Alex Jones lawyer suspended 6 months over records release
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – An attorney for conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been suspended from practicing law in Connecticut for six months for improperly giving Jones’ other attorneys in Texas confidential documents, including relatives’ medical records. of Sandy Hook victims. Elementary school shooting.
The ruling by Judge Barbara Bellis on Thursday afternoon came in the families’ lawsuit against Jones for repeatedly calling the shooting a hoax on his Infowars show, which resulted in Jones being ordered to pay more than $1.4 billion in damages. after a Connecticut jury trial last year. year.
Bellis said New Haven-based attorney Norm Pattis failed to preserve the families’ sensitive records in violation of her order limiting access to documents for attorneys in the Connecticut case. She called his actions an “appalling failure” and “inexcusable”.
“We cannot expect our justice system or our lawyers to be perfect, but we can expect basic fairness and decency,” the judge wrote. “There was no fairness or decency in the handling of the plaintiffs’ most sensitive and personal information, and no excuse for the defendant’s (Pattis) misconduct.”
Pattis said Friday in a text message that he plans to appeal the discipline and ask that the sentence be stayed while he challenges it.
“We look forward to hearing the appeal,” he wrote in a later email to The Associated Press.
During a hearing in August on possible discipline for releasing the records, Pattis invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to answer questions. In a court filing, he said there was no evidence he had broken any rules of conduct and called the release of the data an “innocent mistake.”
A spokesman for the Sandy Hook Family Advocates said they were not commenting on Pattis’ suspension.
Pattis is currently representing one of several members of the extremist group Proud Boys criminally charged in connection with the January 6, 2021 uprising at the US Capitol in an ongoing trial in Washington. It was not immediately clear how the suspension would affect the case. Pattis said he has notified the judge in Washington of the discipline.
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Twenty first graders and six teachers were killed in the December 14, 2012, shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Relatives of the eight victims, as well as an FBI agent who responded to the shooting, sued Jones and his Austin, Texas-based company, Free Speech Systems, over allegations of fraud, claiming defamation and nuisance. emotional.
The plaintiffs testified during a month-long trial that they had been threatened and harassed for years by people who deny the shootings happened. Strangers showed up at some of their homes and confronted some of them in public. People hurled insults at them on social media and in emails. Some received death and rape threats.
Attorneys for the Sandy Hook families provided Pattis with nearly 400,000 pages of documents as part of discovery in the case, including about 4,000 pages containing the plaintiffs’ medical records. Bellis limited access to the records to attorneys in the Connecticut case.
In May of last year, Pattis’ office sent an external hard drive containing the data to a bankruptcy attorney for Jones and Free Speech Systems in Texas, Bellis’ ruling said.
Bankruptcy attorney Kyung Lee later gave the hard drive to attorney Andino Reynal, an attorney representing Jones and his company in a similar lawsuit over Jones’ fraud claims filed in Texas by the parents of another child killed in massacre. Reynal then sent the documents to the attorney for the Sandy Hook families in Texas.
The Texas case went to trial in the summer and resulted in Jones being ordered to pay the parents nearly $50 million in damages.
Bellis is also deciding whether Reynal should be disbarred from practicing law in Connecticut, although he is based in Houston. In a court filing, Reynal said he should not be disciplined because a staff member at his firm mistakenly sent the records to the attorney for the Sandy Hook families in Texas.
Jones has said he plans to appeal both decisions. Jones, personally, and Free Speech Systems are currently seeking bankruptcy protection.