Jury: Giuliani Must Pay Two Poll Workers $148M

Punitive damages total $75M for defamation of Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2023 9:56 AM CST
Updated Dec 15, 2023 3:44 PM CST
Jury Is Out in Giuliani Defamation Damages Case
Rudy Giuliani leaves the federal courthouse in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
UPDATE Dec 15, 2023 3:44 PM CST

A federal jury has put a price on Rudy Giuliani's defamation of the two Georgia poll workers he spread lies about after the 2020 presidential election: $148 million. Of that total, $75 million is punitive damages to be paid to Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, CNN reports; there was a collective gasp in the courtroom when that award was read. Of the rest, roughly $16 million is a defamation award to Freeman, $17 million is a defamation award for Moss, and $20 million to each of them is for emotional distress. The Washington jury deliberated in this phase of the trial for 10 hours, per the AP. After the verdict, a spokesman would not address Giuliani's ability to pay the award.

Dec 15, 2023 9:56 AM CST

The jury in Rudy Giuliani's defamation damages case began their deliberations Thursday
and they continued Friday morning. The former New York mayor is potentially on the hook for tens of millions of dollars, an amount Giuliani lawyer Geoffrey Sibley says is the "civil equivalent of a death penalty." Giuliani doubled down on his claims after the first day of his trial, insisting that everything he said about Georgia election workers Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman "changing votes" was true and the "whole truth" would come out when he testified, the Guardian reports. His defense, however, rested Thursday morning without calling Giuliani or any other witnesses.

Sibley said Giuliani wasn't testifying because Freeman and her daughter Moss had "been through enough." The AP notes that anything Giuilani said in testimony could have been used against him in Georgia, where he is among the co-defendants in Donald Trump's Fulton County election interference case. NBC News reports that jurors have been asked to decide on damages Giuliani should pay for defaming the women, and on damages for causing emotional distress, as well as punitive damages. Their lawyers have asked for $24 million in defamation damages for each women and said punitive damages should be up to the jury to decide.

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In closing arguments, Michael Gottlieb, a lawyer for Moss and Freeman, noted that Giuliani has not stopped repeating the conspiracy theories that led to threats and harassment of his clients. "Facts will not stop him. He says he isn't sorry and he's telegraphing he will do this again," Gottlieb said. "Believe him." Sibley acknowledged that Giuliani's allegations were false, but he said the Gateway Pundit website did more to spread them and his client shouldn't have to pay "catastrophic" damages, the Washington Post reports. People—including Giuliani—"who believe this stuff are still going to believe it no matter what," Sibley said. He said his client is a "good man" but admitted that his remarks "caused harm." (More Rudy Giuliani stories.)

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