The judge who dismissed Sarah Palin's defamation lawsuit against The New York Times while the jury was deliberating not only "made a mistake," but he made the verdict "moot" on appeal, according to legal expert Alan Dershowitz on Newsmax.
"I was very surprised," Dershowitz told Saturday's "America Right Now," referring to U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff, who overlooked cell phone push notifications alerting jurors during deliberations. "I know Judge Rakoff. He's a terrific judge, but he made a mistake here, and the Court of Appeals will discount the jury verdict.
"The Court of Appeals will take this case on the assumption that the judge called the jurors all in and said, 'oh, by the way, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, while you're deliberating, I want you to know I've dismissed this case, and so what you're doing is all moot.'
"That's the way in which the court will deal with it. It will discount the jury verdict because the jury verdict may very well have been influenced. And we know jurors were aware of that judgment."
Now, Dershowitz told host Tom Basile, the appeal could lead to a changing of the libel standard of the "concept of malice."
"Now, whether the Court of Appeals will say there was enough evidence to establish malice, that's the hard question, and that issue may go to the Supreme Court, and we may see a redefinition of the concept of malice," he added.
Dershowitz noted the mistake of ignoring the possibility the jury would get alerts on their cell phones was made because of a concerted effort by Judge Rakoff to write an opinion on the case that he otherwise would not be permitted to officially file.
"The judge should have either dismissed before the jury went into deliberate or wait until the jury verdict came back," Dershowitz said. "But the judge wanted to write an opinion, and if the jury verdict came the way it did – in favor of The New York Times – the judge would have no opportunity to write an opinion.
"So, he wanted to write an opinion, and the only way to do it is in the middle of jury deliberation, because if he did it at the beginning of jury deliberations, then the issue would be a legal one on appeal.
"He wanted to make an edict. He wanted to have a verdict in his favor, and he wanted to have an opportunity to write, and it may come back to bite him in the end."
Effectively, the mistake might have done Palin's attorneys a favor on appeal, Dershowitz concluded.
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Eric Mack ✉
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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