|Alex Jones Civil Trial
Since I did not get an opportunity to share my thoughts on the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial, I thought I would give my thoughts on a more recent newsworthy case involving Alex Jones. I do not want to go into any political discussions here – this is solely about what this type of case involves so you can discuss around the “water cooler”.The jury rendered a compensatory verdict of $4.1 million to the parents who sued Alex Jones for defamation. Compensatory damages are meant to compensate the plaintiffs (the parents) for the harms (damages) they alleged Jones caused. The jury heard evidence from both sides and made a fair market appraisal of what was taken. Essentially, the jury’s job is to balance the scales of justice.
The punitive damages of $45.2 million will be reduced because of Texas’s cap on this type of damages but it is still a strong message. Punitive damages are meant to punish and deter this type of conduct by this particular defendant (Jones) and others like him. This is an important distinction – the jury heard the evidence and clearly and convincingly felt Jones’ conduct was unacceptable and they wanted to send him a message.
A huge bombshell was when the lawyer for the parents was cross-examining Jones and it came to light Jones’ attorneys messed up by accidentally sending over ALL of Jones’ text messages (instead of what was likely going to be just a few, relevant texts). Typically, the recipient of accidental disclosure (the parents’ lawyer) has a duty to notify the other party (Jones’ lawyer) he made a mistake and Jones’ lawyer is supposed to advise the parents’ lawyer to immediately discontinue reviewing and discard/delete the information. Moreover, in this particular case, Jones’ lawyer should have invoked the attorney/client privilege and notified the other side of the accidental disclosure, in which case the judge would likely have ruled the texts are not admissible. Instead, by failing to do anything, Jones’ lawyer opened up Jones to cross-examination which impeached (showed he lied) prior statements on the stand. This also opened Jones up to liability in other cases which are currently pending. Jones’ lawyer is almost certainly in trouble ethically and may be open to a legal malpractice case, as well as reputational harm.