Wilmington, Del. (AP) — A Delaware judge overseeing a voting machine company’s $1.6 billion defamation suit against Fox News delayed opening a hearing Monday. The jury.
Superior Court Judge Eric Davis suggested the two sides try to mediate their dispute, according to a person close to Fox who was not authorized to speak publicly about the status of the case. Attorneys for both sides, who appeared in court Monday, declined to answer reporters’ questions about why the postponement, as did representatives from both companies.
Davis offered no explanation for delaying the start of the trial until Tuesday, though he noted that delays are common and built into the schedule. Jury selection and opening statements are scheduled for the first day of the trial, which, if it happens, is expected to last six weeks.
“This is not a press conference,” Davis said during Monday’s brief hearing. “I don’t do that.”
A trial would force Fox to answer for its actions in the weeks after the 2020 presidential election and generally deny the outcome of the race. The lawsuit centers on whether Fox defamed Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems by spreading false claims against then-President Donald Trump that the company rigged the election.
A settlement is certainly possible in a trial that poses risks to both parties. Fox has already been embarrassed by the revelations Some of its executives and airline figures do not believe the network’s claims of fraud on the air, and 92-year-old founder Rupert Murdoch has refused to testify. If a jury rules against it, Dominion could lose a large payout.
However, not everyone wants the case to go quietly.
“Please Dominion – don’t settle for Fox! You’re about to prove something huge,” tweeted Gretchen Carlson, the former Fox anchor who has come forward with sexual abuse allegations. Former Fox chief Roger Ailes led to his downfall in 2016.
Meanwhile, Fox paid for a full-page ad in The New York Times on Monday under the headline “Now Credible.” More than ever. “
Dozens of journalists gathered at the courthouse in downtown Wilmington, some at dawn, for a hearing that lasted five minutes. Television crews lined the front yard of the courthouse ready to capture live footage.
Aside from its implications for Fox, what the case means for defamation law is being closely watched by journalists.. Proving defamation is generally difficult because journalists must establish that they have published information they know to be false or that they published the truth with reckless disregard.
Some First Amendment advocates say Dominion’s case presents a powerful case, based on the skepticism Fox expressed about the fraud allegations. Fox says Dominion cannot prove that such skeptics were in a position to influence what was said on the air about the company.
Before a jury tried the case, Davis made some rulings In favor of Dominion, it said the allegations of electoral fraud against the company were clearly false. This means that the prosecution does not have to be prosecuted.
Associated Press writer Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report.
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