Dominion Voting Systems cannot bring up the January 6, insurrection at its upcoming defamation case against Fox News. A Delaware judge also revealed Tuesday that he had received death threats.
The voting technology firm sued Fox News for falsely promoting the claim that Dominion's voting machines were rigged in the 2020 elections. Dominion's lawsuit mentions a number of allegedly defamatory remarks, but most of them occurred before the storming of US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
At a hearing on Tuesday, Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis stated that referring to January 6 was too prejudicial for the jury and that it wasn't the case about whether Fox News had "influenced" this insurrection.
Davis stated that the court was not able to deal with this issue at the moment.
Davis, however, ruled in favor of Dominion on some other important questions. He blocked Fox from bringing forth certain First Amendment arguments or presenting evidence it believed would be helpful to its defense.
The judge ruled Fox couldn't use broadcasts in which reporters fact-checked Trump’s lies about 2020 elections to prove other broadcasts amplifying those lies were not defamatory.
Davis stated that the other broadcasts were "not relevant" in the case because "you cannot absolve yourself from defamation" by having someone else speak at a later time who spoke the truth about Dominion.
Fox also cannot use Dominion staff emails in which they said that their machines "sucked" and "were riddled with bugs" to prove there were legitimate concerns about Dominion products. Therefore, Fox did not defame Dominion. These emails were not public in 2020. They couldn't influence the mentality of Fox staffers who promoted Dominion claims during their shows.
If Dominion wins the case and it moves on to damages, Fox could bring up these emails in order to show that Dominion may be losing business due to voting security concerns. This is not only because of an alleged defamation.
Davis opened the door for Dominion's presentation of financial data from Fox at trial. This included information about the salaries of Fox's top executives and hosts. Fox argued that the data was not relevant to the case, and could potentially bias the jury.
Davis stated that "Economics is relevant".
The judge who is overseeing Dominion’s case against Fox News revealed to the media on Tuesday that he had received death threats.
Davis said to lawyers on both sides: "I have sent you things I have received" during a conversation about death threats against Dominion employees.
Discussions centered on whether Dominion could bring up death threats or harassment its employees experienced after the 2020 elections. Davis ruled Dominion could tell the jury that the threats existed, but not the specific content, as Fox doesn't have direct control over what third parties say.
Davis told the lawyers of Dominion, "I am not underplaying this." You need to take all threats seriously. "I take every threat very seriously."
Dominion claims that Fox is responsible for many of these threats, but Fox denies this. Fox would be required to pay Dominion for its increased security measures after 2020 if it wins. A court spokesperson declined comment on the threats made against Davis.
The judge has issued rulings on almost two dozen motions filed before trial. This will help set up the historic trial which is scheduled to begin this week with jury selection taking place on Thursday. Dominion wants $1.6 billion as damages. Fox claims it did not defame anyone, and that this case is an unjustified assault on press rights.
This is an evolving story.
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