Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and his wife Kayla Moore’s $95 million lawsuit against comedian Sacha Baron Cohen was thrown out by U.S. District Judge John Cronan on Tuesday.
What We Know:
- The Moore’s were attempting to sue Cohen for defamation and emotional distress after a satirical interview segment which aired in 2018 on Cohen’s comedy series “Who Is America?”. Moore was told he was receiving an award for supporting Israel when Cohen, posed as a counterterrorism instructor named Col. Erran Morad, started discussing bogus military technology. He pulled out a “detection device” he claimed the Israeli army used to identify pedophiles and it lit up when held near Moore, a reference to sexual misconduct scandals faced by the judge. Moore had signed a disclosure agreement prior to the interview that prohibited any legal claims over the appearance.
- In 2017, Moore lost a special election for Alabama’s open Senate seat to Democrat Doug Jones. Allegations had surfaced that when he was in his 30s he had pursued romantic relationships with teen girls. Some of these women accused him of sexual misconduct; he denied the claims. Moore was also known as the Ten Commandments Judge for his stances against same-sex marriage and support for a public display of the Ten Commandments.
- Judge Cronan said Moore waived his right to sue when he signed the disclosure agreement which contained “unambiguous contractual language”. He produced a 26-page ruling on the case. “Given the satirical nature of that segment and the context in which it was presented, no reasonable viewer would have interpreted Cohen’s conduct during the interview as asserting factual statements concerning Judge Moore,” Cronan wrote.
- Kayla Moore’s claims were barred by the First Amendment, according to Judge Cronan. Court records show that Moore and his wife are appealing the suit. In a statement sent by text to The Associated Press, Moore said, “Of course we will appeal — this court used words like ‘tricked and joke’ in describing Cohen’s behavior but will still do nothing to rein in his fraudulent misconduct.”
Cohen has faced lawsuits in the past for similar pranks, but those were also tossed out because individuals had signed similar releases.