Alex Jones’ defamation damages trial brought by the parents of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims will move forward, after the judge on Thursday denied a request for a mistrial from the InfoWars host’s attorney following the revelation that the lawyer had mistakenly sent years of cellphone records to the plaintiffs’ counsel.
Jones’ lawyer Federico Andino Reynal asked Texas state court Judge Maya Guerra Gamble to declare a mistrial over the text messages, asking for the plaintiffs’ attorney to return Jones’ records and destroy any copies of them.
Mark Bankston, the plaintiffs’ attorney, argued the request was Reynal “using a fig leaf to put over his own malpractice” and “absolute breach of his own duties to his client.”
Gamble sided with Bankston and denied the request—and questioned multiple times whether Reynal was serious or if it was a “throwaway” ask, noting that “it’s like the 17th time or something” the attorney had requested a mistrial.
The judge rejected Reynal’s request to retract all the documents that were mistakenly sent to opposing counsel, but did say she ordered any messages containing medical information to be destroyed and allowed Reynal to go through and identify individual documents within the tranche that could be marked confidential.
What To Watch For
The jury is now deliberating on what damages Jones will face for defaming the Sandy Hook parents. Gamble already issued a default judgment against Jones in October 2021, meaning the jury won’t actually be deciding whether Jones is liable or not, but rather just how much he has to pay. The plaintiffs are seeking damages of up to $150 million.
Bankston confirmed Thursday the House January 6 Committee has asked the attorney to turn over Jones’ cell phone records as part of its investigation, which involves Jones and other far-right figures. The committee has previously subpoenaed Jones and showed footage of him during their public hearings, as the right-wing host spread misinformation during the post-election period and, lawmakers allege, helped organize the rally that preceded the January 6 attack. Gamble noted that even if she did grant Reynal’s request to have Bankston return the documents to him, it likely wouldn’t stop the committee from issuing a subpoena for them and getting them anyway.
Jones is on trial for defamation after the right-wing media host repeatedly pushed claims denying the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and calling it a “hoax.” He is also facing a similar civil trial in Connecticut, where the court has similarly issued a default judgment against him. He admitted on the stand Wednesday that the shooting was “100% real,” and also testified that he had no text messages or emails discussing Sandy Hook. But Bankston used the tranche of texts that Reynal mistakenly sent against Jones, asking the radio host, “Do you know what ‘perjury’ is?” and revealing the lawyers had text messages showing that Jones had in fact discussed the shooting. “Do you know where I got this?” Bankston asked Jones. “Your attorneys messed up and sent me a digital copy of your entire cellphone, with every text message you’ve sent for the past two years.”