Rudy Giuliani flouted court orders and now he may have to finally pay up, the only question being how much.
A federal judge ruled Wednesday (Aug. 30) in favor of a Black mother and her daughter in their defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani. They alleged that former president Donald Trump’s attorney ruined their lives after he amplified false claims that they committed fraud as election workers in the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.
U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell ruled that the former New York City mayor flagrantly ignored her order to produce documents Ruby Freeman and her daughter Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss’ legal team sought in the discovery process.
Consequently, she issued a default judgment against him. He’s also ordered to reimburse them more than $89,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs.
“Rather than simply play by the rules designed to promote a discovery process necessary to reach a fair decision on the merits of plaintiffs’ claims, Giuliani has bemoaned plaintiffs’ efforts to secure his compliance as ‘punishment by process,'” Howell wrote in a scathing opinion.
“Donning a cloak of victimization may play well on a public stage to certain audiences, but in a court of law this performance has served only to subvert the normal process of discovery in a straight-forward defamation case, with the concomitant necessity of repeated court intervention.”
Howell’s decision means the case moves forward to a trial that will determine how much Giuliani must pay Freeman and Moss for damages, according to Politico.
Giuliani has claimed that part of the reason he didn’t produce the relevant documents was because the FBI seized his devices in 2021 in a separate case.
“This decision should be reversed, as Mayor Giuliani is wrongly accused of not preserving electronic evidence that was seized and held by the FBI,” Giuliani’s political advisor Ted Goodman stated, adding that Howell’s ruling is another “prime example of the weaponization of our justice system, where the process is the punishment.”
However, Howell expressed suspicion that Giuliani may have made a strategic decision not to submit the requested documents.
“Perhaps, he has made the calculation that his overall litigation risks are minimized by not complying with his discovery obligations in this case,” Howell wrote. “Whatever the reason, obligations are case specific and withholding required discovery in this case has consequences.”
If Howell is correct, it wouldn’t be the first time that Giuliani made a strategic move in the case.
“Rudy Giuliani did not acknowledge that the statements were false but did not contest it in order to move on to the portion of the case that will permit a motion to dismiss. This is a legal issue, not a factual issue. … This stipulation is designed to get to the legal issues of the case,” Goodman said at that time.
Freeman and Moss said they received violent threats after conspiracy theorists on social media falsely claimed that they committed election fraud to help President Joe Biden win the election. Trump and Giuliani then amplified those false allegations.
In June, Georgia’s State Election Board cleared Freeman and Moss of wrongdoing after a probe. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the FBI reviewed the entire unedited video footage of the alleged fraud and compared it to the video posted on social media by a conspiracy theorist. The social media version was found to be created by a third party who admitted to creating and posting a fake video.
In April 2022, Moss and Freeman settled their defamation lawsuit against far-right One America News Network. The lawsuit named OAN officials, Trump and Giuliani as defendants.