According to reports, one-time lawyer Rudy Giuliani had issues with affording to fund his criminal defense in Georgia, assuming he can find a lawyer willing to represent him. It’s tough times for the former United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York who went on to be mayor of New York City.
In court on Monday, the former New York City mayor said the legal quagmires have left him effectively out of cash. He even appears to have responded to some of the money crunch by listing for sale a 3-bedroom Manhattan apartment he owns for $6.5 million.
Not including standard legal fees, Giuliani faces nearly $90,000 in sanctions from a judge in a defamation case, a $20,000 monthly fee to a company to host his electronic records, $15,000 or more for a search of his records, and even a $57,000 judgment against his company for unpaid phone bills.
“These are a lot of bills that he’s not paying,” Giuliani attorney Adam Katz told a New York state court on Wednesday. “I think this is very humbling for Mr. Giuliani.”
Humble was never Rudy’s strong point, unfortunately. and for those of us who lacked fond feelings toward him long before he had anything to do with Trump, this is a moment to resist basking in uncharitable feelings of schadenfreude. Alas, some of us are too weak to resist.
To add insult to injury, D.C. District Judge Beryl Howell hit the wall in the defamation suit against Rudy by the two Georgia election workers, Ruby Freeman and Wandrea’ ArShaye Moss, whom he willingly found expendable in his desperate effort to manufacture a lie. Discovery is an ordinary and necessary aspect of any civil suit. Litigants trying to game discovery, resist it, manipulate it and avoid it are nothing new. And Rudy Giuliani isn’t special.
Defendant Rudolph W. Giuliani is taken at his word that he understands these obligations. He assured this Court directly that he “understand[s] the obligations” because he has “been doing this for 50 years[.]”In this case, however, Giuliani has given only lip service to compliance with his discovery obligations and this Court’s orders by failing to take reasonable steps to preserve or produce his ESI. Instead, Giuliani has submitted declarations with concessions turned slippery on scrutiny and excuses designed to shroud the insufficiency of his discovery compliance. The bottom line is that Giuliani has refused to comply with his discovery obligations and thwarted plaintiffs Ruby Freeman and Wandrea’ ArShaye Moss’s procedural rights to obtain any meaningful discovery in this case.
Rather than simply play by the rules designed to promote a discovery process necessary to reach a fair decision on the merits of plaintiffs’ claims, Giuliani has bemoaned plaintiffs’ efforts to secure his compliance as “punishment by process.” Donning a cloak of victimization may play well on a public stage to certain audiences, but in a court of law this performance has served only to subvert the normal process of discovery in a straight-forward defamation case, with the concomitant necessity of repeated court intervention. Due to Giuliani’s discovery conduct, plaintiffs have filed two motions to compel production from Giuliani and his eponymous businesses, Giuliani Communications LLC and Giuliani Partners LLC (collectively, the “Giuliani Businesses”), resulting in two discovery hearings, the issuance of multiple orders seeking his discovery compliance or otherwise sanctioning him for noncompliance. Along the way, Giuliani has been afforded several extensions of time to comply with court orders and his discovery obligations. As the discussion below reveals, however, the result of these efforts to obtain discovery from Giuliani, aside from his initial production of 193 documents, is largely a single page of communications, blobs of indecipherable data, a sliver of the financial documents required to be produced, and a declaration and two stipulations from Giuliani, who indicates in the latter stipulations his preference to concede plaintiffs’ claims rather than produce discovery in this case.
Giuliani might have done better to argue that between drinking problems and senile dementia, his miserable failure to comply with discovery, or the subsequent opportunities to comply after his prior failures before the court dropped the hammer, negated whatever he should have learned over his “50 years” as a lawyer. But winning arguments also aren’t Rudy’s strength these day.
Giuliani’s willful discovery misconduct has now led, inexorably, to plaintiffs’ pending motion for sanctions due to his “Failure To Preserve Electronic Evidence,” seeking, inter alia, the entry of default judgment against Giuliani. Giuliani has also not complied with two other court orders requiring him both to produce certain requested, routine financial documents relevant to plaintiffs’ claims for punitive damages, and to reimburse plaintiffs for attorneys’ fees and costs associated with their first motion to compel, failures for which plaintiffs request additional sanctions. Additionally, plaintiffs’ have sought sanctions due to noncompliance by Giuliani’s eponymous businesses with document and deposition requests, after their motion to compel compliance was granted as conceded.
Judge Howell has held Giuliani in default as a sanction for his repeated discovery failures. If ever there was an appropriate use of “fuck around and find out,” this was it.
The downside risk of turning the discovery process into what this Court has previously described as a “murky mess” is that Rule 37 provides a remedy: sanctions, including entry of default judgment, against Giuliani. Given the willful shirking of his discovery obligations in anticipation of and during this litigation, Giuliani leaves little other choice. For the reasons set out below, the pending motion is granted. Default judgment will be entered against Giuliani as a discovery sanction pursuant to Rules 37(e)(2)(C) and 37(b)(2)(a)(vi), holding him civilly liable on plaintiffs’ defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, civil conspiracy, and punitive damage claims, and Giuliani is directed to reimburse plaintiffs for attorneys’ fees and costs associated with their instant motion.
The court ordered Giuliani to pay attorneys fees for the needless motions for compliance that he ignored, and the case will proceed to a trial on damages, liability no longer in issue. Perhaps Rudy decided to take the hit in the belief that you can’t get blood from a rock, and he’s now in a position where he will be left destitute no matter what becomes of this, his other debts and other cases. Maybe he’s betting that Trump will bail him out, finally appreciating the lawyer who took the hit for him at Four Seasons Landscaping for no paid fee. Or he remains under the delusion that if Trump is elected to the presidency, he will somehow share in whatever graft falls through the cracks.
But for now, he left Judge Howell with no other choice but to sanction him for his refusal to comply with his discovery obligations. He was given every opportunity to avoid sanctions, but he chose the “normal” level of scrutiny yet again, and he got it good and hard.