Giuliani was ordered to pay $148 million for lying about election workers in Georgia

The verdict was announced late Friday afternoon, after about 10 hours of deliberations following an unusual four-day trial in which the jury's sole task was to award damages since U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell had already found Giuliani liable for his failure to comply with hers previous orders to release evidence related to the case.

It's unclear how much, if any, of the massive verdict Freeman and Moss will ever receive.

Giuliani, 79, is reportedly in financial distress and has at times turned to Donald Trump's political action committee for help paying his legal fees. The judge noted that he had concealed evidence of his wealth, and lawyers for Freeman and Moss even suggested in their closing arguments that Giuliani would not be able to pay his judgment.

At the start of the trial, Giuliani's lawyer said tens of millions of dollars in damages would be the “civil equivalent of the death penalty.”

Giuliani, who was ordered by Howell to attend the trial, casually took notes with a pen on an electronic tablet as the verdict was read by the jury foreman.

A few minutes later, Giuliani stood outside the courthouse and declared: “I don't regret anything.”

The former mayor and federal prosecutor called the cash reward “absurd” and said he would appeal. He denied responsibility for the threats and harassment Freeman and Moss received – including a variety of clearly racist, violent messages – and said he receives “comments like this every day.”

Both poll officials appeared stunned by the verdict, with Freeman turning in her chair and Moss fanning herself as the multimillion-dollar awards were announced. As the court session ended, their lawyers hugged them, and Moss told one, “I love you.”

The verdict followed a four-day trial with live and recorded witnesses, including powerful and emotional personal testimony from Freeman and Moss himself.

Their lawyers had asked the jury to award the women $24 million each for Giuliani's defamation and unspecified additional amounts for inflicting emotional distress over the claims, which they said led to years of threats and destroyed their mental health. They also sought an undisclosed amount in punitive damages to deter others from outrageous behavior.

At the time of the initial allegations against Freeman and Moss, fueled by grainy surveillance video of votes being counted at State Farm Arena in Atlanta on Election Day 2020, Giuliani was serving as head of then-President Trump's legal defense team. Trump later doubled down on Giuliani's lies about the two women.

Trump was never a defendant in the lawsuit, but the judge ruled that Giuliani was responsible for Trump's statements about election workers under a civil conspiracy theory.

During arguments before the jury on Thursday, a lawyer for Freeman and Moss left no doubt that the couple viewed the falsehoods spread about them as part of a strategic plan by the Trump campaign to keep Trump in office.

“He had no right to make defenseless officers available to a virtual mob to overturn an election,” a lawyer for the women, Michael Gottlieb, said of Giuliani. “The cost of that [been] The attacks on Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss, on everyone he deceived, and on the public’s trust in our democracy are incalculable.”

In her statement, Freeman made it clear that she also accused the former president – whom she declined to name and referred to simply as “45” – of spreading lies about her and her daughter.

“Today is a good day. A jury witnessed what Rudy Giuliani did to me and my daughter – and held him accountable,” Freeman told reporters after the verdict. “We still have a lot to do. “Rudy Giuliani was not the only one who spread lies about us, and others must be held accountable,” she said, without elaborating.

The lawsuit against Giuliani, filed in December 2021, was supported by Protect Democracy, a group that aims to combat authoritarian threats to American democracy.

As the case progressed, Giuliani often appeared to be at odds with his attorney, Joseph Sibley. Giuliani told reporters Wednesday night that he wanted to testify, as Sibley had promised jurors earlier in the week, but Giuliani never took the stand.

Sibley told jurors that the decision was aimed at sparing Freeman and Moss – whose emotional testimony this week he described as genuine and credible – further trauma.

“These women have been through enough,” Sibley said in his remarkable closing statement, calling his own client “irresponsible” for stoking false allegations against Freeman and Moss without conducting an investigation.

But after Friday's verdict, Giuliani gave another reason for his refusal to take the stand: “I think the judge threatened me with the strong possibility that I would be held in contempt or even put in prison,” he said.

Giuliani did not repeat his false claims about Freeman and Moss on Friday, but continued to make false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. “My country has had a president imposed upon it through fraud,” he declared.

Sibley left the courthouse through a different door shortly after the verdict was announced and was not at his client's side when he spoke to reporters.

Still, Giuliani's decision not to take the stand seemed to undermine his standing in a trial in which he already seemed far removed from the role he played when he served as a swashbuckling U.S. attorney in Manhattan in the 1980s and later as mayor in the 1980s became famous in the 1980s, but was further weakened by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Sibley also attempted to generate sympathy for his client, at times suggesting that he was no longer as sharp as he had been earlier in his career.

“Rudy Giuliani is a good man,” Sibley told the jury. “He hasn't been helped by some of the things that have happened in the last few days. … My client, he’s almost 80 years old.”

Sibley's central argument to the jury was that one should not get too carried away in assessing damages. He said the plaintiffs were seeking a “catastrophic…Hollywood-like” award.

Early in the trial, Sibley bristled at the limits he faced trying to defend Giuliani in a trial in which the most critical questions had already been decided against him.

“We just have to turn around and get kicked?” Sibley complained Tuesday.

Howell acknowledged that defense counsel's scope to challenge the plaintiffs' case was severely limited, but said that was due to Giuliani's previous resistance in the case.

“It’s kind of uncharted territory,” she told Sibley. “You have a difficult job.”