Alex Jones’ attorney, who is engulfed in a legal storm over the inadvertent release of his client’s mobile phone records, acknowledged the difficulties of electronic discovery on Monday.
In an email to Bloomberg Law, Andino Reynal reiterated that the disclosure to opposing counsel was made in error, and pushed back on statements and reports on the length of time covered by the data.
The revelation of the disclosure came Aug. 3 in a Texas courtroom during the defamation lawsuit parents of a Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim brought against Jones, the InforWars radio show host.
“Ediscovery is complicated and the stakes are very high when your team makes an inadvertent mistake,” Reynal, of the Reynal Law Firm in Houston, said in the email.
The jury on Friday ordered Jones to pay $45.2 million in punitive damages to the parents of a Sandy Hook victim, a day after he was ordered to pay $4.1 million in actual damages for claiming that the 2012 Connecticut school shooting was a hoax.
Attorneys and legal scholars have said Reynal could face professional discipline over the data snafu even though he filed an emergency motion to claw back the texts, saying they’d been inadvertently sent by a paralegal.
Texas amended its disciplinary rules in 2019 to make clear to attorneys that being knowledgeable about the benefits and risks of the technology they use is part of being a competent lawyer.
University of Connecticut Law Professor Leslie Levin said the matter “could go to discipline and the state bar will probably feel compelled to address the issue if a complaint comes in.”
“The truth is, though, the biggest sanction has probably already happened,” she said, which is that people saw what Jones’ lawyer did in a very public way.
Mark Bankston, the attorney for the parents who sued Jones, said in court Reynal had “messed up” by sending him a digital copy of Jones’s entire cell phone with every text message he’s sent over the past two years. The data had been handed over during electronic discovery.
Reynal sought to correct the record in his email Monday. “It was not two years of text messages as has been reported,” he said. “It was eight months of text messages, from mid-July 2019 to early 2020.”
He directed a reporter to an emergency motion to seal the file, which Bankston contended was frivolous. Judge Maya Guerra Gamble of the 459th District Court in Travis County denied the motion and another for a mistrial.
Separately, a Connecticut judge has ordered Reynal and Jones’ other attorney, Norman Pattis, to show cause as to whether they should be referred to disciplinary authorities for the “purported release of medical records of the plaintiffs” that Bankston confirmed was part of the data dump.
Pattis said he does not believe that discipline is warranted.
“Our office shared with other lawyers representing Jones discovery material. We believe we acted appropriately and did not violate a rule.” Pattis told Bloomberg Law in an email Friday.
—With assistance from