HARTFORD, Conn. — Right-wing provocateur Alex Jones said he won’t continue testifying until next week in the defamation suit against him by families of Sandy Hook victims and then blasted the lawyers pressing the suit and again called the judicial process itself rigged.
“They weaponized the judiciary to find me in default after we complied with an excruciating discovery,” he told a scrum of reporters outside the courthouse in Waterbury Friday. “And then they use the very evidence you gave them against you. But then you can’t even talk about that evidence. So this is basically as rigged as you can get.”
In his third impromptu press conference since the trial began last week, Jones complained about a default ruling by Judge Barbara Bellis that punished him for failing to comply with court orders to disclose business records by settling the question of liability in favor of the victim families, preventing him from presenting a defense and limiting what he can argue in an effort to minimize damages.
Jones was scheduled to return to the witness stand Friday morning after a contentious day of questioning that ended with an angry exchange with Christopher Mattei, one of the lawyers pressing the suit for the victim families. Jones’ lawyer, Norman A. Pattis told the court Friday morning he will forgo his opportunity to cross examine Jones following Matttei’s questions, but instead will call Jones as a defense witness, probably late next week.
Bellis excused the jury and said the trial will resume Tuesday.
Relatives of nine Sandy hook victims, along with a first responder from the FBI, are arguing in the damages hearing for three, consolidated suits against Jones that they suffered emotionally from threats and harassment directly attributable to years of phony assertions by Jones that the Sandy Hook murders were a hoax contrived to win support for gun control and the grieving parents and dead children were actors.
As a result of the default, the only question before the jury in the civil trial is the amount to be awarded to the families in damages. In August, the parents of one of the 20 murdered first graders won about $50 million in damages from Jones in a trial in Texas, which is where Jones’ influential broadcasting and web-based business is located.
Jones testified for a full day Thursday, responding to sharp questions from Mattei designed to force him to acknowledge the falsity of the claims he broadcast over radio and the internet to an audience millions and the danger in which he put the families.
His appearance on the witness stand ended in a free-for-all courtroom shouting match. Nearing the end of his questioning, Mattei raised his voice, waved to the families of the murdered children and educators in the court gallery and accused Jones of putting targets on their backs.
Jones fired back a question in reply, “Is this a struggle session? Are we in China? I’ve already said I’m sorry, and I’m done saying I’m sorry.”
As Pattis shouted “objection” in a futile effort to prevent a response from Jones, Mattei asked Jones, “Why don’t you show a little respect, Mr. Jones? You have families in this courtroom here that lost children, sisters, wives, moms.”
When the courtroom quieted, Bellis told both lawyers and Jones they would face criminal contempt hearings if there is a repeat performance.
During the impromptu press conference outside court Friday, Jones complained that people have forgotten it was a mentally unstable 20-year-old, Adam Lanza, who committed the Sandy Hook murders and, instead, he has become the face of the massacre. He said he admitted years ago he was wrong in calling it a hoax, but he believed it was a hoax when he made the assertion and believes he had a free speech right to do so.
“I did do that and I can see how it was hurtful,” Jones told the reporters. “But it is still my free speech. And I apologized. I want to get past Sandy Hook. I want to get school safety bills passed.”
The lawyers for the victim families have produced evidence so far in the trial that suggests Jones purposely programmed Sandy Hook hoax shows on his radio and internet broadcasts because it attracted audience and drove up sales at on-line retail sites were he sold nutritional supplements and survivalist food supplies. Jones claimed the lawyers for Sandy Hook families have already won the $50 million verdict in Texas and settled for $73 million in a suit against Remington, manufacturer of the assault rifle used in the Sandy Hook murders.
“I imagine, in 30 years, this law firm will be suing people with the Sandy Hook families,” Jones told the reporters. “Someday their great, great grandchildren may be suing people over this….When the real person who killed the children was Adam Lanza.”
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