Sacha Baron Cohen’s Defamation Lawsuit Decision Revealed

Sacha Baron Cohen has a defamation lawsuit brought against him for one of his productions and we now know the outcome

By Charlene Badasie | Published

Sacha Baron Cohen

The legal showdown between Sacha Baron Cohen and failed Senate candidate Roy Moore has finally come to an end. The comedian defeated a $95m defamation lawsuit brought by Moore, claiming he was tricked into a television appearance that satirized sexual misconduct accusations against him. In a unanimous vote last week, a panel of three judges on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the 2021 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge John P. Cronan which originally dismissed the lawsuit after finding that the politician had signed a consent agreement barring his claim.

“We have considered the Plaintiffs’ remaining arguments and conclude that they are without merit,” said the New York State judges via Deadline. Siding with the popular British actor, the appeals court declared that Who Is America? was clearly intended as comedy and that no reasonable viewer would conclude otherwise. After the ruling, Sacha Baron Cohen’s lawyer, Russell Smith said he was glad that the frivolous lawsuit is finally over after nearly four years of litigation.

The Alabama politician sued Sacha Baron Cohen after his political satire, Who Is America? aired on Showtime in 2018. The series featured a clip of the 50-year-old joking about Moore’s multiple sexual assault allegations against underage women that were uncovered during his 2017 Senate campaign. Although no criminal charges were brought against Moore, who denied any wrongdoing, that didn’t stop the comedian from taking a crack at him. Moore ultimately lost the Senate seat to Doug Moore.

During the Who Is America? segment, Sacha Baron Cohen portrays a faux Israeli anti-terrorism expert and former intelligence agent named General Erran Morad. In character, he describes a fictional “pedophile detector” before interviewing the controversial Republican under the ruse of him receiving a prize for his support of the region. While showing news clips of Moore’s sexual misconduct allegations, the device was shown beeping near the politician implying that he was a pedophile who walked out of the interview.

While Moore happily signed a disclosure agreement before appearing in the series, he and his wife sued Sacha Baron Cohen, claiming the contract was unenforceable because it was obtained under false pretense, Entertainment Weekly reported at the time. But in its decision, the Second Circuit Court said Moore signed a release waiver ahead of the interview, the plain text of which barred him from future claims for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and fraud. The ruling also stated that humor is an important medium of legitimate expression and central to the well-being of individuals, society, and their government.

However, Moore’s attorney Larry Klayman plans to petition for a re-hearing. Speaking to CNN, the lawyer said the ruling was a terrible decision that goes far beyond Roy Moore. He even suggested that at least two of the judges on the panel sided with Sacha Baron Cohen because Moore is a Republican. These judges were all appointed by Democratic Presidents Clinton and Obama. He added that the case should have gone to a jury since the release his client signed was very ambiguous.

Meanwhile, Sacha Baron Cohen has previously been sued by the family of late Holocaust survivor Judith Dim Evans after her appearance in Borat 2. The lawsuit was dismissed unconditionally according to an attorney for Amazon Prime Video in 2020.