Freeman plans to take the stand and describe emotional pain caused by Giuliani’s attacks, including nightmares about her and her family being killed, one of their lawyers said. And Moss intends to describe walking out of a job interview at Chick-fil-A — after leaving her eight-year career as an election worker — when the manager confronted her with news articles describing Giuliani’s false allegations.

As the case kicked off Monday, jurors also heard jarring audio of racist and violent phone messages and saw the text of emails, some echoing the false allegations that Giuliani and Trump lodged against Freeman and Moss as Trump sought to subvert his defeat in the 2020 election. Many of the messages contained racial slurs, including the N-word, which was played in court repeatedly and quoted aloud by another of the pair’s attorneys, Von DuBose.

U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell, who is presiding over the trial, has already found that Giuliani defamed Freeman and Moss and caused them emotional distress. Howell issued that ruling in August as a sanction for her finding that the former New York mayor and federal prosecutor intentionally hid evidence from them, including evidence about his net worth.

The jury’s only role is to settle on Giuliani’s punishment — a dollar amount they can tie to the harms he caused as well as additional “punitive” damages meant to deter others from acting similarly in the future.

Giuliani targeted Freeman and Moss in remarks to Georgia lawmakers in December 2020, falsely claiming that video evidence showed them manipulating ballots at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta. The allegation spread like wildfire among Trump’s allies who were seeking evidence of election fraud that could give Trump a pretense to challenge the results — and they persisted even after Georgia election officials debunked them. Trump himself supercharged the attacks on Moss and Freeman by raising them on a Jan. 2, 2021 phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Giuliani, girding for an eye-popping financial verdict, is pleading with the jury to consider whether Freeman and Moss’ suffering could really be directly tied to him.

Giuliani attorney Joseph Sibley began his brief opening statement by immediately conceding that his client was “wrong” to have blamed Freeman and Moss for fraud, although he quickly attributed that concession to the ruling Howell already delivered.

“There’s really no question that these plaintiffs were harmed,” Sibley said, calling them “good people.” “They didn’t deserve what happened to them.”

However, Sibley called the amount of damages the pair are claiming “truly incredible,” and he made clear that the primary thrust of Giuliani’s defense will be to claim that the chaos and fear that descended on them in December of 2020 wasn’t solely the fault of Giuliani, Trump or officials in the Trump campaign.

“What happened to them is because of a controversy that involved a lot of people. It wasn’t just Mr. Giuliani,” Sibley said during his six-minute opening. “You’re going to see a lot of evidence of harm … but not much evidence that Mr. Giuliani was the cause.”

If the jury awards Moss and Freeman damages in the amount they’re seeking, he said, “It will be the end of Mr. Giuliani.”

The poll workers’ lawyers plan to call a media analysis expert to try to connect many of the threats and insults the pair received to particular phrases or media appearances by Giuliani and others he worked with on the Trump campaign.

Trump is not a defendant in the lawsuit, but is likely to be a major presence in the case. Attorneys for Moss and Freeman described his social media megaphone as the most powerful on the planet and noted that he used it to amplify Giuliani’s attacks.

A photo of Trump and Giuliani leaning toward one another was displayed on TV screens in the courtroom as an attorney for Freeman and Moss described what Howell has already ruled was a “civil conspiracy” to defame the pair and cause them emotional distress.

“The plan succeeded because it had at its disposal the most powerful amplifier on earth,” Gottlieb said. “The social media account of President Donald J. Trump.”

Moss and Freeman’s attorneys said attaching a dollar figure to the harm the women suffered is necessarily subjective, but they intend to introduce evidence from an expert to quantify it. Their harms included Freeman having to leave her home amid safety threats, rename her business and go into hiding. Moss had to leave her job as an election worker and struggled to find other work. Both women memorably testified about similar struggles when they appeared before the House Jan. 6 select committee last year.

Gottlieb urged the jury to consider “how needless, how cruel” it was for Giuliani to portray “civil servants as fraudsters and criminals without evidence, knowing that millions of people will believe and act upon those lies.”

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