‘Usurps the System’: Jury Found Out About the Judge’s Motion to Dismiss Palin’s Case Against NYT Before Delivering a Verdict

In Sarah Palin’s defamation lawsuit against the New York Times, jurors learned of the judge’s decision to dismiss the case while they were still deliberating.

There are serious concerns that these circumstances significantly impacted the jury’s decision. Palin said the judge’s judgment usurped the trial process.

“This is a jury trial,” Palin said. “We always thank jurors. We always appreciate the system. So whatever happened in there kind of usurps the system.”

In response, a filing was made in U.S. District Court that reads: “These jurors reported that although they had been assiduously adhering to the Court’s instruction to avoid media coverage of the trial, they had involuntarily received ‘push notifications’ on their smartphones that contained the bottomline of the ruling.”

While the jury was still deliberating, Judge Jed Rakoff indicated he would dismiss the libel case.

Several outlets immediately blasted the news via push alerts to smartphone devices. The short message reached mobile devices belonging to members of the jury who saw the judge’s decision prior to delivering a verdict.

Due to this alarming situation, the jury even had to “repeatedly assure the Court’s law clerk that these notifications had not affected them in any way or played any role whatever in their deliberations.”

Judge Rakoff admitted that it was important for the jury to continue its deliberation and deliver a verdict because “the court of appeals will greatly benefit from knowing how the jury decided.”

The lawsuit stems from an editorial published in the Times on June 14, 2017, which was the same day that a gunman opened fire on GOP members of Congress at a northern Virginia baseball field.

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In court, the judge agreed that the “erroneous edits” in the Times falsely linked Palin to the deadly mass shooting and “reasonably could be read by many readers” that Palin was directly linked to the shooting.

The Times is accused of defaming Palin by erroneously asserting that a map created by Palin’s PAC had incited the shooter who carried out the shooting in 2017 and wounded Rep. Gabby Giffords.

“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 cross hairs,” the editorial stated.

While jurors were still deliberating the case, Judge Rakoff said, “I’m not altogether happy to have to make this decision on behalf of the defendant.”

“I don’t mean to be misunderstood,” the judge continued. “I think this is an example of very unfortunate editorializing on the part of the Times.”

Despite the judge’s criticism of the Times, he claimed the case didn’t meet the high standard for proving actual malice. He claimed Palin provided no “legally sufficient evidentiary basis.”

The NY Post and several other media outlets reported that it’s very likely Palin will appeal this decision after the judicial process was severely undermined.