Rudy Giuliani has been found liable for defaming two Georgia election workers he claimed were part of a conspiracy to rig the 2020 presidential election.
U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell also ordered that a trial be held on proposed damages to Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, the election workers that the former New York mayor had accused of manipulating votes.
The judgment came in response to the plaintiffs’ motion for sanctions against Giuliani for failing to comply with his discovery obligations in the case. Giuliani was a key figure in advancing then-President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.
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In her opinion, Howell noted that Giuliani had turned over “a single page of communications, blobs of indecipherable data, a sliver of the financial documents required to be produced, and a declaration and two stipulations from Giuliani, who indicates in the latter stipulations his preference to concede plaintiffs’ claims rather than produce discovery in this case.” As part of her order for sanctions against Giuliani Howell also entered a default judgment against him for “his liability for plaintiffs’ defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, civil conspiracy, and punitive damage claims.”
In a filing in D.C. federal court last month, Giuliani had conceded that the statements he made against Freeman and Moss “carry meaning that is defamatory per se” and that “such actionable statements were false.” He had accused them of manipulating votes.
Giuliani’s filing stated that the concession was made “solely for the purposes of this litigation,” and that it was made because he was “desirous to avoid unnecessary expenses in litigating what he believes to be unnecessary disputes.” Giuliani also continued to contest whether Freeman and Moss suffered any damages, while they testified before the January 6th Committee last year that they received harassment and physical threats after the accusations were made.
Howell wrote, “The reservations in Giuliani’s stipulations make clear his goal to bypass the discovery process and a merits trial—at which his defenses may be fully scrutinized and tested in our judicial system’s time-honored adversarial process—and to delay such a fair reckoning by taking his chances on appeal, based on the abbreviated record he forced on plaintiffs. Yet, just as taking shortcuts to win an election carries risks—even potential criminal liability—bypassing the discovery process carries serious sanctions, no matter what reservations a noncompliant party may try artificially to preserve for appeal.”
Giuliani was among the 19 defendants, including Trump, named in a criminal indictment brought last week by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. Giuliani faces state racketeering charges and other claims.
Herring Networks, the parent company of One America News Network, was named as another defendant in the defamation case, but reached a settlement with Freeman and Moss last year. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Following the settlement, OAN tweeted out a clip from a broadcast in which the network said that Georgia officials “have concluded that there was no widespread voter fraud by election workers who counted ballots at the State Farm Arena in November 2020. The results of this investigation indicate that Ruby Freeman and Wandrea ‘Shaye’ Moss did not engage in ballot fraud or criminal misconduct while working at State Farm Arena on election night.”
Giuliani also was ordered to pay attorneys fees and costs of almost $90,000, and his businesses were ordered to pay almost $44,000.
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