Is This A Common Legal Tactic (Palin v. New York Times)

According to this article, the judge in the Sarah Palin lawsuit against the New York Times plans to dismiss the lawsuit, but also allow the jury to reach a verdict. The judge did this because he expects the case to be appealed, and he wants the appellate court to reinstate the verdict rather than create the need for a new trial, should the appellate court rule in Palin’s favor.

I’m rather fascinated by this move. It’s like legal chess, the way he’s anticipating the next move.

Anyway, is this a common move in courts? Or is this judge thinking outside the box here?

As I understand it, it’s very rare. Of course, it’ll probably be a hung jury and foil his tactic.

Yeah, I think the judge is trying to challenge the Sullivan case.

ETA: But Palin makes a decent argument that she isn’t a public figure anymore. So…maybe not such a bad decision.

It’s not that common for a judge to set aside/direct a verdict. But, in the subset of situations where they plan to, I don’t think it’s all that rare for the to let the jury reach a verdict anyway. There’s some chance the jury will find the way you’d like (and effectively appeal-proof the case). And, if they don’t, you save resources if you’re overturned on appeal (i.e., you just reinstate the verdict).

That said, I’m not sure I’ve heard of a judge announcing that he will do this while the jury is still deliberating.

This might be better suited for its own thread, but what happens if juror #11 went home last night and a neighbor shouts, “Hey Bob! You hear that the judge threw out the Palin case?” I know the judge expects the case to be appealed, but does this essentially guarantee it?

More generally, what happens when - willfully or not - a juror breaks sequester? Is it up to the individual to decide whether they’ve been unduly influenced, or do they always have to present what happened to the court and let the judge decide?

From a legal standpoint he could have accomplished the same thing by waiting until after the verdict. What he accomplished by doing it now is if the jury sees some headline announcing that the case is being dismissed, they will be heavily influenced to rule against Palin even if they’ve been technically instructed to disregard such information. People are people.

This judge has been hostile to the case all along, having previously dismissed the case pre-trial and been overruled by an appeals court.

All I can hear in my head is Nelson Muntz.

Though the NYT editorial was published in June 2017 and it referred to a map her political action committee released in 2011. I think it’s fair to say that at the time, she was a public figure even if she is no longer.

I’ve never heard of this judge’s tactic before, but it’s…interesting.

Hard to see how someone with her history of notoriety could ever not be a public figure.

And yet she keeps appearing on right wing media.

Yeah, it is probably a poor argument, but one that appeals to Clarence Thomas and who knows if there are four others that might use it as a hook to overrule Sullivan.

I agree with you post whole post, including the weirdness of announcing the decision ahead of time. And I don’t see any benefit to announcing it early. Worse yet, if the jury finds out about his announcement, he has tainted their deliberations and effectively triggered his own mistrial. He should have just stayed silent until the jury ended deliberations.

Generally, you would expect the judge to declare a mistrial if the members of the jury may have been unfairly influenced in their deliberation. That includes jurors breaking their sequestration and learning facts or hearing opinions about the case that weren’t submitted at trial. It seems nearly irrefutable to me that if any of the jury heard during their deliberations that the judge planned to dismiss the case, they would inevitably be influenced to find against the plaintiff. So, if the any juror learned of the judge’s pending dismissal, I couldn’t imagine the judge not declaring a mistrial as to the jury verdict. Or, if the judge rendered their verdict superfluous by dismissing the case notwithstanding the verdict, I could not imagine an appeals court reinstating the tainted verdict rather than remanding for retrial. Given that the mistrial would have been triggered by the judge’s hostility and evident malfeasance as much as by the wayward juror, I would wonder whether the appellate court would remand for retrial before a new judge.

But that’s what makes it a semi-decent argument. She was a public figure 14 years ago. She is trying to live a regular life. Why does the fact that media reports things she says prevent her from living the same life you and I have? I see that again this is FQ and I just keep violating the rules. Sorry to the mods.

Is anyone actually arguing that because Sarah Palin is not a public figure today, the Sullivan decision should not apply to her?

It an unanswered question from the Sullivan case. Can’t a person withdraw from public life? Maybe not.

No. Only me. :slight_smile: That entered my mind as a possible argument.

Because it’s not the media reporting what she said in private. It’s reporting what she said in public, to the public, utilizing her status as a public figure to get it heard. She appeared as a public speaker at a Republican convention as recently as a month ago.

That’s the argument against the Sullivan case. She speaks in public at a local convention, so that means she is able to be libeled?

No. She can still prevail, but she has to prove a higher degree of culpability.

Yeah, but why? Sullivan was a “hard facts make bad law” case.