It’s a good day for comedian Sacha Baron Cohen as an appeals court rejected Roy Moore’s $95 million defamation lawsuit. What’s more interesting is that Roy Moore is a former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice, who filed a lawsuit against the comedian alleging that he was tricked into a television appearance that lampooned sexual misconduct accusations against him.
Victory Over An Absurd $95M Defamation Suit…
Sacha Baron Cohen has all the reasons to celebrate as the “Who Is America?” host finally achieved victory in the almost-absurd $95 million defamation battle instigated by Roy Moore, a former Supreme Court judge and failed Senate candidate.
In a unanimous vote made public Thursday (July 7) morning, a trio of judges on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the July 2021 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge John P. Cronan, who ruled:
“We have considered the Plaintiffs’ remaining arguments and conclude that they are without merit,” said the New York State judges. Siding with the acclaimed satirist against failed Alabama Senate candidate Moore, the appeals court declared that Who Is America? was “clearly comedy and that no reasonable viewer would conclude otherwise”.
The three judges also found it was “clearly comedy” when Baron Cohen demonstrated a so-called paedophile detector that beeped when it got near Moore and no viewer would think the comedian was making factual allegations against Moore.
What Exactly Happened?
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, upholding a lower court’s ruling in favour of Sacha Baron Cohen, said Moore signed a disclosure agreement that prohibited any legal claims over the appearance. However, Moore and his wife, Kayla, sued, Sacha, alleging that the segment defamed Moore and caused them emotional distress.
The couple claimed the waiver Moore signed was unenforceable because it was obtained under a false representation. The appellate court noted that it was indeed a ruse that got Moore to appear on the show but Moore signed a binding release waiving all legal claims.
Moore’s lawsuit centred on an unwitting appearance on Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Who Is America?” show. The segment ran after Moore faced sexual misconduct accusations during Alabama’s 2017 U.S. Senate race. It came out that he had pursued sexual and romantic relationships with teens when he was a man in his 30s. He denied the allegations.
Moore, a Republican known for his hardline stance opposing same-sex marriage and supporting the public display of the Ten Commandments, was told that he was receiving an award for supporting Israel. However, in the segment, Baron Cohen appeared as faux counterterrorism instructor “Col. Erran Morad” discussing bogus military technology, including the supposed paedophile detector. The fake device beeped repeatedly as it got near Moore, who sat stone-faced.
The judge, in an unsigned summary order, wrote: “Baron Cohen may have implied (despite his in character disclaimers of any belief that Judge Moore was a paedophile) that he believed Judge Moore’s accusers, but he did not imply the existence of any independent factual basis for that belief besides the obviously farcical paedophile detecting ‘device,’ which no reasonable person could believe to be an actual, functioning piece of technology.”