Fulton poll workers seek sanctions against Giuliani for withholding evidence

August 17, 2022 Atlanta - Rudy Giuliani arrives to testify for the special grand jury at Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta on Wednesday, August 17, 2022. Rudy Giuliani, the onetime personal attorney of former President Donald Trump, entered the Fulton County courthouse on Wednesday morning to testify before the special purpose grand jury examining Georgia’s 2020 elections. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

August 17, 2022 Atlanta - Rudy Giuliani arrives to testify for the special grand jury at Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta on Wednesday, August 17, 2022. Rudy Giuliani, the onetime personal attorney of former President Donald Trump, entered the Fulton County courthouse on Wednesday morning to testify before the special purpose grand jury examining Georgia’s 2020 elections. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Two former Fulton County poll workers suing Rudy Giuliani for defamation are seeking severe sanctions against the former New York mayor for his failure to turn over evidence.

In a motion filed Tuesday, lawyers for Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss said they had uncovered relevant electronic communications that Giuliani had possessed but never produced as ordered by the court. The motion cites a Dec. 7, 2020, text thread initiated by attorney Boris Epshteyn on then-President Donald Trump’s behalf and sent to Giuliani and others.

“Urgent POTUS request,” Epshteyn texted. “Need best examples of ‘election fraud’ that we’ve alleged. ... Doesn’t necessarily have to be proven, but does need to be easy to understand.”

To which Giuliani responded, “The security camera in Atlanta alone captures theft of a minimum of 30,000 votes which alone would change result in Georgia. Remember it will live in history as the theft of a state if it is not corrected by state Legislature.”

Giuliani, then Trump’s lawyer, was referring to the security footage at State Farm Arena and his baseless claims that Freeman and Moss and engaged in a conspiracy there to commit election fraud. Trump would later repeat those false claims, putting both Freeman and her daughter, Moss, in the public spotlight and subjected to so many threats that Freeman was advised by authorities to leave her home.

The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, which is about to seek indictments for alleged criminal meddling with the 2020 presidential election, has notified Giuliani that he is a target of the investigation. In April 2022, Giuliani testified before a special purpose grand jury looking into the matter.

August 17, 2022 Atlanta - Rudy Giuliani smiles as he arrives with his attorney Robert J. Costello (left) to testify for the special grand jury at Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta on Wednesday, August 17, 2022. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

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Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Freeman and Moss filed their defamation suit against Giuliani and others in December 2021. The litigation’s formal exchange of information — called discovery — ended May 22. Yet the ex-poll workers’ lawyers said they found through other means a number of pertinent electronic communications, such as the one between Epshteyn and Giuliani, that Giuliani never turned over.

“Giuliani’s failure to preserve his electronic records in the face of repeated reminders, and a personal awareness of his obligations, can and should be interpreted by this court as a deliberate effort to deprive plaintiffs of material evidence in this litigation,” the motion said. “Giuliani should know better.”

Giuliani’s failure to turn over such evidence “has severely prejudiced (Freeman’s and Moss’s) ability to test his claim that he believed, and did not recklessly disregard the falsity of, his false claims,” the motion added.

FILE — An emotional Wandrea Moss is comforted by her mother Ruby Freeman, both former election workers in Georgia, during testimony to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6. attack on the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, June 21, 2022.. (Shuran Huang/The New York Times)

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In a statement, Ted Goodman, a Giuliani advisor, said, “The requests by these lawyers were deliberately overly burdensome and sought information well beyond the scope of this case — including divorce records — in an effort to harass, intimidate and embarrass Mayor Rudy Giuliani. It’s part of a larger effort to smear and silence Mayor Giuliani for daring to ask questions and for challenging the accepted narrative.”

The motion asks U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell in Washington to enter a “default judgment” against Giuliani. This would mean Giuliani would be found liable for defamation, with all that’s left to decide is how much in damages he must pay to Freeman and Moss.

Alternately, the motion said, Howell can impose what are called “adverse inferences” against Giuliani. This would mean the lawsuit would go forward without allowing Giuliani to contest accusations that, after Dec. 23, 2020, he knew he made false allegations against Freeman and Moss.

It would also be accepted that Giuliani “acted with reckless disregard for the truth by avoiding and ignoring, or knew and understood, that Georgia and federal officials had investigated and disproved the defamatory claims,” the motion said. Moreover, the motion added, Giuliani could not argue that he did not know “his actions would cause (Freeman and Moss) emotional distress and nonetheless intentionally and recklessly proceeded.”

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