About fucking time. The Sandy Hook families are suing Alex Jones for defamation

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/17/business/media/alex-jones-sandy-hook.html

I hope they stomp him in the ground. That just makes me sick.

Wesley Clark, I can only believe that they have been collecting ‘evidence’ on Jones all of these years, proving defamation in a court of law is harder than just hearing crap on the radio (note: IANAL). My guess is that they waited until they had what they believe is an air-tight case so that Jones wil have no option but to put up (prove his contention, which is probably impossible (and ‘probably’ is looking for a flight out of town) or lose another chunk of whatever he’s collected from his minions.

I could use the old, sneering adage “it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy”, but IMHO there is nothing nice about Mr. Jones and I hope he takes another whuppin’ in court.

True, obviously, and I think they have a good chance at being able to do it. Even if you apply the most stringent possible test for defamation (the umbrella term which includes both libel and slander), actual malice, I think they’ll still be able to clear the bar:

Jones knew that people had gone all the way to shooting up the pizza place featured in the Pizzagate conspiracy theory he peddled on his show, and here he is, peddling the conspiracy theory that these parents are all crisis actors, people putting on a fake show for the media as part of a sinister plot to destroy gun rights in this country as prelude to a globalist takeover. That is reckless disregard.

And they might not even have to clear that bar. The question is whether the plaintiffs are public figures. I don’t know if they are, and I think it’s a bit ambiguous: They’re connected to a famous tragedy, but they haven’t sought the spotlight the way David Hogg, for example, has. If they’re not public figures, the bar for defamation becomes lower, and the plaintiffs’ cases become a lot easier.

This. Under the circumstances it seems likely he’ll offer to settle out of court. I hope the Sandy Hook families choose not to do so, and instead shine an unpleasant, enduring spotlight on him in court, followed by an award of damages much bigger than his settlement offer. It’d be awfully hard on them, since it all revolves around the murder of their children - but if they can see it through, they will have done a public service.

I hope not as well. Depending on the venue rules, they might ask for $x but if the jury is incensed enough the award could be a lot higher.

Money is nice, but it’s not going to be Jones’ money, it’ll be coming from his personal insurance policy most likely. This won’t affect him at all in any meaningful way. But I wonder if they can also seek a non-monetary award, such as, “Jones has to shut the hell up about everything forever”. Or something like that.

I hope the remaining families join the suit and each gets awarded a large sum, like $10 million.

It is impossible to believe that any jury will not find for them in a huge way. There has probably never been a more sympathetic complainant. I hope they take him down hard.

Factual question: Is he being sued for defaming the families of the dead children, or the dead children themselves? Or both? Is it legally possible to defame the dead?

I think Alex Jones is an idiot, but I wonder how far this suit will get. IANAL, but doesn’t a defamation lawsuit have to show actual damage. One man yelling “crisis actors” compared to the entire rest of the American media telling the truth doesn’t seem to me to cause any harm to reputation. And doesn’t entertainment media enjoy a privileged position effectively shielding him from claims of defamation.

I hope the families prevail, but I just dont see it.

mc

IANAL but I hope the law is that to be guilty of defamation, a person would need to know there was a lack of evidence against those defamed. Jones, as I understand it, could point to existing evidence that a reasonable person could concur would appear on its face to cast aspersions on those defamed.

Jones’ defense then would be to say Look here, I have reasonable cause for believing these people did what I said they did, and as a protected citizen, I would hope that the conviction need not be on whether the data was later found factually correct, but whether a reasonable person might believe it is plausible.

To take it to an extreme, if Leonard Pelletier is exonerated, does he have a defamation case against everyone who believed the evidence against him was compelling, and publicly said so? A defamation case should not hinge on whether you were wrong, but rather whether you knew you were wrong and defamed anyway.

A reasonable person believes that the kids killed in a school, and their parents, were actually crisis actors and nobody died at Sandy Hook? Despite a parade of local police, paramedics, hospital personnel, media, neighbors, etc. who actually saw the aftermath of the shootings including dead and wounded children? There aren’t enough :rolleyes: for that in the entire universe!

[Incredulous reaction off]Yes, I presume that would be his defense. I think we can be fairly certain it isn’t going to work, though.

Reading the About Alex Jones Show page on his website, I get the sense that he presents his show and himself not as entertainment but as a news show.

“The Alex Jones Show is now syndicated on over 160 stations across the country and routinely breaks huge stories in addition to featuring some of the most insightful and news making guests from across the world.”

“By establishing a team of news reporters who provide cutting edge analysis and on the ground high tech breaking coverage, Infowars.com continually dominates the news coverage while wearing our bias - the truth - openly and proudly on our sleeve.”

“Alex’s mainstay is his nationally syndicated news-talk show produced from his studio in Austin and broadcast on the Genesis Communication Network, based in Minnesota.”

I’m not a US lawyer, but generally speaking under English common law it is not possible to defame dead people.

However, statements about dead people can damage the reputations of the living.

My assumption is that the defamation claims are brought on behalf of the living – the families of the dead children.

The “parents” who are accused of making up this whole thing about having dead children are the ones being defamed. He’s calling them liars and frauds.

The privilege goes the other way: a public figure, someone who willingly courts fame, must prove “actual malice” if they wish to pursue a defamation case against someone they claim has defamed them.

Thing is, the Sandy Hook parents are not public figures in this sense, so the “actual malice” test probably doesn’t apply to claims brought by them (though this sort of thing varies by state, so who knows).

Even assuming “actual malice” is the standard, it is arguably one Mr. Jones’ statements can meet: it is demonstrated by a ‘reckless disregard’ for the truth, not taking even the minimal care a reasonable person ought to take to ensure the statements were true.

There are also defenses against libel, like “fair comment” on public events, appropriate where the targets of the statements are ordinary folks and not celebrities, ordinary folk who get caught up in public events. The Sandy Hook massacre is clearly a public event, so “fair comment” ought to apply.

However, “fair comment” only applies to opinions. Even the most outrageous opinions about public events are shielded … but it doesn’t apply to outrageously untrue facts. Under this defense, you can say whatever you think about events, however offensive (“those kids who were shot, I think they had it coming”). You cannot make up facts about events (“those kids were not shot, the parents just invented it all”).

As for damages, I understand that yes some must be proved before an award of “presumed” damages (for humiliation and the like) may be made. Evidence that these families have been harassed and stalked by crazy people who believe the lies spread by Mr. Jones, which I understand actually happened, would probably suffice.

Usual disclaimer: I’m not a US lawyer and certainly not one from the whatever state this is to be litigated in. So take the above with a big grain of salt. :smiley:

Yup, exactly.

So the fact that dead people can’t be defamed isn’t an issue here.

I am not a regular viewer but occasionally have watched clips. IIRC, he presents a lot of his “info” with wiggle room using phrases like “I don’t know, but these are unanswered questions”. Does that help in defending this in court?

I would hope it wouldn’t help in defending this in court. Imagine being one of those parents; your child was murdered at the age of six or seven along with a bunch of his or her classmates by a maniac and now these idiots are denying that this happened and that your child never existed.

Heh, it’s an old technique, “just asking questions”. Sometimes abbreviated as “JAQing off”. :smiley:

https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Just_asking_questions

Will it work? My guess is that it will not.

A court is, I imagine, going to look at the communication as a whole and attempt to determine if the person making the statement is really “asking a question” or simply using the turn of phrase as a means of making an assertion. The issue being how a reasonable viewer would interpret it.

Again, I’m not a US lawyer, so who knows …