A $95 million defamation suit against Sacha Baron Cohen, former Chief Justice of Alabama Supreme Court, was rejected by an appeals court. He claimed that he was tricked into appearing on television mocking sexual misconduct allegations against him.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan upheld a lower court ruling in favor of Baron Cohen. Moore signed a confidentiality agreement that prohibited any legal claims regarding the appearance.
Judges also deemed it "clear comedy" when Baron Cohen showed a "pedophile detector" that beeped whenever it came near Moore. No viewer would believe the comedian was making any factual accusations against Moore.
Moore's appearance on "Who is America?" comic's "Who's the Boss?" program was the subject of the lawsuit. Moore was accused of misconduct during Alabama's 2017 U.S. Senate election. He had been accused of having had sexual and romantic relationships in his 30s with teenagers. Moore denied the allegations.
Moore, a Republican who is known for his hardline stances against same-sex marriage, and support for the public display Ten Commandments, was told that he was being awarded an award for his support of Israel. Baron Cohen, a fake counterterrorism instructor "Col." appeared in the segment. Erran Morad talks about bogus military technology. Moore sat stone-faced as the fake device beeped constantly as it approached Moore.
"Baron Cohen may not have implied (despite his in-character disclaimers about any belief that Judge Moore is a pedophile), but he didn't imply that there was any independent factual basis other than the clearly farcical pedophile finding 'device' which no reasonable person would believe to be an actual piece of technology." The court signed the summary order.
Moore and Kayla, his wife, sued, claiming that the segment was defamatory and caused them emotional distress. They claimed that the waiver Moore signed was invalid because it was obtained through false representations. Moore was able to get on the show by using a ruse, but Moore signed a binding waiver waiving any legal claims.
Moore was accused of making false accusations and lost the seat to Doug Jones, Democrat. Jones is the first Democrat to be elected to the Senate from Alabama in a quarter century. Jones lost the next election to Senator Tommy Tuberville. Jones was a former college football coach.
Baron Cohen has been luring politicians into awkward interviews for years. He was previously sued for similar pranks but these were dismissed because the people had signed releases.
Moore and his wife both indicated that they would appeal to the public.