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Palin jury learned of Judge’s motion to dismiss case against NYT before giving verdict

Several of the jurors who ruled against former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) in her civil case against The New York Times learned of a judge’s decision to dismiss the case before handing down their verdict. 

“These jurors reported that although they had been assiduously adhering to the Court’s instruction to avoid media coverage of the trial, they had involuntarily received ‘push notifications’ on their smartphones that contained the bottomline of the ruling,” a filing in U.S. District Court submitted on Wednesday read.

“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.” 

On Monday, Judge Jed Rakoff indicated he would dismiss the libel case, which stems from an editorial the Times published in 2011 incorrectly linking Palin to a mass shooting in an Arizona parking lot where then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was shot and seriously wounded.

After the judge’s move, several outlet sent the news out via push alerts  — a short message often sent in breaking news situations directly from a news organization to a person’s cellphone or tablet or other subscribed personal device alerting them to a story. 

Rakoff said Palin’s legal team had provided no “legally sufficient evidentiary basis” for a case against the Times and he would move to have the case dismissed. The jury began its deliberations on Friday and were still weighing a verdict when Rakoff announced his decision. 

The judge said on Monday it was important for the jury to continue to deliberate the case despite his decision because “the court of appeals will greatly benefit from knowing how the jury decided.”

The jury ruled on Tuesday afternoon the Times was not liable in the case, and Palin is expected by most media and legal observers to appeal the decision. 

“Nevertheless, in an excess of caution, the Court hereby brings the foregoing facts to the parties’ attention,” Rakoff wrote in Wednesday’s filing. “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.” 

Tags Jury Sarah Palin Verdict

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