Sarah Palin’s bid for a new defamation trial against The Times is denied

Sarah Palin lost her bid for a new trial in her libel case against The New York Times on Tuesday, with a judge ruling that she had failed to present “even a shred” of evidence needed to show the paper had defamed her in an editorial. of 2017. .

The written decision by U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff said that while mistakes were made when publishers rushed to meet deadlines, “an error is not enough to win if it was not motivated by true malice.”

Actual malice is the legal standard set by the Supreme Court that a public figure like Ms. Palin must prove to win a libel case. That would mean that The Times knew that she was publishing false information or that she recklessly ignored the evidence despite harboring doubts about the veracity of what she published.

“The amazing thing about the trial here was that Palin, despite all her earlier claims, ultimately failed to present even a shred of such evidence,” Judge Rakoff wrote. “Palin’s motion is hereby denied in its entirety.”

Ms. Palin’s attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“We are pleased to see the court’s decision and are confident that the judge and jury decided the case fairly and correctly,” said Charlie Stadtlander, a spokesman for The Times.

The defamation lawsuit brought by Palin, a former Republican vice-presidential candidate and governor of Alaska, centered on an editorial that falsely linked her campaign rhetoric to a 2011 mass shooting in Arizona. The Times corrected the editorial the morning after it was published. publication.

Ms. Palin claimed that the editorial had damaged her reputation and her career. Lawyers for The Times said it was an “honest mistake” and that there was never any intention to harm Ms Palin.

The trial came at a time when people who believe journalists should be held responsible for doing something wrong have been pushing for the Supreme Court to reconsider the matter. The current standard for defamation was set by the 1964 case The New York Times Company v. Sullivan.

The end of the trial earlier this year was not without drama. As jury deliberations were underway on February 14, Judge Rakoff announced that he intended to dismiss the lawsuit, even if the jury found in favor of Ms. Palin, because she had not shown that The Times acted with genuine justice. malice. The next day, the jury rejected Ms. Palin’s claim.

It was later revealed that several jurors had learned of Judge Rakoff’s decision while they were still deliberating, thanks to push notifications on their cell phones. But in a subsequent order, Judge Rakoff said several jurors had told the court clerk that the notices had “in no way affected them or played any role in their deliberations.”

Ms. Palin’s lawyers cited the timing of Judge Rakoff’s announcement as one of the reasons why a new trial should be held. Ms. Palin can appeal, but appellate courts tend to defer to jury decisions.

In April, Ms. Palin announced that she would run for Congress in Alaska, in a return to national politics. She will join a packed field of nearly 40 candidates to fill the House seat vacated by Rep. Don Young, who died in March.

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