Washington (AFP) - A Texas judge on Thursday denied a request for a mistrial by Alex Jones after his lawyers mistakenly turned over the far-right conspiracy theorist's cellphone records to the opposing attorneys.
"I don't think it's a mistrial based on this," Judge Maya Guerra Gamble told an emergency hearing called to discuss the inadvertent release of the material by Jones' lawyers.
A jury is currently weighing how much in damages Jones should pay for claiming that the massacre of 20 children and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a "hoax."
Jones, founder of the website InfoWars and host of a popular radio show, has been found liable in multiple defamation lawsuits brought by parents of the victims of the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
The case being heard in Austin, Texas, is the first of the defamation cases against Jones to reach the damages phase.
The 48-year-old Jones claimed for years on his show and website that the Sandy Hook shooting was "staged" by gun control activists but has since acknowledged it was "100 percent real."
The Texas case was brought by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose six-year-old son Jesse Lewis was among the children slain by a 20-year-old gunman in the worst-ever school shooting in the United States.
During the final day of testimony on Wednesday, Mark Bankston, a lawyer for the parents, told Jones while he was on the witness stand that his attorneys had "messed up."
"They sent me an entire digital copy of your entire cellphone with every text message you've sent for the past two years, and when informed did not take any steps to identify it as privileged or protected in any way," Bankston said.
'Do you know what perjury is?'
Bankston noted that Jones had repeatedly said under oath that a search of his cellphone had not produced any text messages about Sandy Hook, but there were indeed such messages in the records he accidentally received.
"Do you know what perjury is?" Bankston asked Jones.
Arguing for a mistrial, F. Andino Reynal, a lawyer for Jones, said he had followed up the mistaken release of the records with an email saying "Please disregard."
"'Please disregard' creates no legal duty on me whatsoever," Bankston countered."None."
Bankston said "various federal agencies" had asked for the phone records along with the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol by supporters of former president Donald Trump.
Trump appeared frequently on Jones' radio show during his 2016 White House campaign and the InfoWars founder was in Washington when supporters of the then-president stormed Congress in a bid to prevent certification of Democrat Joe Biden's election victory.
Jones has also testified to the committee behind closed doors.
Heslin and Lewis, the parents of Jesse, are seeking compensatory damages of at least $150 million from Jones.
InfoWars declared bankruptcy in April and another company owned by Jones, Free Speech Systems, filed for bankruptcy last week.