Thu, Aug 25, 2022 8:03 PM
WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — A lawyer for c onspiracy theorist Alex Jones invoked his right against self-incrimination Thursday during a civil court hearing in Connecticut over the possible improper disclosure of confidential medical records of relatives of some of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims.
New Haven-based attorney Norman Pattis refused to answer questions citing his Fifth Amendment rights during a hearing on whether he should be disciplined for giving the confidential records to unauthorized persons — other lawyers for Jones in Texas. He has denied any wrongdoing. A judge did not decide Thursday if any discipline is warranted.
The hearing was connected to a Connecticut lawsuit filed by Sandy Hook families against Jones for calling the 2012 shooting that killed 20 children and six educators in Newtown a hoax. State Judge Barabara Bellis in Waterbury found Jones liable for damages in November 2021 and a jury trial over how much he should pay is scheduled to begin next month.
Bellis, who oversaw Thursday's hearing, said it was “unusual” for a lawyer to invoke the Fifth Amendment during a disciplinary hearing.
One of Jones's Texas-based lawyers, Andino Reynal, also testified before Bellis on Thursday as he also faces possible discipline over the records disclosure. Reynal said he was surprised and embarrassed when he found out about the disclosure.
“It was the worst day of my legal career," he said.
Reynal represented Jones during a trial in Austin, Texas — where Jones and his Infowars web show are based — in a similar lawsuit over his claims the school shooting was a hoax. That trial ended earlier this month when a jury awarded the parents of one of the children killed in the massacre nearly $50 million in damages. Reynal has said Jones will appeal the verdicts.
According to court documents and testimony, Pattis sent a large number of records from the Connecticut defamation case within the past month to a third lawyer for Jones who represented Jones' companies in a bankruptcy case. That lawyer then sent the records to Reynal, who in turn gave the records to the attorney who represented the Sandy Hook parents in the Texas trial.
The documents were given to Pattis by lawyers representing Sandy Hook families in the Connecticut case as part of discovery. It has not been made clear what the documents included. But lawyers associated with the case have said there were some folders with titles suggesting they included confidential medical records of the Sandy Hook plaintiffs.
The records also apparently included texts from Jones' cellphone. In a surprise move during the Texas trial, the Sandy Hook parents' lawyer, Mark Bankston, revealed that Reynal had mistakenly sent him the records, including Jones' texts. Reynal said Thursday that he didn't look at the records before sending them to Bankston.
Bankston reportedly has sent Jones' phone records to the U.S. House committee examining the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot that sought to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election. The panel's chairman has accused Jones of helping to organize a rally near the Capitol that preceded the insurrection.