Alex Jones’ Lawyers Can’t Blame Paralegal for Sharing His Texts!

A new episode of Opening Argument, my reported column delving into innovative legal topics and unraveling disagreements that are separating appellate courts, is here. Look at whether Alex Jones lawyer could be reprimanded for accidentally sending over years’ worth of his client’s text messages to the opposition attorney today.

If the defamation case against Alex Jones Lawyer teaches anything, it’s that you can’t put the blame on the paralegal.

After opposing counsel disclosed in a made-for-TV cross-examination that Andino Reynal had “messed up” by releasing a digital copy of Jones’s whole cell phone with every text message he’s written over the last two years,” Reynal wanted to do that for Alex Jones Lawyer. A lawyer for the plaintiffs claims that after being made aware of the situation, Reynal and his colleagues failed to label the data as confidential, which demonstrated that Jones lied about not having any texts about the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, as claimed by Bankston.

Less than 24 hours after the harrowing courtroom scenes had concluded, the jury ruled that InfoWars host Alex Jones must pay Sandy Hook victim’s parents $4.11 million in compensatory damages for spreading lies about the 2012 shooting’s hoax. A day later, the jury increased the punitive damages to $45.2 million. If the texts were accidentally sent by a paralegal, Reynal might now be disciplined for this major oversight, even though he filed an emergency motion the following day. An attorney’s privilege is protected in Texas if he or she states within 10 days of discovering the error that the material is private, which is a “snap back” provision.

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The Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct hold attorneys accountable for their own and their subordinates’ mistakes, according to former Texas appellate court judge and trial lawyer John G. Browning. It’s not unusual for an attorney who is less technologically savvy to have younger attorneys, non-legal personnel, or even outside contractors assist them in electronic discovery, he added. There is no way around the fact that they must supervise and ensure that this is done correctly.

A 2019 change to Texas’ disciplinary standards clarifies for lawyers that being educated about the advantages and risks of the technology they use is part of being a qualified lawyer. To use technology effectively in your business, you must be fluent in it yourself or have someone working with you who is, according to Browning. “That doesn’t mean every lawyer needs to rush out and learn how to code,” Browning said.

Typically, the Texas State Bar receives a complaint from a client, but judges and opposing counsel can also bring a case against a lawyer. As long as the inaccuracy had no bearing on the case’s substance, said New York personal injury lawyer Eric Turkewitz, the judge wouldn’t have given a hoot.

It’s important, but I don’t know how much,” he remarked.

A Connecticut judge ordered Reynal and Jones’ other attorney Norman Pattis to show cause as to whether or not they should be referred to disciplinary authorities for the “purported release of medical records of the plaintiffs” that Bankston told Bloomberg Law were part of that data dump in a separate lawsuit against Jones. Reynal clarified in an email that the data in question did not cover a period of two years, as had been reported.

From mid-July 2019 to early 2020, he claimed, “It was eight months of text messages.” Ediscovery is a complex process, and the stakes can be extremely high if your team commits an error. Afterward, he pointed Bloomberg Law to the motion he filed in Texas court. After receiving an email from Reynal saying there was a “mistake in the file transfer” and instructing Bankston to “disregard,” Reynal filed an emergency motion to seal the file on August 4, alleging that Bankston had breached various privileges, including attorney-client privileges and work product privileges, by opening the file.

Later that day, the judge rejected the motion.

Jones might possibly sue his lawyers for malpractice, but Professor Leslie Levin of the University of Connecticut School of Law said it would be difficult for Jones to prevail. If he hadn’t acted this way, she added, “he would have won the case.” But he can’t establish that because of this conduct. Whatever happens, this is a terrible mistake. Professors of law will continue to discuss evidence and professional accountability for years to come, according to Levin. Because it’s so infrequent,