Infowars host Alex Jones was ordered by a Connecticut judge on Friday to start paying fines for failing to appear at a deposition in a civil lawsuit filed by families of Sandy Hook school shooting victims.
Judge Barbara Bellis on Wednesday found Jones in contempt and set a fine schedule of $25,000 per weekday, beginning Friday, and increasing by $25,000 each weekday until he’s deposed.
The order from Bellis on Friday came despite Jones’ vow to attend a deposition April 11. Jones’ lawyers late Friday filed a notice of compliance that informs the court he paid the day’s $25,000 fine to its clerk.
Jones and his legal team had hoped to put off the fines until he could be heard under a public interest appeal to the Connecticut Supreme Court. The team requested a stay of the fines Thursday, saying medical conditions prevented Jones from attending the deposition.
“Mr. Jones’ doctors thought his conditions were serious enough to require emergency medical care and that they rendered precautionary advice that included a recommendation that he go to the emergency room immediately,” said Jones’ lawyer, Cameron Atkinson, during Thursday’s hearing on the stay request.
The nature of Jones’ medical issue wasn’t disclosed. Atkinson said that, like many people, he had “no desire” to go to the hospital.
The founder of the Infowars media group, conspiracy theorist and A.M. radio show didn’t show up March 23 and 24 for depositions in his home city of Austin. He cited ill health and doctors’ orders. The testimony was expected to take two days.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs, who are suing Jones for saying the Sandy Hook mass shooting was a hoax, said he defied doctors’ orders by appearing on his show March 21-23.
“It seems to us that Mr. Jones has made a deliberate decision that he would rather suffer the contempt of the Court than expose himself to deposition,” plaintiffs’ attorney Christopher Mattei told the court Thursday.
In November, Bellis ruled in one facet of the case that Jones is liable for damages claimed by the plaintiffs, and his ordered testimony could help her determine how much he should pay the families before the trial starts.
Jury selection was scheduled for May 3.
In Friday’s order, Bellis wrote Jones’ request for a pause on having to pay the fines didn’t pass legal muster, including a threshold that it would cause irreparable harm.
She said Jones could ask for the funds back if he did show for up for the deposition next week.
Plaintiffs initially asked for Jones’ arrest for not showing up for the scheduled deposition in Texas.
The 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut killed 20 first graders and six educators.
The families of eight of the victims and an FBI agent claim in their suit they have been subjected to harassment and death threats from Jones’ followers as a result of his statements.
Jones has since said he believes Sandy Hook was real.
The victims’ families on Tuesday rejected an offer from Jones to pay each of them $120,000. Lawyers for the plaintiffs called the proposal 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.”
Jones was found liable for damages in similar lawsuits in Texas, which were also expected to go to trial this year.