Palin bid for new libel trial against New York Times rejected

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A New York judge has rejected a request from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) to be granted a new trial in her defamation suit against The New York Times.

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff wrote in a court decision on Wednesday that Palin, who sued the Times for defamation and lost earlier this year, failed to introduce “even a speck” of evidence suggesting she should be granted a new trial in the case.

Palin’s attorneys had asked Rakoff to recuse himself from the case, arguing he was biased against her. They cited questions he had asked the jury in the previous trial and instructions he gave them before deliberating a verdict.

“In actuality, none of these was erroneous, let alone a basis for granting Palin a new trial,” Rakoff wrote, The Associated Press reported.

A jury found the Times not liable for defamation against Palin in February. The suit stemmed from a Times editorial erroneously linking her political action committee to the 2011 shooting of then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) at a constituent event.

While the jury in Palin’s case was still deliberating a verdict, Rakoff made the rare decision to announce he believed Palin’s lawyers had provided no “legally sufficient evidentiary basis” and said he would move to have it dismissed.

Several jurors indicated to Rakoff after they handed down their verdict that they were made aware of his announcement via push alerts on their smartphones but said it did not effect their decision.

Palin’s lawyers indicated the following week that they planned to make a motion requesting to interview jurors and conduct a new trial in the case. 

Rakoff on Wednesday wrote that Palin’s legal team had failed to prove the Times had acted with actual malice toward her, a high bar for public officials to clear in American media law. The Times has not lost a defamation case in more than 50 years.

“And the striking thing about the trial here was that Palin, for all her earlier assertions, could not in the end introduce even a speck of such evidence,” Rakoff said.

Palin, the 2008 Republican nominee for vice president, announced in April that she would run to fill the seat held for decades by the late Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska). She was endorsed by former President Trump two days later.

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