HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut judge said Wednesday that Infowars host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones would be fined for each weekday that passes without him appearing for a deposition in a lawsuit filed by relatives of some victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
The penalties were in response to Jones defying court orders to attend a deposition last week, when he cited a medical condition including dizziness that later turned out to be a sinus infection. His testimony is being sought before a trial to determine how much he should pay in damages to the families for pushing a conspiracy theory that the massacre never happened.
Penalties will start at $25,000 per weekday beginning Friday and increase by $25,000 per weekday until he appears for a deposition, Judge Barbara Bellis said. She found Jones in contempt of court orders and repeated her view on Wednesday that letters submitted by Jones’ doctors did not contain enough evidence that he was too ill to attend the week’s deposition. last. She noted that Jones appeared on her show on the website — either in person or by phone — every day for the past week.
“The court finds clear and compelling evidence that the defendant, Alex Jones, willfully and in bad faith violated without justification several clear court orders requiring his attendance at his depositions,” Bellis told a hearing held by video conference.
Waterbury Superior Court Judge Bellis also ordered the deposition to be held in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the families’ attorneys’ office, instead of Austin, Texas, where it was scheduled for last week. Austin is home to Jones and Infowars.
The judge, however, again denied a request by attorneys for the Sandy Hook families to order Jones’ arrest and detention until he could appear for a deposition. Lawyers first made the request last week.
Jones’ attorney, Norman Pattis, criticized Bellis’ decision and planned to appeal Thursday to the Connecticut Supreme Court.
“The judge’s order is shocking and an insult to the doctor who advised Alex not to attend court proceedings,” Pattis said in an email to The Associated Press. “We view the order as anarchic and unprecedented.”
Christopher Mattei, an attorney for the Sandy Hook families, said during the hearing that the families are seeking punishment because Jones violated court orders and appeared to be trying to avoid deposition.
“So what we’ve tried to do…is change that math, make Mr. Jones realize that the penalties that will be meted out to him as a result of his new non-compliance aren’t worth it and that he should sit down to file to avoid them,” Mattei said.
A new filing date was not immediately set. Cameron Atkinson, another lawyer for Jones, said Jones would then be available to testify on April 11.
Twenty first graders and six educators were killed in the December 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. The shooter, Adam Lanza, 20, killed his mother in their Newtown home before the shooting and committed suicide at the school when police arrived, officials said.
The families of eight of the victims and an FBI agent who responded to the school sued Jones, Infowars and others in Connecticut, claiming they were harassed and threatened with death by Jones supporters because of the hoax plot promoted on his show. Jones has since said he believes the shooting took place.
On Tuesday, Jones’ attorneys filed court documents offering to pay $120,000 per plaintiff to settle the lawsuit and apologized for “any distress caused by his remarks.” The families’ lawyers rejected the offers.
Jones was found liable for damages to families in the Connecticut lawsuit as well as some Sandy Hook families who sued him in Texas. Judges in both states found Jones liable in absentia without a trial, saying he had repeatedly refused to comply with court orders and provide requested evidence to the families’ attorneys.
Jones and his attorneys said he turned over thousands of documents to the families’ attorneys and sat down for depositions in the Texas cases.
Trials are scheduled for later this year in Connecticut and Texas to determine how much Jones should pay the families.
This story has been corrected to show that the fines Jones would face would start at $25,000 per weekday and increase by $25,000 per weekday, not $25,000 to $50,000 per weekday.
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