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Attorneys face questions about confidential records shared in Sandy Hook lawsuit

H John Voorhees III/Hearst Connecticut Media
Taking the 5th Amendment, attorney Norm Pattis appears on the witness stand during a show-cause hearing in Waterbury Superior Court, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022.

Attorneys defending Infowars host Alex Jones in Connecticut and Texas faced questions Thursday about their roles in the improper sharing of records marked “highly confidential.”

A Connecticut judge is holding disciplinary hearings in a Waterbury, Connecticut, courtroom to get to the bottom of how a file wrongly ended up in the possession of the law firm of Jones’ Texas attorney Andino Reynal.

The file is believed to contain confidential psychiatric records and depositions from a first responder and families of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

On Thursday, the attorney who’s accused of starting it all took the 5th Amendment in court.

“I’m asserting my rights as previously stated,” Jones’ attorney in Connecticut, Norm Pattis, said repeatedly when asked questions about sharing information that opposing counsel said was labeled “highly confidential.”

Judge Barbara Bellis called Pattis’ taking the 5th in a disciplinary hearing “unusual to say the least.” She asked his attorneys and opposing counsel in the proceedings to brief her about Pattis’ responses Thursday.

Following the trail of the file: ‘CT Sandy Hook offload’

Jones has been sued in Connecticut and Texas for defamation after repeatedly claiming the December 2012 shooting was a hoax.

During a recently completed trial in Texas, Jones was ordered to pay $45 million in punitive damages to the parents of Sandy Hook school shooting victim Jesse Lewis – although due to Texas laws regarding punitive damages, parents Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis may see only a fraction of that.

But the trial also highlighted something else: confidential records sent in error.

During the Texas trial, the plaintiffs’ attorney, Mark Bankston, revealed that a law firm representing Jones mistakenly shared two years’ worth of Jones’ text messages and the confidential psychiatric records of families suing Jones in Connecticut.

Bankston said Jones’ Texas attorneys must have gotten those records – which he said he destroyed – from Pattis.

H John Voorhees III/Hearst Connecticut Media
Alex Jones' Texas attorney, Andino Reynal, appears before Judge Barbara Bellis during a show-cause hearing for attorney Norm Pattis in Waterbury Superior Court.

The trail of the files, which were stored in a folder called “CT Sandy Hook offload,” goes from Pattis to a Texas bankruptcy attorney and then to Andino Reynal, whom Jones hired as a defense attorney in the Texas lawsuit.

Reynal says that back in June, the bankruptcy attorney handed him a white external hard drive. But the bankruptcy attorney said he did that at Reynal’s request. Reynal said Thursday he doesn’t remember doing that.

“I’m not saying it couldn’t have happened – it could have – I’m saying I don’t remember that conversation,” Reynal said.

He said he didn’t look at what was in the files until “everything blew up.”

“It was incredibly embarrassing,” Reynal said about learning of the improper record sharing.

H John Voorhees III/Hearst Connecticut Media
"It was incredibly embarrassing," Alex Jones' attorney Andino Reynal said about learning that confidential files had been shared in error. His testimony came during a show-cause hearing for attorney Norm Pattis in Waterbury Superior Court, Aug, 25, 2022.

Attorneys for Jones in Connecticut requested medical records from the plaintiffs last year. Pattis hasn’t said whether those were the files sent on the hard drive to the bankruptcy lawyer in Texas.

He’s denied any misconduct.

No ruling was made Thursday. Bellis asked attorneys to submit briefs in response to certain answers she heard during the hearings. She’s also requested closing arguments. Those are scheduled for Sept. 1.

The Connecticut lawsuit is in the middle of jury selection. Six of six jurors and one of four alternates have been accepted by both sides. Evidence in the trial will be presented beginning Sept. 13.

The story has been updated.

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