A Delaware Superior Court Judge has ruled Dominion Voting Systems will not be allowed to bring up the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol when its $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News goes to trial next week. File Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo
April 11 (UPI) -- Dominion Voting Systems will not be allowed to bring up the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol when the voting machine company's $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News goes to trial next week.
Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis ruled Tuesday in a pretrial motion that any references to the U.S. Capitol riot could taint the jury's view of the case, which is not about whether Fox News "influenced" the insurrection.
"That may be for another court at another time, but it's not for this court at this time," Davis said.
During Tuesday's pretrial motions, the judge also revealed he has received death threats.
"I've sent you things that I've received," Davis told lawyers from both sides Tuesday, as they discussed whether Dominion could reference threats against its employees following the 2020 election. Davis ruled that Dominion can tell jurors about the threats but will not be allowed to disclose the content.
The trial is scheduled to start Monday. Jury selection is set for Thursday and Friday.
Dominion filed the defamation lawsuit against Fox News parent company Fox Corporation two years ago, after the network said Dominion's voting systems manipulated the 2020 election results.
In the lawsuit, Dominion says its reputation was damaged after Fox News tied it to a "rigged" presidential election, as well as paid kickbacks to politicians and the late leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.
"The truth matters. Lies have consequences," Dominion, which provided voting machines and software to more than 28 states during the 2020 election, said in the lawsuit.
"Fox sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process," the lawsuit states.
In its own court document filed in February, Fox News blasted Dominion for seeking more than $1 billion in damages.
"Dominion filed this lawsuit to make Fox News pay for participating in that vital debate at a price that would stifle similar debates going forward," the network said.
"There will be a lot of noise and confusion generated by Dominion and their opportunistic private equity owners, but the core of this case remains about freedom of the press and freedom of speech, which are fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution and protected by New York Times vs. Sullivan," Fox News said in a February statement to UPI.
According to court documents, a number of text messages and emails exchanged by some of the network's star hosts, including Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, reveal disbelief over former President Donald Trump's claims of election fraud as the network pushed the narrative.
Earlier this month, Judge Davis ruled that Dominion had proven that the network's statements about the voting machine company and the 2020 election were false. It will now be up to the jury to decide whether Fox acted with "actual malice" and whether Dominion is entitled to damages.
In another ruling last week, Davis said Dominion could force Fox Corporation executives Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch to take the witness stand and testify, after Fox argued their testimony was not necessary.
"Fox and Dominion have made these four parties very relevant," Davis said during a pretrial hearing Wednesday. "It's not the corporation that raises its hand on the stand, it's their officers and directors that raise their hand on the stand."
"So if Dominion wants to bring them in live, they need to do a trial subpoena and I would not quash it. I would compel them to come."