The court ruled in the two election workers’ lawsuit after Giuliani apparently refused to comply with a subpoena.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has lost a defamation lawsuit filed by two Georgia election workers.
According to CNN, the court ruled against Giuliani after the high-profile politician failed to provide information sought by the election workers’ attorneys in a subpoena.
CNN reports that, in recent weeks, Giuliani conceded that he could no longer contest that he more likely than not made false and defamatory statements about Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss.
While both Freeman and Moss have since been vindicated by the court, other Georgia election workers are continuing to pursue defamation claims against Giuliani.
Giuliani, writes CNN, has since said that he struggled to maintain access to his electronic records, and was therefore unable to respond to subpoena requests timely. He cited cost as a reason.
“Perhaps he has made the calculation that his overall litigation risks are minimized by not complying with his discovery obligations in this case,” wrote Washington, D.C.-based U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell. “Whatever the reason, obligations are case specific and withholding required discovery in this case has consequences.”
However, Judge Howell’s ruling does not necessarily mean that Giuliani was found liable for intentional defamation—but did say that the plaintiffs could try to establish the former mayor’s liability in future proceedings, including an impending damages hearing.
Howell said that a trial to determine the damages payable by Giuliani will be scheduled some time in early 2024.
The damages, to be determined by a jury, could range into the millions of dollars.
Freeman and Moss have since expressed gratitude for the court’s ruling, saying that they were harassed after Giuliani falsely suggested that they could be involved in an election interference conspiracy.
“What we went through after the 2020 election was a living nightmare,” Moss and Freeman said in a joint statement. “Rudy Giuliani helped unleash a wave of hatred and threats we never could have imagined. It cost us our sense of security and our freedom to go about our lives. Nothing can restore all we lost, but today’s ruling is yet another neutral finding that has confirmed what we have known all along: that there was never any truth to any of the accusations about us and that we did nothing wrong.”
“The fight to rebuild our reputations and to repair the damage to our lives is not over,” they said.
CNN notes that, in her ruling, Howell opined that Giuliani—a lawyer with decades of experience who was once Manhattan’s top prosecutor—should have known how to preserve relevant evidence in a high-stakes defamation claim.
“Giuliani has submitted declarations with concessions turned slippery on scrutiny and excuses designed to shroud the insufficiency of his discovery compliance,” Howell wrote. “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.”
“Donning a cloak of victimization may play well on a public stage to certain audiences,” Howell wrote, “but in a court of law, this performance has served only to subvert the normal process of discovery in a straightforward defamation case, with the concomitant necessity of repeated court intervention.”