HARTFORD, Conn. (CN) — Attorneys for Infowars personality Alex Jones appeared before Connecticut’s high court Thursday to contest sanctions Jones faces in his court battle with victims of the Newtown school shooting, a massacre he denies ever occurred.
Judge Barbara Bellis ordered the sanctions back in June after finding that the internet-radio host engaged in “obfuscation and delay” in the discovery process.
Relatives of people killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting are suing Jones for defamation, saying his years-long insistence that they are actors participating in a grand hoax caused damages. Their attorneys at Koskoff, Koskoff, & Beider called the FBI in June when they observed that electronic metadata for some of the emails Jones produced in discovery included 12 images of child pornography.
In response to the allegations, Jones took to his “Infowars” airwaves where he said that the Koskoff Koskoff attorneys had planted the images.
“You’re trying to set me up with child porn, I’ll get your ass,” Jones said, going on in the broadcast to pound on a photo of a lawyer for the families named Chris Mattei.
Judge Bellis ordered sanctions against Jones days later, noting that the porn tirade Jones had broadcast went on for 20 solid minutes. While Jones claimed he was emotional about the case, Bellis said it was an “intentional, calculated act of rage for his audience.”
Jones’ attorney Norm Pattis argued Thursday, however, that his client was merely exercising his free-speech rights and cannot be sanctioned.
“This is an attempt to silence a man because of the character of his speech,” Pattis said.
Josh Koskoff insisted meanwhile that the court was authorized to sanction Jones for ongoing violations of the discovery process.
“It’s not like he had a beef with Chris Mattei having nothing to do with this case,” Koskoff said.
The lawyer also argued that Jones added insult to injury in the “Infowars” clip by waving around the Google Analytics that his firm had requested as part of discovery.
“We were looking for that data for a long time,” Koskoff said.
Pattis said he tried to send the information in an email the night before the sanction was issued.
As for Koskoff’s claim that the Jones tirade caused an injury, Pattis said: “There was no threat here,” he said. “Chris Mattei is no wallflower.”
The court did not rule from the bench.
Jury selection in the case is expected to start on Nov. 3.