Trials & Litigation

What are Giuliani's next steps after $148M defamation verdict? Can he afford appeal bond?

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Lawyer Rudy Giuliani, pictured here in September 2022, can’t immediately appeal a recent $148 million verdict against him for defaming two Georgia election workers. Photo by John Nacion/Star Max/IPx via the Associated Press.

Updated: Rudy Giuliani, once a lawyer for former President Donald Trump, can’t immediately appeal a recent $148 million verdict against him for defaming two Georgia election workers.

First, U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell of the District of Columbia must confirm the judgment or possibly lower the amount, the New York Times reported on Sunday. Then, if the defendants request it, Giuliani must post an appeal bond.

On Wednesday, Howell ordered Giuliani to immediately pay the judgment because of concerns that he could conceal his assets, the New York Times reports in a new story. She cited Giuliani’s history as an “uncooperative litigant.”

The appeal bond could pose an obstacle for Giuliani, Newsweek and the New York Times report, citing an MSNBC interview with former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan.

“The idea behind an appeal bond is that an appeal could be filed for good faith reasons; it can also be filed simply to delay the payday, and so to avoid the latter, litigants are required to pay in advance an appeal bond, which is usually something more than the amount of the judgment, so that it’s there in case there is a finality in the case,” said McQuade, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School.

Giuliani’s financial holdings are unknown because he refused to comply fully with discovery requests. As a penalty, Howell imposed a total fine of $132,000 and found liability. The trial took place only to determine damages.

Jurors assessed $32 million in damages for defamation, $40 million for intentional infliction of emotional distress and $75 million in punitive damages. The judgment was for falsely alleging that Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Wandrea “Shaye” Moss had tampered with the vote count in the 2020 election.

Giuliani makes $400,000 per year from his radio show, Forbes reports, citing an August article in the New York Times. He also owns a three-bedroom apartment in Manhattan, New York City, that he is trying to sell for $6.1 million.

Giuliani’s bills are rising, along with potential liability. He has been sued by voting machine companies Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems, and he is facing criminal indictment in a case in Fulton County, Georgia, alleging election interference by Trump, Giuliani and 17 other defendants.

Giuliani is also facing a lawsuit by his former lawyer Robert Costello for failure to pay nearly $1.4 million in legal fees. He also reportedly owes nearly $550,000 in unpaid taxes from 2021, but he told Forbes that he has an agreement with the Internal Revenue Service to pay it off.

Giuliani can’t use bankruptcy to avoid paying the verdict because the damages are for intentional torts, according to the New York Times and the Washington Post. But a bankruptcy could delay the verdict payment, said Christopher Mattei, who represented Sandy Hook, Connecticut, families suing Infowars host Alex Jones for defamation. The time could be used to negotiate a post-verdict settlement. In the Sandy Hook case, families have offered to settle with Jones for $85 million.

See also:

“Giuliani ordered to pay over $89K discovery sanction in poll workers’ suit”

“Giuliani should be disbarred for basing election suit on ‘speculation’ and ‘suspicion,’ ethics committee says”

“Rudy Giuliani defends election suit, claims persecution in ethics hearing that became ‘a tad argumentative’”

Updated Dec. 21 at 8:35 a.m. to report that U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell of the District of Columbia ordered Rudy Giuliani to immediately pay the judgment.

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