Roy Moore seeks to revive lawsuit against Sacha Baron Cohen

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

Attorney Larry Klayman complained during oral arguments before a panel at the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan that Moore was not treated fairly when a judge dismissed his lawsuit last July. He even compared his client to actor Johnny Depp, saying that 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 — would not have couldn’t defame it because it was “clearly a joke and no reasonable viewer would have seen it otherwise.

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

In the segment, Cohen wielded a wand that he said could detect enzymes secreted only by “sex offenders and especially pedophiles” and the device appeared to beep when brought close to Moore, Cronan recounted. .

Ahead of the 2nd Circuit, Klayman requested reinstatement of the 2019 lawsuit to allow him to gather evidence to prove the former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice was defamed and subjected to emotional distress and abuse. fraud because he was deceived in an interview with Cohen.

“There is nothing more heinous than being accused of being a pedophile,” Klayman said. “People are jumping off buildings over this.”

Circuit Judge Gerald E. Lynch noted that Moore had signed a release clause for the show, before knowing Cohen was involved, waiving reliance on “any representation made about who these people are and what they make”.

And he added that Moore’s ability to sue for fraud, defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress was “categorically released” by papers signed by Moore before he appeared on the show.

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

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

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

Still, Klayman pleaded for the trial to be reinstated, saying, “You have to give it to a jury. It’s not up to the judge to decide. »

“It wasn’t handled fairly. It wasn’t handled in the right way,” Klayman added. “And my client deserves his day in court.”

Lawyer Elizabeth McNamara, arguing for Cohen, said papers Moore signed prior to her appearance on the show barred her from filing defamation suits.

And she said Cohen’s portrayal of himself as being able to discern if someone is a pedophile by waving a magic wand “is the classic satirical commentary that’s fully protected by the First Amendment.”

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

During his run for the U.S. Senate in 2017, sex charges contributed to his loss to Democrat Doug Jones, the first Democrat to represent Alabama in the Senate in a quarter century.

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