The second Alex Jones defamation trial – that’s right, there’s another one – into the Sandy Hook ‘Hoax’ Lawsuit has gotten underway overnight in Newtown, Connecticut in the United States.
If you need catching up, Sandy Hook Elementary School was the site of a 2012 gun massacre, where 26 people including 20 first grade children were slaughtered.
Alex Jones is a popular right-wing conspiracy theorist who has his own media empire. For years Jones, a multi-millionaire, falsely reported that the shooting was a hoax, and that the parents of the slain children were paid actors hired as part of a ‘deep state’ plot to weaken gun rights in the US.
It led to family members being stalked, harassed and abused for years by Jones’ listeners, with several having to change address, and at least one person being jailed for threatening behaviour.
The trial is being watched around the world because it’s seen as a litmus test for bringing right-wing fake news outlets to heal with legal actions.
Jones has already been successfully sued in Texas, the state from where he broadcasts his show. In August, he was ordered by a jury to pay $49.3 million to two Sandy Hook parents. Jones, who now acknowledges the shooting was real, filed for bankruptcy protection at the start of the trial.
This latest court action is being held in Connecticut, where the shooting occurred. This time, 13 Sandy Hook family members and one FBI agent are suing Jones.
If the Connecticut trial travels anything like the Texas one, it’s likely to be an uncomfortable few weeks for Jones. He was caught lying on the stand multiple times, and it sensationally transpired that his lawyers had accidentally sent the entire contents of Jones’ mobile phone to the Sandy Hook lawyers.
Those files have since been forwarded to the January 6 Committee – a group of US Congress men and women investigating the circumstances surrounding the insurrection at the Capitol in 2021 (Jones played a significant role in the lead-up to the riot).
You can watch the trial live (plus back editions) on the Law & Crime Network on Youtube.
You can also enjoy the new technology rolled out by the media giant – Voice Character Recognition, which seeks to caption videos based on what’s said.
Shortly before the trial opened last night, Judge Barbara Bellis had a sidebar conversation with attorneys from both sides. The whispering was captured by the L&C microphones, and provides a fascinating window into the legal strategies unravelling in court.
“During the gallery, because I didn’t want to point to the pig my heels to dine at the martial sister because they’re exceeds,” reported Youtube. “He did get the feet we thought we were. Gonna make a cake for so that’s fine touch whatever you like.”
It promises to be a riveting trial – shortly before the jury entered the room, Judge Bellis sanctioned Jones for his “egregious” and “stunningly cavalier” refusal to hand over documents to his opponents before the trial began.
“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.”
Jones’ strategy in the Texas trial was to ignore it completely. Literally. He refused to engage in the court process, and the defamation was found proved. All the jury had to decide was how much it cost him. His strategy in this latest trial appears to be that again (he’s already been declared guilty by the judge – the jury is there again to decide damages), but to add insult to his own injury by aggravating the judge.
Bellis repeatedly ruled against Jones’ lawyers on the first day, and that may in part be due to the fact that she’s as frustrated by Jones as she is by his lawyers. They’re clearly not the most competent, which is becoming a frequent occurrence for members of the US far right. Of those who’ve been dragged into various courts (such as Donald Trump), they’re finding it increasingly difficult to get good representation, because professional, competent lawyers don’t want to be associated with their ridiculous legal troubles.
The trial is expected to run for up to four weeks.
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