Palin against Nyt, the jury decides not to proceed

Of Massimo Gaggi

In line with Judge Rakoff’s position on Friday. Palin’s lawyers did not gather sufficient evidence of the newspaper’s bad faith. A further appeal has already been announced

Epilogue of the Palin-New York Times case. After the impromptu intervention of a federal judge who called the defamation lawsuit filed by the former Alaska governor unfounded, the jury issued its verdict acquitting, unanimously the newspaper: the publication of a false report on Palin did not was done in bad faith and the newspaper, once discovered the error, immediately withdrew the article and apologized. End of the story? Not really: Palin’s lawyers have already announced a further appeal. Meanwhile, however, the Times may celebrate a new record: over 50 years without significant convictions in civil cases.

Jurors found that Palin’s lawyers did not offer enough evidence to prove the newspaper’s bad faith which, in an editorial, corrected after less than 24 hours, linked Palin’s rhetoric to a 2011 Arizona shooting in which six people they were killed and then MP Gabby Gifford was seriously injured. Under American law, one can only be convicted of posting fake news if one is aware of their falsity and is willing to deceive public opinion. In this case, the 2017 article in which the newspaper claimed that a message from a previous Palin election campaign contained an invitation to target some of his opponents politicians, was withdrawn from Times a few hours after its publication with many apologies, once its groundlessness has been verified.

District Judge Jed Rakoff’s reasoning expressed Friday prior to the jury’s ruling is grounded in a little-used US Civil Code provision effectively grants district judges the power to stop a trial when the allegation is based on manifestly unsubstantiated arguments. But Rakoff recidivist (he had already acquitted the Times of the charges in the first instance, but Palin had appealed and this second court had reopened the case) and, intervening while the jury was assembled, created a chaotic situation. He could have made his move sooner, but he argues that the jury had to deliver his verdict anyway, even if a conviction would still have no effect as the decision would be challenged again and, at that point, the jury’s verdict. it would have had its value in the eyes of the magistrates charged with reviewing the case. And the interference in the work of the judging body? Rakoff got away with urging jurors not to hear any news related to the Palin-Nerk Times case until the ruling.

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