Rudolph W. Giuliani’s lawyer told jurors on Monday that the tens of millions of dollars in damages two Georgia election workers are seeking from him in a defamation suit “will be the end of Mr. Giuliani,” likening an award of that scale to a civil death penalty.
The lawyer, Joseph Sibley IV, made the assertion in his opening statement on the first day of Mr. Giuliani’s civil trial in Federal District Court in Washington.
The judge, Beryl A. Howell, has already ruled that Mr. Giuliani defamed the two workers, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, and intentionally inflicted emotional distress and engaged in a conspiracy with others when he publicly accused them of election fraud related to their work counting absentee ballots at State Farm Arena in Atlanta for the Fulton County Board of Elections on Nov. 3, 2020.
A jury of eight will determine how much Mr. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City and a former federal prosecutor, should have to pay them for the harm he caused.
Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss are seeking compensatory damages between $15.5 million and $43 million.
Michael J. Gottlieb, a lawyer for Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss, who are mother and daughter, said Mr. Giuliani’s false accusations led to a “campaign of defamation and emotional terror” against them. He said the women had to move out of their homes for safety and security because of the thousands of threats that followed.
“Their names have become synonymous with crime, cheating and fraud,” Mr. Gottlieb said in his opening statement.
Sitting across from Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss in the courtroom, Mr. Giuliani sighed, put his hand on his forehead and at times shook his head as Judge Howell described his actions after the election to the jury.
Mr. Giuliani arrived late to the courtroom on Monday because he was stuck in the security line to get into the courthouse.
He had previously annoyed Judge Howell because he was a no-show for one of the final court hearings in the case. He also refused to comply with routine trial obligations, which Judge Howell said would have provided insight into his net worth.
Mr. Giuliani has already racked up millions in legal expenses related to the civil and criminal cases he faces related to his participation and efforts to convince the American public that Joseph R. Biden Jr. was not the legitimate winner of the 2020 election.
But any amount is likely to throw Mr. Giuliani deeper into financial distress. He already owes money to lawyers who have represented him in other matters related to his post-election efforts to undermine President Biden’s victory in 2020. Disciplinary actions against him prevent him from working as a lawyer, and he faces disbarment.
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