Senate Candidate Roy Moore Wins Questionable Defamation Verdict in Alabama

On August 12, 2022, former Senate candidate from Alabama, Roy Moore, won an $8.2 million verdict in the United States District Court of the Northern District of Alabama against a media company working for the Democrats, Waterfront Strategies, among others.

Moore’s campaign race against Doug Jones in 2017 gained national attention and notoriety due to well-reported allegations of Moore’s misconduct with young girls, including documented instances of pedophilia. Based thereon, Moore filed a lawsuit in 2019 alleging several counts of defamation, defamation by implication, intentional infliction of emotional distress, violation of the Voting Rights Act, and invasion of privacy-false light. 

On March 31, 2021, the court ruled on the defendants’ motion to dismiss, finding most of the allegedly false statements were accurate, including: (1) that stories about Moore’s misconduct with underage girls had been circulating for 30 years, (2) that Moore’s women accusers were being “skewered,” and (3) that an individual had stated that they had voted for Moore but was now disgusted. However, on May 31, 2022, the court denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, leaving only a tenuous claim for defamation and “false light invasion of privacy” based solely on the way two quotes were juxtaposed in a television advertisement. 

The first quote claimed Moore was banned from the Gadsen Mall for soliciting sex from young girls, and the immediately succeeding quote stated Moore approached a 14-year-old working as Santa’s Helper. Both statements were factually true and independent of each other. But what actually happened was that Moore approached and complimented the 14-year-old while she was working in a mall, and then when she turned 16, he asked her out on dates in the presence of her mother (who objected), but he did not actually solicit sex from the 14-year-old at the mall.

Moore claimed the juxtaposition of the two statements painted the image that he was banned from the mall for soliciting sex from a 14-year-old working as Santa’s Helper. Generally, if the basic substance, gist, or sting of the statement is accurate, there is no defamation. However, the court ruled that viewing the facts most favorably to Moore, the “gist” or “sting” of the juxtaposed statements was worse than the separate statements considered separately. And on that highly tenuous basis, the court let the case go to trial against Moore in a courtroom in Anniston, Alabama, in August 2022.

The only issue remaining for the jury was whether the defendants acted with actual malice in the juxtaposition of those two statements.

As a public figure, Moore had to prove defendants made false statements with “actual malice.” Actual malice requires a showing that the false statement was made with either (1) knowledge that it was false or (2) reckless disregard as to whether it was false or not.

After a five-day trial, the jury deliberated for only 90 minutes before issuing its verdict. The jury found that Moore had proved each element for defamation by clear and convincing evidence. 

On August 12, 2022, the jury issued a verdict of $8.2 million against the defendants. By this author’s analysis, this was a highly biased and unreasonable verdict. Clearly, Moore found a favorable jury this time. He has lost multiple other cases, including one against Sacha Baron Cohen. It is a shock and a surprise that a presumably conservative Alabama jury would come in with a verdict favorable to a known pedophile, but wonders never cease.

Roy Moore is represented pro se, as well as by Talmadge Butts of the Foundation for Moral Law and Jeffrey S. Wittenbrink of Wittenbrink Law Firm.

Senate Majority PAC and Waterfront Strategies are represented by Marc E. Elias, William B. Stafford, Melinda K. Johnson and Alexi Machek Velez of Elias Law Group LLP and Barry A. Ragsdale and Robert Smith Vance III of Dominick Feld Hyde PC.

The case is Moore v. Cecil et al., case number 4:19-cv-01855, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.

Lowe & Associates (“The Firm”) is a boutique entertainment and business law firm located in Beverly Hills, California. The Firm has extensive experience handling cases involving defamation, having provided top-quality legal services to its clients since 1991. The Firm is recognized for its many achievements, including successfully litigating many high-profile cases.

Find us at our website at www.LoweLaw.com

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