Reprinted with permission from DailyKos
Conspiracy meister Alex Jones has been trying to stave off Judgment Day for a very long time. Ever since the parents of the murdered Sandy Hook Elementary students who were harassed by Jones' rabid followers filed a lawsuit to hold him accountable for his lies about their deaths, he has been playing a delay game: refusing to turn over documents in discovery, failing to respond to court orders to do so, biding his time in hopes of stretching out the proceedings in a vain attempt to avoid the inevitable reckoning.
The game came to a crashing halt this week when the judge overseeing the case, Maya Guerra Gamble of Texas' 459th District Court in Travis County, pulled the plug on Jones' obstruction tactics by declaring a default judgment in two of the central Sandy Hook lawsuits—meaning that the matter has been summarily decided and that Jones lost. With his fate now in the hands of a jury that will decide the size of the settlement he owes the plaintiffs, Jones' day of reckoning is now upon him.
Gamble issued the default judgments in filings that were unsealed this week in the two lawsuits filed by Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, parents of 6-year-old Sandy Hook victim Noah Pozner; and Scarlett Lewis, whose 6-year-old son Jesse was killed in the horrific Dec. 14, 2012, massacre by a deranged lone gunman in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 26 people dead, 20 of them young children.
Jones has a long history of declaring any mass casualty event—from the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing to the 9/11 terrorist attacks to the 2017 Las Vegas massacre to the Jan. 6 insurrection—"false flags" masterminded by nefarious "globalists" with the intention of taking Americans' freedoms away. He did so in the Sandy Hook case with particular zeal, claiming that the event was a "hoax," the victims were all "crisis actors" who did not really exist, and that the parents were all participants in a plot to take away Americans' gun rights.
The result was a flood of harassment directed at the grieving parents. Pozner told reporters he had to go into hiding. "It turned into what seemed like Alex Jones had some sort of vendetta against me, because I was hurting his business. I was crippling his YouTube channel," he told PBS. Pozner said Jones kept repeating his and Noah's names, calling on his listeners to "investigate" Pozner.
The lawsuits began arriving on Jones' doorstep in 2018, along with similar lawsuits brought against other "Sandy Hook hoaxers" with lesser reach than Jones' millions of followers. In all, nine families have filed suits. He already had been ordered to pay legal fees of $100,000, and was sanctioned by another judge in a lawsuit filed by six other families of Sandy Hook victims for failing to respond to court orders for documents—a pattern he followed in all of these cases.
Jones' continued refusal to hand over discovery documents in the Pozner and Lewis lawsuits finally provoked Gamble's rulings, the sweeping nature of which are considered unusual in the judiciary. Gamble defenestrated Jones and his website's parent company, Free Speech Systems, for having "intentionally disobeyed" the court's requests for documents related to this and other lawsuits filed against him, and for showing "flagrant bad faith and callous disregard" in not turning them over.
Gamble explained her reasoning in ordering default judgments, writing that they were appropriate because "an escalating series of judicial admonishments, monetary penalties, and non-dispositive sanctions have all been ineffective at deterring the abuse," which Jones' unwillingness to turn over documents in the case inflicted.
She also wrote that Jones showed a "general bad faith approach to litigation" that was supported by "Mr. Jones' public threats and Mr. Jones' professed belief that these proceedings are 'show trials.' "
"The Court finds that Defendants' failure to comply … is greatly aggravated by [their] consistent pattern of discovery abuse throughout similar cases pending before this Court," the judge's filings read. "The Court finds that Defendants' discovery conduct in this case is the result of flagrant bad faith and callous disregard for the responsibilities of discovery under the rules."
The next step in the case entails calling a jury to consider the damages in the cases. Both families are seeking millions of dollars from Jones.
Jones complained bitterly about the rulings in a public statement with his attorney. "It takes no account of the tens of thousands of documents produced by the defendants, the hours spent sitting for depositions and the various sworn statements filed in these cases," the statement read. "We are distressed by what we regard as a blatant abuse of discretion by the trial court. We are determined to see that these cases are heard on the merits."
He concluded: "It is not overstatement to say the first amendment was crucified today."
"Mr. Jones was given ample opportunity to take these lawsuits seriously and obey the rule of law," Mark Bankston, an attorney for the families, told The Washington Post. "He chose not to do so, and now he will face the consequences for that decision."
Lawyer Bill Ogden with Farrar & Ball, the law firm representing the Pozner/De La Rosa and Lewis families, remarked to HuffPost that default judgments such as Gamble's are so rare that they have a kind of mythical status.
"We learn about death penalty sanctions in law school as more of a theory, and it's almost unheard of to have them handed down in a case like this," said Ogden. "However, the Sandy Hook cases are unique. It is extremely rare that a party (Alex Jones and Infowars) is ordered by the Court to comply with discovery, is sanctioned for failing to obey with the Court's multiple Order(s), and then continues to blatantly disregard the Court's authority by continuously refusing to comply."
Other Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists have already faced similar consequences in court. Leonard Pozner won an earlier lawsuit in Wisconsin against an author who published a book claiming that the massacre was a hoax, with the judge ordering $450,000 in damages. Another "hoax" conspiracist, 73-year-old Wolfgang Halbig of Lake City, Florida, was arrested in 2020 and charged with harassing the Pozners and other Sandy Hook families.
One follower of Jones' Infowars program, 57-year-old Lucy Richards of Florida, was arrested and convicted in 2017 of threatening the Pozners. Richards left menacing voice mails and emails with Pozner, saying in one: "You gonna die … Death is coming to you real soon and there's nothing you can do about it." She received a five-month prison sentence.
Leonard Pozner himself has reflected on the vicious toll that conspiracism takes on both individuals and communities. "Unimpeded conspiracy theories distort truth and erase history," he told TheWashington Post. "They dehumanize victims."
Pozner later told PBS: "These ideas are not harmless. So, spreading hate, vilifying people, there's someone that will read it and possibly take action, and really take it to heart. I've seen that happen. I've seen that happen in my life."
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