The Infowars defamation trial resumed on Friday. A former Infowars employee testified via a taped deposition. The employee testified that he warned staff writers several times that they were speculating, not engaging in true journalism in regard to Sandy Hook. He said his warnings were met with laughter and jokes.
The jury has been allowed to submit questions. The judge screens the questions before presenting them. One question posed by a juror was whether Mr. Jones or Mr. Shroyer felt guilty about the things they said. Shroyer said if they make mistakes, they apologize. That is a very bad question for the defendant. That question indicates the jury is leaning toward the plaintiffs.
The plaintiffs called a journalism expert to the witness stand. Fred Zipp of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas testified that Alex Jones carries himself as a journalist, but engages in activities which are contrary to journalism. He opined that Alex Jones defamed Neil Heslin, one of the plaintiffs. The lawyer for Jones suggested in his question that Alex Jones was similar to Rush Limbaugh. Can’t news hosts “free associate” on the news? asked Mr. Reynal. Not if it hurts someone, answered the journalism expert.
Jones’ lawyers again tried to use evidence which had not previously been disclosed to the plaintiffs. Again, the judge prevented them from using that video. The plaintiffs presented another video-taped deposition of an Infowars employee. Kit Daniels said he did not recall using any journalistic standards when fact-checking claims. When he was asked about context, he said several times that he did not understand the question. When asked what determines his journalistic methods, he said the questioner was speaking in riddles.
The plaintiffs will testify next week. As the trial concluded on Friday, the attorneys learned that Alex Jones had filed a counter-suit against his company, Free Speech Systems in Connecticut – in the other defamation lawsuit in Connecticut. Trial in that other lawsuit was set to start next week. A cross-claim this late in the lawsuit may not even be accepted. But, Mr. Jones will apparently do anything to delay that trial. See San Antonio Express News here for more information about the trial.
And, even later in the day on Friday, Alex Jones’ larger company, Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy protection. Bankruptcy typically imposes an automatic stay on all legal actions. Plaintiffs in a lawsuit would then need to seek permission from the bankruptcy court for permission to conclude a lawsuit. Filing for bankruptcy mid-trial is very rare. Alex Jones is embarking upon uncharted waters. The Travis County trial is likely almost done. When the jury learns about the bankruptcy filing, they will not like it. Jones apparently prefers the risk of annoying the jury to reaching a result in this Travis County trial. If so, he may have made the right strategic decision. The trial was not going well for him. This move appears to be a hail-Mary pass.