A federal judge on Wednesday held Rudy Giuliani liable in a defamation lawsuit brought by two Georgia election officials who claim they were falsely accused of fraud. He entered a default judgment against the former mayor of New York and ordered him to pay tens of thousands of dollars in attorneys’ fees.
U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell said the sanction was necessary because Giuliani ignored his duty as a defendant to provide information requested by election officials Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Wandrea’ ArShaye Moss, as part of their trial.
Their December 2021 lawsuit accused Giuliani, one of Donald Trump’s lawyers and the former Republican president’s confidant, of defaming them by falsely claiming they had engaged in ballot counting fraud. at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
The ruling allows the case to move to trial in federal court in Washington to determine what damages Giuliani must pay. He will have a “last opportunity” to produce the requested information, known as discovery by law, under penalty of additional penalties if he does not do so.
In the meantime, Howell said, Giuliani and his business entities must pay more than $130,000 in attorney fees and other costs.
“Donning a cloak of victimhood may be appealing in the public arena to some audiences, but in court this performance only served to subvert the normal process of discovery in a simple defamation case, with the attendant need to repeated trials intervention,” Howell wrote.
Ted Goodman, political adviser to Giuliani, said in a statement that the judge’s ruling “is a prime example of the militarization of our justice system, where process is the punishment. This ruling should be overturned, as Mayor Giuliani is accused wrongfully failing to preserve electronic evidence seized and held by the FBI.
Last month, Giuliani admitted to making public comments falsely claiming that poll workers committed voter fraud in the 2020 election, but he claimed those statements were protected by the First Amendment.