AceShowbiz - Sacha Baron Cohen has defeated an appeal brought by a former judge who had accused him of defamation. Previously subjected to legal action from Roy Moore, who claimed to be falsely portrayed as a paedophile on the comic's show "Who Is America?", the 50-year-old has the court sided with him and said the interview was "clearly comedy and no reasonable viewer would conclude otherwise."
On Thursday, July 7, a margin of 3-0 at the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals backed the ruling, voting the interview was constitutionally-protected speech. The panel of judges insisted no reasonable person would think "obviously farcical paedophile-detecting device" used by Sacha when speaking to Moore on the comedy docuseries had actually worked.
"Humor is an important medium of legitimate expression and central to the well-being of individuals, society, and their government," they said. The court also stated that the former judge had waived his right to pursue the $95 million lawsuit because he had signed a standard consent form before being interviewed.
However, Moore's lawyer, Larry Klayman, argued the agreement had been ambiguous because he had crossed out a provision waiving claims related to alleged sexually-oriented behavior and questioning. He branded the court's decision a "travesty." Moore and his wife Kayla, who had related claims dismissed, plan to ask the entire 2nd circuit to review the case.
Moore was interviewed by Sacha, who was disguised as a fictional Israeli anti-terrorism expert, in Washington, where he had expected to receive an award for his support of Israel. According to the complaint, the comedian, while in character, had "falsely and fraudulently introduced a false and fraudulent 'device' supposedly invented by the Israeli Army to detect paedophiles."
The complaint continued, "During the segment, Baron Cohen's 'device' - as part of the false and fraudulent routine - indeed does detect Judge Moore as a sex offender and paedophile, thus defaming him."
Moore walked away from the interview when the "device" beeped. The former Republican chief justice of Alabama's Supreme Court lost his 2017 U.S. Senate race amid allegations of sexual misconduct concerning female teenagers when he was in his 30s. He has denied the accusations.