In early August, InfoWars host Alex Jones’ attorneys appeared in court for a hearing on a defamation suit against Jones. This was the first of three defamation suits against Jones, some of which were filed by families of the victims killed in the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting that took place in 2012. Defense attorney Barry Covert spoke to TheWrap about what the outcome of these lawsuits may be. The full story is available on TheWrap’s website.
Proving false claims
According to TheWrap, the plaintiffs in these defamation suits will be required to prove that Jones both made false claims about them and that those claims led to demonstrable harm against the plaintiffs. “In most states, in order to win defamation, they would have to prove that he purposely told factual lies as opposed to offering an opinion, and that’s going to be key here,” Mr. Covert explained. He went on to say that the plaintiffs must prove “that he factually lied about them and that he caused them harm. In most states, it’s not sufficient that he offered an incorrect opinion that was offensive.”
Burden of proof for public figures
TheWrap reports that Jones’ attorneys have said that the plaintiffs in these cases should be treated as public figures because of the national attention that the Sandy Hook parents have garnered as advocates against gun violence. In a defamation suit, public figures need to prove that the defendant acted with “actual malice” and that the defendant knowingly told lies that harm the plaintiffs.
“Many of the parents are public figures,” Mr. Covert said. “Many of the parents have been engaging in debates about gun laws. Many of the parents may not be able to claim the mantle of a nonpublic figure,” he went on, saying that it is likely that Jones will prevail in the defamation suits.
About Barry N. Covert
Mr. Covert is a senior partner in Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria’s Criminal Defense Trials and Appeals Practice Area. He is known for his aggressive representation of clients in the areas of New York State and federal criminal trials and appeals; driving while intoxicated; constitutional law, including First Amendment, civil rights actions, and federal False Claims Act; defending against allegations of scientific misconduct and fraud, research misconduct and fraud, plagiarism, and fabrication of evidence; and professional licensing defense. Mr. Covert frequently provides legal analysis for WGRZ and other media outlets.