Judge on Palin's Push Against NYT: No 'Speck' of Proof

Judge Jed Rakoff rejects ex-Alaska governor's request for new trial regarding defamation claims
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 24, 2022 12:30 AM CST
Updated Jun 1, 2022 9:15 AM CDT
Sarah Palin Wants New Trial in Defamation Suit Against NYT
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin leaves a courthouse in New York, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022.   (AP Photo/David Martin)

(Newser) Update: Sarah Palin's hopes for a new trial against the New York Times have been dashed, at least for now. On Tuesday, US District Judge Jed Rakoff informed the former Alaska governor's legal team that he was rejecting her request, which was put in after her lawyers said Rakoff had made multiple evidentiary mistakes during the original trial. They were also upset that in February, Rakoff had announced, a day before the jury came back with its own verdict, that he was planning on dismissing Palin's complaint. Jurors rejected her claims as well, though they said they weren't influenced by Rakoff's ruling. In his decision Tuesday, Rakoff noted Palin hadn't presented "even a speck" of proof that the Times had published an editorial about her with actual malice. Palin can appeal, but, as the Times notes, "appeals courts tend to be deferential to jury decisions." Our original story from Feb. 24 follows:

A Manhattan judge said Wednesday that lawyers for Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin are seeking a new trial on her defamation claims against the New York Times, along with his removal from the case. US District Judge Jed S. Rakoff made the disclosure during a brief telephone conference with lawyers, the AP reports. Rakoff said in an order last week that jurors knew before delivering their verdict against Palin earlier this month that he had ruled against her as a matter of law the previous day. Rakoff said the jurors repeatedly assured his law clerk that pop-up news notifications on their phones about the judge’s ruling didn't affect their deliberations.

After lawyers for Palin asked to make their requests in a 50-page written submission, the judge said each side could file papers of the same length after he issues a written opinion next week explaining why he decided he was tossing out the case regardless of the verdict returned by the jury. Palin claimed in her 2017 lawsuit that the newspaper libeled her the same year with an editorial about gun control. The Times maintained that it quickly corrected any errors in the editorial and had made an "honest mistake" that was never meant to harm Palin. (Read more Sarah Palin stories.)

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