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Alex Jones' defamation trial finally set to begin in Texas

by The Associated Press | July 26, 2022 at 5:00 a.m.
FILE - Infowars host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones speaks outside of the Dirksen building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 5, 2018. Jury selection is set for Monday, July 25, 2022, in a trial that will determine for the first time how much Jones must pay Sandy Hook Elementary School parents for falsely telling his audience that the deadliest classroom shooting in U.S. history was a hoax. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

The Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas -- Jury selection began Monday in a trial that will determine for the first time how much Infowars host Alex Jones must pay Sandy Hook Elementary School parents for falsely telling his audience that the deadliest classroom shooting in U.S. history was a hoax.

The trial in Austin, Texas -- where the conspiracy theorist lives and broadcasts his show -- follows months of delays. Jones has racked up fines for ignoring court orders and he put Infowars into bankruptcy protection just before the trial was originally set to start in April.

At stake for Jones is another potentially major financial blow that could put his constellation of conspiracy peddling businesses into deeper jeopardy. He has already been banned from YouTube, Facebook and Spotify over violating hate-speech policies.

The trial involving the parents of two Sandy Hook families is only the start for Jones; damages have yet to be awarded in separate defamation cases for other families of the 2012 massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

The lawsuits do not ask jurors to award a specific dollar amount against Jones.

During the first round of questioning from attorneys for the families, several potential jurors in the initial pool of more than 100 said they held strong beliefs on free speech and questioned whether any punitive damages would be fair. A few others said they would struggle to assign damages that could reach $100 million or more. Yet others said that although they also believe in the principles of free speech, they would not have a problem assigning damages -- even a large amount of money -- for blatant falsehoods that might have caused harm.

Courts in Texas and Connecticut have already found Jones liable for defamation for his portrayal of the Sandy Hook massacre as a hoax involving actors aimed at increasing gun control. In both states, judges have issued default judgements against Jones without trials because he failed to respond to court orders and turn over documents.

The Texas trial begins about two months after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, which is about 145 miles southwest of Austin. It was the deadliest school shooting in the nearly 10 years since Sandy Hook.

Print Headline: Alex Jones' defamation trial finally set to begin in Texas

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