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Giuliani appeals $148 million Fulton defamation verdict

David Wickert, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in News & Features

Rudy Giuliani has appealed a $148 million verdict against him won by two former Fulton County election workers.

In December a federal jury in Washington, D.C., awarded Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss the money because Giuliani falsely accused them of fraud in the 2020 election.

Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and personal attorney for Donald Trump, denounced the verdict as an “absurdity” and predicted it would be “reversed so quickly it will make your head spin.” On Tuesday, he formally appealed.

The appeal is the latest twist in a case that began on election night 2020, when Freeman and Moss counted absentee ballots at State Farm Arena. A month later, Giuliani unveiled snippets of security footage from the counting to a Georgia Senate panel. He said the footage showed election workers illegally counting fake ballots they retrieved from beneath a table after election observers left for the night.

It did not. Investigators from the FBI, the GBI and the Secretary of State’s Office reviewed the security footage and interviewed witnesses. They determined nothing improper happened – the footage showed normal ballot counting.

But Giuliani, Trump and others repeated the false allegations as they sought to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia. The lies upended the lives of Freeman and Moss, who received hundreds of threats. Freeman fled her home and shuttered her online business.

Freeman and her daughter, Moss, filed a defamation lawsuit against Giuliani and One America News Network in 2021. OAN settled with the women, and in court documents Giuliani did not contest their claim that he made false statements about them. Last year U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell issued a default judgement against Giuliani, who repeatedly ignored court orders to turn over evidence.

 

At the December trial, Freeman and Moss recounted their harrowing experience in excruciating detail that clearly made an impression on the jury. Giuliani did not testify at the trial. His attorney argued there was no doubt the women were harmed but that Giuliani wasn’t responsible for the harassment they suffered.

The jury’s award included $33.2 million in compensatory damages for defamation, $40 million for intentionally inflicting emotional distress on the women and $75 million in punitive damages to prevent Giuliani and others from repeating the lies.

Following the verdict, Giuliani filed for bankruptcy in New York, listing debts of as much as $500 million and assets of up to $10 million. On Tuesday the judge in that case gave Giuliani permission to appeal the defamation verdict. But the judge ruled that Giuliani cannot pay for the appeal himself, and anyone who pays for the appeal will not have a claim on his assets.

Giuliani also faces charges in the Fulton County election interference case for his alleged role in Trump’s effort to overturn the election. Several other people also have been charged in the case for their roles in trying to convince Freeman to confess to the false fraud allegations.

Freeman and Moss also have a defamation lawsuit pending against the online publication Gateway Pundit, which spread the false voting fraud allegations.


©2024 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Visit at ajc.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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