(Bloomberg) — A lawyer who was part of former President Donald Trump’s 2020 legal team may be evading a subpoena in a defamation case against Rudy Giuliani, according to attorneys for two Georgia election workers who sued the former New York City mayor.
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Over the past four months, the plaintiffs’ attorneys tried six addresses in three states to serve the subpoena on Trump lawyer Katherine Friess, with no luck, court papers show. They messaged five email addresses, receiving notice that one email was repeatedly opened but never getting a response. A lawyer who represented Friess in another case wouldn’t accept service on her behalf.
Friess isn’t a defendant in the defamation suit. But election workers Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, wanted her to turn over documents because they said Giuliani had identified Friess as a principal author of a strategic communications plan to cast doubt on President Joe Biden’s electoral win in 2020.
Friess is “an important witness in this case, with personal knowledge of the origins of Defendant Giuliani’s lies about Plaintiffs,” Freeman and Moss said in court filings.
On Wednesday, US District Chief Judge Beryl Howell determined that Friess was “likely aware of this lawsuit” and issued an order allowing the plaintiffs to use other methods to serve her with the subpoena that do not require direct contact.
Friess didn’t respond to emails sent to the five addresses listed in the DC case or to a voicemail left at the phone number associated with her attorney registration in Colorado.
The case stems from bogus claims by Trump that the 2020 election was mired in fraud, especially in Georgia, a key swing state.
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Moss was an employee of the Fulton County Registration and Elections Department and her mother had been hired as a temporary election worker. The two women became the targets of a false voter-fraud conspiracy theory promoted by Trump, Giuliani and others, which led to threats and harassment, according to Congressional testimony in June.
In December 2021, Freeman and Moss filed a defamation case in federal court in Washington, DC, against Giuliani, the conservative cable channel One America News Network, and OAN correspondent Chanel Rion. Freeman and Moss reached a settlement with the OAN defendants in the spring. Giuliani lost an early bid to get the case tossed out; a status report is due to the judge in August 2023.
Earlier this month, lawyers for Freeman and Moss told Howell there was evidence that Friess was intentionally trying to cut off avenues of contact, saying they learned she closed a post-office box after they had tried to serve her there. They wrote that Friess had been an attorney for 30 years “and is therefore familiar with the legal system and the mechanics of serving a witness.”
‘May Be Evading’
“On this record only, it is reasonable to infer that Ms. Friess is aware of Plaintiffs’ lawsuit, their interest in her personal knowledge, and their attempts to serve her with a subpoena, and that she may be evading service,” Freeman and Moss’ lawyers wrote in a Dec. 16 files.
Howell, in her order, said the plaintiffs could email the subpoena to Friess at the various accounts they’d identified, mail copies to addresses they found in Colorado, and send one to the lawyer who represented her in an unsuccessful case she pursued in federal court in Colorado this year contesting a subpoena from the House Jan. 6 committees.
The lawyer in the Colorado case, Raymond Mansolillo, did not return requests for comment. Freeman and Moss’ attorneys with the legal advocacy group Protect Democracy declined to comment.
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