Former Alabama judge Roy Moore filed an appeal, claiming actor Sacha Baron Cohen had defamed him in a programme where he made a false accusation that Moore was a paedophile. However, Baron-Cohen won the case.
The $95 million lawsuits filed by Moore and his wife against Cohen, Showtime, and its parent company, CBS, over a section of the “Who Is America?” show that was broadcast on Showtime in 2018 was unanimously dismissed on Thursday by the three-judge panel of the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan.
The controversial Republican and former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Moore, was interviewed by Cohen during the episode under the pretence of winning a prize for his support of the state of Israel. Moore lost a special election to fill Jeff Sessions’s seat in the US Senate.
In the episode, Baron Cohen posed as an Israeli anti-terrorism expert and former intelligence operative and played news footage detailing claims of Judge Moore’s sexual misconduct from the time of his Senate campaign. (Moore disputed the charges.)
Baron-Cohen talked about a fictitious “paedophile detector” while acting. Moore was implied to be a paedophile when the device, which resembles a hand-held metal detector, was seen beeping nearby throughout the episode. After the interview, Moore left.
The Second Circuit ruled that Judge Moore signed a release waiver before the interview and that the plain text of that waiver forbade Moore from bringing any further claims for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, or fraud. Additionally, the court concurred with a lower court’s conclusion that “the part in question was clearly comedic and that no reasonable viewer would conclude otherwise.”
The verdict declared that humour is a significant form of acceptable expression and essential to people’s happiness in both their personal lives and in their societies and governments.
— Team Moore (@TeamMoore) February 3, 2022
Moore’s counsel, Larry Klayman, said on Friday that a rehearing petition will be filed. Klayman asserted that the verdict, which he believed to be “awful,” went “way beyond Roy Moore,” and that at least two of the justices on the three-judge panel, all of whom were chosen by Democratic Presidents Clinton and Obama, disagreed with Moore because he is a Republican.
CNN has requested a statement from the US Circuit Court of Appeals about Klayman’s accusation of prejudice.
According to Klayman, the release Moore signed was “ambiguous,” and the matter ought to have gone before a jury.
Moore had hand-crossed out a section on sexual content from the consent form. That court declared at that time, “We are not persuaded.”
“It seems Mr Moore’s ridiculous case is finally done after nearly four years of litigation,” Russell Smith, Baron Cohen’s attorney, told CNN on Friday.
CNN has contacted CBS for comment. After being approached by CNN, Showtime declined to comment on the decision.
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