9:54am PT by Eriq Gardner
Showtime, Sacha Baron Cohen Win First Round in Roy Moore Lawsuit
Sacha Baron Cohen and Showtime Networks have convinced a D.C. federal judge that the $95 million defamation lawsuit brought by Roy Moore belongs in New York.
The decision to transfer the case isn't the end of Moore's suit contending he was duped into appearing Who Is America, where Cohen famously pointed a device at the controversial former Alabama judge to purportedly detect a sex offender. But the ruling, issued at an oral hearing on Monday morning, could be a good sign for the defendants.
In response to the defamation claims, Showtime and Cohen pointed to a consent agreement that Moore had signed in connection with his appearance on the satirical series. This agreement included a forum selection clause that stipulated that disputes would be adjudicated in New York. The same agreement may ultimately absolve defendants if a judge holds that Moore waived legal claims, but that will be a decision for the future.
In the meantime, Moore argued that the consent agreement was void due to fraud. Opposing the bid for transfer, Moore's attorney Larry Klayman addressed alleged misrepresentations on the part of filmmakers including how he was flown to Washington D.C. to receive an award for his support of Israel and how the document he signed was with an entity called Yerushalayim TV. Moore further argued that Showtime and Cohen couldn't enforce the agreement since they weren't parties to the agreement.
U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Hogan has ruled in Showtime's favor.