Judge rejects Alex Jones’ lawyer’s request for mistrial over text message fiasco

Judge rejects Alex Jones’ lawyer’s request for mistrial over text message fiasco
Alex Jones in 2018 (Wikimedia Commons)
Frontpage news and politics

The lawyer for conspiracy theorist Alex Jones called for a mistrial in his defamation damages trial on Thursday after inadvertently sending a trove of cell phone data to the attorney representing the family of one of the Sandy Hook parents.

But Travis County District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble denied the request, saying "I don't think it's a mistrial based on this," according to a report from Business Insider.

Jones' lawyer, F. Andino Reynal, also filed for an emergency motion to protect the contents of Jones' phone and asked that the plaintiff attorneys "return" all documents and "destroy" any they have.

The jury on Wednesday began weighing how much in damages a prominent far-right US conspiracy theorist should pay for claiming that the massacre of 20 children and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a "hoax."

Jones, founder of the website InfoWars and host of a popular radio show, has been found liable in multiple defamation lawsuits brought by parents of the victims of the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

The 48-year-old Jones claimed for years on his show that the Sandy Hook shooting was "staged" by gun control activists and the parents were "crisis actors," but has since acknowledged it was "100 percent real."

A 12-person jury in Austin, Texas, heard closing arguments on Tuesday in the first of the multiple defamation cases against Jones to reach the damages phase.

The case was brought by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the parents of six-year-old Jesse Lewis, who was among the children slain by a 20-year-old gunman in the worst-ever school shooting in the United States.

Heslin and Lewis delivered emotional testimony about the impact of Jones' false claims on their lives, including harassment, online abuse and death threats.

They are seeking compensatory damages of at least $150 million from Jones, an ally and supporter of former president Donald Trump, who appeared frequently on his radio show during his 2016 presidential campaign.

"We're here to make sure Alex Jones and his company pays for the reckless lies that they told," Kyle Farrar, an attorney for the parents, said in his closing argument.

Jesse's parents have been the victims of a "continuous year after year campaign of defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress," Farrar said.

Jones spread misinformation and was "profiting off of their pain," the lawyer said, reaping tens of millions of dollars from online traffic and sales of InfoWars-branded products.

"He spews hate, that's what gets people riled up," Farrar said.

F. Andino Reynal, a lawyer for Jones, told the jury that the InfoWars founder should not be held responsible for any of the actions of his listeners.

"Alex ran with a story and he made a mistake," Reynal said. "He trusted the wrong people. And he ran with a story that ended up being false."

InfoWars declared bankruptcy in April and another company owned by Jones, Free Speech Systems, filed for bankruptcy last week.

With additional reporting by AFP

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