Sarah Palin lost her libel trial against The New York Times on Tuesday but a question lingers about whether she was treated fairly.
Palin, a 2008 GOP candidate for vice president, is not beloved by the powers that be. She is a gun-toting hick from Alaska who is not well read and who makes hokie references to “hockey moms” and “lipstick on a pig.” Palin, a former Alaska governor, is especially loathed by Harvard grads and urban elites.
Still, the beauty of the American justice system is that even the most despised are entitled to basic fairness and justice under the law.
It rankles that U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff, 78, the semi-retired judge who presided over the trial, announced Monday that Palin had not met the high standard for malice to prevail in the case. He said he would dismiss the case regardless of the jury’s verdict.
The jury was deliberating at the time. Reuters reported Wednesday that jurors received phone notifications that the judge had decided to dismiss the case regardless of their verdict. Clearly Judge Rakoff’s pronouncement could have prejudiced the jury.
Timing Is Everything
It was Judge Rakoff’s job to tell the jury what the law is and the jury’s job to apply the law to the facts in the case.
The jury was in the process of deciding whether the NYT showed actual malice in 2017 when it published a preposterous allegation that a political ad by Palin’s political action committee incited the 2011 shooting of former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords and 18 others at a constituent meeting in Tucson. Indeed, the editorial said “the link to political incitement was clear.” The editorial was written by two NYT editorial writers and cleared by a NYT fact checker.Continue reading “What Does The Palin Verdict Really Mean?”