Jurors in Alex Jones’ Sandy Hook trial are told he considers it a ‘Kangaroo Court’
Lawyers for the Sandy Hook families suing right wing provocateur and broadcaster Alex Jones concluded four days of questioning his corporate representative Friday by showing jurors a screen grab from one of his broadcasts this week, with a characteristically shrill Jones’ headline calling the trial a “kangaroo court.”
The title of the broadcast about the first day of court proceedings on Tuesday was headlined: “Alex Jones Kangaroo Court Watch Day 1.” It was dominated by a close-up shot of Judge Barbara Bellis sitting on the bench and stamped with the “contempt!” in big, block letters.
“Has InfoWars been calling this trial a kangaroo court?” Christopher Mattei, one of the family lawyers asked, referring to the name of Jones’ show and principal internet site.
“I don’t know,” the representative answered. “I haven’t been watching the show.”
Corporate representative Brittany Paz had been on the witness stand since Wednesday, battered by Mattei’s frequently sarcastic questions, as the families methodically used Jones’ corporate records to make their case. They contend Jones spent years broadcasting angry denials of the school shootings — denials he knew to be untrue and dangerous for the families because it was a message that generated huge audiences and profits.
Twenty first graders and six educators died on Dec. 14, 2012, when a mentally unstable 20-year-old blasted his way into the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown with an assault rifle and shot them. The relatives of nine of the victims, along with a first responder, sued and the trial that began Tuesday in Waterbury is to determine what Jones and his wholly-owned company Free Speech Systems owes them in compensation.
The relatives of the victims contend in their suits that they have been stalked, threatened and harassed for years by members of Jones’ massive, global audience, who believe his assertions that the shootings are part of a hoax staged by evil globalists trying to outlaw private gun ownership. Jones’ claims were that the dead children and their families were actors hired to perpetrate the hoax.
The families hope to collect tens of millions in damages from Jones in suits that charge him with defamation, responsibility for emotional suffering and, significantly, violation of the state unfair trade practices law. If the families can persuade the jury that Jones spread lies and fears for profit, it could find him liable under the trade practices law, which puts no ceiling on damages.
In his opening argument to jurors on Tuesday, Mattei asked the jurors to return a verdict for the family that “shuts down” Jones for good.
Last month, the parents of one of the murdered first graders were awarded $4.1 in compensatory and $45.2 million in punitive damages after suing in a Texas court. Jones’ Texas lawyers said they will appeal and his Connecticut lawyer, Norm Pattis, has said there will be a Waterbury verdict.
The image of Bellis under the word contempt presented to the jury Friday was the last of dozens of corporate records the families produced while Paz testified in an effort to persuade jurors that Jones was contemptuous of the truth as long as his family of Texas-based broadcast and internet platforms collected huge profits.
The records show that Jones operated more than a dozen conspiracy-oriented websites, broadcast and social media sites that he used to drive traffic to a half dozen retail sales sites. If Jones was pontificating on his broadcast about a globalist conspiracy to create famine by reducing food supplies, he would post ads on related web sites for survivalist foods supplies, according to the records.
On Friday, Mattei presented jurors with a late 2019 email message to Jones from a business manager reporting that his InfoWars broadcasting and web cooperation had collected $205 million in sales revenue the day of the exchange. Of that total, $110 million was gross proceeds from survivalist food products and, of that, $70 million was “pure profit.”
Mattei presented a clip from a misleading 2017 InfoWars broadcast that ridiculed Neil Heslin, father of one of the murdered first graders. Heslin told a traditional television network in an interview that he had been allowed to hold his son after the shooting and that the child had a “bullet hole” in his head.
The InfoWars broadcast said Heslin was lying, based on a statement from then Connecticut medical examiner Dr. Wayne Carver that parents were not initially allowed access to their children’s’ bodies.
Paz, a Connecticut lawyer who had no association with Jones or his companies until he hired her in January to testify as his corporate representative, conceded that the Carver interview played by Infowars had been edited in a deceptive fashion to create the impression that the parents were not allowed access to their children.
A month later, in another InfoWars video clip presented to jurors by Mattei, Jones announced in a broadcast that Sandy Hook gunman Adam Lanza had been visited by the CIA at his mother’s house in Newtown a year earlier.
“Sandy Hook is as fake as a $3 bill,” Jones said.
During Pattis’ brief questioning of Paz Friday, Paz said the she had not been able to answer many of Mattei’s questions because while preparing to testify, she had not been given the access to volumes of records or the opportunity to interview key employees. She said she was allowed to speak with Jones’ for about an hour in person and by phone for another half hour.
She said neither interview was productive.
“It was difficult to talk to him and to get him to focus,” Paz said. “If I would ask him a question, he would kind of go on into whatever he wanted to talk about. I would try to redirect him to my question and he would kind of throw his hands up in the air and talk about whatever he wanted to talk about.”
She said a bookkeeper doubled as personnel director for Jones’ $1 million plus company, which she said lacked a coherent record keeping system or even a company-wide telephone system.
Pattis tried, but was not allowed by Bellis, to show through questions and the introduction of corporate records that Jones booming sales and the popularity on the Internet of his broadcasts and products may have been attributable to praise the broadcaster has received from former President Donald J. Trump.
One of the records Mattei presented to jurors, a solicitation Jones sent to potential advertisers, quoted Trump as saying in an interview, “I won’t let you down Alex.”
The trial in Waterbury Superior Court is solely for the jury to determine the amount of compensation from Jones. In an unusual default ruling last year, Bellis settled the suit in favor of the victims, saying Jones forfeited his right to defend himself from liability by violating her orders and legal procedure by failing to participate in the joint disclosure of records and other pretrial proceedings.