived’ the Court.”
“In fact, Mr. Jones was not at home under medical supervision; he was at his studio broadcasting,” the plaintiffs continued. “Even after the Court ordered Mr. Jones to attend his deposition, he refused. The Court rightly held him in contempt and issued orders to cause Mr. Jones to sit for deposition.”
The Sandy Hook plaintiffs have alleged defamation and other civil torts. A trial is scheduled to begin later this year.
Read the notice of compliance and the request for the state supreme court to intervene below:
[Image via screengrab from WCBS-TV.]
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