NEW YORK, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Former U.S. vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin asked a U.S. court on Monday for a new trial after losing her defamation case against the New York Times (NYT.N) earlier this month, and requested that the judge overseeing the case be disqualified.
Palin's attorneys said last week they would take those steps because several jurors received push notifications on their cellphones before deliberations were over about U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff's decision to dismiss the case regardless of their verdict. read more
The jury rejected the Republican former Alaska governor's argument that the newspaper and former editorial page editor defamed her in a June 2017 editorial that incorrectly linked her to a mass shooting in 2011 where six people died and then-congresswoman Gabby Giffords was seriously wounded. The article was corrected the next day.
Rakoff said jurors assured his clerk that the notifications did not affect their deliberations, which lasted about two days. He said at a Feb. 23 hearing that he would issue a written opinion by March 1 explaining why he dismissed Palin's case while jurors were deliberating. read more
A day before the Feb. 15 verdict, Rakoff said he would dismiss the case because Palin had not showed the Times acted with "actual malice."
Palin's case is considered a test of a landmark 1964 U.S. Supreme Court decision, New York Times v. Sullivan, that established an "actual malice" standard for public figures to prove defamation.
Palin, a prominent conservative, was the late Senator John McCain's running mate in the 2008 presidential election and served as Alaska's governor from 2006 to 2009.
She said during the trial the Times editorial left her feeling "powerless" and "mortified," but did not offer specific examples about how it hurt her reputation or caused her harm.
Rakoff told the jury about his planned dismissal only after they had finished deliberations.
"We reached the same bottom line, but on different grounds," he told jurors. "You decided the facts. I decided the law."
U.S. judges often instruct jurors in high-profile cases not to read news coverage of their trials to avoid exposure to information that could bias them. Experts said a judge would have to find that the push notifications biased the jury before overturning a verdict on that basis. read more
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