A CT judge versus a CT lawyer: Their war of words trade accusations about ‘aggressive lawyers’ and ‘protecting the public.’

A war of words between Alex Jones lawyer Norm Pattis and the trial judge who suspended him from practicing law for an improper records disclosure has heated up, with Pattis calling the punishment part of a “disturbing trend among trial court judges of dispensing summary judgment against aggressive lawyers.”

In a separate filing justifying her order of a six-month suspension from the practice of law for disclosing medical records to unauthorized colleagues, Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis said she felt compelled to make it immediately effective because she was “concerned” Pattis might cause more harm to litigants of the public during what is expected to be a lengthy appeal by Jones.


“While (Pattis) continues to minimize his misconduct by referring to it as ‘a single instance of misconduct’ and a ‘singular instance of unauthorized disclosure.’ this is simply untrue, Bellis wrote in a filing with the state Appellate Court. “Given this lack of an explanation, coupled with (Pattis’) repeated argument that there was only a single mistake made, the court remained concerned with protecting the public and other litigants during a lengthy appeal process.”

The exchange took place this week in filings with the Appellate Court, where Pattis is trying win an indefinite postponement of the suspension while he tries to have it reversed. Bellis provided an explanation with the appeals court in which she justifies the suspension and opposition to postponement.


During the contentious, four-year long Sandy Hook defamation suit that ended last year in a $1.4 billion verdict against Jones, Pattis was sharply critical of Bellis’ rulings and at one point moved to disqualify her. He argues, in papers filed by his partner Kevin Smith, that Bellis is biased and should not have been involved in a disciplinary process in which she was the “the complainant as well as the adjudicator.”

In ordering Pattis’ immediate suspension on Jan. 5, she said his failure to protect highly sensitive medical and psychiatric records belonging to relatives of Sandy Hook victims caused the records to be “carelessly passed around from one unauthorized person to another” in violation of her repeated orders. Bellis said it was the second time during Jones’ case that Pattis had not complied with a confidentiality order.

The records at the center of the suspension, about 4,000 pages of medical records that were among about 390,000 pages of other records provided to Pattis’ office by relatives of Sandy Hook victims, were never disclosed publicly.

Pattis has acknowledged that he “inadvertently” set in motion a series of exchanges that distributed the records between his law office in Connecticut and three others in Texas — all of which were involved in some fashion in lawsuits by Sandy Hook relatives against Jones. None of the lawyers read the records, which were originally contained on a portable computer drive, and the final recipient destroyed them.

Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis discusses a question from the jury with attorneys during deliberations in the Alex Jones Sandy Hook defamation damages trial in Superior Court in Waterbury, Conn., on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022. (H John Voorhees III/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP)

Bellis asserts that the succession of disclosure was “intentional,” and in violation of her orders that allowed sharing only with “counsel of record” in the Connecticut suit.

“While (Pattis) continues to minimize his misconduct by referring to it as ‘a single instance of misconduct’ and a ‘singular instance of unauthorized disclosure,’ this is simply untrue,” Bellis wrote. “The court found misconduct because of the respondent’s abject failure to label or otherwise identify the hard drive as containing protected medical records, or protected by court order.”

FILE - Alex Jones talks to media as his attorney, Andino Reynal, left, looks on during a midday break for the trial at the Travis County Courthouse in Austin, Texas, Tuesday, July 26, 2022. A Connecticut judge on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 022, ruled that Reynal committed misconduct but will not be disciplined, in connection with the improper disclosure of confidential medical records of relatives of Sandy Hook school shooting victims. (Briana Sanchez/Austin American-Statesman via AP, Pool, File)

Pattis claims that Bellis “had demonstrable bias” against him and Jones, that he had previously challenged her “abuse of discretion” and — in a widely reported pretrial disagreement – her “understanding of the first amendment.” In addition to moving for Bellis’ disqualification, Pattis said he twice sought emergency appeals of her pretrial rulings.

“It was improper for the court to hear an issue involving him after Pattis had challenged the court’s competence and impartiality in a public pleading,” the Pattis filing said.


Pattis accused Bellis of being “dissatisfied” during the Jones trial when an independent disciplinary panel exonerated him of misconduct concerning what Bellis had called the improper preparation of an affidavit.

“Unsurprisingly, this dissatisfying exoneration by an independent panel was the chief aggravating fact listed by the court in its decision to suspend Pattis,” his filing said.

Pattis also argued that Bellis’ decision to suspend him was wrongly based on his unusual decision to assert his Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination after she ordered him to appear at a hearing to inquire into disclosure of the medical records. Pattis has said the the release of the records in some circumstances could have exposed him to a criminal violation.

Bellis wrote in her decision ordering the suspension that Pattis’ refusal to participate in the hearing was a factor that weighed in favor of discipline.

“In a contorted act of semantic gymnastics, the trial court claimed in its decision that while it did not draw an adverse inference against Pattis for asserting the fifth in the hearing, it is nonetheless a chief aggravating factor considered by the court as a failure to acknowledge the wrong nature of (his) conduct, Pattis said in his his filing.