Sarah Palin loses bid to disqualify judge from NY Times libel trial

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Sarah Palin, 2008 Republican Vice Presidential nominee and former Governor of Alaska, leaves court during her libel trial against The New York Times, at the United States Courthouse in the Manhattan borough of New York, United States, February 15, 2022. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

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NEW YORK, May 31 (Reuters) – Former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin lost her bid on Tuesday to have the judge who oversaw her unsuccessful libel lawsuit against The New York Times disqualified and order a new trial .

The former Alaska governor said in March that U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff had set the bar too high for her to prove The Times had acted maliciously, and she blamed Rakoff’s unusual decision to dismiss Palin’s case while the jurors deliberated. Read more

The jury ultimately sided with the Times.

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In a written decision Tuesday, Rakoff called Palin’s request to recuse himself “frivolous.” He said she did not identify any legal error

“The baseless accusations of impropriety in Palin’s motion cannot replace what was missing from her presentation at trial: evidence of genuine malice,” Rakoff wrote.

A 1964 U.S. Supreme Court ruling requires public figures alleging defamation to show that the media acted with actual malice, meaning they knowingly published false information or exhibited a reckless disregard for the truth. The decision offers substantial protection to journalists.

A lawyer for Palin declined to comment. Palin, who is now running to represent Alaska in the US House of Representatives, is appealing the verdict.

Palin, 58, sued the Times and its then-editorial page editor, James Bennet, over a June 14, 2017 Times op-ed that discussed gun control and lamented the rise of a incendiary political rhetoric.

This followed a shooting during a congressional baseball practice in Virginia, where Republican U.S. Representative Steve Scalise was among those injured.

The editorial incorrectly linked Palin’s rhetoric to a mass shooting in Arizona in 2011 where Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords was seriously injured. The part was corrected the next morning.

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Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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