“Is this a wrestling session? Are we in China? Jones asked, referring to Maoist rallies where people were publicly humiliated, after a plaintiffs’ lawyer, Chris Mattei, pointed out the victims’ family members in the courtroom. “I’ve said I’m sorry hundreds of times before, and I’m done saying I’m sorry.”
The fatal shooting of 26 people, including 20 children, made headlines for years on Infowars and other fringe websites that propagated the baseless claim that the victims’ family members were “actors crisis” involved in a government “false flag operation” aimed at curtailing Second Amendment rights. Jones later acknowledged that the massacre was “100% real” and that it was irresponsible to say otherwise.
Jones was ordered in August in a separate lawsuit in Texas to pay more than $45 million in damages to the parents of a Sandy Hook victim. He lost the Connecticut lawsuit after Judge Barbara Bellis ruled in November that he was liable by default after he refused to turn over financial records and other court-ordered documents. Infowars and its parent company, Free Speech Systems LLC, filed for bankruptcy this year as the Sandy Hook families pursued civil lawsuits.
Although Jones was even-tempered for much of his testimony, he sometimes verbally jousted with Mattei. His own attorney also struggled to prevent him from providing elaborate answers when he was awake.
Bellis repeatedly asked the jurors to leave the courtroom so that the scope of Jones’ answers could be discussed with the attorneys. The frequency of their departures led her to joke that they were doing their exercise for the day.
During the hour-long session, Jones used one of Mattei’s questions to plug in the address of a website that accepts cryptocurrency contributions. He also answered ‘no’ when asked if his credibility was the most important thing to his audience, insisting his aim was to ‘crush the globalists’.
“Alex Jones is probably the most unsympathetic litigator I’ve seen in quite a long time,” said Jessica Levinson, a law professor at Loyola Marymount University.
“This is a case of punishing, deterring and fixing people,” she said.
A representative from Infowars could not be immediately reached on Friday morning.
How the right built up Alex Jones – even after his Sandy Hook comments
In an exchange, Mattei accused Jones of putting targets on Sandy Hook’s parents, in an apparent reference to his claim that they were crisis actors. The attorney made reference to the parents in the courtroom, calling them “real people”, to which Jones replied, “Like all the Iraqis you liberals have killed and loved.”
“You are amazing. You turn emotions on and off whenever you want. You’re just chasing an ambulance,” Jones added.
The scale and extent of the damages awarded by the jury will be closely watched at a time of heightened concern about misinformation and misinformation online.
“It doesn’t matter what those verdicts are because it tells us how hurt we think people are by this type of talk,” Levinson said. “That tells us this could be an effective way to try and stop the Alex Joneses of the world.”
The details of the case — such as whether the jury is satisfied that Jones’ misrepresentations were deliberate lies — will help determine the type and extent of damages, said Eugene Volokh, a law professor at the University of California to Los Angeles.
“If you’re trying to persuade the jury to award punitive damages, you have to show that it’s more than just an honest mistake,” said free speech law expert Volokh.
A lawyer for Jones had argued that the damages should be limited and that the victims’ relatives had exaggerated the harm caused by his client’s false claims, the Associated Press reported.
Several relatives of Sandy Hook victims have spoken out this week to share stories of being forced to travel under false names for security reasons and being told they would be going to hell by those who falsely claimed that the shooting was a hoax.
Jennifer Hensel, whose daughter Avielle was killed in the shooting and whose husband killed himself in 2019, testified that some conspiracy theorists said they believed she helped fake the tragedy and that her child was still alive.
“God, if she was, wouldn’t that be amazing?” she said, her voice cracking.
The trial is scheduled to resume on Friday and Jones is expected to continue testifying.