Jury orders Alex Jones to pay $45.2 million in punitive damages

Jones’ problems are only just beginning

Jones’ parent company filed for federal bankruptcy protection last month, potentially delaying trials in two similar cases against Jones that were set to begin in September.

In the meantime, there are plenty of other parties likely interested in Jones and the cell phone data his legal team inadvertently shared with opposing counsel. Federal investigators, perhaps?

As Lisa Rubin wrote for MaddowBlog:

“One would think it could not get worse for the Infowars host. But even before the jury announced its damages award, Judge Maya Guerra Gamble made a ruling that could far overshadow Jones’ monetary woes: She held that barring certain medical records belonging to other Sandy Hook families, Bankston’s possession and use of Jones’ phone data was generally fair game. Why? Because Jones’ lawyer — who realized his mistake but asked only that the other side “disregard” what he shared — to specifically identify any privileged material Within the 10 days allotted under Texas court rules that decision that stands to make Jones’ life truly miserable.”

Read Lisa’s full story here:

Scarlett Lewis reacts to the verdict

What we know about Jesse Lewis

51m ago / 10:21 PM UTC

Amid the chaos, counterarguments and dramatic denials of this proceeding, it’s important not to lose sight of the victims at its center. Alex Jones was put on trial because of the pain suffered by Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, the parents of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis. Jesse died in his classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.

According to Heslin’s testimony, Jesse was energetic and boisterous. He loved collecting scrap metal and recyclables. He was learning to ride horses. And he died a hero.

As children huddled in a corner, Adam Lanza’s gun jammed. Jesse yelled for his classmates to run, his mother Scarlett Lewis said at the time, allowing some children to escape. Once Lanza reloaded his gun, he shot Jesse in the head.

Jesse’s death was an unimaginable horror. Jones made it somehow much, much worse. And that is the horrible reality that underpins this proceeding.

Jones likely to fight punitive damages, citing Texas statute

Jones has already signaled his intent to fight the damages awarded tonight. His lawyer quickly referenced Chapter 41 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code, also known as the rules that govern civil litigation in Texas courts.

That section caps exemplary damages at the larger of 1) two times the awarded economic damages plus the non-economic damages awarded up to $750,000, or 2) $200,000. Given that the damages awarded to Lewis’ parents yesterday were not compensation for their economic losses, some believe that any punitive damages award greater than $750,000 is not allowed under Texas law.

Judge Gamble did not rule on that issue tonight, but count on Jones’ lawyers to pursue this issue as far as they can up the appellate chain.

Additionally, jurors were told tonight that their inability to discuss the trial ends tonight, when they were released from jury service. Given the magnitude of the punitive damages, many of us would have liked to have been a fly on the wall of that jury room — and now, to the extent that any of them speak with reporters, we might better understand what motivated their $42.5 million award tonight.

A breakdown of the punitive damages

Jurors were asked to answer three questions when deciding how much money Jones should pay to plaintiffs in punitive damages.

The first asked how much Jesse Lewis’ father, Neil Heslin, should be awarded for Jones’ defamatory publications between June 26, 2017, and July 20, 2017. The jury responded: $4.2 million.

The second question asked how much Heslin should be awarded for the emotional distress inflicted upon him by Jones between 2013 and 2018. And the third asked the same question, but for Lewis’ mother, Scarlett Lewis. The jury responded to both questions: $20.5 million.

In total, Jones must pay $45.2 million in punitive damages and $4.1 million in compensatory damages to the plaintiffs.

‘That is not my job’

1h ago / 10:04 PM UTC

Judge Maya Guerra Gamble sparred a little bit with Alex Jones’ attorney, who was perhaps hoping to prevent Jones’ texts and emails from getting into the hands of federal lawmakers investigating the insurrection. The Jan. 6 committee has already indicated it is interested in those texts, which could include the time period before and after the Capitol riot.

Judge Gamble, however, was having none it. “I am not standing between you and Congress,” she said.

Trial exposes Jones for what he truly is: a monster

It’s undeniable that Jones’ lies about the Sandy Hook shooting, which left 20 children and six faculty members dead, have done irreparable harm to so many of the victims’ families and community members over the years.

Fortunately, this trial has forced accountability to some extent, though the emotional damage inflicted upon Jones’ victims can never be undone.

As columnist Jessica Levinson wrote for MSNBC Daily:

“There is no mechanism in the law to make people like Jones act with a semblance of humanity. But there the law does allow people like Jones to be financially punished for what he has said and done. Thank goodness for that. And thank goodness for the small legal wins in which, slithering under the threat of perjury, Jones must admit that he lied, over and over again.”

Read Jessica’s full story below.

Jury orders Jones to pay $45.2 million in punitive damages

The jury has ordered Alex Jones to pay $45.2 million in punitive damages for defaming the parents of Jesse Lewis, a 6-year-old killed in the Sandy Hook shooting.

The penalty is in addition to the $4.1 million in compensatory damages awarded to the parents on Thursday.

Jury deliberated for just 4 hours

Jurs reached a decision on punitive damages after just four hours of deliberations. By comparison, the jury took about seven hours when deciding compensatory damages earlier this week.

Judge Maya Guerra Gamble’s teachable moment

1h ago / 9:42 PM UTC

One of the more memorable moments from a very memorable trial happened earlier this week, when Judge Maya Guerra Gamble cut through Jones’ infamous bluster and reminded him that in a courtroom, the truth actually means something.

“You must tell the truth while you testify,” Gamble said. “This is not your show.”

Ideally, it was a teachable moment for the Infowars host, who became famous by spreading wild and lying about everything from 9/11 to the Sandy Hook school shooting.

But I wouldn’t be on it.

‘You know what perjury is, right?’

One of the most shocking moments of the trial occurred on Wednesday when a lawyer for the plaintiffs, Mark Bankston, revealed Jones’ legal team had accidentally shared two years’ worth of the defendant’s phone data with opposing counsel. Oops!

Bankston made the revelation while cross-examining Jones, who testedified Tuesday that he never mentioned Sandy Hook in text messages, which is why he didn’t turn over such records during discovery, a pre-trial procedure in which both parties exchange evidence.

“Mr. Jones, did you know that 12 days ago, your attorneys messed up and sent me an entire digital copy of your entire cellphone with every text message you’ve sent for the past two years?” Bankston asked Jones on Wednesday, adding: “You know what perjury is, right?”

Verdict reached on punitive damages in Alex Jones trial

The jury has reached a verdict in the punitive phase of Alex Jones’ defamation trial, Judge Maya Guerra Gamble announced in a courtroom in Austin, Texas.

In closing arguments earlier today, a lawyer for the plaintiffs asked the jury to award $145.9 million in punitive damages to his clients, the parents of slain Sandy Hook first grader Jesse Lewis. Yesterday, the jury ordered Jones to pay $4.1 million in compensatory damages to the parents.

Compensatory damages are meant to compensate a party for injury or loss inflicted by a defendant. Punitive damages are awarded to punish a defendant for “especially harmful” behavior, according to Cornell Law School.

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