Jones declines to take stand for cross-examination

·3 min read

Sep. 23—WATERBURY — Podcaster Alex Jones declined to testify Friday in the Superior Court hearing on how much money he owes the families of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown for harm he caused them by his lies that the massacre didn't happen.

Jones had been called to the witness stand this week by lawyers for the families and other plaintiffs in the case.

His lawyer, Norman Pattis, could have cross-examined him Friday, but Pattis told Judge Barbara Bellis when court opened Friday morning that he had decided not to do so.

Instead, Pattis said, he plans to call Jones back to the witness stand as a defense witness next week.

Although Jones had nothing to say to the jury Friday, he had lots to say to the news media outside the courthouse.

His explanation for his decision to defer further testimony was that he would be less restricted in what he could say as a defense witness than he would have been on cross-examination Friday.

He cited an order from the judge declaring certain subjects off limits.

"It's still rigged," Jones said of the hearing. But at least his lawyer will be able to ask certain questions.

If he had gone through with the cross-examination, Jones said, he would have been so restricted in what he could talk about "that there was no point in being up there."

As to his ability to pay any damages award, Jones said, "The good news is I don't have hardly any money."

"Money means absolutely nothing to me," he added.

The plaintiffs contend that denials of the reality of the Sandy Hook massacre were profitable for Jones, swelling his audience and increasing the market for dietary supplements and other merchandise promoted by his "Infowars" program.

Jones portrayed the issue in the case as free speech, saying it is an attempt to "gag" Americans' ability to speak their minds.

The sole issue in the hearing is the amount of money Jones and his company owe the victims' families and other plaintiffs. The judge entered a default judgment for the plaintiffs on the issue of liability based on her conclusion that Jones and his company had failed to comply with pretrial "discovery" orders.

The discovery process enables the two sides in a court case to obtain information from one another so that they can present full information to the jury and avoid surprises during a trial.

Jones made one comment during his news conference that led to controversy in the courtroom later.

When a reporter asked what he wanted to tell the jurors, he said he would urge them to research American history. That suggestion runs counter to the standard instruction jurors are given to do no independent research on the case.

Pattis pointed out that jurors are also instructed to avoid all publicity about a case and thus shouldn't know about Jones' remark.

The judge took no special action in response to the remark. But when she released the jurors for the day and reminded them of the standard admonitions, she started with the do-no-research instruction.

The jury ended up hearing no evidence Friday. In accordance with the trial's usual schedule, testimony is to resume Tuesday.

For updates on Glastonbury, and recent crime and courts coverage in North-Central Connecticut, follow Alex Wood on Twitter: @AlexWoodJI1, Facebook: Alex Wood, and Instagram: @AlexWoodJI.