Posted May 15, 2020. To settle a pandemic-related financial crisis at UMass Dartmouth, law faculty are not receiving research compensation in summer 2020. I will be away from my desk, May 16 to August 15. Blog posts will be sparse, and I will not receive email. On the upside, summer 🌞! If you need to reach me, please send a message through the faculty assistants’ office (Ms. Cain and Ms. Rittenhouse). Stay thirsty.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Conn. high court hears argument after non-dismissal of Sandy Hook parent suit against Alex Jones

As reported in my Sandy Hook update a couple of weeks ago, today was the day for Connecticut Supreme Court oral arguments over a discovery dispute in the Alex Jones case.  The Connecticut Supreme Court usually gets audio up within a day.  Check here. [UPDATE: Now posted and embedded below.]


Alex Jones (by Sean P. Anderson CC BY 2.0)
This is the defamation lawsuit against Jones and InfoWars brought by Sandy Hook parents for the broadcasters' assertions that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax, perpetrated in media with the help of "crisis actors."  Megyn Kelly, making her mark after jumping ship from Fox, (in)famously interviewed Jones on this matter in 2017.  You can watch that weird-meets-weirder interview at NBC.  Kelly and NBC managed to infuriate both Jones and Sandy Hook advocates.  The latter objected to giving Jones the platform to sell his brand of crazy and included a few paragraphs on the interview under the "Campaign of Abuse" heading in the May 2018 complaint.

The case is Lafferty v. Jones, No. UWY-CV18-6046436-S.  The complaint is available from the Connecticut docket.  Besides defamation and defamation per se, plaintiffs claim false light, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, deceptive trade practices under statute, and civil conspiracy on the common law claims.  After removal to and return from federal court, the Connecticut trial court allowed limited discovery over the defense's anti-SLAPP motion.  Thus we are in Hartford.

News coverage so far is lackluster.  "Lawyer Norman Pattis told the Connecticut Supreme Court on Thursday that Jones exercised his free speech rights," Dave Collins wrote for The AP (e.g., via WaPo) this afternoon.  To be fair, this appeal focuses on a discovery compliance dispute, which is tangled up in First Amendment considerations, but does not squarely present the anti-SLAPP problem.  The Hartford Courant has more detail on the merits and procedural posture.

Meanwhile...


Also as reported earlier, the Sandy Hook gun manufacturer liability suit against Remington is pending with a defense cert. petition in the U.S. Supreme Court, since the Connecticut Supreme Court allowed plaintiffs a narrow theory to circumnavigate Remington's federal statutory immunity under the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (at The Savory Tort). That case is now Remington Arms Co. v. Soto, No. 18-A-1185.

Amici in Remington Arms piled in to the Court on September 3 and 4 and are collected on the case page at SCOTUSblog.  The NRA, 22 members of the U.S. House, the State of Texas, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the Gun Owners of America, and Professors of Second Amendment Law filed briefs.  The latter comprise "Randy Barnett (Georgetown), Royce Barondes (Missouri), Robert Cottrol (George Washington), Nicholas Johnson (Fordham), Joyce Malcolm (George Mason), George Mocsary (Southern Illinois), Michael O’Shea (Oklahoma City), Joseph Olson (Mitchell Hamline), Glenn Reynolds (Tennessee), Eugene Volokh (UCLA), and Gregory Wallace (Campbell)," with counsel for the Firearms Policy Coalition, the Independence Institute, and the Cato Institute submitting the brief.

Oral Argument in Lafferty


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