According to constitutional lawyer Gerry Weber, Rudy Giuliani’s fate was sealed in a defamation action in Georgia that should have been “his case to lose.”
On Wednesday, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani lost a defamation lawsuit filed by Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, a mother-daughter election staff team in Georgia.
The two became the most visible targets of the former president’s supporters since Giuliani, as legal counsel to Donald Trump, had falsely asserted that the duo had committed fraud during the 2020 election.
Due to Giuliani’s failure to respond to many subpoenas issued by Howell, the court entered a default judgment against him during the case’s discovery phase. The court ruled that the discovery documents he provided were inadequate in a 57-page decision. A jury will now decide damages for Giuliani’s defamatory statements against Freeman and Moss. Howell said that further punishment against Giuliani might be forthcoming after he was fined almost $90,000 to cover the legal costs of the poll workers.
Weber, a constitutional law attorney and adjunct professor at Emory University School of Law, said Giuliani had sealed his fate by neglecting to give enough discovery documents. Given the traditionally high bar of evidence plaintiffs in defamation lawsuits must achieve, Weber argued that he may have won the case if he had replied to the subpoenas satisfactorily.
Weber said this was Giuliani’s case to lose.
The lawyer explained that defamation lawsuits have a notoriously low success rate for plaintiffs, and that’s by design.
Due to the need to provide people and the press “breathing room” under the First Amendment, the Supreme Court has raised the standard for libel litigants since The New York Times v. Sullivan in 1964.
False remarks, he went on to say, are not necessarily libelous. It needs “actual malice,” or the knowledge or reckless disdain for the truth, to make defamatory comments against influential persons.
Howell, in her ruling, also accused Giuliani of deleting evidence. A default judgment, which Weber dubbed “the nuclear bomb of repercussions in any dispute,” was a real possibility if such acts were taken, he wrote in his column.