Palin Jurors Learned About Judge’s Ruling Against Former Governor While Deliberating

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Several jurors learned of a federal judge’s ruling in favor of The New York Times as they deliberated former Republican Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s lawsuit against the publication.

U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff ruled Monday that Palin failed to meet the actual malice standard in her defamation lawsuit against the newspaper, and that he would rule in favor of The New York Times regardless of the jury’s verdict. The jury came back Tuesday with a verdict in favor of The New York Times, which Palin is expected to appeal. Although the jurors were instructed to avoid media coverage of the case, several revealed that they inadvertently learned of Rakoff’s ruling through push notifications to their phones.

“Several jurors volunteered to the law clerk that, prior to the rendering of the jury verdict in this case, they had learned of the fact of this Court’s Rule 50 determination on Monday to dismiss the case on legal grounds. 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 bottom-line of the ruling,” Rakoff revealed in a Wednesday filing. He added that the jurors’ claimed the notifications did not impact their deliberation “in any way.”

Rakoff also noted that attorneys for both Palin and The New York Times had the opportunity to appeal his ruling, but neither side did so. (RELATED: Sarah Palin Takes The Stand Against NYT)

Some commentators have suggested that Palin could appeal the ruling all the way to the Supreme Court in an effort to overturn the case New York Times v. Sullivan, which established the actual malice standard for elected officials and other public figures. The standard requires that plaintiffs in defamation cases show that a defendant issued a statement “with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.”