Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and personal lawyer to Donald Trump, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the day after a judge ordered him to pay $148 million in damages for defaming two Georgia poll workers.
He listed debts totalling nearly $500 million, including unknown damages owed to voting machine companies over false claims they rigged the 2020 election.
Verdict should deter election conspiracy theorists from spreading misinformation
The verdict in Giuliani’s case serves as “a strong deterrent to those considering spreading unfounded election conspiracies,” according to The Guardian’s Rachel Leingang. Voting rights groups are bracing for a showdown at the polls in 2024 as Trump continues to repeat claims of election fraud and call for supporters to “guard the vote” in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia – a phrase seen as a coded message intended to inspire voter intimidation. Aside from the Georgia poll workers lawsuit, Giuliani also faces active cases brought by voting machine makers Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic over claims they flipped votes from Trump to Biden. “The truth matters. Lies have consequences,” Dominion lawyer Justin Nelson told reporters after settling a similar case with Fox News.
Georgia poll workers can “chase Giuliani to his grave” for their money
In some cases, filing for bankruptcy can excuse defendants from paying all penalties, but not with “intentional torts” such as defamation, former U.S. attorney Barb McQuade said on MSNBC. That means that the two Georgia ballot workers Giuliani defamed will be able to “chase Rudy Giuliani to his grave to catch every penny they can out of his pockets,” she said. Giuliani does have some options to delay payments, such as re-litigating whether his conduct was “willful and malicious” under bankruptcy law, according to the Washington Post, which could potentially allow him to negotiate a post-verdict settlement.