A case to determine how much ex-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani owes two Georgia poll workers for falsely claiming they helped steal the election from former President Trump will be heard and decided by a jury, a Washington, D.C., federal judge ruled late Sunday.
In a sharply worded ruling, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell denied Giuliani’s request to hold a bench trial instead of a jury trial, meaning the judge would have decided the case instead of a jury. She chided him for the “significantly tardy” motion, having set an October deadline for all pretrial motions.
“Perhaps Giuliani’s submission is titled a ‘Trial Brief,’ rather than a motion seeking to convert the scheduled jury trial to a hearing, in a fairly blatant effort to avoid being called out for filing an untimely pretrial motion,” Howell wrote in a footnote.
In the wake of the 2020 election, Giuliani made a series of false statements about the work Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss conducted at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, where ballots were counted. He and other Trump allies baselessly claimed the election workers — a mother-daughter duo — committed election fraud by processing “suitcases” of illicit ballots.
A series of probes led by three law enforcement agencies — Georgia’s secretary of State’s office and special agents with the FBI and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation — found those allegations against the poll workers “were false and unsubstantiated.”
The two election workers sued Giuliani, and as their case proceeded, he failed to turn over evidence despite “repeated reminders” from the court. Howell in August found Giuliani civilly liable for Freeman and Moss’s claims of “defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, civil conspiracy, and punitive damage,” citing the longtime Trump ally’s “willful shirking of his discovery obligations.”
In her Sunday opinion, Howell again cited Giuliani’s “discovery misconduct” as reason to deny his request for a bench trial.
“This Court will not reward him for conduct that has ‘already resulted in significant prejudice to Plaintiffs,'” Howell wrote, quoting her earlier decision.
Ted Goodman, a political advisor to Giuliani, suggested Howell’s “biases and prejudices are well known” in a statement to The Hill.
“In the fullness of time, this will be looked at as one of the darkest chapters in America’s justice system and the District of Columbia —unfortunately — is at the core of much of it,” Goodman said.
The jury trial, which is scheduled to begin Dec. 11 in Washington, D.C., will determine the amount of damages Giuliani owes the Georgia election workers as a result.
Updated at 6:30 pm.