A state authority in Connecticut is pushing for multi-month suspensions from practicing law in the state for two lawyers involved in the representation of far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who is now responsible for nearly $1.5 billion in damages in Connecticut alone in connection to lies he told about the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Jones helped propagate the conspiracy theory that the shooting didn’t actually happen as reported. The delusional idea was that the incident actually constituted a so-called false flag operation in furtherance of a push for gun control. Over the decade since the obviously very real incident took place, family members of victims have faced incessant harassment. In a Texas trial, a parent of one of those killed described how a stranger showed up at a family residence on Christmas and started taking pictures, and in the Connecticut proceedings, another parent of a victim explained there was a threat of digging up his son’s grave. Amid some recently concluded proceedings dealing with the level of financial damages to impose, medical records for individuals on the plaintiffs’ side in the Connecticut case were eventually improperly exposed, and it’s in connection to that incident that Connecticut Chief Disciplinary Counsel Brian B. Staines is recommending sanctions.
Whether to impose the recommended punishments on Jones’s lawyers Norm Pattis and Andino Reynal will ultimately be the decision of Connecticut Judge Barbara Bellis, who handled the recently concluded damages trial in the state. Staines pushed a six-month suspension for Pattis and a three-month suspension in Connecticut for Reynal. Ahead of the proceedings, Bellis found Jones liable by default for failing to appropriately comply with the process of disclosing relevant information ahead of trial, so the eventual proceedings only dealt with how much to make Jones pay rather than his underlying guilt.
The improperly disclosed medical records were originally provided to Pattis, who subsequently transferred a cache of data to a lawyer representing Jones in bankruptcy proceedings. That lawyer passed materials to Reynal, and on Reynal’s team, somebody accidentally provided a rather comprehensive copy of Jones’s entire phone — and the disputed records — to plaintiffs’ team in the Texas proceedings dealing with Jones’s lies. The Texas plaintiffs’ team promptly erased those records. Despite an initial revelation to Reynal of the disclosure, he initially took no substantive legal action to shield what was accidentally transferred. Issues leading to the disclosure, including that the bankruptcy lawyer representing Jones wasn’t informed of the protected nature of the computer hard drive contents they were provided, appear to hinge on recklessness rather than documented malicious intent. “Staines concluded that Pattis violated five rules of conduct, including those involving competence and fairness, as well as a state law that protects medical records,” the Hartford Courant says.