Court Battles

Texas court strikes down Alex Jones appeal in Sandy Hook case, orders him to pay

Greg Nash

A Texas court has struck down an appeal filed by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’s legal team against Neil Heslin, the father of a 6-year-old boy killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting who is suing him for defamation after he claimed the 2012 massacre was a hoax, WNPR reported.

The Texas Court of Appeals in Austin has dismissed Jones’s appeal, ordering him to “pay all costs relating to this appeal, both in this Court and in the court below” in a ruling on Aug. 30. The costs appear to entail court fees associated with appeal, according to The Houston Chronicle. 

{mosads}The ruling is the latest development in an ongoing case stemming from a lawsuit Heslin brought against Jones and several other defendants — Jones’s InfoWars website, InfoWars reporter Owen Shroyer and Free Speech Systems, which is the LLC that InfoWars operates under. 

Heslin had sued Jones and the other defendants for defamation after Jones claimed the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax and that the parents of those who died in the massacre were “crisis actors.” Heslin and other parents have said that they have been the victims of harassment as a result of the unfounded claims.

In the Texas court’s opinion, the court wrote that the defendants had filed a motion to dismiss Heslin’s claims under the Texas Citizens Participation Act, which is designed to help individuals or groups faced with “frivolous lawsuits,” according to Houston-based firm Stephens Reed & Armstrong, PLLC. 

That motion was reportedly met with another filed by Heslin in August 2018 for the discovery of internal documents and materials from Jones and his business related to the shooting. Around that time in August, lawyers representing families of Sandy Hook shooting victims had also accused Jones and his InfoWars business of intentionally destroying evidence relevant to a defamation case they were bringing against him.

At a hearing to discuss the pending motions, a court determined that it would allow “limited discovery relevant to the motion to dismiss,” court documents said.

Documents said that Jones and the other defendants were supposed to submit responses to the Heslin’s discovery by Oct. 1, 2018, as a result, but failed to do so. Heslin filed a motion to contempt one day after. 

In response to Heslin’s motion, Jones’s team filed a notice of appeal, arguing that their motion to dismiss was overruled by operation of law.

However, in last week’s ruling, the Texas Court of Appeals found that his team’s motion to dismiss “was not overruled by operation of law, but instead remained pending in the district court when Appellants filed the notice of appeal, which stayed the court’s proceedings.”

“Because the motion remained pending in the district court, there is no order that could support an interlocutory appeal, and we must dismiss this appeal,” the court wrote.

“We agree with Heslin that the district court has not yet ruled on Appellants’ motion to dismiss, nor has the motion been overruled by operation of law,” the court added in its conclusion. “Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.”

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