Judge admonishes Fox lawyers over evidence gap in voting machine libel case

On Wednesday, the judge presiding over the defamation case against Fox News warned its lawyers of possible withholding of evidence and said he was inclined to order an independent review by a special director that could lead to sanctions.

The move by Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis comes amid $1.6 Billion Defamation Case Dominion Voting Systems’ lawsuit against the conservative network and its parent company, Fox Corp.

The judge spoke in a pretrial hearing after learning that Fox had only recently turned over recordings of conversations between Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo and two lawyers for then-President Donald Trump, Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani. expressed anger and frustration.This comes a day after it was disclosed that Fox attorneys had withholding key information About the role of company founder and Fox Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch on Fox News.

“I’m very concerned … that misrepresentations are being made in court,” Davis said.

The judge, who was displeased with Murdoch’s late disclosure, became even more disturbed Wednesday when he was told Fox had also not revealed the recordings the former producer had made for Bartiromo. The recordings are of the host’s conversations with Giuliani and Powell before and after the show. Their existence has surfaced in former producer Abby Grossberg’s lawsuit against Fox, alleging that the network’s lawyers forced her to give misleading testimony to protect the company in a defamation case.

In a pre-show talk on Nov. 8, 2020, a few days after the presidential election, Bartiromo asked Giuliani if ​​he had information on Dominion software, which some have claimed could be manipulated.

“It’s kind of hard. It’s being analyzed right now,” Giuliani responded.

A week later, Giuliani said on Bartiromo’s show that the software, developed by a company founded by Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez, had been used to cheat elections in South America.

Dominion in Colorado Claims Fox hurt company by repeating airings false accusation The machines and software they used rigged the 2020 presidential election to prevent Trump’s re-election.Records produced as part of the lawsuit show that many executives and moderators don’t believe the claimsbut aired anyway.

There is no indication that recent developments will delay try outis scheduled to begin jury selection on Thursday, but they have already embarrassing network. In a way, it reveals how Fox used bogus election claims to win back the audience Networks are outraged after they correctly called Arizona for Joe Biden on election night.

The judge said Wednesday that he was considering asking a special director to investigate actions Fox lawyers took after they testified to the court in December that they had met their obligation to produce documents. That could include Fox’s failure to disclose Grossberg’s recordings and Bartiromo’s emails.

Dominion attorney Davida Brook told the judge that Dominion had only recently learned that Powell had forwarded to Bartiromo an email Powell received in November 2020, an email from a woman describing a wide-ranging Conspiracy theories, including those involving allegations of election fraud.

In her testimony, Bartiromo said she didn’t know if she saw the email. “It’s not something I’ve seen or thought was real,” she swore.

But on Wednesday, the judge saw an email confirming that Bartiromo not only read Powell’s email, but apparently discussed its content with Trump’s son, Eric Trump, and replied to Powell:” I just talked to Eric and told him you gave the imp info,” Bartiromo wrote Powell.

Davis said he would allow Dominion to question Bartiromo again under oath at the expense of Fox, though Dominion did not immediately say it would do so.

The judge said he may also ask a special director to investigate how Fox lawyers handled Rupert Murdoch’s role at Fox News.

Since Dominion filed the lawsuit in 2021, Fox has claimed that Murdoch has no official position at Fox News. In its filing, Fox News officials are listed as Jay Wallace, Joe Dorrego and Suzanne Scott, the network’s chief executive. But on Sunday, Fox revealed to Dominion’s lawyers that Murdoch is also the “executive chairman” of Fox News.

On Wednesday, a judge ordered Fox’s lawyers to collect and preserve all internal communications on the matter. Earlier in the day, he rejected Dominion’s request to have separate trials — one against Fox News and another against the network’s parent company — based on new information about Murdoch’s role.

The role of Murdoch and other Fox executives is at the heart of Dominion’s defamation case. Lawyers for Fox have argued that the executives’ roles at parent company Fox Corporation deprive them of day-to-day decision-making that allows false election claims to air on various Fox News programming.

—Randall Chase, Associated Press

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