Judge in Palin libel case surprises with decision for Times while jury deliberates

Even with the jury deliberating during the defamation suit Sarah Palin brought against The New York Times, a Federal District Judge Jed Rakoff ruled that the suit should be dismissed for failure to prove actual malice. The jury will continue to deliberate in anticipation that its findings could be useful in an expected appeal. (Politico, February 14, 2022, by Josh Gerstein). Update: The jury found in favor of the Times.

The U.S. Supreme Court has said it may be right to take defamation cases involving the press out of the hands of juries, given the important of protecting press freedom. But the timing of Rakoff’s decision was unusual for this stage of the trial. It is expected that the U.S. Supreme Court will have the final say on the actual malice standard. (The Bharat Express News, February 15, 2022, by Jan Wolfe of Reuters)

A Boston Herald editorial, February 14, 2022, says that The New York Times lost credibility when it incorrectly linked a Palin map with crosshairs to the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords. Editor James Bennet admits he made a grievous mistake. The editorial concurred, “The Times does look partisan, slanted and agenda-driven.”

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