Giuliani sanctioned for failing to produce records in defamation case

Rudy Giuliani exits U.S. District Court after a hearing in a defamation suit against him in Washington
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, an attorney for former U.S. President Donald Trump. REUTERS/Leah Millis

June 23 (Reuters) – Rudy Giuliani was sanctioned by a U.S. judge on Friday for failing to search for and turn over records in a defamation lawsuit brought by former Georgia election workers against him for accusing them of ballot fraud.

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell ordered Giuliani, Donald Trump’s ex-lawyer, to pay attorney fees and costs associated with the plaintiffs’ effort to force Giuliani to search for documents, according to an order in Washington, D.C., federal court. The exact sum has not yet been determined.

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A lawyer for Giuliani did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“We are pleased with the court’s Order, and look forward to our clients having their day in court,” Michael Gottlieb, a lawyer for the election workers, said in a statement.

The judge previously said Giuliani, who served as mayor of New York, must produce nearly all records requested by the election workers by June 30.

Howell found that Giuliani “arbitrarily limited” his search of a database that contained messages and documents in his possession prior to April 2021, when federal authorities seized his electronic devices, and conducted an “imprecise” manual search of messages from after April 2021.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs, former Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Wandrea (Shaye) Moss, asked Howell to sanction Giuliani in April, accusing Giuliani of failing to fulfill “basic” obligations to turn over records sought as part of the lawsuit and refusing to detail his efforts to preserve and collect documents.

Giuliani’s lawyers maintained this his searches were adequate and argued that it would cost more than $320,000 for him to access the database containing messages from before the seizure of his devices.

Freeman and Moss sued Giuliani and the right-wing news organization One America News in 2021 over statements and broadcasts tying Moss and Freeman to a false conspiracy about vote-rigging in the 2020 U.S. presidential election in Georgia. Giuliani has previously denied the claims.

One America News agreed to settle the lawsuit last year for an undisclosed sum. The settlement agreement has not yet been made public.

By Andrew Goudsward, REUTERS