The judge in the Sandy Hook defamation case against far-right podcaster Alex Jones has launched an investigation into his legal team following the leak of school parents’ medical records.
Medical and psychiatric records of some parents and relatives of the children killed in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, were apparently included in a massive dossier, including messages from Jones’ cellphone. The information was apparently inadvertently leaked by his lawyers to various parties, according to a remote hearing in Connecticut court on Wednesday.
It is not clear how the personal medical records were obtained.
“It appears that the medical and/or psychiatric records of the plaintiffs in the underlying lawsuits were recently released to unauthorized persons” by one of Jones’ attorneys, Connecticut Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis said during a hearing from a Waterbury courtroom in Wednesday, The Hartford Courant reported.
“I am very concerned that there has been an improper release of highly confidential psychiatric, psychological or counseling records protected by court order and state and federal law,” she added.
Bellis complained that he was hearing more about the case on the news than in the courtroom. “Obviously, I’m seriously concerned about what I have to hear in the headlines,” Bellis said.
The judge said he will hold a hearing next week to determine whether Jones’ Connecticut attorney, Norm Pattis, played a role in the leaking of the tapes. She will hold a hearing next week to review the actions of Jones’ Texas attorney, F. Andino Reynal.
The hearing revealed that Pattis’ office turned over confidential records to Raynal last month, when Raynal was expected to play a role in Jones’ defense in the Connecticut lawsuit, according to the Courant.
Days later, Reynal withdrew from the Connecticut case. Still, it appears from a Texas court filing last week that Raynal’s Texas legal team inadvertently turned over the contents of Jones’ cellphone and other records to Sandy Hook relatives who are suing in Texas, the Courant reported. That’s when the medical records were noticed, according to the newspaper.
Mark Bankston, an attorney for the families suing the Joneses in Texas, told reporters last week that Reynal had mistakenly shared the medical and cell phone records with him as part of what appeared to be an effort to reveal records related to the then-upcoming trial of Jones in Austin, according to CT Insider.
Jones lost three defamation lawsuits — one in Connecticut and two in Texas, where his Infowars podcast is based — after Infowars falsely insisted that the 21 first-graders and six adults killed at Sandy Hook Elementary were actors. The shooting, he claims, was actually a hoax against the guns. His wild claims prompted harassment and death threats against the families by Jones’ followers.
A Texas jury last week awarded a total of more than $49 million in damages against Jones in the first suit. Damages in the other cases have yet to be determined.
Earlier this month, Jones filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to protect the assets of his Infowars podcast parent company, Free Speech Systems LLC, his co-defendant in two of the defamation suits. Infowars reportedly earned $65 million in revenue last year.
Critics slammed the bankruptcy filing as a cynical strategy to avoid liability.
Jones, Pattis and Reynal could not be reached for comment.