The mission of the Connecticut Judicial Branch is to serve the interests of justice and the public by resolving matters brought before it in a fair, timely, efficient and open manner.

Tort Law Supreme Court Opinion

by Booth, George


SC20327 - Lafferty v. Jones (Defamation; "This public interest appeal presents the opportunity to consider the scope of a trial court's inherent authority to sanction a party to litigation for his or her remarks about the case in light of that party's right to free speech under the first amendment to the United States constitution. The plaintiffs in these cases, a first responder and family members of those killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, brought these actions against the defendants, Alex Emric Jones and several of his affiliated corporate entities, claiming that statements made on Jones' radio show advancing certain conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook shooting were tortious in nature. The defendants appeal from the orders of the trial court sanctioning them by revoking their opportunity to pursue the special motions to dismiss provided by Connecticut's anti-SLAPP statute, General Statutes § 52-196a, issued after the trial court found that the defendants had violated numerous discovery orders and that Jones personally had engaged in harassing and intimidating behavior directed at the plaintiffs' counsel, Attorney Christopher Mattei. On appeal, the defendants claim, inter alia, that the trial court (1) improperly sanctioned the defendants because Jones' speech was protected under the first amendment, and (2) abused its discretion in sanctioning the defendants because the trial court improperly permitted discovery that exceeded the limited scope contemplated by § 52-196a (d). The defendants also claim that the trial court violated their due process rights by failing to afford them sufficient notice and a meaningful opportunity to be heard before issuing the sanctions orders. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the trial court's sanctions orders.")