March 27, 2020: Texas Appeals Court Rejects Alex Jones’ Motion to Dismiss Heslin Defamation Suit
On March 25th, the Texas Court of Appeals rejected Infowars founder Alex Jones’ motion to dismiss a defamation lawsuit brought by Neil Heslin, whose son was killed in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The judge has ordered Jones to pay Heslin $22,250 in attorney fees, making the total amount Jones now owes Heslin just under $150,000.
Heslin sued Jones in April 2018 over false statements he made on his site, claiming that the mass shooting in Sandy Hook was a government hoax and the victims’ parents were “crisis actors”. A number of Jones’ readers went on to harass families of Sandy Hook victims, including the Heslins, causing them significant emotional distress.
Jones has tried on multiple occasions to have the lawsuit dismissed on free speech grounds, albeit with little success.
In October 2018, Jones was ordered to pay $25,000 for failing to comply with a discovery order. Then, in December 2019, a Texas district court judge ruled against Jones’ motion to dismiss Heslin’s lawsuit, finding that Heslin had met the standard for defamation under state law. The district judge ordered Jones to pay an additional $100,000 in legal costs to the attorneys representing Heslin.
In his opinion, Judge Scott H. Jenkins affirmed the district court’s denial of Jones’ motion to dismiss.
“We affirm the district court’s dismissal of Appellants’ motion to dismiss, and we grant Heslin’s motion for sanctions and award him $22,250 for attorney’s fees,” Jenkins opinion reads.
Huffington Post Opinion
December 20, 2019: Alex Jones Ordered to Pay $100,000 in Legal Fees in Defamation Lawsuit
On December 20th, a Texas district court judge ordered Alex Jones to pay more than $100,000 in legal fees in a defamation suit brought by the father of one of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting.
The defamation suit brought by Neil Heslin is one of several suits filed against Jones by the families who lost children in the school shooting on December 14, 2012. Following the massacre, Jones repeatedly stated on his website, Infowars, that the shooting was a hoax and had been staged by the U.S. government in an attempt to confiscate Americans’ guns.
The order by Travis County District Judge Scott Jenkins comes after Jones ignored a court order to provide documents and witnesses. Jenkins also ruled against a motion from Jones’s attorneys to dismiss the suit, adding additional legal fees that brought the amount that Jones has had to pay to $126,024. (Jones was ordered to pay $25,875 last October for failing to comply with another ruling.) A trial date for the Heslin case has not yet been scheduled.
In an email to the Daily Beast, Heslin’s lawyer, Mark Bankston, said that the suit could have been avoided if Jones had accepted responsibility for his lies and his harassment of Heslin and other Sandy Hook parents. “Instead, Mr. Jones seems to prefer exiting into the dustbin of history in the most expensive and embarrassing way possible,” Bankston wrote.
Daily Beast Hartford Courant CNN
December 12, 2019: Lawyer files motion in Heslin v Jones case to hold Jones and Infowars liable without trial
Mark Bankston, the attorney representing Neil Heslin in his defamation lawsuit against Alex Jones, filed a motion on December 12th, 2019 asking that the judge hold Jones and Infowars liable without trial.
In his motion, Bankston argues that the defendants committed “willful and flagrant discovery abuse.” This behavior allegedly includes refusing to make good faith efforts to answer written discovery or respond at deposition, withholding tens of thousands of emails relating to Sandy Hook, and erasing many of the computers prior to collection efforts.
“Defendants have been given ample opportunity to take these lawsuits seriously and obey the rule of law,” the filing said. “Yet despite a rotating cast of counsel, Defendants have remained stubborn in their refusal to respect the integrity of the proceedings.”
The jury wouldn’t decide whether Jones’ was guilty, it would only be used to determine the amount of damages Jones. The motion is scheduled to be heard by the court on Wednesday, December 18th.
July 10, 2019: Connecticut Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Alex Jones’ Appeal to Review Trial Court’s Sanctions
The Connecticut Supreme Court has agreed to review Alex Jones appeal regarding sanctions imposed by a trial court judge over alleged threats to lawyers in Sandy Hook case.
On June 17, 2019, trial Court Judge Barbara Bellis denied Jone’s lawyers requests to pursue a special motion to dismiss the lawsuit by the Sandy Hook families. She also ordered Jones to pay for all legal fees associated with an incident that occurred during the discovery process when dozens of emails from Jones and Infowars were found to contain child pornography. An investigation cleared Jones of any wrongdoing, and revealed that none of the emails had ever been opened.
In his 10-page appeal to the Supreme Court, Jones’ lawyer, Norm Pattis, argues that the penalties imposed on his client are too harsh, and threaten his First Amendment rights to speak on a matter of public interest.
According to the Hartford Courant, the Connecticut Supreme Court will now hold “a full hearing on Pattis’ appeal” in which they “could overturn Bellis’ ruling” and “restore Jones’ right to possibly have the case dismissed.”
The hearing will likely take place in September.
June 24, 2019: Alex Jones Hit With Sanctions, His Attorney Requests Connecticut Supreme Court to Review
The lawyer defending Alex Jones in the defamation suit brought the parents of some of the Sandy Hook victims has asked the Connecticut Supreme Court to review sanctions imposed on Jones by a trial judge.
On June 18, Bridgeport Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis imposed the sanctions during an emergency hearing after Jones threatened the Sandy Hook families’ attorney, Christopher Mattei, on Jones’ webcast.
Jones’ rant was triggered by a recent revelation that a dozen emails retrieved from him and his Infowars website during the discovery process had images of child pornography attached. The FBI investigated, and determined that they were sent to Jones from outside of his organization, and no one ever opened the files to view the images.
On his televised webcast, however, Jones accused Mattei and his law firm, Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder, of planting the images, and made threatening comments towards Mattei and his firm.
Norm Pattis, Jones’ lawyer, is arguing that his client was only exercising his First Amendment right to speak on a matter of public interest.
May 2, 2019: Alex Jones and InfoWars Banned on Facebook
Facebook is banning some controversial, well-known figures for violating the social media giant’s policies on hate speech and promoting violence.
The list includes Sandy Hook-denier Alex Jones, right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, conspiracy theorists Laura Loomer and Paul John Watson, Louis Farrakhan, who promotes anti-Semitic views, and Paul Nehlen, a white nationalist who ran for Congress in 2018.
“We’ve always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology,” a Facebook representative said Thursday in a statement. “The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today.”
The ban includes their individual Facebook accounts, fan pages, and groups affiliated with them. These individuals are also banned from Instagram, the photo-sharing app owned by Facebook.
Jones, who has spread his conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook school mass shooting on his InfoWars site, was temporarily banned on Facebook last year. His official fan page was also banned, but Jones was allowed to keep his personal account.
The new prohibition makes all of Jones’ temporary bans permanent, bans Jones from having a personal Facebook account, and extends more broadly to fan pages and videos that promote InfoWars.
According to Angelo Carusone, the president of Media Matters, nonprofit that monitors conservative misinformation online, says that recent mass shootings and other acts of violence caused by online hate speech prompted Facebook to finally take action.
“The reality is, people are getting killed. There are mass shootings and mass murders that are clearly being connected to ideas like white genocide, which are fueling radicalization,” Carusone told The Washington Post. “The conditions have changed. When you have these massive catalyzing moments that are connected to real-life consequences, it puts pressure on Facebook and others to look in the mirror.”
Facebook isn’t the first social media platform to ban some of these polarizing figures. In recent years, Twitter has temporarily or permanently banned Jones, Loomer, Nehlen, and Yiannopoulos for their inflammatory content.
Los Angeles Times The Washington Post
April 1, 2019: Under Oath, Jones Admitted His Opinion Was Wrong But Blamed “Psychosis”
During a three-hour long taped deposition as part of a defamation case brought by some of the families of the Sandy Hook victims, Alex Jones claimed he had a “form of psychosis” that caused him to question whether certain events like the Sandy Hook mass shootings were staged.
“And I, myself, have almost had like a form of psychosis back in the past where I basically thought everything was staged, even though I’m now learning a lot of times things aren’t staged,” Jones said in a video released by Kaster Lynch Farrar & Ball LLP, a Texas law firm representing some of the families.
Jones blamed the “the media” for leading him to distrust everything.
“So long before these lawsuits I said that in the past I thought everything was a conspiracy and I would kind of get into that mass group think of the communities that were out saying that,” he said. “And so now I see that it’s more in the middle… so that’s where I stand.”
Jones also acknowledged that some of his reporting was based off of Internet sources like YouTube and 4Chan.
Regardless, Jones would not admit that his conspiratorial claims caused the families pain, and described the lawsuits as an attack on him and on the First Amendment.
“I was stating that I was reporting on the general questioning when others were questioning. And, you know, it’s painful that we have to question big public events. I think that’s an essential part of the First Amendment in America. And I do not take responsibility for the entire train of things that lawyers and the media have said I’ve done.”
CNN NBC Deposition Videos
February 7, 2019: Judges Have Advanced The Cases In Favor Of The Sandy Hook Families In The Past Few Weeks
The New York Times reports on a series of legal victories in favor of the Sandy Hook families in three lawsuits against Alex Jones and Infowars.
In Texas, a judge ordered Jones and Infowars representatives to submit to questioning by the lawyers of one Sandy Hook mother, and also granted access to the company’s business records against the wishes of Jones’ lawyers, who wanted them to remain sealed.
In Connecticut, a judge ordered Infowars’ business associates and partners to testify, and will soon rule on the deposition of Jones himself and other Infowars associates, as per the families’ request.
The New York Times
January 11, 2019: CT Superior Court Judge Grants Sandy Hook Families’ Discovery Request To Access Infowars’ Internal Documents And Communications
The six families suing Alex Jones and Infowars in Connecticut over repeated defamatory comments about the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre were granted a legal victory in their case. The judge ruled that the families can gain access to Infowars’ financial and marketing documents, contracts between Infowars and platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and any communications including letters, emails, and text messages related to Sandy Hook, Adam Lanza, crisis actors, or mass shootings. According to an attorney for the families, this documentation is meant to corroborate the claims made in the lawsuit to prove that Alex Jones is a “conspiracy profiteer.” The judge will decide whether to let the plaintiffs’ legal team depose Jones at a hearing scheduled for this week.
The New York Times ABC News Hartford Courant
August 17, 2018: Motion Accuses Jones Of Intentionally Destroying Evidence Related to Suits
Lawyers representing the families of two Sandy Hook shooting victims accused Alex Jones of intentionally destroying evidence related to the lawsuit. According to the motion filed, Jones said on his broadcast that he instructed his staffers to delete select content like social media messages and videos, some of which was considered evidence in the Sandy Hook case.
The New York Times Motion
August 1, 2018: First Of 3 Defamation Suits Against Jones Reaches Courtroom
Lawyers for Alex Jones are fighting to dismiss a defamation case brought against him and his site Infowars by parents of victims of the Sandy Hook shooting under the Texas Citizens Participation Act. His attorneys are arguing that what Jones says on his show is not fact, but rather his opinion. According to Reuters, an attorney for Jones told the judge, “Maybe it’s fringe speech. Maybe it’s dangerous speech, but it is not defamation.”
The judge has 30 days to rule on a motion to dismiss the case.
The New York Times Reuters Buzzfeed News
July 24, 2018: Alex Jones Compares Himself To Storied Watergate Journalists In Effort To Dismiss Lawsuit
In an attempt to dismiss a defamation lawsuit, Alex Jones of Infowars compared himself to Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, The Washington Post journalists who helped uncover the Watergate scandal, saying he acted like a journalist when he questioned the narrative of the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012.
Lawyers for Jones wrote in his filing for dismissal: “Such journalism, questioning official narratives, would be chilled if reporters were subject to liability if they turned out to be wrong….To stifle the press (by making them liable for merely interviewing people who have strange theories) will simply turn this human tragedy into a Constitutional one.”
Bill Bloss, an attorney for the families said in many news reports that, “The First Amendment simply does not protect false statements about the parents of one of the worst tragedies in our nation’s history. Any effort by any of the defendants to avoid responsibility for the harm that they have inflicted will be unsuccessful.”
CBS News The Associated Press Motion to Dismiss
May 24, 2018: More Sandy Hook Families File Defamation Lawsuit Against Alex Jones For False Stories Promoted on Infowars
Six families of Sandy Hook victims and an FBI agent filed a third lawsuit Wednesday against Alex Jones and his businesses for repeated claims he made on his Infowars show that the 2012 massacre was a hoax. The families are suing on defamation, invasion of privacy by false light, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The suit, filed in Superior Court in Bridgeport, Connecticut, comes after two other suits that were filed last month in Texas by two other Sandy Hook victim families. The complaints from all eight families allege that Jones used his internet and radio platforms to push the conspiracy theory that the shooting in Newtown was a staged event. It lists a campaign of abuse starting from December 19, 2012 through June 26, 2017. On a complaint listed for January 13, 2015, the parents allege that during the broadcast of The Alex Jones Radio Show, Jones said, “…Sandy Hook is a synthetic completely fake with actors, in my view, manufactured. I couldn’t believe it at first. I knew they had actors there, clearly, but I though they killed some real kids. And it just shows how bold they are, that they clearly used actors.” The complaint says that “a reasonable person would understand these statements to assert that the Sandy Hook massacre was staged, and that the plaintiffs fabricated the deaths of their loved ones.”
The lawsuit claims that while Jones’ false accusation brought him attention and business, the plaintiffs suffered personal pain and abuse from the radio and internet personality and his fans.
The New York Times reporter Elizabeth Williamson writes that Jones claims First Amendment protection for his work and that the most recent lawsuit filed challenges that defense. “The First Amendment has never protected demonstrably false, malicious statements like the defendants’,” it reads.
New York Times The Daily by The New York Times NBC News
Connecticut Law Tribune
April 17, 2018: Sandy Hook Parents Take on False Stories Promoted by Alex Jones in Defamation Suit
The 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre which killed 20 children and 6 adults galvanized parents and relatives of those murdered to promote gun reform. One conservative commentator who responded negatively to their efforts: Alex Jones and his Infowars which ran segments claiming the massacre at Sandy Hook was “a giant hoax.” Jones’ followers have continued to harass Sandy Hook families. Now Leonard Pozner and his former wife, Veronique De La Rosa, parents of Noah Pozner, and Neil Heslin, the father of Jesse Lewis, have responded by filing two defamation suits against Alex Jones stating “defendants’ defamatory statements were knowingly false or made with reckless disregard for the truth.” They are seeking at least $1 million in damages. This is the second time this year Alex Jones has been sued for defamation. In March, Brennan Gilmore sued Jones for stories that led to threats against him.
New York Times Reuters TV Reuters
Pozner v. Jones: Lawsuit against Alex Jones and Infowars and others by Sandy Hook shooting victim Noah Pozner’s parents Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa in Texas.
Pozner Complaint Alex Jones Motion to Dismiss
Lafferty v. Jones: Lawsuit against Alex Jones and Infowars and others by six families of Sandy Hook shooting victims in Connecticut.
Complaint Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs’ Complaint
Heslin v. Jones: Lawsuit against Alex Jones and Infowars and others by father of Sandy Hook shooting victim Neil Heslin in Texas.
Sherlach v. Jones: Lawsuit against Alex Jones and Infowars and others by husband of Sandy Hook shooting victim William Sherlach spouse of Mary Sherlach in Connecticut.
Allegations made by Alex Jones and Infowars that created the foundation for the complaints detailed in the lawsuit.
Below are a select few instances in which Jones and Infowars contributors made claims to support the Sandy Hook shooting conspiracy theory on broadcasts and in published articles over the course of many years.
In 2013, Jones called the shooting “staged” and said, “It’s got inside job written all over it.”
In March 2014, Alex Jones began stating his allegation regarding a “fake” interview between Anderson Cooper and Noah Pozner’s mother, Veronique De La Rosa. The allegation that the interview took place in front of a “blue screen” became central to Jones’ assertion that the Sandy Hook school shooting was manipulated by the government and performed by crisis actors.
“Folks, we’ve got video of Anderson Cooper with clear blue-screen out there. [Shaking head]. He’s not there in the town square. We got people clearly coming up and laughing and then doing the fake crying. We’ve clearly got people where it’s actors playing different parts for different people, the building bulldozed, covering up everything. Adam Lanza trying to get guns five times we’re told. The witnesses not saying it was him…I’ve looked at it and undoubtedly, there’s a cover-up, there’s actors, they’re manipulating, they’ve been caught lying, and they were pre-planning before it and rolled out with it.”
In May 2014, InfoWars published an article titled: “CONNECTICUT TRIES TO HIDE SANDY HOOK TRUTH.”
In September 2014, InfoWars published an article titled: “FBI SAYS NO ONE KILLED AT SANDY HOOK.”
“The whole thing is a giant hoax. How do you deal with a total hoax? It took me about a year, with Sandy Hook, to come to grips with the fact that the whole thing was fake. I did deep Research.” (December 2014)
“The general public doesn’t know the school was actually closed the year before. They don’t know they’ve sealed it all, demolished the building. They don’t know that they had the kids going in circles in and out of the building as a photo-op. Blue-screen, green-screens, they got caught using.” (December 2014)
“You learn the school had been closed and re-opened. And you’ve got video of the kids going in circles, in and out of the building, and they don’t call the rescue choppers for two hours, and then they tear the building down, and seal it. And they get caught using blue-screens, and an email by Bloomberg comes out in a lawsuit, where he’s telling his people get ready in the next 24 hours to capitalize on a shooting. Yeah, so Sandy Hook is a synthetic, completely fake with actors, in my view, manufactured. I couldn’t believe it at first. I knew they had actors there, clearly, but I thought they killed some real kids. And it just shows how bold they are that they clearly used actors. I mean they even ended up using photos of kids killed in mass shootings here in a fake mass shooting in Turkey, or Pakistan. The sky is now the limit.” (January 2015)