Alex Jones has already been found liable by a Texas court for defamation after he repeatedly, over the course of years, said on the air that the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre never happened, that it was a “false flag” operation, that the children who died were “crisis actors” and that their parents had lied.
A jury has awarded the parents $49.3 million in damages. That’s on top of about $1.5 million in sanctions Jones had already been ordered to pay. Sandy Hook parents Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, whose son Jesse Lewis was among the 26 people killed in the shooting, asked for $150 million.
Over the course of eight days of testimony, attorneys for Jones and the parents argued their points, bickered among each other and were on occasion reprimanded by Judge Maya Guerra Gamble.
We turned to New York attorney Rich Roth, who has himself sued news organizations for defamation, to explain and provide context for some of the key testimony and the more dramatic moments over the course of the trial.
We’ve selected four points for Roth to dissect. His analysis has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Click on the highlighted text below to see Roth’s comments
Sandy Hook parents testify
Heslin and Lewis both offered emotionally charged testimony when they took the stand, bringing tears to eyes both in and out of the jury box. Jones himself was not present for most of Heslin’s testimony, but was there to be confronted directly by Lewis. It was, Roth said, an important moment that will impact the jury’s ruling.
“I wanted you to know that I am a mother and my son existed.” – Scarlett Lewis
Phone contents sent mistakenly
On the final day of testimony, Jones testified on the stand that he had not sent any texts or emails regarding Sandy Hook. The parents’ attorney, Mark Bankston, confronted Jones directly, telling the Infowars host that defense attorneys had mistakenly sent a digital copy of the entire contents of Jones’ cellphone. Roth said it was a pivotal moment.
“Twelve days ago, your attorneys messed up and sent me a digital copy of every text. Do you know what perjury is?” – Attorney Mark Bankston to Alex Jones
Judge Gamble has already issued default judgment against Jones, for not complying with discovery. That led to this trial, which is to determine the compensatory and punitive award, and the lack of documentation provided to plaintiffs was raised on several occasions over both trials.
Tension between attorneys
From the start of the trial, there was obvious tension between the attorneys for the plaintiffs and the defense. Jones’ attorney, F. Andino Reynal, called the plaintiffs’ representation “personal injury lawyers” in a pejorative sense, and at one point raised a middle finger during an exchange after the judge had left the bench for the day. Roth said that conduct is not advisable.
“They are personal injury lawyers but I won’t call them that. They’re dishonest.” – F. Andino Reynal
Judge rebukes Jones
Jones was rebuked from the bench on several occasions, even before taking the stand. He responded directly to Lewis when she addressed him during her testimony, Judge Gamble cutting him off and telling him not to speak. When he was apparently chewing gum in court, Gamble chastised him though he said he was chewing the inside of his mouth after dental work and offered to pull his mouth aside to prove it. “I don’t want to see the inside of your mouth,” she replied. When Jones mentioned his bankruptcy filing, Gamble told him he needed to be honest with the jury.
“You believe everything you say is true, but your beliefs do not make something true,” Judge Gamble said. “That is what we’re doing here. Just because you claim to think something is true does not make it true. It does not protect you. It is not allowed. You’re under oath. That means things must actually be true when you say them.”