Key dates in Sarah Palin's defamation case against the New York Times

Feb 14 (Reuters) - A judge on Monday ruled that the New York Times (NYT.N)did not defame Sarah Palin when it published a 2017 editorial incorrectly linking the former Alaska governor and Republican U.S. vice presidential candidate to a mass shooting six years earlier. Here is a timeline of events in the trial.

Jan. 8, 2011 - Gunman Jared Lee Loughner opens fire at an event held in a Tucson, Arizona parking lot by Democratic U.S. congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, killing six people and seriously wounding Giffords.

June 14, 2017 - Gunman James Hodgkinson fires on Republican members of the U.S. Congress who are practicing for a charity baseball game in Alexandria, Virginia. Four people are wounded including Steve Scalise, a member of the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives.

That night, the New York Times publishes an editorial, headlined "America's Lethal Politics," citing the Virginia shooting as probable "evidence of how vicious American politics has become."

Editorial page editor James Bennet wrote some of the piece, including that "the link to political incitement was clear" between the 2011 shooting and a map previously published by Palin's political action committee that, according to the piece, put 20 Democrats including Giffords under "stylized cross hairs."

June 15, 2017 - The Times corrects the editorial, saying it "incorrectly stated that a link existed between political rhetoric" and the Giffords shooting. It also corrected its description of the map, saying it depicted electoral districts, not Giffords and other Democratic lawmakers.

June 27, 2017 - Palin sues the New York Times for defamation in Manhattan federal court, saying the newspaper acted with "actual malice" in suggesting she had incited Loughner to commit the 2011 shooting.

Aug. 29, 2017 - U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff dismisses the lawsuit. Rakoff said while the editorial may have contained errors, it was not plausible those errors were made maliciously, which a public figure like Palin must prove to win a defamation lawsuit.

Aug. 6, 2019 - A federal appeals court revives the case, saying Rakoff erred by basing his decision in part on testimony from Bennet.

Dec. 30, 2019 - Palin refiles the lawsuit, adding a claim against Bennet.

June 7, 2020 - Bennet resigns from the Times following controversy over the decision to publish an opinion piece by Republican U.S. Senator Tom Cotton advocating using the military to quell violence amid protests over U.S. racial inequality.

Aug. 28, 2020 - Rakoff denies a motion to dismiss Palin's lawsuit, allowing it to go to trial.

Jan. 24, 2022 - The trial is delayed after Palin tests positive for COVID-19.

Feb. 3, 2022 - The trial begins.

Feb. 10, 2022 - Palin testifies that she felt "powerless" after the editorial was published and "mortified" at being linked to the murder of innocent people. She says the editorial caused her stress and that "things changed in terms of being called upon to advise and to help, and to be seen publicly on a high-profile political stage" after it was published. Bennet testifies that he never meant to imply a causal link between Palin or the map and the 2011 shooting. "If I thought it caused the violence, I would have used the word 'cause,'" Bennet says.

Feb. 11, 2022 - Lawyers for the two sides deliver closing arguments to jurors, who begin deliberations. Palin's lawyer Kenneth Turkel tells jurors that the Times and Bennet turned a "blind eye" to the facts as the newspaper smeared Palin's reputation. Times lawyer David Axelrod says the editorial amounted to an "honest mistake" and was not meant as a "political hit piece." The jury begins deliberating.

Feb. 14, 2022 - The judge says he will throw out the case because Palin failed to show that the Times acted with "actual malice," the standard necessary to win, even as jurors continued to deliberate. Rakoff says he will enter a formal dismissal order only after the jury reaches a verdict. The judge says he expects Palin to appeal, and that the appeals court "would greatly benefit from knowing how the jury would decide it."

Reporting by Jody Godoy; Editing by Will Dunham and Cynthia Osterman

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