Rudy Giuliani ordered nearly $150 million to pay two Georgia election workers he defamed



CNN

A Washington, D.C., jury has ordered Rudy Giuliani to pay nearly $150 million in damages for defamatory statements he made about Georgia election workers following the 2020 election.

Ruby Freeman was awarded $16,171,000 for defamation and $20 million for emotional distress. Freeman’s daughter, Shay Moss, was awarded $16,998,000 for defamation and $20 million for emotional distress. The jury also ordered both plaintiffs to pay $75 million in punitive damages.

Giuliani watched intently as the verdict was read out using a stylus on a touchscreen device. After leaving the courtroom, the former New York mayor and former President Donald Trump’s one-time lawyer vowed to appeal.

After the proceedings ended, Freeman and Moss hugged each other tightly, and then each member of their legal team. There was a sense of euphoria among the plaintiffs in the courtroom after Giuliani left, and Freeman looked especially relieved after the jury read the preliminary numbers, squirming slightly in his chair and closing his eyes.

“Today is a good day. I am grateful that a jury stood witness and held Rudy Giuliani accountable for what he did to me and my daughter. Today is not the end of the road. We still have work to do,” Freeman said outside court Friday.

Moss told reporters, “I spent 10 years as an election worker in Fulton County, Georgia. Rudy Giuliani’s lies about me and my mother after the 2020 presidential election have changed our lives and devastated the last few years.

“Giuliani ignited those lies and passed that flame on to so many others, changing every aspect of our lives, our homes, our families, our jobs, our sense of security, our mental health, and we’re still here. Working to rebuild,” Moss said. “As we move forward and continue to seek justice, our greatest desire is that no one, no election worker, voter or school board member or anyone else, experiences anything like what we experienced. You all matter and you all matter. We hope no one has to fight so hard to get your name back.

Giuliani was held liable this summer for libel against Freeman and Moss for failing to respond to parts of their lawsuit. The mother and daughter said they suffered emotional and reputational harm and risked their safety after Giuliani singled them out when he made false claims of voter fraud in Georgia.

During the hearing, attorneys for Freeman and Moss showed videos and played audio clips in which Giuliani repeated false claims that two election workers were caught on video stuffing ballots and allegedly hijacking a USB drive as part of a vote-stealing scheme.

None of those claims were true, and the USB drive was ginger mint.

In emotional testimony delivered over two days, Freeman and Moss described the flood of harassing and threatening messages they received after Giuliani and others, including Trump, began attacking them. They told the jury how their personal and professional lives were upended by the lies, including losing job opportunities, their communities and their personal identities.

“I feel like I’m trapped under someone else’s power,” Moss testified Tuesday. “I can’t do anything, I feel helpless, the only thing around me is lies.”

While testifying a day later, Freeman was shocked as he showed the jury various threatening messages, and fought back tears as he read some of them aloud.

“Pack your sh*t. They are coming for you. I’m not far off. I will come for you too. Garbage will be taken to the street in bags,” a message read.

“I took it like they were going to cut me up and put me in garbage bags and take it to my street,” Freeman testified.

Giuliani did not testify.

Giuliani’s lawyer, Joseph Sibley, used Giuliani’s heritage as a federal prosecutor in New York and his time as the city’s mayor in an effort to portray his client as not vulnerable to the verdict Freeman and Moss are seeking.

Giuliani told reporters outside court: “Of course we will appeal. The absurdity of the number underscores the absurdity of the entire proceeding.”

“When this case comes before a fair tribunal, it will quickly be overturned and it will make your head spin,” he added.

Asked by reporters why he thought the investigation was unfair, Giuliani replied, “I can’t go into details.”

He added that he did not testify on his own behalf “because the judge made it clear that if I did anything wrong or did anything wrong, he would consider it in contempt, and this judge has a reputation for putting people in jail. Honestly, I thought it wouldn’t do any good.

During the trial, Giuliani repeatedly highlighted that he did not have the funds to pay off his various debts or respond to the lawsuit, with Freeman and Moss asking for a “civil penalty equivalent to the death penalty,” Sibley said.

“They’re trying to end Mr. Giuliani,” Sibley said.

Attorneys for Freeman and Moss told the court they could not locate a number because Giuliani did not respond to multiple subpoenas in the case.

He had already been fined $200,000 for some of Freeman and Moss’ attorneys’ fees, which he had not paid.

Giuliani owes more than $1 million to defense attorneys who helped him on other matters, prompting his indictment this year, and unpaid nearly $60,000 in phone bills dating back several years. Still, he’s had help at times — including from Trump — to try to raise funds to pay off some of his debts, and was able to take a private plane to his arrest this summer in Georgia on felony charges related to 2020 election interference.

A spokeswoman for Giuliani declined to comment Friday on his current financial situation.

A few months ago, Giuliani listed his 3-bedroom Manhattan apartment for sale. It’s still on the market for $6.1 million, according to public real estate listings.

It’s also unclear whether Giuliani could declare bankruptcy to protect himself from any amount of damages from the lawsuit. Courts will have to decide that issue at a later date, according to people familiar with the case, and he could be on the hook for an award to Freeman and Moss even if he goes into bankruptcy.

In a different high-profile defamation case against far-right figure Alex Jones brought by the families of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the courts had to look at this kind of issue. Sources said the same issue could arise with Giuliani.

Jones filed for bankruptcy after being ordered to pay $1.5 billion to the families of the shooting victims, but a judge ruled this fall that bankruptcy cannot be used to avoid the money.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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