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Sarah Palin Plans to Appeal Dismissal of New York Times Defamation Claim

— February 24, 2022

The request for a re-trial seems at least partially contingent on jurors having receiving information of the judge’s decision to dismiss the case before they finished deliberations.

A Manhattan-based federal judge has said that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is seeking a re-trial in her defamation claim against The New York Times, as well as the judge’s removal from the case.

According to The Associated Press, U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff disclosed the latest development in a brief telephone conference with concerned attorneys.

Rakoff, adds the A.P., wrote in an order that jurors knew before delivering their verdict against Palin that he had ruled against her as a matter of law.

As has reported before, Rakoff found that—even if the jury had sided with Palin—her claim against the Times could not be upheld, since she had failed to establish that the New York Times acted with malice in publishing an opinion-editorial linking Palin’s political rhetoric with a 2011 mass shooting.

“We’ve reached the same bottom line,” Rakoff told jurors after they absolved the Times of wrongdoing. “But it’s on different grounds—you decided the facts, I decided the law.”

While the jurors admitted they received and viewed pop-ups news notifications detailing Rakoff’s judgment, they assured his law clerk they would not let the ruling affect deliberations.

Gavel resting on open book; image by verkeorg, via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes.
Gavel resting on open book; image by verkeorg, via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes.

“The jurors repeatedly assured the Court’s law clerk that these notifications had not affected them in any way or played any role whatever in their deliberations,” Rakoff wrote in his filing. “Nevertheless, in an excess of caution, the Court hereby brings the foregoing facts to the parties’ attention … If any party feels there is any relief they seek based on the above, counsel should promptly initiate a joint phone conference with the Court to discuss whether any further proceedings are appropriate.”

In light of Palin’s pending appeal, Rakoff had told The New York Times he would expedite the writing of a decision outlining why he agreed to dismiss the case.

However, Palin’s attorneys have since filed a motion seeking to reveal what communications the judge had with media during the trial.

Rakoff, adds The Associated Press, appeared perturbed by the request and defended his conduct.

“I had zero communications with the media during the trial,” Rakoff said. “None whatsoever.”

While Rakoff said he did respond to a reporter’s “urgent phone message” after the verdict—which related to phone push notifications—he did not otherwise actively communicate or otherwise engage with the media.

The New York Times has since defended Rakoff’s verdict, telling The Wall Street Journal that it is “confident that the judge and jury decided the case fairly and correctly.”


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