Alex Jones and Infowars must provide a wide array of documents to plaintiffs in a Connecticut defamation lawsuit. The suit was brought by six families of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and an FBI agent swept up in conspiracy theories that the shooting was staged.
Judge Barbara Bellis responded Jan. 10 to objections by Jones and several affiliated companies about the types of documents they needed to turn over during the discovery phase of the trial. The judge ordered Jones to hand over everything the plaintiffs requested except tax returns and information gathered in an attempt to have the lawsuit dismissed. Jones’s lead attorney didn’t respond to a request for comment from Fortune.
Jones, Infowars, and other connected firms have to provide internal communications, investigative work into the shooting, relevant excerpts from Jones’s 2017 child-custody case, business plans, and marketing data, including website traffic reports. The judge will decide by next week whether Jones must face a deposition from plaintiffs’ attorneys.
The lawsuit arises from Jones’s extensive popularizing of a theory that the Sandy Hook shooting was staged by the federal government, and that no adults nor children were injured or killed. Rather, he put forward, so-called “crisis actors” portrayed the various parents and relatives of murdered students and educators in the media or appeared in video and photos as victims. Jones also faces a lawsuit on a similar basis in his home county in Texas, which a judge declined to dismiss in August, from the parents of a child killed in the shooting.
Conspiracy theorists have harassed victims’ families, first responders, and some entirely unconnected individuals starting within minutes of the reports coming out about the shooting. Many affected parents, relatives, and others have had to move, often repeatedly, to avoid letters, phone calls, and sometimes in-person confrontations. The FBI agent in this lawsuit, William Aldenberg, was alleged to be “portrayed” by Sandy Hook parent David Wheeler, also a plaintiff in this case.
No credible evidence has ever emerged to support “crisis actor” theories, which arise after nearly every mass shooting in the U.S., and allege that the government uses these incidents as an excuse to seize firearms from Americans, but it’s served as rich fodder for conspiracy videos.
Jones has stood on First Amendment grounds and state laws that provide additional protection for participation in public discussion. The lawsuits attempt to portray Jones and colleagues as knowingly engaging in falsehood, which is not protected speech.
However, in March 2017, Jones issued a retraction and an apology to a pizza parlor owner after the owner’s lawyer contacted Jones. Jones had spread a theory known as “Pizzagate,” which maintained an elaborate pedophilia ring was run by prominent politicians, headquartered in the non-existent basement of a Washington, D.C., restaurant.