The Justice Department and attorneys for families of victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting are questioning the legitimacy of attempts by right-wing talk show host Alex Jones to put several businesses in his media empire into bankruptcy just as a trial was set to open in Texas, where he faced the possibility of being ordered to pay millions of dollars in damages.
Both the families and a Justice Department office asked a federal bankruptcy judge in Houston to put off an initial, emergency hearing scheduled for Friday morning to address Chapter 11 filings earlier this week by three entities linked to Jones’ Infowars brand: InfoW, IW Health and Prison Planet TV.
The requests to delay the hearing said that the bankruptcy filings seemed designed to halt long-standing defamation litigation in Texas and Connecticut over Jones’ bizarre claims that the 20 children and six adults killed in the shocking 2012 elementary school shooting had somehow staged their own deaths and that their families were “crisis actors.”
The Justice Department’s Office of the U.S. Trustee told Judge Christopher Lopez the structure of Jones’ filing “may demonstrate these cases are an abuse of the bankruptcy system.” The government submission questioned why Jones had not filed for personal bankruptcy and why another business he controls, Free Speech Systems, was not included in the filings earlier this week.
“Why didn’t Alex Jones or FSS file for bankruptcy relief when Debtors did? They are both defendants in the same litigation as Debtors, and all of them have been found liable in those cases,” attorneys Jayson Ruff and Ha Nguyen wrote for the Justice Department unit. “It appears that Jones intends to leverage the bankruptcy filings of his holding companies to extend the automatic stays of pending litigation against Debtors to him and FSS, while he maintains full control of FSS and its assets going forward. Thus, this Motion … seems to be just the first step for Debtors to carry out Jones’s and FSS’s scheme of avoiding the burdens of bankruptcy while reaping its benefits.”
Lawyers for the Sandy Hook families made similar arguments that Jones is making an “illegitimate” attempt to dodge or delay the financial consequences of his false claims about the 2012 attack.
“What Jones and his affiliates want to avoid is the wisdom of juries that would have liquidated his liability and the liability of his affiliates,” the families’ attorneys wrote.
A lawyer for Jones’ businesses did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the moves to delay Friday’s hearing or the claims that Jones is unfairly manipulating the bankruptcy system.
The bankruptcy declaration also comes as Jones has begun offering himself up to the Justice Department to testify about his knowledge of events leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.