It was a day with a dramatic arc that would warm a theater major’s heart.
Day three of the child custody battle between professional provocateur Alex Jones and his ex-wife Kelly Jones began at 8:35 a.m. when he entered a Travis County courtroom, already looking impatient, already looking like a guy looking for somebody to accuse of being a member of the Trilateral Commission.
Already looking like the Alex Jones about whom nobody is ambivalent.
He smiled as he paced near the table on his team’s side of the courtroom, directly under a ceiling fan. It might be best if the overheated Jones (he changed shirts halfway through the afternoon) were always directly under a ceiling fan.
As Jones Jonesed around, Bobby Newman of Houston, one of Kelly Jones’ lawyers, sat nearby focused on paperwork as he prepped for the day. Knowing what we know about these two guys — the combative internet personality and the cocksure lawyer — this had the feel of the countdown toward a high-stakes boxing match.
“Deemed by the Houston Chronicle as one of Houston’s Most Aggressive Divorce Lawyers,” it says on Newman’s website.
Newman warmed up Wednesday by aggressively sparring with Alissa Sherry, a psychologist who had been the case manager who tried to keep up with the Joneses as they went through the divorce. His rapid-fire style left her with no choice but to counterpunch defensively as he got her to acknowledge that another therapist had diagnosed Alex Jones as having traits of “narcissistic personality disorder,” which can include “grandiose sense of self-importance” and which can affect parent-child relationships.
(FYI, Judge Orlinda Naranjo on Tuesday told journalists they had a responsibility to report that Newman was wrong Tuesday when he said Alex Jones had been diagnosed with paranoia. So far, there is no evidence of such a professional diagnosis. And please keep your amateur diagnosis to yourself.)
Impressed by Newman’s performance in the preliminary bout with Sherry, I realized we could be in for something special when Alex Jones took the witness stand. The Newman-Jones main event could have a Frazier-Ali feel: Confrontation at the Courthouse.
Both men drip confidence and exude an aura of large in that in-charge kind of way. And now, as a result of the time-space continuum and a marriage gone bad and Newman’s decision to go to law school, the two seem destined to meet in a courtroom. The added feature is that the say-anything Jones would be under oath when he said anything.
Jones, who was warned Tuesday by the judge to refrain from “bodily comments” on Wednesday displayed his ability to rile people without a word. During a discussion among the lawyers at the judge’s bench during a mid-morning break, Robert Hoffman, one of Kelly Davis’ lawyers, pointed at Jones and told Naranjo, “He stares at me.”
One comment led to another and the judge broke it up by telling the arguing lawyers, “Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!”
Later, Hoffman rose and told Naranjo: “And again, he’s sitting there shaking his head, smirking at me.”
While Newman was sparring with Sherry, the psychologist on the witness stand, Hoffman complained to the judge that “Mr. Jones is sitting there and shaking his head and smiling” something Hoffman apparently felt met the definition of the verboten “bodily comments.”
Naranjo admonished Jones and had him move one seat over so as not to be in Hoffman’s line of sight.
Alex Jones, who had been expected to testify as early as Tuesday, didn’t begin until 4:15 p.m., leaving sufficient time only for his side to ask questions and delaying for a day an expected confrontation with the other side.
Jones testified briefly about what he does for a living, which, he said, includes “satire and other things.” But he said his most important role is as “family man, father of my children.”
Under the friendly questioning of his lawyer, Jones sounded like a father of the year candidate, identifying photos of his kids and bragging on their accomplishments, sometimes by comparing them to himself. He said his 14-year-old son is a “later model (that) is a lot better than me.” And he testified that his 9-year-old daughter “looks most like me, behaves most like me, supercharismatic.”
But, perhaps in a hint of a courtroom confrontation to come, Newman persistently popped up from his chair to object when Jones’ answers rambled, including once when Jones said his son told him he’d run away if he had to live with his mom.
Naranjo tried to rein him in, several times and with varying success, and told him “not to blurt out” testimony as Newman was objecting to it.
The judge could be in for an even busier day Thursday when and if Alex Jones and Newman go mano a mano.