And the Much Needed Descent into Obscurity Continues

A federal judge said Monday that he planned to dismiss Sarah Palin’s libel lawsuit against The New York Times, ruling that her legal team had failed to meet the extremely high legal standard required to prove that the newspaper defamed her when it published a 2017 editorial erroneously linking her political rhetoric to a mass shooting.

The jury was still deliberating behind closed doors in a Lower Manhattan courthouse, adding an unexpected and unusual twist in a case that is a major test of the First Amendment protections that journalists work under. Judge Jed S. Rakoff said he would allow the jurors to continue weighing the arguments by both sides. If they rule in favor of Ms. Palin, he will set aside their verdict and dismiss the case, he said.

The jury is expected back in the courtroom on Tuesday.

The judge indicated that he understood that his word would not be the last one in the case. Ms. Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee, is very likely to appeal. And his decision to allow the jurors to continue weighing the evidence and come to a decision was intended to avoid any complications if the case is heard by an appeals court.

In lengthy comments from the bench, Judge Rakoff said he did not believe that Ms. Palin’s lawyers had produced enough evidence to prove their defamation claims.

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