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Alex Jones may miss Sandy Hook defamation lawsuit in Texas over ‘medical issues’

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As a civil lawsuit begins Tuesday in Texas to determine how much Alex Jones owes in defamation damages to the parents of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting after falsely claiming the massacre was a “huge hoax,” unspecified medical issues prevent the right-wing conspiracy theorist from being in court, his lawyer said.

During Monday’s jury selection, Jones’ attorney, F. Andino Reynal, told the Austin courtroom that the Infowars founder “has medical problems” that may prevent him from appearing during parts of the trial, although he is “under no obligation.” to be present”. here.”

“Alex, you may have noticed, isn’t there like the plaintiffs,” Reynal said, according to the News-Times in Danbury, Conn. “He may not be here during parts of the trial.”

The defense attorney reiterated to KXAN in Austin after jury selection was completed that he had spoken to Jones’ doctors and “made the decision that [Jones] shouldn’t be here.”

“He wants to be here,” Reynal said.

While Reynal did not specify what “medical issues” could prevent the 48-year-old from attending the trial in person, Jones, who has already lost several defamation lawsuits related to his Sandy Hook falsehoods, has previously blamed stress and cardiovascular effects of his coronavirus infection for missing depositions in last year’s Connecticut trial. Jones has also received $25,000 daily fines from a Connecticut judge for failing to show up for court statements in March.

Reynal did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Mark Bankston, an attorney for the families suing Jones, also did not immediately respond to The Washington Post’s request for comment. Bankston told the Associated Press that the families were “very happy that the day has come” to begin the process.

“We look forward to telling our customers’ stories,” said Bankston.

Jones faces another potential financial blow years after he said the deadliest elementary school shooting in U.S. history — killing 26 people in Newtown, Conn., 20 of them young children — was a “false flag” operation. was performed by “crisis actors.” Although Jones has since acknowledged that the shooting happened, blaming his false claims on “a form of psychosis,” he has been banned from major platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Spotify for violating their hate speech policies. , Infowars, in bankruptcy protection before the Texas trial was initially set to begin in April.

Infowars, led by Alex Jones, files for bankruptcy protection

Judges in Connecticut and Texas have held Jones liable for damages in lawsuits arising from his false claims. In default judgments against Jones and Infowars last October, District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble of Travis County, Texas, ruled that Jones failed to comply with court orders to provide information in a pair of 2018 lawsuits filed against him by the families of two children who were murdered. in the 2012 massacre. Jones has repeatedly failed to submit documents and evidence to the court in support of his damaging and erroneous claims.

Jones has previously been ordered to pay tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees to families who have sued him. Nine families have sued him over the years.

Alex Jones must pay damages to Sandy Hook families after calling shooting a ‘huge hoax’, judge rules

“An escalating series of injunctions, fines and unavailable sanctions have all been ineffective in deterring the abuse,” Gamble wrote last year.

Gamble’s 2021 rulings related to two lawsuits in 2018 filed by Sandy Hook parents Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, who lost their 6-year-old son Noah, and Scarlett Lewis, whose 6-year-old son, Jesse, also died. killed in the shooting. Pozner and De La Rosa said they have faced emotional difficulties and have been harassed for years by Infowars fans who have followed Jones’ lead and falsely claimed the shooting was staged.

Jones acknowledged earlier this year on his Infowars website that he had missed pre-trial depositions for the 2021 trial in Connecticut, citing health reasons related to Covid-19. The Food and Drug Administration and health experts have criticized Jones for promoting and selling products on his website that he falsely claimed would “strengthen your immune system” against the virus.

“I started getting sick after getting covid last year…just like everyone else. It attacked the cardiovascular system, okay?” Jones said in an audio message posted in March. “I’m 48 and I’m under a lot of stress.”

Jurors in Austin, where Infowars is headquartered, will not hear evidence of the defamation allegations, but will instead determine how much compensation Jones must pay to the victims’ families. While Jones has claimed in court files that he has a net worth of $20 million negative, attorneys for the Sandy Hook families have pointed to data showing that Jones’ Infowars store made more than $165 million between 2015 and 2018.

Among those who will testify on Tuesday are Daria Karpova, a producer at Infowars, and Daniel Jewiss, who was the lead investigator of the Sandy Hook shooting for the Connecticut State Police. Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, Jesse Lewis’ parents, are also expected to testify at the trial.

Gamble, the judge presiding over the case, said the trial is expected to last two weeks. She urged the jurors not to read or watch any news about Jones or the case, according to the News-Times.

“We want a trial based only on the evidence presented in court,” she said.

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