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Sacha Baron Cohen continues to prove he’s a legal legend. On Tuesday, the comedian defeated yet another lawsuit from someone he duped.
The newest someone is Roy Moore, the former Alabama Supreme Court justice who infamously lost a U.S. Senate race following allegations of sexual misconduct. Moore appeared on Who Is America?, Cohen’s show for Showtime, and was interviewed by an Israeli “Anti-Terrorism Expert” named “Gen. Erran Morad.” During the interview, this military character, obviously Cohen, introduced a device that could detect certain enzymes that are secreted only by “sex offenders and particularly pedophiles.” And when Cohen moved the device closer to Judge Moore, the gadget started beeping.
The judge rules that the consent agreement that Moore signed before appearing on the show explicitly bars his claims of defamation, fraud, and infliction of emotional distress. Cronan also rejects Moore’s argument that this was a general release that didn’t extend to claims not known at the time of signing.
But what makes Cohen a legend is how he beats Moore’s argument of being fraudulently induced into the release. In signing the consent agreement, Moore affirmed he wasn’t relying upon any promises. Moreover, he affirmed he had no expectations or understandings concerning Who Is America.
“This explicit language disclaims Judge Moore’s ‘reliance upon specified representations,’ which forecloses him from now claiming ‘that he was defrauded into entering the contract in reliance on those representations,'” writes Cronan.
The judge then adds, “The Honorable Loretta A. Preska reached this same conclusion when she considered substantially identical language in a release and dismissed claims brought by individuals featured in Cohen’s 2006 film, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.”
That’s right. Borat serves as precedent for Who Is America.
Even if Moore hadn’t signed a release, he likely would have lost the case anyway. How do we know? Well, Roy Moore’s wife, Kayla, was a co-plaintiff in this case, and Cronan rules that her claims are barred by the First Amendment.
The judge says liability only attaches to statements that could reasonably be interpreted as facts.
“In light of the context of Judge Moore’s interview, the segment was clearly a joke and no reasonable viewer would have seen it otherwise,” concludes the judge, later adding, “And taking a step back from the Judge Moore interview segment, no viewer could have reasonably believed that Who Is America? was providing accurate news to its audience.”
Here’s the full opinion:
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