The trial will determine the amount of damages, if any, Giuliani must pay two former Fulton County election workers maligned by politically-charged conspiracy theories.
Jury selection is expected to begin Monday for a trial that will determine what damages, if any, Rudy Giuliani must pay to Georgia election workers defamed by politically-charged conspiracy theories.
According to CBS News, Giuliani—the two-term mayor of New York City who later served as Donald Trump’s personal attorney—was sued by Fulton County election workers, who say that Giuliani engineered a smear campaign against them.
In their complaint, plaintiffs Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, allege that Giuliani accused them of committing brazen election fraud, thereby changing the outcome of the 2020 presidential election in their state.
None of Giuliani’s accusations have ever been proven. And, like most 2020 election conspiracy theories, there was never any evidence of widespread fraud on any level.
Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell found Giuliani liable for several counts of defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and civil conspiracy.
The jury trial, expected to begin later today, will determine the damages awarded to Freeman and her daughter.
CBS News notes that the two women were thrust into the public eye after Giuliani posted a video of the two processing ballots on election night in State Farm Arena in Atlanta. In his description of the video, Giuliani said that they were processing “fake” ballots for Biden.
However, after a months-long investigation, the Georgia Election Board found that the “numerous allegations made against the Fulton County Department of Registration and Elections, and, specifically, two election workers, were false and unsubstantiated.” It added that “there was no evidence of any type of fraud as alleged.”
Judge Howell has since ordered Giuliani to repay nearly $100,000 in attorneys’ fees, most related to Giuliani’s apparent failure to comply with discovery procedures. Giuliani was also directed to reimburse more than $43,000 in legal costs related to his attempts to force Freeman and Moss to comply with repeated requests for documents and depositions.
The court had initially instructed Giuliani to make these payments no later than July 25—a deadline that Giuliani missed. As penalty, Howell indicated that she will likely instruct the jury to “infer that [Giuliani] is intentionally trying to hide relevant discovery about his financial assets for the purpose of artificially deflating his net worth.”
“The bottom line is that Giuliani has refused to comply with his discovery obligations and thwarted plaintiffs Ruby Freeman and Wandrea ArShaye Moss’s procedural rights to obtain any meaningful discovery in this case,” Howell said.
Howell noted that, aside from an initial documents production of 193 pages, the information Giuliani shared consisted of little more than a “single page of communications, blobs of indecipherable data” and “a sliver of financial documents required to be produced.”
“Perhaps, he has made the calculation that his overall litigation risks are minimized by not complying with his discovery obligations in this case,” Howell said. “Whatever the reason, obligations are case-specific and withholding required discovery in this case has consequences.”
Aside from this ongoing litigation, both Giuliani and Trump are facing criminal charges in Fulton County for election fraud and racketeering.
According to CBS News, a criminal attorney for Giuliani did not respond to requests for comment. However, Ted Goodman—a political adviser to the former mayor—released a derisive statement casting Giuliani’s legal troubles as an attack on American democracy.
“In the fullness of time, this will be looked at as a dark chapter in our nation’s history, as those in power attempt to destroy their partisan political opposition in ways that cause great, irreparable harm to the U.S. justice system,” Goodman said. “I urge members of the legal community and all Americans—across the political spectrum—to stand up and speak out against the weaponization of our justice system against political opponents.”