On Tuesday, the same day a trial got underway in Texas over InfoWars host Alex Jones’ false claims related to the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, a hearing was held in the defamation lawsuit filed in Connecticut by some Sandy Hook families.
The conspiracy theorist has called the shooting that killed 20 children and six adults a hoax, saying “everything about it’s fake.” Now, Jones is facing defamation trials in both Texas and Connecticut this summer.
In the week before jury selection in the Connecticut trial was set to begin, Waterbury Judge Barbara Bellis continued to lament what she described as defense counsel playing “musical chairs.”
In May, attorneys from the law firm Pattis & Smith asked to withdraw from the case. Attorney Norm Pattis later cited a “strained” relationship with Jones as the reason behind their request. On Tuesday, Bellis reminded Jones’ attorneys in Connecticut that she had to approve any motion to withdraw.
Also on Tuesday, Jones’ representation said that two of his attorneys would not appear at trial to defend their client in Connecticut. Cameron Atkinson of Pattis & Smith told the judge that he was leaving the firm and that one of Jones’ attorneys in the Texas case, Andino Reynal, wouldn’t be coming for the Connecticut trial — even though the defense had asked the court to admit him for it.
There was more going on behind the scenes in advance of next week’s jury selection in the Connecticut case.
Bellis said she won’t reconsider delaying the trial despite repeated requests by Jones’ defense.
Also playing out through filed motions is a dispute about two witnesses the plaintiffs plan to call during the trial. The defense sees calling them as an attempt to connect Jones to white supremacy and extremism.
“Such evidence is not relevant to the issues that will be before the jury and would also be unfairly prejudicial and inflammatory to the defendants,” according to a defense motion filed earlier this month.
The plaintiffs say the evidence they’ll present will show that Jones claimed the Sandy Hook shooting was a “government hoax in order to increase his audience and his sales,” an audience they say includes white supremacists and anti-government extremists.
Bellis could rule on that motion Aug. 8. The Connecticut defamation trial is set to begin Sept. 6.
As in the Texas case against Jones that began Tuesday, a jury in Connecticut will only decide how much Jones must pay in damages to families of the Sandy Hook victims. Jones was found liable for defamation last November after he and his attorneys failed to produce financial documents related to Jones’ companies.