Rudy Giuliani defamation lawsuit: Jury selection complete, trial begins

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Jury Selection Completed in Defamation Lawsuit Against Rudy Giuliani

Washington — Jury selection has been completed in the high-profile defamation lawsuit against former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, tied to his alleged efforts to undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.

A jury of eight Washington, D.C., residents was selected from a group of over a dozen, including an Al Jazeera journalist and one person who sells souvenir hemp seeds. Three men and five women will be sitting on the jury. One is a longtime U.S. Forest Service employee; another is a cost analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency; and yet another is an accountant for the Girl Scouts.

The former New York City mayor was sued by two former Fulton County, Georgia, election workers, Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss. They alleged Giuliani mounted a smear campaign against them by repeatedly falsely accusing them of committing election fraud to change the outcome of the 2020 election in their state. They’re seeking from $15.5 million to $43 million for damages from Giuliani, according to recent court filings, but it’s not clear yet what the jury will award them.

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell already found earlier this year that Giuliani was liable for several claims of defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy. The jury trial that began Monday will determine the damages to be awarded to Freeman and Moss.

The two election workers were catapulted into the public eye after Giuliani posted video of the two processing ballots on election night at State Farm Arena in Atlanta and claimed it showed they were engaged in a fake ballot processing scheme.

In court Monday, attorneys for Freeman and Moss described the emotional, psychological and lasting harm the two have suffered as a result of both Giuliani’s conduct and the ramifications of his followers’ actions, and they urged the jury to award the mother and daughter compensatory and punitive damages.

“What’s in a name? Power. Purpose. Pride,” attorney Von Dubose said in opening statements. “This case is about how Mr. Giuliani and his co-conspirators took these folks’ good names.”

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Giuliani’s defense attorney, Joseph Sibley, sought to distance his client from the actions of those who attacked Freeman and Moss, telling the jury that Giuliani didn’t intend for individuals to threaten them and was not mentioned in any of the correspondence.

Sibley said he would not contest the facts of the case because of the court’s previous rulings and he conceded that the jury would see lots of evidence of damages.

“At the end of this…I’m gonna ask you to award a number of damages against my client,” he said Monday but said the number he will argue for at the end of his trial will be “fair and proportional” for what he said Giuliani did.

Freeman and Moss, Giuliani’s attorney argued, were asking for the “civil equivalent of the death penalty,” a request he urged the jurors to reject.

In June, after a long investigation, the Georgia Election Board found that “numerous allegations made against the Fulton County Department of Registration and Elections, and specifically, two election workers, were false and unsubstantiated.” It said “there was no evidence of any type of fraud as alleged.”

Freeman and Moss were featured prominently in the House select committee’s investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, telling Congress they’ve received numerous threats against their lives. They are mentioned in special counsel Jack Smith’s 2020 election-related indictment against Trump, in which Giuliani has been identified by CBS News as an unnamed co-conspirator.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis earlier this year indicted Giuliani and the former president for their alleged efforts to overturn Georgia’s election results. Prosecutors claim a Trump associate tried to pressure Freeman into altering her testimony about the election during a state investigation.

Trump and Giuliani have pleaded not guilty to those charges and deny any wrongdoing.

The original lawsuit was also filed against Herring Media, owner of One America News, but those parties settled the claims.

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