Neil Heslin is the father of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis–one of the 20 children killed during the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012. Six adults also lost their lives as a result of that massacre.
Jones and Infowars are named defendants in Heslin’s defamation lawsuit, which claims that he and other Sandy Hook parents have endured years of online abuse from Jones’s followers after the Infowars host repeatedly claimed the shooting was a hoax and that the grieving parents were “crisis actors” brought in by unknown forces to preen in a state of mourning for television news cameras.
An additional Infowars employee named Owen Shroyer is also named as a defendant in the civil action.
In response to the lawsuit, Jones filed a dismissal based on the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA)–which protects Texas residents from frivolous lawsuits.
News of the attempted memory-holing led Heslin to file for an expedited discovery order and for sanctions against Jones. After a bit of legal back-and-forth, Jones was granted additional time to comply with court orders but eventually signaled that he had no intent to cooperate with Heslin’s discovery request.
After that, Heslin filed a motion of contempt against Infowars–and Infowars followed up one day later by filing an appeal based on an odd and ultimately rejected legal argument.
Jared Holt at Right Wing Watch noted as follows:
Lawyers for Infowars argued that because defendants had appeared in court regarding their motion to dismiss, they were not required to comply with the discovery process. The Texas Court of Appeals disagreed with Infowars’ interpretation of Texas law and tossed the appeal.
“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. Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction,” Judge Gisela Triana wrote in her opinion.
On August 30, the Texas Court of Appeals for the Third District in Austin ruled against Jones and Infowars–ordering him to “pay all costs relating to this appeal, both in this Court and in the court below.”
The upshot here is that Jones’s appeal of Heslin’s defamation suit is finally and totally over and the basic case will be sent back down to the trial court in Travis County–the liberal county in which Jones himself lives and where the Infowars network is based.
“Mr. Heslin is very pleased with the decision of the Court of Appeals dismissing InfoWars’ appeal and ordering Mr. Jones to pay costs. After InfoWars wasted everyone’s time on a frivolous appeal, we can now return to the trial court where we intend to hold Mr. Jones fully accountable for his disgusting defamation of Mr. Heslin,” attorney Mark Bankston said.
Jones is currently being sued by nine separate families of people who were killed during the Sandy Hook shootings. Previous attempts to have other such lawsuits dismissed also met with legal failure.
[image via Alex Wong/Getty Images]