Rudy Giuliani’s Admission and Liability: The Cost of False Accusations in the Election Fraud Saga
Rudy Giuliani is facing a potential multi-million dollar judgment, in a case brought by two election workers, Ruby Freeman and Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, when Giuliani falsely accused them of election fraud. One of the most graphic examples of what he said about Freeman and Moss, both election workers, was that they were seen on surveillance footage at the voting precinct, “passing USB’s to each other secretly, like they were heroin or cocaine”, insinuating that the USB’s contained digital data used to change the outcome of the Georgia election. A Georgia cleared that there was no evidence Freeman and Moss engaged in election fraud, and both Freeman and Moss testified they were passing each other a mint.
Judge Beryl Hall ruled, on August 30, 2023, that Giuliani is liable to the Plaintiffs for defamation, and other causes of action, as a sanction for failing to meaningfully produce discovery to the Plaintiff. The Court ruled that it appeared Giuliani made a calculated decision not to save documents, emails, and texts, under the theory that he would get punished worse, not just in this case, but in all of his cases, both criminal and civil, if he were to produce everything he had. Discovery is the process by which parties are obligated to produce documents, agreements, contracts, financial records, recordings, texts, and emails, to other party you are in a lawsuit with.
This should come as no surprise to Giuliani, just the month before, Giuliani filed a stipulation, or admission, that tried to pave the way for the fact that he produced no records when he admitted that Freeman and Moss’s factual allegations were true, that the things he said were defamatory and false. But then he hedged his admission with the phrase that he reserved his right to argue on appeal that what he said about Freeman and Moss was protected opinion by the First Amendment.
Giuliani can’t have it both ways. He can’t both admit that he made factually false, and defamatory statements about Freeman and Moss, and then later claim that his statements are protected by the First Amendment as opinion. That’s because, generally, a statement is either provably false and defamatory, or is not provably false and is a subjective opinion. It can’t be both. Thus, Giuliani’s stipulation is worthless. It looks like a meaningful admission on one hand, and then takes away that meaning with the other.
So the Court took matters into its own hand, and held Giuliani in default on the issue of liability to Freeman and Moss. Most lawsuits have three basic elements, fault, causation, and damages. Giuliani is now legally at fault to Ruby and Moss, meaning Ruby and Moss don’t have to prove that element, and now only have to prove causation and damages in the second phase of the trial.
Given that Giuliani has also admitted that what he said was “defamatory per se”, that should mean that the judge tells the jury that they must find Giuliani’s statements caused Freeman and Moss some damages and must award some amount of money. This means the Judge will give the jury a red-carpet to award some money, whether Plaintiffs Freeman and Moss can show any out of pocket losses or not. That is a recipe for multi-million dollar runaway verdicts.