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Ex-judge Roy Moore files libel suit against Sacha Baron Cohen


On Friday, a US appeals court in Manhattan seemed unlikely to revive the trial of former Alabama judge Roy Moore accusing Sacha Baron Cohen of defamation for falsely portraying him as a sex offender on the show from British comedian “Who Is America?”

Moore, 75, filed a lawsuit for $95 million in September 2018 over an interview in Washington, D.C., where the former Republican Alabama Supreme Court chief justice and U.S. Senate nominee stood expected to receive an award for his support of Israel.

Instead, Baron Cohen, 50, disguised as fictional Israeli counter-terrorism expert Erran Morad, waved a wand-shaped device that allegedly detected pedophiles and beeped when waved near Moore .

The interview took place after Moore lost his 2017 Senate race in heavily Republican Alabama, following accusations that Moore committed sexual misconduct toward teenage girls when he was in his 30s.

Moore denied the charges, and lawyers for Baron Cohen called the device “completely bogus”. During oral argument in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Circuit Judge Gerard Lynch suggested the interview was merely a commentary on the charges.
“Is there any plausibility that this magic wand detects pedophiles? Lynch asked Moore’s attorney, Larry Klayman. “That’s what Cohen adds to this story. Otherwise, he just says, ‘These are charges that have been laid against this man.'”

Klayman countered that calling someone a pedophile was worse “libel” than calling them a murderer.

He asked the three-judge panel “to sit in Judge Moore’s seat, whatever you think of him … and say, ‘Would you like to be called a pedophile like that, on international television?’

Baron Cohen’s attorney, Elizabeth McNamara, argued, uninterrupted by the panel, that Moore waived her claims by signing a consent agreement to be interviewed, and that the claims were barred under the First Amendment of the American Constitution.

“As the lower court found, it was clearly a joke, and no reasonable viewer could have seen it otherwise,” she said. “Whether you find it funny or not, it was clearly a satirical comment.”

“Who is America?” aired on Paramount Global’s Showtime Network, a co-defendant. Baron Cohen previously won several lawsuits over his 2006 mockumentary “Borat! Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.”

The case is Moore et al v Cohen et al, 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 21-1702.

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Post expires at 5:59am on Tuesday June 21st, 2022