Roy Moore’s lawsuit against Sacha Baron Cohen was dismissed by the Court of Appeals

An appeals court on Thursday dismissed the $95 million defamation lawsuit filed by former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore against comedian Sacha Baron Cohen over the satirical television series Who Is America?

Moore sued Cohen, CBS and Showtime for defamation, intentional emotional distress and fraud after an unflattering appearance in a 2018 episode in which he poked fun at his allegations of sexual misconduct. He said he was tricked into the interview. By dismissing the lawsuit, the 2nd US Circuit of Appeals in Manhattan upheld the decision of a lower court. Neither Moore’s nor Cohen’s reps have responded to the Washington Post’s request for comment.

On Who Is America?, Baron Cohen disguised himself to speak to (and parody) US politicians and conservative figures. In the episode in question, Cohen poses as fictional Israeli counter-terrorism expert Erran Morad and interviews Moore, to whom he presents a wand-like device that he says can detect “sex offenders and particularly pedophiles.” It starts beeping as Cohen waves it over Moore, a reference to a series of Post investigative reports from late 2017 in which several women shared accounts of how Moore stalked them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. The former judge lost a special election to fill a seat in the Alabama Senate in December 2017.

Cohen — known for mocking prominent figures, often while playing his characters Ali G, Borat Sagdiyev and Brüno Gehard — won the earliest round of the legal battle when a DC district judge upheld and ruled the validity of the consent agreement signed by Moore in April 2019 that the libel case will be moved to New York. Moore previously said in a statement that he believed he was being flown to Washington, DC to “receive an award for my strong support of Israel.”

In July 2021, US District Judge John P. Cronan of New York dismissed the lawsuit, which also included allegations of emotional distress and cheating by Moore’s wife. Referring to the waiver Moore signed prior to the interview, Cronan said Cohen’s claims were “clearly a joke and no sane viewer would have seen it otherwise.”

The summary order of the appeals court agreed that “the segment in question was clearly a comedy.”

“Baron Cohen may have implied (despite his character renunciation of any belief that Judge Moore was a pedophile) that he believed Judge Moore’s accusers,” the court document said, “but he did not imply that there was an independent there is factual basis for this belief, apart from the obviously absurd pedophile detection “device” which no sane person could believe is an actual working piece of technology.” Roy Moore’s lawsuit against Sacha Baron Cohen was dismissed by the Court of Appeals

Chris Estrada

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