Judge rules Giuliani will lose defamation lawsuit against Georgia poll worker by default

A federal judge on Wednesday ruled in favor of two Georgia election officials who sued Rudy Giuliani for defamation and also ordered the lawyer linked to former President Trump to pay sanctions.

Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss sued Giuliani in December 2021 over his baseless claims that the duo helped commit election fraud.

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell ruled in favor of the two election officials by default in a 57-page opinion after Giuliani refused to disclose the case. Her ruling suggested that Giuliani may have done so to reduce his legal risk in other cases.

“Perhaps he has made the calculation that his overall litigation risk will be minimized by not complying with his disclosure obligations in this case,” Howell wrote. “Whatever the reason, the obligations are case specific and withholding required disclosure in this case has consequences.”

Howell also ordered Giuliani to pay nearly $90,000 and his companies to pay more than $43,000 to reimburse the election workers' legal fees in trying to force Giuliani to release the discovery.

The ruling represents a major legal blow to Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor and New York mayor turned Trump lawyer. Giuliani was indicted in Georgia this month over his actions after the 2020 election, including allegations that overlap with the election workers' lawsuit.

Following the election, Giuliani made a series of false statements about Freeman and Moss' work at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, where ballots were being counted. Giuliani and other Trump allies baselessly claimed that the two workers committed election fraud by processing “suitcases” of illegal ballots.

Howell's ruling essentially makes Giuliani civilly liable for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy.

“This 57-page disclosure statement – ​​which typically runs no more than two or three pages – is a prime example of the weaponization of the justice system, where trial is punishment.” This decision should be reversed because Mayor Giuliani was wrong accused of failing to preserve electronic evidence seized and preserved by the FBI,” Giuliani political adviser Ted Goodman said in a statement.

A trial is still being held to consider damages, and Howell's ruling gives Giuliani one final opportunity to turn over discovery for the trial.

Giuliani appears to be facing a cash crunch as his legal bills continue to mount. He also faces two defamation lawsuits from voting equipment manufacturers and a disbarment lawsuit.

Trump is scheduled to attend a fundraiser for Giuliani next month.

“On a public stage it may be good for certain viewers to don a cloak of victimization, but in court this appearance has only served to undermine the normal process of discovery in a simple libel case, with the attendant need for a retrial “Intervention,” Howell ruled on Wednesday.

Instead of releasing the documents, Giuliani acknowledged in court filings late last month that the statements in question were false and defamatory.

Howell said the admissions had “more holes than Swiss cheese” and noted that Giuliani reserved the opportunity to argue that the statements were expressions of opinion or were constitutionally protected and could appeal.

“The caveats in Giuliani's provisions illustrate his goal to bypass the discovery process and a merits process – where his defense can be fully examined and tested in our justice system's time-honored adversarial process – and to delay such a fair reckoning through the decision.” Opportunities on appeal, based on the abbreviated record he imposed on plaintiffs,” Howell ruled.

“But just as taking shortcuts to win an election carries risks – even potential criminal liability – circumventing the investigative process carries serious sanctions, regardless of what reservations a non-compliant party tries to artificially maintain in order to appeal.” , added her.

This story was updated at 1:03 p.m

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