Yesterday the judge in the Sarah Palin libel case decided she hadn’t produced enough evidence of the Times’ reckless disregard for truth and therefore the jury’s decision in the case wouldn’t matter. However, he let the jury continue to deliberate the matter on the grounds that their decision might matter in the future if the case was appealed. In fact, Monday afternoon Palin spoke very briefly to the media saying that she was waiting on the jury to issue its verdict in the case:

Today, the jury came back with a unanimous decision siding with the NY Times:

A jury ruled against Sarah Palin in her libel case against the New York Times, one day after the judge said he would toss out her claim, saying she had not met the high legal standard required in libel cases involving public figures and journalists.

The jury’s decision conforms with the one made by U.S. District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff. On Monday, he told lawyers for Palin and the Times that he would formally dismiss the former Alaska governor’s claim once the jury returned its verdict…

When Rakoff first reviewed Palin’s case in 2017, he dismissed it, stating that it was doubtful that the former Alaska governor could demonstrate that the Times had shown the “actual malice” required by that 1964 standard when it published an editorial that inaccurately suggested a link between some rhetoric from her political action committee and a 2011 mass shooting.

After Rakoff dismissed the case, an appeals court reinstated it.

As was pointed out yesterday, the jury in this case was not sequestered, meaning that it’s very possible jurors went home last night and looked at the breaking news about the case or simply scanned Twitter and discovered that the judge had already decided there wasn’t sufficient evidence and he would be taking the decision away from the jury.

If that happened there’s no reason to think it didn’t become a topic of conversation during today’s deliberations leading to the verdict aligning with Judge Rakoff. With all that in mind, it’s interesting that the judge ended the trial today by arguing repeatedly that jurors shouldn’t be asked to speak about their deliberations in the case. Once again, Erik Wemple has been live tweeting everything based on an audio feed (and IMO he’s done a solid job of it).

At this point, the Times asked the judge to reconsider his counsel to jurors about speaking to the press:

But the judge was against it:

This all seems a bit self-serving, doesn’t it? If some juror admits they learned that the judge had decided the case and that this was subsequently discussed by the jury before their own deliberations ended, that seems like a problem. Of course it’s possible the jury was going to get to the same place on their without the judge’s oddly times announcement, but having the judge tell them that Palin lacked sufficient proof as a matter of law could be enough to sway the outcome. I’ll leave it to the lawyers in the crowd to say whether it’s grounds for a successful appeal or even a new trial.

Finally, here’s Palin’s attorney speaking outside the courthouse today after the jury’s verdict. He expressed disappointment but also respect for the system. He says they are still considering their options for an appeal.

You Might Like
Learn more about RevenueStripe...