(CNN) — Actor Sacha Baron Cohen has defeated an appeal brought by former Alabama judge Roy Moore, who claimed the British comedian had defamed him in a program where he falsely accused Moore of being a pedophile.
The three judge panel in the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan unanimously ruled Thursday to throw out the $95 million lawsuit from Moore and his wife against Cohen, Showtime and its corporate owner, CBS, over a segment of the “Who Is America?” program, which aired on Showtime in 2018.READ MORE: Leonardo - 'Episode 101'
During the segment, Cohen interviewed Moore, the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama and controversial Republican who lost a special election to fill the US Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions, under the ruse of receiving a prize in honor of his support for the state of Israel.
Baron Cohen presented himself as an Israeli anti-terrorism expert and former intelligence agent in the segment, during which he showed news clips reporting allegations from the time of Judge Moore’s Senate campaign that he had engaged in sexual misconduct. (Moore denied the allegations.)
In character, Baron Cohen described a fictional “pedophile detector.” During the episode, the device — which looks like a hand-held metal detector — was shown beeping near Moore, implying that he was a pedophile. Moore walked out of the interview.
In its decision, the Second Circuit said Judge Moore signed a release waiver ahead of the interview, the plain text of which barred Moore from future claims for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and fraud. The court also agreed with a lower court, “that the segment at issue was clearly comedy and that no reasonable viewer would conclude otherwise.”
“Humor is an important medium of legitimate expression and central to the well-being of individuals, society, and their government,” the ruling stated.READ MORE: Devils - S2 'Episode 1'
Larry Klayman, Moore’s attorney, told CNN Friday that they plan to petition for a re-hearing. Klayman said he thought the ruling was a “terrible decision” that goes “far beyond Roy Moore,” suggesting that at least two of the judges on the three-judge panel, who were all appointed by Democratic Presidents Clinton and Obama, took issue with Moore because he is a Republican.
CNN has reached out to the US Circuit Court of Appeals for response to Klayman’s claim of bias.
Klayman added he thought the case should have gone to a jury and that the release Moore signed was “ambiguous.”
In the consent agreement, Moore had crossed out by hand a section dealing with sexual content. To that point, that court ruled, “We are not persuaded.”
“After nearly four years of litigation, it seems Mr. Moore’s frivolous lawsuit is finally over,” Russell Smith, Baron Cohen’s attorney, told CNN on Friday
CNN has reached out to CBS for comment. Showtime declined to comment on the ruling when contacted by CNN.MORE NEWS: John Travolta Pays Tribute
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