December 22, 2023

A Willkie pro bono team, alongside co-counsel, were named “Litigators of the Week” by The AmLaw Litigation Daily for their recent win on behalf of Fulton County Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Wandrea’ ArShaye (“Shaye”) Moss. On December 15, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia awarded Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss $148.1 million in damages for the harm Rudy Giuliani caused by spreading lies that they had intentionally undermined the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Willkie partners Michael Gottlieb and Meryl Governski were featured in a Q&A alongside co-counsel Von DuBose of Dubose Miller and John Langford of Protect Democracy. The Q&A includes discussion of how Willkie and co-counsel became involved in the case, how the work was divided among the teams, and what other litigators can take from this outcome, among other topics.

Meryl discussed how the team navigated the complications resulting from a defendant who was not complying with discovery obligations and witnesses who—because of their involvement in other election-related cases—were at times invoking the Fifth Amendment. “With patience, persistence, and a goal-driven strategy,” she said. “We did not end up with a default judgment or jury-ready third-party depositions accidentally. It was the result of a careful approach from the inception of the case to question, press, memorialize, and pursue.”

Michael discussed what Mr. Giuliani’s bankruptcy filing will mean for the team’s efforts to collect on this verdict. “We have been anticipating and preparing for this for some time.  We are confident that Mr. Giuliani’s maneuver will not succeed in discharging his debts to our clients,” he explained. “For our part, we have an experienced team of bankruptcy lawyers—including the same lawyers who have been pursuing recovery from Alex Jones on behalf of the Sandy Hook families—and we will move swiftly to secure every penny Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss are owed through whatever legal means available.”

In discussing what they will remember most about this trial, Michael commented: “…I will always remember the feeling in the room when the jury announced its verdict, as the entire room experienced an authentic moment of accountability and justice…The jury’s verdict sends the unmistakable message that Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss’s reputations, and indeed their lives, are valuable—that they matter just as much as those of the powerful and wealthy.”

Meryl added: “I will never forget the courage our clients showed on the witness stand…I was privileged to help Ms. Freeman tell her story in direct examination, and will always cherish the bond of trust we formed, and the pride we felt in how she conveyed how it feels to have powerful men steal your name and identity for personal and political goals. My family, including my two children, were in the courtroom that day to hear Ms. Freeman, and it will be a moment, and a history lesson, they will never forget either.”

Ms. Moss and Ms. Freeman are represented by a pro bono Willkie trial team that includes partners Michael Gottlieb, Meryl Governski, and Kristin Bender, Counsel Aaron Nathan, and associates Annie Houghton-Larsen, J. Tyler Knoblett, Maggie MacCurdy, and Perri Haser, legal assistants Ashley Moore and Kashia Adams. Also thanks to Senior Counsel Bart Schwartz, associates Tim Ryan and Logan Kenney, legal assistant Ann Staron, and the Managing Attorney’s Office for all their help in getting the team to trial.

Read the full Q&A here.

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