An attorney for several Sandy Hook families said that Infowars’ intent in the bankruptcy proceedings is “sinister.”
The families of Sandy Hook victims have asked a federal court to dismiss Infowars’ bankruptcy claim, saying that the website and its conspiracy-theorist founder are abusing Chapter 11 proceedings for “sinister” purposes.
According to Reuters, attorneys for the families raised questions about the legitimacy of the bankruptcy at a hearing in a Victoria, Texas, court.
“This is a situation where the first question for this court is: ‘is this proper?’” attorney Jean Beatty said during the Friday hearing. “Let me tell you, I think we have a sinister and unworthy purpose here.”
Beatty told the court that Infowars and its founder, Alex Jones, should not be permitted to use bankruptcy law to escape public accountability.
As the Austin American-Statesman observes, a federal judge was forced to delay Jones’s own trial because of Infowars’ sudden bankruptcy filing.
Jones was earlier sued by the Sandy Hook families for defamation.
A prominent conspiracy theorist, Jones spent years telling his Infowars fans and followers that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was staged.
While Jones initially insisted that nobody had died in the mass shooting, he later relented—but continued to say that the massacre was a set-up, orchestrated by government agents hoping to restrict Americans’ Second Amendment rights.
Jones has since been found liable for damages in the defamation case; the delayed trial would have determined the families’ compensation.
U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Christopher Lopez has said that he will consider the families’ motion, along with any other claims, once they are filed.
Kyung Lee, a bankruptcy attorney for Jones and Infowars, told the court that his client does not have any “nefarious” purposes.
Instead, Lee said that Jones wants bankruptcy proceedings to be constructive, resolving a “sad and complex” situation by making the maximum amount of money available to the families.
“This is a good-faith effort here to try to do something constructive with this bankruptcy process,” Lee said.
Jones, adds the Austin American-Statesman, is facing defamation lawsuits filed by Sandy Hook families in Connecticut and Texas.
Cliff Walston, an attorney for the Texas plaintiffs, told Judge Lopez that Infowars’ planned bankruptcy has purposes beyond an impartial division of damages.
Speaking to the court, Walston said that Jones makes tens of millions of dollars touting and selling products to Infowars listeners.
“That’s how he makes his money,” Walston said. “He sells these products because he has an audience of millions and millions of people, and he has a very, very loud bullhorn with which to do it.”
“These individual families do not have that kind of platform,” he said, adding that the families would have a comparable “bullhorn” if their lawsuits are allowed to “proceed in the state courts.”
“It’s also about them having their day in court—and the emotional aspect that comes with that—and their right as the plaintiffs to have their claims heard by a jury of their peers,” Walston said.