by Jacqueline Thomson
(Reuters) – Lawyers defending conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in a Texas trial made his own national headlines this week for handing over highly sensitive data to his opponents, leaving him open to potential legal consequences.
Houston attorney Federico Andino Renal admitted that Jones’ legal team provided lawyers for the parents of a child killed in a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School with a digital copy of the InfoWars founder’s phone contents , which included text messages and medical records.
The disclosure was made public by the parents’ attorney in a dramatic exchange with Jones as the trial drew to a close.
According to court documents and lawyers after the trial, the revelation may have uncovered sanctions to Renal in a separate case, as well as the possibility of claims of misconduct by Jones. Randy Johnston, a legal malpractice attorney in Dallas, said Jones could file a malpractice claim against his attorneys, but would have to prove that he would have had a better outcome from the Texas trial if the phone information had not been provided.
“Any complaint he would make is, essentially, ‘But to my lawyers, I would have been a successful liar,’” Johnston said.
Renal told Reuters on Friday that his focus was “always on the jury and on putting forward the best case for Alex.” He said the sanctions sought against him could be for “strategic advantage” by his opponents.
Jones could not immediately be contacted for comment. An Austin jury on Friday awarded parents $45.2 million in punitive damages for falsifying the 2012 massacre against Jones, on top of a $4.1 million compensatory damages ruling the day before.
A judge in Austin on Thursday rejected a bid by Renal to save phone records and denied his request for a false test on disclosure.
A Connecticut state judge on Thursday ordered overseeing another Sandy Hook defamation case against Jones, sending Renal and another Jones attorney, Norm Pattis, to a hearing later this month for Sandy Hook plaintiffs’ medicals. Ban or other discipline on the “alleged” unauthorized release of record.
Pattis did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Renal’s small Houston law firm primarily handles criminal defense cases in state and federal courts.
She successfully defended former Miss Venezuela Carmen María Montiel before being charged with assault against a flight attendant in 2013. A jury acquitted him in 2015.
Montiel, now a Republican candidate for Congress, said his daughter, who wants to be a lawyer, is under house arrest with Renal. Montiel said he “always does what’s best for his customers.”
Renal also represented Cody Wilson, who ran the 3-D Printed Gun Company. Wilson was charged with sexual assault in 2018 and later pleaded guilty to lesser charges. Wilson told Reuters on Friday that Renal had “an impossible task” in the Jones case, but represented Jones “as much as he could.”
Prior to starting his firm, Renal was an assistant US attorney for the Southern District of Texas. Earlier he practiced at the law firm Baker Bots, according to his LinkedIn profile. Texas State Bar Records does not state any public disciplinary proceedings against him.
Johnston said that the information on Jones’ phone related to the Sandy Hook claims should have been provided to the plaintiffs prior to the trial, as part of a court-monitored process known as discovery. Once Jones’ attorneys learned they had accidentally shared phone records, they should have at least warned Jones before being on the stand, he said.
Johnson said Sandy Hook parents could ask for a ban against attorneys and possibly Jones for failing to share the relevant part of the phone data first, and there could be a court investigation into whether the other information could be shared. was not properly disclosed.
Following Friday’s ruling, plaintiffs’ attorney Mark Bankston told Judge Maya Guerra Gamble that he would seek a ban against Jones’ attorneys on three counts, including telling the jury that their decision could affect other people’s legal, protected speech. Will do
At the end of Friday’s proceedings, Renal told Gamble that he inadvertently learned of the phone disclosure while Jones was testifying on Wednesday.
“That’s not true,” the judge responded, telling Renal that she had given him an email showing he was conscious 12 days earlier. “This is our position,” Renal said, laughing at the judge.
(Reporting by Jacqueline Thomson in Washington; Editing by David Barrio, Amy Stevens and Kim Coghill)