Sarah Palin’s defamation lawsuit against The New York Times will be dismissed, a federal judge announced on Monday, saying the former Alaska governor’s team failed to meet the court’s high standards for public figures to make their case.
Palin’s team was unable to prove that the newspaper acted with actual malice when it published a 2017 editorial erroneously connecting Palin to a 2011 mass shooting in Tuscon, Ariz., NPR reported. According to Judge Jed Rakoff, Palin’s lawyers failed to present sufficient evidence against the paper or former page editor James Bennet. Palin’s team would have had to prove that Bennet, who inserted the Palin-related language in the article, knew the characterization was false or that the probability of it being false was so great as to mean he was acting with reckless indifference to the facts.
Judge Rakoff said he would allow the jury to continue working because in the likely event that Palin issues an appeal, the appeals court “would greatly benefit from knowing how the jury would decide” the case, as The Times reported. If the jury rules in favor of Palin, Rakoff said he will dismiss the case. His decision came during the second day of jury deliberations, in response to a motion by The Times.
“Ms. Palin was subjected to an ultimately unsupported and very serious allegation that Mr. Bennet chose to revisit seven years or so after the underlying events,” Rakoff said, according to NPR. “So I don’t mean to be understood. I think this is an example of very unfortunate editorializing on the part of The Times.”
He continued, “My job is to apply the law. The law here sets a very high standard for ‘actual malice,’ and to this case, the court finds that that standard has not been met.”