Federal Judge Beryl Howell has rejected an attempt by longtime Trump ally Rudy Giuliani to get out of going to trial before a jury in the lawsuit brought by former Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, who are a mother and daughter. They’re the duo who were infamously named in consistently debunked conspiracy theories about the handling of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia — lies that spurred threats to their safety and even lives.
The scheduled trial is set to deal with only the question of the level of financial penalty to impose upon Giuliani after the presiding judge already issued a default judgment against him on plaintiffs’ underlying claims of defamation. Giuliani had been failing to comply with obligations in the discovery process, which is the routine pretrial period in which evidence is assembled and shared to assist in preparations for courtroom arguments.
“Giuliani’s position that the long-standing jury demand in this case was extinguished when he was found liable on plaintiffs’ claims by default, is wrong as a matter of law. Regardless of whether federal procedural rules and the civil jury right under the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution so require, a jury may properly hear the damages component of plaintiffs’ case,” the judge said Sunday. Trial proceedings are slated to start very soon, with a scheduled beginning date of next Monday, meaning December 11. Howell added that going along with Giuliani’s wishes for the upcoming trial to instead be before simply the judge “would, in this context, unfairly abrogate plaintiffs’ jury trial rights “by virtue of his own misconduct,”” quoting plaintiffs.
It’s Giuliani’s own actions that set up the circumstances he was trying to utilize to get out of facing jurors. Does he think he’s just that disliked in the population? In further explaining her decision, Howell leaned on what she described as the court’s — meaning her — discretion in setting up a jury trial based upon the disputes that remained in the case, including the open question of the amount of financial damages to impose and Giuliani’s clear intent to challenge some elements of plaintiffs’ case.
“This would just compound the procedural unfairness to which plaintiffs have already been subjected by Giuliani’s willful failure to comply with his discovery obligations,” the judge said of what Giuliani was seeking. “This counsels in favor of this Court exercising its discretion to empanel a jury to determine plaintiffs’ damages.” Read more at this link.