In a recent defamation and civil conspiracy lawsuit, former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani has been hit with a default judgment and ordered to pay sanctions amounting to nearly $133,000. The case was brought forth by two Georgia election workers, Ruby Freeman and Wandrea’ ArShaye Moss, who accused Giuliani of falsely claiming that they mishandled ballots in the 2020 presidential contest. The judge, Beryl Howell, imposed the default judgment and monetary punishment due to Giuliani’s repeated failure to comply with orders to turn over crucial evidence and electronically stored documents.
Judge Howell did not hold back in her scathing critique of Giuliani’s behavior throughout the legal process. She denounced his “willful … misconduct” and criticized him for making “slippery” statements and failing to fulfill his discovery obligations. Giuliani’s refusal to provide the requested information severely hindered the plaintiffs’ right to obtain meaningful discovery. The judge’s 57-page opinion also made reference to Giuliani’s recent criminal indictment with former President Donald Trump in Georgia, emphasizing the seriousness of his actions.
As a result of the default judgment, Giuliani’s attorneys, along with Freeman and Moss’s legal team, have been instructed to propose three potential trial dates in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. This trial will determine the amount of compensatory and punitive damages that Giuliani will be ordered to pay the plaintiffs. The impact of Giuliani’s false claims has been deeply damaging to the reputation of the plaintiffs, particularly Freeman, who testified before a select House committee about the harm caused by Giuliani’s statements. The weight of having the President of the United States target her has been immense.
Giuliani’s indictment two weeks ago, alongside Trump and 17 co-defendants, further reinforced the gravity of his actions. The grand jury in Atlanta charged him with crimes related to an alleged conspiracy to illegally overturn Trump’s loss to President Joe Biden in Georgia. The indictment exposed an orchestrated effort by Trump, Giuliani, and others to cast doubt on the legitimacy of Biden’s victory. Central to this effort were the false claims made about Freeman and Moss, with Giuliani even comparing their actions to passing illegal substances instead of USB flash drives.
Freeman and Moss filed their lawsuit against Giuliani in 2021, citing defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and civil conspiracy. Giuliani, in a court filing submitted last month, conceded that for the purposes of the lawsuit, he had made false and defamatory statements about the women. However, despite this admission, he repeatedly failed to comply with discovery requests made by the plaintiffs’ legal team. Judge Howell’s scathing opinion detailed the multiple motions and hearings required to compel Giuliani to produce the necessary evidence and documents. His compliance was lacking, resulting in inadequate production.
The judge justified the need for monetary sanctions by highlighting Giuliani’s failure to adhere to discovery demands. She condemned his attempted “stipulations” that were riddled with holes, intended to preserve his arguments and potentially appeal the case. Howell firmly rejected Giuliani’s attempts to use his efforts to overturn Trump’s electoral loss as an excuse for non-compliance. She emphasized that taking shortcuts or bypassing the discovery process carries severe consequences, regardless of any reservations the noncompliant party may hold. As a result, a default judgment was entered against Giuliani as a discovery sanction.
Giuliani has been ordered to pay $89,172.50 to Freeman and Moss personally as reimbursement for their attorneys’ fees and costs related to their successful motion to compel evidence production. Additionally, two of Giuliani’s companies have been ordered to pay $43,684 to the plaintiffs for the same conduct. The financial penalties highlight the severity of Giuliani’s misconduct and serve as a reprimand for his failure to fulfill his obligations in the lawsuit.
The defamation case against Rudy Giuliani exposes a pattern of legal misconduct and an utter disregard for the legal process. Giuliani’s repeated failure to comply with discovery orders showcases a lack of respect for his procedural obligations and a willingness to obstruct justice. Judge Howell’s scathing opinion and subsequent default judgment emphasize the seriousness of his actions. This case serves as a reminder that no individual, regardless of their status or political affiliation, is above the law.