- InfoWars’ Alex Jones faces another trial for falsely claiming the Sandy Hook massacre was a “hoax.”
- Families of eight victims — plus an FBI agent who responded to the attack — are the plaintiffs.
- The trial is in Waterbury, Connecticut – under 20 miles from where the 2012 mass shooting unfolded.
The defense attorney for InfoWars host Alex Jones suggested during his defamation damages trial Tuesday that parents of children who died during the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre are exaggerating their claims to promote an anti-gun political agenda.
During his opening remarks, Norm Pattis said the plaintiffs were attempting to silence Jones for supporting the Second Amendment. Jones has long claimed the massacre was a charade designed to give the government a reason to take away people’s guns.
The conspiracy theorist shock jock was nowhere to be seen Tuesday as he faced a second trial for spreading the false claim that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a government-orchestrated “hoax” played out by “crisis actors.”
The trial is taking place in Waterbury, Connecticut — fewer than 20 miles from Newtown, where 20 first-graders and six educators were killed in the mass shooting — and is the second of three defamation damages cases against Jones.
Last month, the first of those trials ended with a Texas jury awarding the parents of one of the victims nearly $50 million.
Much more is at stake in Connecticut, where the families of eight victims plus an FBI agent who responded to the attack are all plaintiffs.
Jones has already lost all three defamation cases, and the current round of trials concern how much he owes the families. The Connecticut trial is expected to last five weeks, and Jones is expected to testify, though it is unclear when.
Day one kicked off with a major victory for the plaintiffs, who complained Jones had not turned over enough Google Analytics data to illustrate how Infowars monetizes web traffic.
As a result, Judge Barbara Bellis sanctioned Jones and banned his lawyer from arguing he didn’t profit from his Sandy Hook coverage. Bellis called Jones’ failure to fulfill his discovery obligations “stunningly cavalier.”
Chris Mattei, an attorney representing the Sandy Hook families, kicked off opening statements Tuesday morning, telling the jury of three men and three women that Jones started claiming the massacre was fake the very morning of the shooting, before many of the families had even learned what had happened to their children.
Mattei said none of the family members wanted to sue Jones, but they were defenseless against his lies that questioned their grave loss and led to them to be harassed by Jones’ legion of followers.
“None of them wanted to bring this lawsuit, they don’t want to be here. We trust you to decide what’s appropriate here,” he told the jurors.
The families will never get back what they lost, he said, but this lawsuit may help stop Jones when another school shooting inevitably takes place.
“Where will Alex Jones be? Will he be in the studio ready to pounce? Or will you stop him?” Mattei asked the jurors.
Pattis then gave his opening remarks, which started off barely audible for those in the gallery. He said he was “stunned” to hear his opposing counsel’s opening statements since “stopping Alex Jones” is “not why we’re here.”
Instead, jurors are tasked with deciding what the plaintiffs are owed according to the law, Pattis said.
Mattei made several objections when his opposing counsel started describing the parents as political activists for gun control, most of which the judge sustained. He warned Pattis that he was being “improper,” and after the third objection, scolded him: “One more time and I will ask you to be seated,” he said.
Pattis’ arguments were largely tied to free speech. He said that while some people believe Jones, most simply tune him out. He questioned whether the Sandy Hook parents should try to “turn him off” simply because they object to his message.
When Pattis at one point said that “no one will minimize” what the families have lost, a Sandy Hook mother in the gallery could be heard whispering under her breath.
“He just did,” she said.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism