Far-right talk show host Alex Jones suffered a legal defeat on Monday when a Connecticut judge declared him in default in defamation litigation brought by parents of children killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, as NBC News reports.
In a somewhat unusual development, State Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis issued the default against Jones for failing to provide – on his own behalf as well as that of his company – “critical material information that the plaintiffs needed to prove their claims,” which, as the Washington Examiner noted, included business and financial documentation that would demonstrate how Jones and his company generated profits from discussing the shooting.
Jones initially sparked serious controversy among parents of Sandy Hook students and victims when he claimed that the tragedy was a “false flag” operation staged by professional crisis actors hired by entities opposed to the Second Amendment.
In deeming Jones statements in connection to the mass shooting “indefensible,” “unconscionable,” and “possibly criminal,” Judge Bellis dealt Jones his fourth loss in a defamation case filed by Sandy Hook parents, as NBC News added.
Chris Mattei, a lawyer representing plaintiffs in the case welcomed the judge’s decision, saying, “While the families are grateful for the Court’s ruling, they remain focused on uncovering the truth… . While today’s ruling is a legal victory, the battle to shed light on how deeply Mr. Jones has harmed these families continues.”
An attorney for Jones, Norm Pattis, made it clear that the legal battle on behalf of his client was not over, saying, “Thank God for appellate courts. The ruling is founded neither in law or fact,” also adding, “we remain confident that, in the end, the Sandy Hook families cannot prove either liability or damages. We think their lawyers know this; hence, the desperate effort to obtain a default.”
The Connecticut case is not the first instance in which a presiding judge has taken issue with Jones’ unwillingness to comply with information production requests, as Travis County, Texas Judge Maya Guerra Gamble recently declared him in default in another pair of defamation cases.
Gamble opined, “The Court finds that Defendants’ failure to comply…is greatly aggravated by [their] consistent pattern of discovery abuse throughout similar cases pending before this Court,” adding that Jones’ “discovery conduct in this case is the result of flagrant bad faith and callous disregard for the responsibilities of discovery under the rules.”
According to the Examiner, the cases in both states will now move into a new phase, one in which determinations as to the amount of damages Jones will be required to pay the plaintiff families, and that process is expected to take place in the new year.