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Sarah Palin Loses Bid to Disqualify Judge In NY Times Defamation Lawsuit Trial

Sarah Palin Loses Bid to Disqualify Judge In NY Times Defamation Lawsuit Trial

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin just won’t let it go.

The former Alaska Governor and John McCain running mate filed suit in March seeking to disqualify U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff, who had dismissed her defamation lawsuit against the New York Times. Palin alleged the judge’s “series of errors tainted the outcome” and she asked for a new trial. “Because Palin’s instant motion is wholly lacking in merit, the Court denies it in full,” said the opinion and order from Judge Rakoff.

Palin said in March that Judge Rakoff “set too high a bar for her” to prove the Times acted maliciously, and she faulted Rakoff’s unusual decision to dismiss Palin’s case while jurors were deliberating.

Palin had sued the Times and its editorial page editor at the time, James Bennet, over an editorial written on June 14, 2017, that addressed gun control and lamented the rise of inflammatory political rhetoric. It followed a shooting at a congressional baseball practice in Virginia, where Republican U.S. Representative Steve Scalise was among those shot. Scalise survived, and the Times op-ed erroneously said that there was a “clear” link between a map that had crosshairs over congressional districts, including Giffords’, and the shooting that injured her. The piece was corrected the next morning and an apology was issued to Palin.

In a written decision on Tuesday, Judge Rakoff called Palin’s motion for him to recuse himself “frivolous.” He said she had not identified any legal errors “The meritless accusations of impropriety in Palin’s motion cannot substitute for what her trial presentation lacked: proof of actual malice,” Rakoff wrote. “In a defamation case brought by a public figure like Sarah Palin, a mistake is not enough to win if it was not motivated by actual malice,” Rakoff continued. “And the striking thing about the trial here was that Palin, for all her earlier assertions, could not, in the end, introduce even a speck of such evidence.”

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