New York (CNN Business)Judge Jed Rakoff, the judge overseeing former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s defamation lawsuit against the New York Times, said Monday afternoon that he will dismiss the suit, ruling that Palin’s team did not prove a key element of its case.
Rakoff’s ruling came while the jury is deliberating over a verdict — and Rakoff said he will allow the jury to continue deliberating and to reach a verdict, and will dismiss the case once it has done so.
Rakoff presented his findings — a clear round-one win for The Times — with an eye toward an inevitable appeals process.
The judge said Palin did not prove “actual malice,” which is the standard her legal team had to meet in her defamation case. The landmark 1964 New York Times vs. Sullivan case specifies that public figures who sue for defamation must prove that the offender knew the claim was false or showed “reckless disregard” for the truth.
The Times said all along that it made an honest error involving Palin -— and issued a swift correction. Palin argued that the publication smeared her on purpose.
Rakoff sided with The Times after hours of discussion about the publication’s motion that the Palin camp had not presented a “legally sufficient evidentiary basis” for the case.
“I think this [was] an example of very unfortunate editorializing on the part of the Times,” Rakoff said in court Monday. “The law here sets a very high standard [for actual malice]. The court finds that that standard has not been met.”
Rakoff ruled that the jury will continue to deliberate on whether the Times is liable for defaming Palin. If the jury comes back with a verdict finding the Times was not liable, the judge indicated that he will allow the jury’s verdict to stand. If the jury finds the Times liable, Rakoff is expected to set aside its verdict and replace it with a verdict as a matter of law in favor of The Times.
Rakoff said he was “not altogether happy with having to make this decision in favor of the defendants.”
Attorneys for The Times hugged each other after the decision was made
Judge in Sarah Palin’s defamation suit against NYT says he will dismiss case
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