Palmer called it an "inspection pass" and not a "go-around".
A "go-around" is a very different thing in the eyes of aviators. There are two huge and opposing forces on go-arounds: foolish pilots trying to stick bad approaches plus tremendous pressure from "the company" to avoid the fuel cost and dispatching impact of a go-around. Versus, everyone who cares about safety, pushing back to protect pilots so they are free to choose go-arounds when warranted, without any fear of consequence or blowback.
Palmer should have argued that of relying on the friend's claims that the field was fit for service, and was intending to land. Then claimed to unexpectedly see something that made the field unfit, so went around and then diverted to an alternate field. At that point people would be getting on their feet to defend the call.
As things are, Palmer flat admitted this was not quite really an airport, hence warranting an off-airport-style inspection pass, and that could've been done from 500 feet. I don't know the particulars but I'd bet that the obstruction that caused Palmer to cancel the landing was readily visible from 500 feet.
So, this is a mess. Right now, it's doing the worst thing imaginable, which is to encourage pilots to head straight in and try to stick landings on marginal or defective sites that look worse and worse the closer they get. Because if they go around, well, then, that's an "inspection pass" and they're in the soup right next to Trent.
I think the fallout here is going to be, well, hopefully some refinement of the procedure for off airport landings.
The FAA had literature which advised pilots do arguably what Palmer did, so there's probably going to be an acquittal on appeal. The punishment here is not severe, so the case is entirely about "the principle of the thing" e.g. defining statutory, clear "lines in the sand" to guide future sport pilots. I completely support Trent's willingness to appeal, because I think "good law" (well, good regulation) will come out of it.