Judge rips Giuliani lawyer for ex-mayor’s absence at Georgia poll worker pretrial hearing
Rudy Giuliani failed to appear at a Tuesday hearing ahead of his defamation trial, resulting in his lawyer receiving a tongue-lashing from the Washington, D.C., federal judge overseeing the case.
U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell harshly questioned lawyer Joseph Sibley over Giuliani’s unexpected absence and whether they were ready for the trial set for next week, which will determine how much money Giuliani owes two Georgia poll workers for defaming them after the 2020 election.
Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss sued Giuliani, a close ally of former President Trump and the ex-mayor of New York, after he made a series of false statements about their work at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, where ballots were being counted. He and other Trump allies falsely claimed the election workers — a mother-daughter duo — committed fraud by processing “suitcases” of illicit ballots. The poll workers were both present in court in Washington on Tuesday.
Sibley told Howell that Giuliani is in New York and took the blame for his absence, asserting that he misinterpreted the judge’s standing order from September requiring all parties to be present during the trial and at hearings ahead of it.
“How could you have missed that,” Howell asked Sibley, visibly frustrated. “And did you miss it?”
“I did. … I apologize,” Sibley replied.
“Well, that sets the tone for this, doesn’t it?” Howell remarked, later adding that Giuliani’s absence is “not a good start to the trial we’re about to begin.”
Giuliani has repeatedly dodged the court’s orders as the case has progressed. After failing to turn over evidence to the poll workers despite “repeated reminders” from the court, Howell in August found him civilly liable for their claims of “defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, civil conspiracy, and punitive damage.”
“Given the willful shirking of his discovery obligations in anticipation of and during this litigation, Giuliani leaves little other choice,” Howell wrote in her decision.
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