zoom-in last week reported on Sarah Palin’s libel trial against the New York Times, over an article which wrongly linked her political rhetoric to a mass shooting. The Times had issued a correction the following day.

Judge Rakoff has now thrown out the case, on the basis that Palin’s legal team failed to produce sufficient evidence to meet the high standard of showing that the defendants acted with ‘actual malice’ (reckless disregard for the truth).

Whilst the jury deliberated on Monday, the Judge indicated that he would not be finding for Ms Palin but would wait for the jury to deliver a verdict before he made his order (and would set aside any verdict to the contrary). Although an unusual move, the Judge explained that, as Ms Palin is expected to appeal the ruling, it would assist the appeal court to know what a jury would have decided.

On Tuesday the jury returned its verdict, also finding the Times not liable.

Some jurors acknowledged that they knew about the Judge’s decision to dismiss during deliberations (primarily due to notifications on their smartphones) but were said by Judge Rakoff to ‘have repeatedly assured the court’s law clerk that the notifications had not affected them in any way or played any role whatever in their deliberations.’

The case was of particular interest to US freedom of speech lawyers, given its potential to lower the currently high ‘actual malice’ hurdle, established in New York Times v Sullivan, that public figure claimants must overcome to sue in defamation.

zoom-in will report on any further developments in this case should there be any.