First Amendment Watch asked notable and thoughtful media legal scholars to reveal what this outcome reveals and portends for other Sandy Hook families who filed defamation suits, another in Texas and the third in Connecticut, slated to start next month. Media and legal scholars George Freeman, Lyrissa Lidsky, Lynn Oberlander and Timothy Zick weigh in.
In a 10-day trial filled with bellicose theatrics, rebukes and grief, the jury in the Alex Jones defamation case decided Friday that Jones owes Sandy Hook parents Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis $45.2 million in punitive damages.
On January 22nd, the Texas Supreme Court rejected conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ request to toss four defamation lawsuits filed by parents whose children died in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The suits claim that Jones' statements calling the mass shooting a “giant hoax,” and accusing the parents of faking their children’s death were defamatory and caused the families emotional distress.
The judge has ordered Jones to pay Heslin $22,250 in attorney fees, making the total amount Jones now owes Neil Heslin just under $150,000.