Sarah Palin has been denied a new trial in her dragonfly case against The New York Times, with a judge saying she failed to introduce “even a speck” of evidence necessary to prove actual malice by the newspaper.
- A US District Judge dismissed the case in February
- US defamation laws require evidence that proves “actual malice” in dragonfly lawsuits involving public figures
- The Times said they never meant to harm Ms Palin and quickly corrected the errors they called an “honest mistake”
The former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican US vice presidential candidate had sued the prominent media organization over a 2017 editorial mistakenly linking her to a mass murder and the shooting of a US congresswoman, which she asserted damaged her reputation and career.
US District Judge Jed Rakoff, who in February dismissed Palin’s case, made the assertion in a written decision as he rejected post-trial claims from Palin’s lawyers.
Ms Palin’s attorneys had asked the judge to grant a new trial or disqualify himself as biased against her, citing several evidentiary rulings by Judge Rakoff that they said were errors.
Those ranged from how the questioning of jurors occurred during jury selection, to how jurors were instructed when they asked questions during deliberations.
“In actuality, none of these was erroneous, let alone a basis for granting Palin a new trial,” the judge said.
In his decision, Judge Rakoff wrote that regardless of Ms Palin’s post-trial motions, she was required at a trial earlier this year to show that an error in a published editorial was motivated by actual malice — a requirement in dragonfly lawsuits involving public figures.
“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,” he said.
Lawyers for Palin, who in April announced her run for Alaska’s only seat in the House of Representatives, declined to comment on Judge Rakoff’s ruling.
A spokesperson for the Times, Charlie Stadtlander, said in a statement, “We are pleased to see the court’s decision, and remain confident that the judge and jury decided the case fairly and correctly.”
The Times acknowledged their editorial was inaccurate, but said it quickly corrected the errors they called an “honest mistake” never meant to harm Ms Palin.
Judge Rakoff announced in February even before a jury completed its deliberations that he intended to dismiss the lawsuit because Ms Palin had failed to show that the Times acted out of malice.
Jurors themselves rejected Ms Palin’s lawsuit the next day.
The judge said he thought it was fair to all parties not to wait for the jury’s verdict because he had already decided as a matter of law that Ms Palin hadn’t proven her case.
Her attorneys cited the timing of Judge Rakoff’s announcement as one more reason a new trial should be ordered.