Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorists behind the right-wing website Infowars, was declared to be in contempt of court by a Connecticut judge Wednesday, and ordered to pay daily fines until he submits to a deposition. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
March 30 (UPI) -- Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist behind the right-wing media company Infowars, was declared to be in contempt of court, a Connecticut judge ruled Wednesday.
Judge Barbara Ellis ordered Jones to pay $25,000 per weekday that he refuses to submit to a deposition, with that figure increasing to $50,000 beginning Monday.
Jones was sued by several family members whose children were killed in a 2012 Connecticut school shooting. A judge ruled in mid-November that he is liable for damages for defaming the families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre by calling them "actors" and the shooting a hoax.
Ellis did not believe claims by Jones' lawyers that he was unable to attend depositions on multiple occasions because of an illness, most recently on March 23 and 24.
"Alex Jones' strategy of obfuscation and delay tactics is now all too familiar territory. His refusal to fairly produce evidence in this case has already resulted in profound prejudice to the plaintiffs and a default. His refusal to be deposed is a new version of the same evasive and unfair," the judge wrote in her ruling.
"And once again, his [Jones'] refusal to follow the rules of discovery defies the court's authority, burdens the court system, prejudices the plaintiffs, and benefits him and his codefendant companies. Alex Jones is in contempt of court, and the court should enter penalties and sanctions accordingly."
The only issue now remaining is the amount of financial compensation owed to the victims. That decision is slated to be made during a jury trial scheduled to begin Sept. 1. Jones' lawyers have said his next availability for a deposition is April 11.
Jones filed court documents Tuesday, offering several of the family members $120,000 each to resolve the defamation case against him.
Twenty-eight people were killed in the shooting, including 20 first graders and six educators, and the victims' families had argued that Jones had profited off of spreading the false information about the deaths of their family members, which also resulted in their harassment from his fans.
Jones failed to turn over documents to the court during the proceedings and the judge ruled he was guilty by default.
"Mr. Jones extends his heartfelt apology for any distress his remarks caused," his lawyers said in the court document filed Tuesday that was obtained by Law and Crime.
The families individually rejected the offer.
"The so-called offer is a transparent and desperate attempt by Alex Jones to escape a public reckoning under oath with his deceitful, profit-driven campaign against the plaintiffs and the memory of their loved ones lost at Sandy Hook," a rejection filed Tuesday on behalf of plaintiff Carlee Soto Parisi states, according to a copy obtained by Crime and Law.
The announcement comes after gunmaker Remington agreed last month to pay nine families of victims in the massacre $73 million to settle a lawsuit connected to the Remington Bushmaster XM15-ES AR-15 used in the shooting.
A month before he was found guilty in Connecticut, a judge in Texas ruled in October that Jones is responsible for damages to family members of victims there who also sued him for defamation.