On Monday, a judge said he’ll dismiss a libel lawsuit that former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin filed against the New York Times. Palin’s lawsuit claimed the newspaper damaged her reputation with an editorial falsely linking her campaign rhetoric to a mass shooting.
The suit alleged the Times defamed Palin by linking her to a 2011 shooting spree in Arizona that killed six people and seriously injured then-U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords. Palin’s attorneys had to meet the “actual malice” standard the Supreme Court set for libel suits against public figures in the 1967 case New York Times v. Sullivan, Rakoff said in his ruling, according to Politico.
The suit, which was filed in June 2017, also lists James Bennett, The Times’ former editorial page editor, as a defendant. The suit alleges that the Times, in full awareness, falsely stated in an editorial headlined “America’s Lethal Politics” on June 14, 2017, that Palin incited Jared Loughner’s shooting of 19 people in Arizona on January 8, 2011.
The U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff ruled that Palin’s lawyers failed to provide evidence showing the newspaper knew that what it wrote about her was false or acted recklessly towards indications it was false, Politico reported. Rakoff said he would allow the jury to continue deliberating to reach a verdict, then dismiss the complaint, the New York Post reported.
Rakoff said he let the jury deliberations continue in case his decision winds up being reversed on appeal. He said he would wait to formally enter the judgement when the trial ends. “This is the kind of case that inevitably goes up on appeal,” Rakoff said in an explanation from the bench.
The jury concluded the day Monday without reaching a verdict. They were to resume deliberating Tuesday. They started deliberations last Friday.
Outside the courthouse, Palin expressed bafflement over the judge taking a position before jurors made their own decision. “This is a jury trial and we always appreciate the system. So, whatever happened in there usurps the system,” she said.
Lawyers for both Palin and the New York Times left court without commenting.