The conspiracy theorist who created such acute distress for the families of those killed in the Sandy Hook massacre by spreading the lie that it was a hoax and thus inspired his rabid followers to persecute those families and make their lives a living hell, talks very tough. But it turns out that he is, like all bullies, a coward. He has been sued by the families and been ordered by the judge to attend a legal deposition and be questioned under oath but he did not show up, citing vague medical reasons, even though he was appearing on his show that same week. Jones is clearly trying to avoid a legal reckoning for his reckless and hateful instigation against the families. He has offered a settlement to the people suing him but they have refused, demanding that he appear in court.
Relatives of the Sandy Hook school shooting victims have rejected an offer from Alex Jones, host of the conspiracy theory and rightwing disinformation website Infowars, to pay $120,000 per plaintiff to resolve their lawsuit. The families said he defamed them by asserting the massacre never happened.
A Connecticut judge found Jones liable for damages in November, and a trial is planned to determine how much he should pay the families.
The plaintiffs said they have been subjected to harassment and death threats from Jones’ followers because of the hoax conspiracy promoted on his show.
The court filings posted online said: “Mr Jones extends his heartfelt apology for any distress his remarks caused.”
Last week Jones defied a court order to attend a deposition near his home in Austin, Texas, to provide testimony ahead of the trial. Jones said he was ill. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday on a request by the plaintiffs to sanction Jones for not cooperating.
Lawyers for the families rejected the settlement offer within a few hours, saying in court filings that it was a “transparent and desperate attempt by Alex Jones to escape a public reckoning under oath with his deceitful, profit-driven campaign against the plaintiffs and the memory of their loved ones lost at Sandy Hook”.
Yesterday the judge found Jones in contempt for not showing up and has started issuing hefty fines.
The judge, Barbara Bellis, said that Jones will face a per-weekday fine starting at $25,000 until he sits for two days of depositions, the lawyer, Norm Pattis, said in a filing. The penalty, which will increase to $50,000 per day, is set to begin Friday.
Bellis said Jones hadn’t produced enough evidence to support his claim that he missed a deposition last week because of health problems.
I do not understand his legal strategy. If you do not show up to defend yourself, the verdict is automatically awarded to your opponents. He has already had one summary judgment against him for failing to show up for a trial, which means that he is presumed to have lost. He could have a similar result for this case too.
What is Jones afraid of? Is he afraid that he will break under cross-examination and start to cry, thus destroying his tough-guy image? His previous experience with courts during his divorce proceedings did not go well.