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Sarah Palin v. NY Times VERDICT Watch: Judge Will Dismiss Case After Jury Reaches Verdict

Sarah Palin v. NY Times VERDICT Watch: Judge Will Dismiss Case After Jury Reaches Verdict

We will update as soon as a Verdict is reached.

The jury in the case of Sarah Palin v. The New York Times is in the hands of the jury. We will report as soon as a verdict is reached.

UPDATE 3:27 P.M.: Judge Rakoff will dismiss the case after the jury reaches a verdict.

Here’s the public listening line: (844) 721-7237, access code 7920433.

Here is the jury form.

The judge had not allowed the issue of punitive damages to get to the jury.


Instructions to the jury.

However, the judge said Palin didn’t give enough evidence.

The judge knocked down the NYT attorneys.

In court today there apparently is argument on a motion to not let the jury render a verdict for insufficient evidence under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50. In all likelihood, the judge would not rule until after there is a verdict, because if it’s for the NYT, he doesn’t have to rule on sufficiency of evidence.

Jury wants a transcripts


Here is a summary of Friday’s closing arguments from Deadline:

During closing arguments, Palin’s attorney Kenneth Turkel argued that there was ample evidence that the Times had reckless disregard for the truth, one of the thresholds for winning a libel suit. He noted that Bennet, seeking to find an example of a Republican engaging in “political incitement,” wrote the line in the op-ed even after he ordered research that showed that the link was false. It also included a hyperlink to an ABC News story that said that no link was ever shown between the Palin PAC and the shooter, Jared Lee Loughner.

“What it is Mr. Bennet being so convinced that that theory is right that he tried to reverse engineer the facts on it,” Turkel said.
The attorney for the Times, David Axelrod, told jurors that the op-ed was an “honest mistake” that was quickly corrected.

“There was no conspiracy,” Axelrod said. “This was a mess up, a goof.”

He pointed to a Times Twitter posting, alerting readers of the revised language, that read, “We screwed up.”

“Why would they write, ‘We screwed up,’ if they intended to harm someone?” Axelrod said.

The original Times editorial, headlined America’s Lethal Politics, read, “Was this attack evidence of how vicious American politics has become? Probably. In 2011, when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl, the link to political incitement was clear. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized crosshairs.”

The Times issued a correction and revised the editorial the day after it posted online. The Times also conceded that it had incorrectly characterized a map from Palin’s political action committee that featured crosshairs over certain Democrats’ electoral districts, including Giffords’.

Axelrod argued that Palin had not shown that the Times knew what they were printing was false, one of the central thresholds for public figures like Palin to prevail in a libel case.

He also argued that Palin’s reputation was not damaged, pointing to her ability to garner speaking engagements afterward, along with a spot on Fox’s The Masked Singer in 2020.

“The Masked Singer. Do they put on inciters of violence?” Axelrod asked.

“Yes, Governor Palin said that she was mortified. That doesn’t mean it was defamatory,” he said.

Turkel noted that the Times ran a correction, but it did not include an apology or refer to Palin by name, while keeping the name of her political action committee in the revised op-ed.

He also countered a Times‘ defense: That Bennet’s use of the word “incitement” was not meant to suggest that that the rhetoric Palin’s PAC had a direct link to Loughner’s attack. Bennet testified that he used the word more broadly, to point to the environment of harsh rhetoric, but Turkel noted that few people were reading it that way.

Turkel said that the editorial was “indicative of an arrogance and sense of power that’s uncontrolled” at the Times, with disdain toward conservative figures like Palin, per the AP.

“All they had to do was dislike her a little less, and we’re not sitting here today,” he said.

Politico adds:

Sarah Palin’s lawyer offered jurors a simple explanation Friday for why The New York Times used a 2017 editorial to link Palin to a deadly shooting in Arizona six years earlier: a long-standing political vendetta against conservatives.

“They just didn’t care. She’s one of them,” attorney Ken Turkel said during closing arguments of the former Alaska governor’s libel suit against the Times….

On several occasions during his summation of the evidence in a Manhattan courtroom, Turkel argued that the Times’ decision to reference Palin’s political action committee in the editorial spurred by a shooting at a GOP congressional baseball practice in Virginia was part of a pattern at the newspaper of slurring Republicans.

“There’s common thread through all the pieces as to how they treat people on the right they don’t agree with,” Palin’s attorney said. “Look at the common thread: how in every single one of them they demonize the right wing or just treated them differently.” ….

Palin’s lawyer said there was deep irony in the editorial in question, titled “America’s Lethal Politics,” which argued that extreme political rhetoric can fuel real-world violence. He said the then-editor of the opinion section, James Bennet, and his colleagues were so intent on claiming such a link that they casually accused Palin of complicity in murder.

“It’s absurd. In so many respects, they perpetuate everything they sit there and condemn,” Turkel said.


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How I filled in the jury form,

X Liable

$ a kah-billion, multi-million, mega-trillion dollars and 27 cents

I hate NYT, but I believe they will prevail. Not because of “rules for thee, not for me” thinking, but simply because it’s going to be easier for their lawyers to stake out the position that a mistake was made, and not an actual intentional fabrication.

if it was Rachel Maddow in the hot seat and not the NYR, might be a different story. That woman lies as frequently as she exhales

So Axlerod wants the standard to be you can publish a Libel in your newspaper and as long as you subsequently say you made a mistake in Twittercrap (and maybe in Section E, page 69, bottom of the 4th column below the fold of the Sunday edition), you’re good to go.

    Olinser in reply to Edward. | February 14, 2022 at 1:13 pm

    That’s the standard these pieces of shit have been operating under for decades.

    Lie publicly, issue a page 25 correction that nobody reads, with actually removing the original lie.

    maxmillion in reply to Edward. | February 14, 2022 at 4:12 pm

    There is supposed to be a little thangie called the 1st Amendment, with freedom of speech and the press, and these are the lines where it begins and ends.

    Milhouse in reply to Edward. | February 14, 2022 at 4:24 pm

    The standard is that you can say anything you like about a public figure, as long as the victim can’t prove that it was a deliberate lie, or as close to deliberate as makes no difference. If it was a genuine mistake there is no libel. The correction is only relevant because it tends to show that it really was a mistake.

      alaskabob in reply to Milhouse. | February 14, 2022 at 5:23 pm

      Gee…I am sorry the bullet left the gun …. I’ll correct the mistake….. The correction is always the solution regardless of intent.

        Milhouse in reply to alaskabob. | February 14, 2022 at 9:48 pm

        No. If the lie was deliberate then the correction doesn’t fix it; it can only mitigate the damage. Here the correction is being offered not to mitigate the damage but as evidence that there was no deliberate lie in the first place, just a genuine error that they fixed as soon as they found out.

        But the standard is and remains that the plaintiff has to prove it was a deliberate lie, or close enough to one. That isn’t something this judge made up, it is the undisputed law.

    coyote in reply to Edward. | February 15, 2022 at 8:44 am

    This is why we have appeals courts.

      Milhouse in reply to coyote. | February 15, 2022 at 3:30 pm

      The appeals courts (the supreme court, to be exact) are the ones that set this standard in the first place. The trial court merely applied it (perhaps incorrectly).

good way to get a ton of lawyers tossed into a river.
judges fail to realize when we run out of lawyers they are next.

madisonian_123 | February 14, 2022 at 3:42 pm

Why does the judge announce he’s going to dismiss after verdict? I’d think he could wait on saying such a thing until the verdict is actually delivered so it cannot in any way leak to the jury and influence them

    The Gentle Grizzly in reply to madisonian_123. | February 14, 2022 at 4:25 pm

    Because he’s a gloating, I-am-a-judge-I-am-God type. He just locks the self-control to keep his mouth shut until the jury comes back in.

    I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to me he’s doing this on his face is grounds to declare a mistrial, or is grounds for appeal.

So the same judge that goes out to weaken the case by excluding evidence decides that Palin’s team hasn’t brought enough evidence to prove the case

from innercitypress

On August 28, 2020 Judge Rakoff issued an order denying summary judgment and finding, inter alia, that “there “there is sufficient evidence to allow a rational finder of fact to find actual malice [by NYT / Bennet] by clear & convincing evidence.” So, trial. Inner City Press will cover it – having previously reported Judge Rakoff jokingly perhaps offering that time slot to a criminal case and saying, Ms. Palin may just have to wait.

so what changed between August 2020 and today?

First thing that came to mind was the scene from the double secret probation hearing in Animal House. What was the phrase (amid the coughing) that Blutarsky uttered?

I’ve said since the beginning of this case that it will come down to one question: What does the “actual malice” standard mean when the defendant is a corporate entity? Who exactly is supposed to have this “actual knowledge” or “reckless disregard”? The individual who wrote the offending words, or the entity as a whole?

Because it’s been obvious from the start that Bennett honestly believed what he wrote was true. He didn’t know it was false, and didn’t have reckless disregard for whether it was true or false. Reckless disregard means “I have no idea whether this is true or false, and I don’t care; it sounds good so I’m writing it, and if it’s false, too bad”. That doesn’t describe Bennett’s state of mind.

But he’s not the defendant. The NYT is, and it “knew”, if a corporation can be described as “knowing” something. The knowledge existed within the corporation, and had actually been published in its pages. And if that is the standard, then Palin should win.

    Doc-Wahala in reply to Milhouse. | February 14, 2022 at 5:47 pm

    Mulhouse… your comment nailed it – hard to prove “actual malice”.

    My earlier comment said I hate NYT but believed the judge would rule in their favor.

    News headlines show i was correct.

    Now the judge will allow the jury to deliberate – solely for the appeal he expects. It will show the appellate court what the jury would have decided

    George_Kaplan in reply to Milhouse. | February 14, 2022 at 7:15 pm

    From memory it was shown that Bennett was informed either before print or shortly after, that what was written was dangerously inciteful and dangerously untrue. He didn’t care. Thus it would appear malicious disregard.

    Okay found the article:

    It was Bennett that emphasised the link between Palin and Gifford shooting, whereas the Scalise shooting ‘just happened’. When Ross Douthat contacted Bennett after the editorial was published to point out no link had actually been found between Palin’s map and the mentally ill (Leftist) male who shot Giffords, Bennett claimed surprise and that no such link was intended despite the fact he chose to emphasise that very link.

    At another point Bennett admitted that he wouldn’t be surprised that readers would see his article as reading Palin incited that attack on Giffords, but that’s not what he meant by accusing her of incitement.

    Seems like he loaded the gun, pointed it at Palin, then acted offended that anyone would think he’s setting her up for harm.

    The NYT is pretty reliable for defending Democrats whatever the truth, and for attacking Republicans whatever the truth. That the NYT has a culture of malice seems likely.

      The key words there are “after the editorial was published”. Had Douthat told Bennett this before it was published, and he had gone ahead with publication, there’s no question that Palin would win. But at the time the decision was made to publish the editorial, its author thought it was correct.

      But I think the interesting question is not what the author thought, but what the defendant “thought”. And I think this is something that should have been explored. Can the NYT be said to have acted, through its agents, without malice, when its various components separately had all the information needed to make up “malice”?

    Barry in reply to Milhouse. | February 15, 2022 at 1:38 am

    “Because it’s been obvious from the start that Bennett honestly believed what he wrote was true.”

    Baloney. Of course he knew it was false. If it were otherwise mistakes of this nature would happen across the board, not just to the Palin’s.

    He knew it was false because nobody is that stupid, even a NY Slimes lefty. And the rest of that toilet paper publication knew as well. They just didn’t care because they are all dishonest.

      Fatkins in reply to Barry. | February 15, 2022 at 7:41 am

      You are just asserting something, now prove it

      Milhouse in reply to Barry. | February 15, 2022 at 3:50 pm

      No, he did not know it was false. The evidence on that is clear, but it was obvious from the beginning, even before there was any evidence.

      And no, there’s no reason why mistakes of this nature would happen in all directions; this mistake didn’t happen at random, it happened because he has this strong bias, and sees the whole world through its lenses, so when the Giffords thing happened, several years before the date we’re discussing, he perceived it through that lens, and laid down a memory of how it happened that was in line with his bias, not with reality. He “remembered” it the way it should have gone in his world, not the way it actually happened in this one.

      Just as many people on the right “remember” hearing George Soros admit to having collaborated with the nazis, or how many people on the left “remember” Palin saying that she could see Russia from her house. Just as so many people “remember” Kerry releasing his military records as promised, and proving that the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth lied about him, when in fact that never happened.

      The point is that our biases affect what errors of fact we make. So Bennett made an honest error of the kind he was likely to make. He remembered things that fit into his worldview, but that didn’t happen.

        Barry in reply to Milhouse. | February 16, 2022 at 2:32 am

        “it happened because he has this strong bias”

        The mistake here is thinking that his “strong bias” free’s him of rational thought. There is no way he did not know that Palin wasn’t painting a target of anything more than political targeting, just like the 100 times he has seen it before.

        Proving that is quite different, but you don’t have to gobble up bullshit just because they demand you do so.

    Did the jury instructions clarify whether the knowledge of falsity and reckless disregard standards apply at individual vs corporate level?

    CaptTee in reply to Milhouse. | February 15, 2022 at 4:00 pm

    ‘ Reckless disregard means “I have no idea whether this is true or false, and I don’t care; it sounds good so I’m writing it, and if it’s false, too bad”. ‘ That sounds like the attitude of a typical partisan ideologue in the so-called-Mainstream-Media!

Rakoff was nominated by William Jefferson Clinton in 1995, and was confirmed by a Republican Senate.

    AF_Chief_Master_Sgt in reply to Recovering Lutheran. | February 15, 2022 at 5:21 am

    When has a Republican Senate not confirmed a Democrat nominee judge?

    It seems that only Democrat Senators are allowed to filibuster judicial nominees, especially if they are black (eh hm Joe Biden filibusters the FIRST BLACK FEMALE NOMINATED TO THE SUPREME COURT!!!!)

The Gentle Grizzly | February 14, 2022 at 4:50 pm

What are the odds the judge intended throwing out the case before the trial even started?

    If he intended that he would have done so. He was waiting for the plaintiff to introduce evidence that Bennett either knew what he wrote was false, or that he didn’t care. And they didn’t introduce such evidence. So he’s dismissing the case as he has to — if the standard is Bennett’s state of mind, rather than the NYT’s corporate “state of mind”.

      The Gentle Grizzly in reply to Milhouse. | February 15, 2022 at 7:47 am

      Food for thought, and, thank you. I see no reason for your having gotten a downtick for what you said.

      coyote in reply to Milhouse. | February 15, 2022 at 8:58 am

      “…either knew or didn’t care….”

      If it is possible to research a false claim before you publish it, then failing to research it implies that either you knew the claim was false or you didn’t care that it was false. Publication of the claim is therefore ipso facto proof of the “knew or didn’t care” standard.

      Regarding the question of suing a corporate entity (different post, above), one looks at things like hiring practices (who you hire, what their quals are, that sort of thing). If you consistently hire people on one side of a political spectrum, that’s your business, but if that ends up presenting a problem, you own it, and your company is on the hook for damages.

      So, if your publication company hires people with strong biases and poor research habits, and who are “economical with the truth,” sooner or later you will likely get a very expensive pie in your face

        Milhouse in reply to coyote. | February 15, 2022 at 4:22 pm

        If it is possible to research a false claim before you publish it, then failing to research it implies that either you knew the claim was false or you didn’t care that it was false. Publication of the claim is therefore ipso facto proof of the “knew or didn’t care” standard.

        No, it does not. The law on this is clear, and it is not the way you would like it to be. There is no duty to research the facts. Reckless disregard means the defendant had no reason to believe what he was writing was the truth, but he wrote it anyway because he felt like it, and if it turned out to be true that would just make it even better. And it’s clear that was not Bennett’s state of mind.

        What I’m saying is that the NYT as a corporation did “know” the truth, because it had already published it. Bennett wasn’t aware of that, but I’m not sure that’s the relevant standard.

Cannot say I’m surprised. The State protects it’s own, always.

NYT – don’t look for “News” here, instead expect Lies and Damn Lies.

IANAL but if the jury rules for Palin, how can the judge then overrule them and dismiss the case?

    Easily. Judges can always dismiss jury decisions if there was not enough evidence to support them. Usually in such a case the judge won’t allow the case to the jury in the first place, but sometimes when it’s close he considers this while the jury is deliberating.

ugottabekiddinme | February 14, 2022 at 7:26 pm

In Britain, judges sum up the evidence in the case for the jury, and give them some views they might or might not take. In America, the rule is generally judges are not to comment on the evidence.

If there was enough evidence to go the jury in the first place, then the judge ought to leave it alone until verdict. If there wasn’t sufficient evidence at the close of plaintiff’s case, then the judge should have tossed the case at that point, before it ever got to the jury.
By announcing this ruling while the jury is still deliberating, and not being sequestered, jurors will doubtlessly know of the ruling before resuming deliberations, the judge has overstepped and clearly tainted the jury’s deliberations. Reversible error? I think it should be.

    It honestly seems like this hack knows that the jury is going to rule in Palin’s favor, so he’s trying to make sure that the only result of a successful appeal is a new trial.

Regardless, it would be nice for the case to go to the SC and maybe get a bit of sanity changes in the law making it not so easy to libel a famous person.
Except that shouldn’t apply to democrats, fuck them.

If I was on the jury I would be filing a suit against this judge for unlawful detention, beginning the moment he reached and announced his decision.

Isn’t the judge’s action effectively jury tampering?