Legal costs are rising for Alex Jones, the fear-mongering conspiracy theorist who makes money peddling lies, as he faces repeated losses in several lawsuits against him.
Jones is currently being sued by nine families of those who died in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting after he falsely and repeatedly claimed on his conspiracy outlet Infowars that the massacre was staged and the parents of the dead children were “crisis actors.” In the past year, he’s cycled through multiple lawyers, three of whom ultimately dropped him as a client. And in a videotaped deposition earlier this year in one of those Sandy Hook cases, he fumbled on the most basic of questions, including not knowing the date of the shooting.
Over the past three months, Jones has suffered some of his biggest court losses in those cases. In August, the Texas Court of Appeals in Austin, where Infowars is based, dismissed an appeal from Jones in a lawsuit brought by Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son was killed at Sandy Hook. Heslin is suing Jones and Infowars contributor Owen Shroyer for defamation after Shroyer falsely claimed that Heslin lied about holding his dead son’s body.
In October, also in Heslin’s case, Judge Scott Jenkins of the Travis County District Court held Jones in contempt after Infowars refused to comply with a court-ordered demand to hand over internal emails and documents related to discussions about Sandy Hook. Jones was ordered to pay more than $25,000 in attorney fees.
That same month, Jones lost his motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by another Sandy Hook parent, Scarlett Lewis, who is suing him for intentional infliction of emotional distress. In her lawsuit, she cites a 2013 Infowars video, “Why People Think Sandy Hook is a Hoax,” as one of several examples of Jones’ callous and irresponsible actions. The Texas Court of Appeals ruled on Oct. 11 that Lewis had stated a viable claim.
Also in October, Jones lost an appeal to dismiss a case brought by Marcel Fontaine, who is suing the Infowars host for defamation after the website incorrectly identified Fontaine as the shooter who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year.
It doesn’t stop there. In November, Jones once again lost an appeal in a Sandy Hook defamation lawsuit, this one brought by parents Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, whose son was the youngest to be killed in that Connecticut school. In a motion to dismiss, Jones’ legal team argued that Pozner is a public figure because he has founded a charity to combat online harassment of shooting victims. But the Texas Court of Appeals shut down that argument, saying Pozner is a private figure and as such “need only prove negligence” in the case, “whereas a public figure or official must prove actual malice.”
While Mr. Jones seems to think he can threaten and intimidate opposing lawyers and even jurors, he will soon discover that his impotent rants won’t save him from the reckoning to come. Mark Bankston, attorney for Sandy Hook families
Pozner, De La Rosa, Heslin, Lewis and Fontaine are all being represented by Mark Bankston of the Houston law firm Farrar & Ball.
“These court rulings confirm that Infowars’ defense is utterly frivolous and that any reasonable media outlet would have settled these cases long ago,” Bankston told HuffPost. “But Mr. Jones is not reasonable, and it appears only a jury of his neighbors in Austin will be able to force him to take responsibility for his monstrously stupid lies.”
Seven different lawyers have represented Jones through this. His defense was initially led by Marc Randazza, who had to be replaced after a Connecticut court (where Jones is also being sued by Sandy Hook families) cited the lawyer’s “serious misconduct.” Jay Wolman, who was representing Jones with Randazza, also dropped out. Jones then hired attorneys Robert Barnes and Norm Pattis. Barnes, a regular contributor on Infowars, was named as lead counsel in the case brought by Lewis, but has not appeared in court since earlier this summer. Barnes told HuffPost that he is still “general counsel” and remains in “charge of managing these cases,” but is no longer the local counsel for the Lewis case.
Jones was also represented by Mark Enoch, who in a court filing earlier this year said that Pozner and De La Rosa should have their case thrown out if they didn’t publicly provide their dates of birth and addresses. Enoch withdrew from the litigation over the summer.
Jones is now being represented by Austin divorce lawyer Michael Burnett. However, a notice of appearance was filed by attorney Wade Jefferies on Wednesday, which could signal that Burnett is being replaced. Jefferies is set to make his first court appearance for Jones on Dec. 19.
Barnes pushed back on the notion that Jones is in serious legal trouble, saying that they “have won multiple victories to date.” One of those victories he cited was that Jones had to pay only $15,000 to resolve a copyright infringement lawsuit in June.
Meanwhile, Jones continues to push legal and ethical boundaries. On Wednesday, he threatened to release the name of a juror in the trial of Republican operative Roger Stone, who is accused of lying to Congress about his connections with WikiLeaks.
“We’ve got her name and we’re going to release it,” Jones said on his Infowars broadcast. He then revealed a woman’s name and photo. But as The Daily Beast points out, that woman is not on the jury.
Bankston, the lawyer for Sandy Hook families, told HuffPost that consequences are catching up to Jones.
“While Mr. Jones seems to think he can threaten and intimidate opposing lawyers and even jurors, he will soon discover that his impotent rants won’t save him from the reckoning to come,” Bankston said.