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Jury To Decide How Much Of Alex Jones's Trucker Speed Moneys Sandy Hook Parents Entitled To
Is there such a thing as too much here?
After years of insisting that the 2012 mass murders of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook elementary were all a hoax, Alex Jones will finally have his day in court this week — if he bothers to show up, of course. Jones has lost defamation lawsuits brought against him by families of the children killed in the massacre, and in Texas this week, a jury trial will determine how much in damages Jones will have to pay two families who accused him of defamation for claiming their children never existed. In September, another trial will be held in Connecticut to determine damages in a separate defamation case .
Back in April, Jones tried to put off the trial by filing for bankruptcy, but it was only a delaying tactic. Jury selection went forward without incident in his Austin trial yesterday, and opening arguments are scheduled for today. It's not clear whether Jones will actually attend the trial, the Associated Press reports :
His attorney, Andino Reynal, said Jones has a “medical issue” that his legal legal team advised him not to be there for jury selection. Reynal didn’t elaborate and said it’s “up in the air” whether Jones will be in court.
Also in April, Jones failed to show up for scheduled depositions in Austin for the Connecticut case; his attorney at the time said Jones was too ill to testify, although Jones mysteriously managed to broadcast his online InfoWars show each day all the same. That led to piles of fines from the judge in the case. Poor guy has some very concerning health issues that nobody seems to be able to specify. Maybe he should try some of his diet supplements, which he says work wonders.
The key thing to remember here is that Alex Jones has already lost the defamation cases brought against him. In Texas last October, Judge Maya Guerra Gamble issued default judgments against Jones in cases brought by Sandy Hook parents, after he constantly refused to comply with discovery orders. A month later, Connecticut Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis entered a default judgment against Jones in another lawsuit.
Jones had claimed, farcically, that he talks so much on his internet and radio shows that he simply couldn't remember as far back as a week ago, let alone 2012. Fortunately, there are plenty of recordings of him claiming the shooting was a "false flag" hoax made up by the government so it could take away Americans' guns, and that the parents were all just "crisis actors" paid to act sad about children who were entirely fictional.
HuffPo has a good summary of the horrible stuff Jones said, which led to conspiracy fans stalking and harassing parents who were busy grieving their very real children. In one weird bit in 2014, Jones claimed that CNN's Anderson Cooper was interviewing people in front of a "blue screen" to make it seem like he'd gone to Connecticut, as if a massive conspiracy to fake a school shooting could coordinate local, state, and federal governments and the entire media industry, but would be too cheap to actually go on location.
“He’s not there in the town square,” Jones continued. “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.”
Jones made similar claims in 2016, insisting “I’ve watched a lot of soap operas, and I’ve seen actors before. And I know when I’m watching a movie and when I’m watching something real,." Of course, at that late date, nobody's guns had been seized, which seems like a real oversight by the conspiracy plotters.
Jones was really enamored of the idea that digital video glitches proved that CNN correspondents weren't really in Newtown, and he repeated the claims in 2017. Perhaps he was trying to convince viewers that "Connecticut" itself is an illusion. (I got a speeding ticket there once, but maybe I'm lying to you right now. )
The bullshit found an audience anyway, and some deranged Jones followers made it their mission to harass Sandy Hook parents:
In 2017, Florida woman Lucy Richards was sentenced to five months in prison for sending threats to parent Lenny Pozner, whose 6-year-old son, Noah, was killed in the shooting.
“You gonna die,” Richards told Pozner in one recorded voicemail message. “Death is coming to you real soon.”
As part of her sentence, Richards was ordered not to access Infowars.
Parents were fed up with the constant abuse, which forced some to live in hiding and to move whenever loonies found their new locations, so they filed defamation lawsuits against Jones. He delayed and refused to cooperate, and ultimately, he lost, and now we're getting close to the end of this particular idiocy. Eventually, he did say the shootings had taken place, but for some reason the families didn't find that satisfactory.
Also too, let us not fail to gaze in astonishment at this paragraph:
Jones cycled through lawyers as if they had an expiration date, but managed to retain attorney Norm Pattis, who most recently was seen at a comedy club with his pants down and saying the N-word during a stand-up set.
Because, you know, free speech.
In jury selection yesterday, the AP reports, most of the more than 100 prospective jurors raised their hands when asked if they had heard of Jones, who lives in Austin and got his start as a ranting alt-media asshole there. The families' attorneys haven't set a specific request for damages, but have said the total compensatory and punitive damages could come to over $100 million. Jones's attorney told that jury pool yesterday he knows Jones can be "very polarizing," but said he'd ask the jury to award only symbolic damages of $1.
When Jones finally sat for a deposition in April, the AP says, he
insisted he wasn’t responsible for the suffering that Sandy Hook parents say they have endured because of the hoax conspiracy, including death threats and harassment by Jones’ followers.
“No, I don’t (accept) responsibility because I wasn’t trying to cause pain and suffering,” Jones said, according to the transcripts made public this month. He continued: “They are being used and their children who can’t be brought back (are) being used to destroy the First Amendment.”
Jones claims he's completely broke, and that he has a "negative net worth of $20 million," but those mean families seem to think he might have some assets anyway.
HuffPo reports the jury will consider two main questions:
How much Jones should pay for damages, and how much additional money he should pay based on his net worth. Jones has closely guarded his financial earnings for years, but there are clues that give a glimpse into how much his empire is worth.
For instance, HuffPost reported in January that the Infowars store ― which sells a hodgepodge of dietary supplements and survival gear ― sold $165 million in product from September 2015 to the end of 2018, according to court filings related to one of the defamation lawsuits Jones recently lost.
And in May, the SPLC reported that Jones had received nearly $8 million in the cryptocurrency Bitcoin from an anonymous donor.
Here's hoping the two courts, in Texas and Connecticut, take every last penny. Alex Jones will never recognize what a garbage human being he is, but it doesn't seem too much to ask that, after adding to the suffering of parents whose children were murdered, he lose all his earthly wealth. If he has to sleep in a gutter, that's still a bit more luxurious than he deserves.
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