Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, whose 6-year-old son Noah Pozner was one of 19 first-graders murdered in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, are suing Alex Jones for defamation Wednesday in a courtroom in Austin. They won't be in court, partly due to safety concerns — the couple says they've been forced to move seven times since 2012 because devotees of Jones' Infowars media empire have tracked them down and published their address after every move. Infowars has repeatedly pushed the false conspiracy theory that Sandy Hook was a hoax perpetrated by gun control advocates and De La Rosa is a "crisis actor" in on the plot.
Jones wants the defamation case, and a separate one scheduled to start Thursday in the same Austin courthouse, "dismissed under the Texas Citizens Participation Act, which protects citizens' right to free speech against plaintiffs who aim to silence them through costly litigation," The New York Times reports. "Jones is seeking more than $100,000 in court costs from the Pozner family." The second defamation case was brought by Marcel Fontaine, who Infowars falsely identified as the gunman in February's mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Nine Sandy Hook families have filed a third suit against Jones in Connecticut.
In court filings, Pozner recounts that after he successfully got YouTube to pull an Infowar video in 2015, "Mr. Jones went on an angry rant about me for nearly an hour" then "showed his audience my personal information and maps to addresses associated with my family." In 2016, an Infowars fan was arrested for repeatedly threatening to kill Pozner. Jones' lawyer argues that Jones' conspiracy theories are constitutionally protected opinions and that Pozner and De La Rosa are public figures because they publicly advocate against spreading lies online and for banning assault rifles. If the judge agrees they are public figures, Pozner and De La Rosa will have to prove actual malice, a higher bar. Peter Weber
Salt Lake City resident Sean Kendall's dog, Geist, was shot and killed by a police officer searching for a missing child in 2014. Following local uproar, the city offered Kendall a $10,000 settlement, which he rejected, arguing that "It would be like, 'For $10,000 you can break into my backyard and kill my dog.' That's not right."
But if he wants to sue the cop responsible for Geist's death, Kendall will need much, much more than $10,000. That's because Utah law requires anyone who wants to sue the police to pay the officer's court costs and attorney fees up front — a bill that could easily run into the tens of thousands, and which would only be reimbursed should Kendall win his case.
Kendall's attorney, former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, argues this requirement "severely undermines the rule of law, while letting abusive law-enforcement officers off the hook for their violations of the state constitution and other state legal protections." Kendall currently awaits a court ruling on whether the legal fees law is unconstitutional. Bonnie Kristian