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Judge to throw out Sarah Palin’s lawsuit against New York Times

A judge on Monday indicated he would dismiss a lawsuit against The New York Times filed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), saying her attorneys produced a lack of evidence to suggest the news organization acted recklessly or knowingly published false material about her. 

Judge Jed Rakoff’s decision came as a jury in U.S. District Court was still deliberating a verdict in the case. The jury was dismissed on Monday evening and will resume deliberations on Tuesday morning.

According to CBS News, Rakoff said he would allow those deliberations to continue in the event his decision is reversed on appeal.

The judge said in court Monday that Palin’s lawyers had no “legally sufficient evidentiary basis” for a case against the Times, CNN reported.

“I think this [was] an example of very unfortunate editorializing on the part of the Times,” Rakoff said. “The law here sets a very high standard [for actual malice]. The court finds that that standard has not been met.”

The suit stems from a Times editorial linking her to the deadly 2011 shooting in an Arizona parking lot of then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).

Palin lawyers have argued during an ongoing trial in U.S. District Court that the decisions of Times and that of James Bennet, then the editorial page editor at the newspaper, were made with “actual malice,” against the former governor, a high bar for defamation cases against public figures.

The editorial had suggested a link between Palin’s political action committee and the 2011 shooting that wounded several people, including Giffords.

The Times later corrected the article, noting that a previous version had “incorrectly stated that a link existed between political rhetoric and the 2011 shooting.”

In a dramatic moment last week, Palin took the witness stand and described a feeling of being “powerless” after the editorial’s publication.

“It was devastating to read, again, an accusation, a false accusation that I had anything to do with murder, murdering innocent people,” Palin said.

Bennet was pressed by Palin’s lawyers on the witness stand last week about why the newspaper did not publicly apologize for the mistake.

“The feeling of the standards editors, I think, was that of course The Times regrets its errors,” Bennet said. “They’re correcting them. That’s an extremely painful thing for the journalists and is an expression of regret.”

In a statement to The Hill on Monday evening, the Times applauded the judge’s decision.

“The New York Times welcomes today’s decision,” a spokesperson for the outlet said. “It is a reaffirmation of a fundamental tenet of American law: public figures should not be permitted to use libel suits to punish or intimidate news organizations that make, acknowledge and swiftly correct unintentional errors.”

Updated at 6:36 p.m.

Tags New York Times Palin trial Sarah Palin

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