On Monday, a federal judge declared that he plans to dismiss Sarah Palin’s libel lawsuit against The New York Times.
He is ruling that her legal team has not met the high standard required to prove defamation by the 2017 editorial linking her politics to a mass shooting.
The jury is still deliberating the evidence (The New York Times). However, Judge S. Rakoff said he would allow the jurors to continue their deliberations, and if they rule in favor of Palin, then he will set aside their verdicts and dismiss the case.
The jury will likely return to the courtroom on Tuesday. Additionally, the judge has indicated that he understands that Palin will likely request an appeal, and that other judges will weigh in on the case.
This is a major test of the First Amendment, and how it protects journalists. From a previous Supreme Court case, The New York Times Company v. Sullivan, it was established that public figures must prove that a news organization acted with “actual malice” in releasing false information. This would suggest the company was aware the information was false and completely disregarded the truth.
The judge commented, “this is an example of very unfortunate editorializing on the part of The Times. But having said that, that’s not the issue before this court.” He added that he was “hardly surprised” that Palin had sued.
However, his decision has created an interesting situation. The jury has been instructed not to read any news on the case, but yet may still see that his decision will nullify their own verdict.
George Freeman, executive director of the Media Law Resource Center and former lawyer for The Times, said, “He did follow the law, which is what he’s supposed to do. And there is no actual malice according to the evidence. But generally a judge would hold his views in his pocket.” He added that the jury “has no legal power at this point.”
ARTICLE: JILLIAN WEIDNER
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: MYNEWS13.COM