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Connecticut Judge Sanctions Alex Jones for ‘Egregious’ and ‘Stunningly Cavalier’ Failure to Turn Over Discovery to Sandy Hook Families

 

On the cusp of a second defamation trial by Sandy Hook families, a Connecticut judge sanctioned conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for his “egregious” and “stunningly cavalier” failure to turn over discovery to the plaintiffs.

“Perhaps the most egregious representation in the filings states that the defendant contends and has always contended that neither he nor the various entities with which he is affiliated has such data, and that there was nothing more that could be done,” Judge Barbara Bellis noted. “This defendant knew of the existence of the Google Analytics documents at the time these representations were made to the court by their counsel.”

Judge Bellis made the pronouncement shortly before a Connecticut jury entered the courtroom for Jones to face his second defamation trial, a little more than a month after a Texas jury awarded $4.1 million in compensatory damages and $45.2 million in punitive damages to parents Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis. Texas law likely will lead to a reduction in the punitive damages award to less than $1 million, but Jones’s potential liabilities for his broadcasts calling the Sandy Hook massacre are “hoax” are far from capped.

In three separate cases, Jones was punished with default judgments for refusing to turn over information to the families. Those default judgments meant that Jones lost all three lawsuits before trial began, and the only issue left to resolve in the cases was a dollar figure for the juries to award the families in damages. The first Connecticut trial involves eight families, comprised of more than a dozen plaintiffs, and former FBI agent William Aldenberg. They are led by Bill Sherlach, the widower of slain school psychologist Mary Sherlach.

Judge Barbara Bellis

Judge Barbara Bellis issues sanctions on day 1 of Alex Jones’ Connecticut trial (Law&Crime Network)

The other plaintiffs include David and Francine Wheeler, the parents of 6-year-old Benjamin Wheeler; Mark and Jacqueline “Jackie” Barden, the parents of 7-year-old Daniel Barden; Ian and Nicole Hockley, the parents of 6-year-old Dylan Hockley; Jeremy Richman and Jennifer Hensel, parents of 6-year-old Avielle Richman; mother Donna Soto, father Carlos M. Soto, sister Carlee Soto-Parisi, and sister Jillian Soto, who are the family members of slain teacher Victoria Leigh Soto; and Robert Parker, the father of Emilie Parker.

Shortly before opening statements, Judge Bellis said that Jones was up to his old habits in refusing to turn over Google Analytics information.

“I’ll make the following observation: This stunningly cavalier attitude with respect to their discovery obligations is what led to the default in the first place,” Bellis stated. “The defendants have consistently engaged in dilatory and obstructionist discovery practices, from the inception of these cases right through to the trial.”

“And finally, I will note there is no notice in this file to this minute of any supplemental compliance producing the Google Analytic documents, which is required by […] by my clear court order of Sept. 13, 2021, which apparently was not followed here,” she added.

As a sanction, Bellis forbade the broadcaster’s defense team from presenting evidence or arguments that Jones and his entities did not profit from Sandy Hook coverage. Law&Crime will be streaming the trial live, with opening statements expected to begin on Tuesday morning.

Watch the trial live, below:

(Screenshot via the Law&Crime Network)

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on MSNBC, BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks.