Satirist Sacha Baron Cohen has fought off a $95 million defamation lawsuit from a former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice who claimed to have been tricked into a television appearance that ridiculed sexual misconduct allegations against him.
The court win in the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan upheld a lower court ruling in Cohen’s favor saying the show was “clearly comedy” IN THE ‘Who is America’ show and that the former Judge, Roy Moore, had signed a disclosure agreement that prohibited any legal claims.
Baron Cohen demonstrated a so-called pedophile detector that beeped when it got near Moore. The segment ran after Moore faced sexual misconduct accusations during Alabama’s 2017 U.S. Senate race that he had pursued sexual and romantic relationships with teens when he was a man in his 30s, allegations that he denied.
Moore is a Republican known for his conservative views regarding same-sex marriage and supporting the public display of Ten Commandments. In the segment he had been told he was receiving an award for supporting Israel. But in the segment, Baron Cohen appeared as faux counterterrorism instructor “Col. Erran Morad” discussing bogus military technology, including the supposed pedophile detector. The fake device beeped repeatedly as it got near Moore, who sat stone-faced at all times.
Moore and his wife Kayla claimed in their lawsuit that he was defamed and was caused emotional distress. The couple claimed the waiver 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 that Moore had signed a binding release waiving all legal claims.