Roy Moore seeks to revive lawsuit against Sacha Baron Cohen

Jun 10, 2022, 3:49 PM | Updated: 3:56 pm
FILE - Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore announces, in Montgomery, Ala., his run for the Repub...

FILE - Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore announces, in Montgomery, Ala., his run for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, June 20, 2019. Moore's attorney, Larry Klayman, tried to convince three federal appeals court judges to revive a $95 million lawsuit the former Alabama candidate for U.S. Senate brought against comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, in New York, Friday, June 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Julie Bennett, File)

(AP Photo/Julie Bennett, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — A lawyer for Roy Moore tried to persuade some skeptical federal appeals judges Friday to revive a $95 million defamation lawsuit that the former Alabama candidate for U.S. Senate brought against comedian Sacha Baron Cohen.

Attorney Larry Klayman complained during arguments before a panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan that Moore wasn’t treated fairly when a judge tossed his lawsuit last July. He even compared his client to actor Johnny Depp, saying Moore also deserves to have a jury determine the validity of his claims.

U.S. District Judge John P. Cronan said in his written ruling last year that a 2018 segment with Moore on “Who Is America” — a comedy series in which Cohen plays fictional characters — could not have defamed him because it was “clearly a joke and no reasonable viewer would have seen it otherwise.”

Cronan said it should have been “abundantly clear to any reasonable viewer” that Cohen was using humor to comment on accusations in news reports that Moore had had inappropriate sexual encounters, including with a minor.

In the segment, Cohen waves a wand that he claimed could detect enzymes secreted only by “sex offenders and particularly pedophiles” and the device seemed to emit a beeping noise when it was moved closer to Moore, Cronan recounted.

Before the 2nd Circuit, Klayman urged a reinstatement of the 2019 lawsuit to allow him to gather evidence to prove that the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court was defamed and subject to emotional distress and fraud because he was tricked into an interview with Cohen.

“There’s nothing more heinous than being accused of being a pedophile,” Klayman said. “People jump off buildings over that.”

Circuit Judge Gerald E. Lynch noted that Moore had signed a release provision for the show, before he knew Cohen was involved, disclaiming reliance on “any representation made about who these people are and what they’re up to.”

And he added that the ability of Moore to bring claims of fraud, defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress were “categorically released” by papers Moore signed before going on the show.

On many arguments Klayman made, he was challenged by Lynch or Circuit Judge Rosemary S. Pooler.

At one point, Klayman expressed disappointment with the lower court judge, and Lynch quickly jumped to the judge’s defense.

“Don’t tell me that Judge Cronan went back on something he promised you,” Lynch said, explaining that Cronan told Klayman he had a valid argument but ultimately decided that the law favored Cohen.

Still, Klayman pleaded for a reinstatement of the lawsuit, saying: “You have to give it to a jury. It’s not for a judge to decide.”

“This was not handled fairly. It was not handled the right way,” Klayman added. “And my client deserves his day in court.”

Attorney Elizabeth McNamara, arguing for Cohen, said the papers Moore signed before he appeared on the show prevented him from making his defamation claims.

And she said Cohen’s depiction of himself as being capable of discerning whether someone is a pedophile by waving a magic wand “is the classic satirical commentary that is fully protected by the First Amendment.”

Moore, a Republican, has sometimes been called the Ten Commandments judge, known for hardline stances opposing same-sex marriage and supporting the public display of the Ten Commandments.

During his 2017 race for U.S. Senate, sexual accusations contributed to his loss to Democrat Doug Jones, the first Democrat to represent Alabama in the Senate in a quarter-century.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - A Northwell Health registered nurse fills a syringe with a COVID-19 vaccine at a pop up vacc...
Associated Press

Tweaked COVID boosters in US must target newer omicron types

U.S. regulators told COVID-19 vaccine makers Thursday that any booster shots tweaked for the fall will have to add protection against the newest omicron relatives. The Food and Drug Administration said the original vaccines would be used for anyone still getting their first series of shots. But with immunity waning and the super-contagious omicron family […]
10 hours ago
FILE - A man from Nicaragua sits at a shelter for migrants, April 21, 2022, in Tijuana, Mexico. The...
Associated Press

Supreme Court: Biden properly ended Trump-era asylum policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the Biden administration properly ended a Trump-era policy forcing some U.S. asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico. The justices’ 5-4 decision for the administration came in a case about the “Remain in Mexico” policy under President Donald Trump. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the decision and […]
10 hours ago
Associated Press

Cyberattack disrupts unemployment benefits in some states

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A cyberattack on a software company has disrupted unemployment benefits and job seeking assistance for thousands of people in several states. In Tennessee, the website for unemployment benefits remained down Thursday morning after the vendor, Geographic Solutions Inc., told the state Sunday that service would be interrupted. Some 12,000 Tennesseans rely […]
10 hours ago
Security works outside of the Supreme Court, Thursday, June 30, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacq...
Associated Press

Supreme Court says several gun cases deserve a new look

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court said Thursday that gun cases involving restrictions in Hawaii, California, New Jersey and Maryland deserve a new look following its major decision in a gun case last week. In light of last week’s ruling — which said that Americans have a right to carry a gun outside the home […]
10 hours ago
Associated Press

Man suspected of shooting 2 Alabama deputies captured

CENTREVILLE, Ala. (AP) — A man suspected of shooting two Alabama deputies, critically wounding one of them, has been captured, a prosecutor said. District Attorney Michael Jackson said Austin Hall,26, was captured in the same county where the shooting occurred. The shooting happened Wednesday afternoon in Bibb County. Two deputies were chasing a suspect in […]
10 hours ago
FILE - Community members gather to protest the U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade and ...
Associated Press

Judge temporarily blocks Kentucky’s near-total abortion ban

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A judge cleared the way Thursday for abortions to resume in Kentucky, temporarily blocking the state’s near-total ban on the procedure that was triggered by the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade. Abortion-rights groups fought for the ruling that pauses the 2019 Kentucky law for now. Under the so-called […]
10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
Roy Moore seeks to revive lawsuit against Sacha Baron Cohen