it is not. it is one of the worst disgraces of us "justice" in recent memory. that's more because of how the court proceedings were handled than any defense of jones per se'.
there were numerous serious problems with this case/trial, rarely seen in any normal us court proceeding:
- texas defamation law requires timely notice for retraction of defamation claims/chance to retract. that didn't happen in this case.
- jones never had a proper trial where he could defend himself on the merits. he was given a "summary judgment", despite many hours of deposition and information turned over, because he could not produce social media analytics. he claimed he did not have them. summary judgment against defendant in this context is both extraordinary and alarming. there are only a few cases in us history that used this despite defendant producing information, and they are nothing like this.
- defamation requires the person(s) defamed be specific or inferred specific. iirc, this has historically meant <25 people. there were more sandy hook victims than that
- this case ignores the majority of jones' speech on sandy hook, which acknowledged the shooting and was instead doing a conspiracy theory about the government not trying hard to stop these events so it can use them as fuel to ban guns. that's not a particularly ethical position to take either, but it conflicts with the accusations in the case and was blocked from ever being heard in court on the merits, again.
- thus, defamation would almost certainly fail on the merits. the more interesting claim is intentional infliction of emotional distress:
- jones was told what he could and could not say on the stand, even before this jury which was already handed the conclusion he was guilty.
- that includes ridiculous things, such as talking about the fact that he apologized. judge in this case informed jury to ignore that he apologized as a mitigating factor, in defiance of texas law which explicitly says it is a mitigating factor
- the numbers for damages in this trial are looney toons
- same as defamation above, jones was denied due process for this case to be heard on the merits.
- making this situation even worse:
- appellate court is similarly corrupt and will likely deny and try to block a stay on paying the money while this goes to appeal.
- jones' lawyers sending his cell phone information, and its use by prosecution, were both unethical actions that could (in more sane courts) result in mistrial. there's a high chance jones can pin malpractice on his lawyers and make them eat the court-awarded looney toons damages instead.
it should not matter if you like jones or think he's a complete cretin. this court is kangaroo to the levels i would normally expect only out of bad family courts. this process of "justice" is a threat to literally every american. saying things the government disagrees with is not defamation. conspiracy theories are not "defamation".
??? that's not even alleged here. fwiw, he advocated against the riots on jan. 6, claiming it was a setup, even as it was happening. us government practices since them lent him more credibility than he should have had in saying that.
either way, there is significant misinformation about what jones supposedly did here and how the trial has actually happened/progressed. he was found guilty before even having a trial. this was to decide the money he had to pay out, and even in this context he was restricted in what he could say.
i would imagine that if jones were really guilty of the things accused, it would not require trampling multiple rights explicitly granted in the bill of rights in order to pin crazy damages on him. by the standards given in this case, we'd have expected the sandman case to outright sink multiple major media outlets...
First I will admit I have not followed the case closely, but in perusing the documents filed by the parties and orders by the judge (and appellate courts) and my knowledge of Texas law and experience in litigating in Texas, including defamation claims, I have to respectfully disagree with some of the above.
In a Texas defamation case, the defendant files an answer and there is a special motion to dismiss phase that has some statutory deadlines. In the defendants' answer and in their motion to dismiss, they did not appear to claim they did not receive a demand to retract. In fact, it would be odd, given the publicity of the case and the competence of the attorneys involved for such a t to not be crossed.
Second, while a portion of a case or sometimes an entire case is very commonly decided by summary judgment (in Texas, in most states, and in Federal Court), that does not appear to be what happened here. Jones was found liable in a default judgment. The default judgment was reached after Jones had numerous opportunities to fulfill his discovery response obligations which he failed to do. He took advantage of interlocutory appeal on this issue and lost there. He was not stripped of due process rights as this is the way the court systems work in the United States.
In a defamation case, the alleged defamatory statements can be placed in context, but it would be in the context of the forum they were published and Jones would not necessarily be able to bring in everything he ever said in other contexts. You would normally review a broadcast in the context of what a viewer or listener would take away from that particular broadcast.
Apology is generally not a mitigating factor and to the extent it is, its timing and forum would be considered.
As to the appeals court being corrupt, Jones has every opportunity to take this to the Texas Supreme Court that has been all-Republican since 1999 has has set down a good portion of the defamation and discovery-abuse precedents that befuddled Jones' defense.
As to the targeted, the group that Jones' allegedly defamed was a closed universe and this was not a class action. Specific plaintiffs brought claims. As Jones' own Motion to Dismiss points out, the named plaintiff was a relatively high profile member of the closed universe of potential plaintiffs of Jones' alleged defamatory statements.
This was a civil case, so guilty is the wrong word to use. The word would be liable.
Without reading the trial transcripts, it is not uncommon for a witness to be limited on what they can say. In this case, there was a Motion in Limine that was filed pre-trial and hearings on the extent that testimony could be limited or not allowed without a specific ruling from the judge. Again, fairly standard stuff that has roots in English common law and the founding of our country and framing of the Constitution.
The damages are steep and will likely be cut back as is also common. There is great distrust of juries in Texas on damages, because that usually hurts the people feeding money to the legislators and judges (who have to run for office in Texas and raise campaign funds).