Alabama’s Roy Moore Takes a Look at Another US Senate Race

(CN) — Alabama may not have heard the last from Roy Moore. The former judge, twice removed from the Alabama Supreme Court, lost to Alabama’s first Democratic senator in more than 20 years in a cataclysmic race in 2017 when women accused him of decades-old sexual improprieties. Now he’s looking at running again in 2020.

Roy Moore. (AP file photo/Brynn Anderson)

The 2017 special election came when Senator Jeff Sessions was appointed U.S. attorney general. It was close, but Moore’s opponent Doug Jones won the race thanks to the overwhelming support of black female voters.

Jones is up for reelection in the 2020 election, and it appears that Alabama Republicans may be open for a Jones v. Moore rematch.

As other Alabamians announce their intentions to seek the state’s senate seat, Moore is far from resolving lawsuits alleging conspiracy, fraud and defamation that grew from his last campaign. There are depositions to conduct, evidence to produce and public hearings to hold on the very issues that made the 2017 special election so contentious.

“The court is just not moving,” Moore told Courthouse News about one case in Montgomery. “And I think it’s all an attempt to keep me from doing things and keep me where they want to keep me.”

The former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court was removed from the state’s highest bench in 2003 after he refused to move a monument to the 10 Commandments from the Heflin-Torbert Judicial Building. He resigned from the same position in 2017 after he was suspended for directing Alabama’s probate judges to not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  

Last week, a poll by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy made waves when it discovered that among Alabama Republicans, Moore leads the potential candidates for Alabama’s seat in the U.S. Senate at 27%, in a field of six.

The poll noted Moore has a name-recognition advantage that may shrink as the primary goes on. If he decides to run, he will face resistance from his own party, as 29% of Republican voters who responded to the poll disapprove of him.

Moore has yet to announce whether he will run.

Meanwhile, the Doug Jones campaign sent fundraising emails over the weekend citing that Moore was “leading the Republican field.”

Speaking with Courthouse News, Moore said he’s heard from several people that he should run. He said he will make an announcement in three to four weeks.

“I think that what (the poll) reflects, my opinion, is that the people of Alabama saw through this disinformation campaign that was put on in the 2017 race,” Moore said.

The legal cases in which Moore is a party have ranged from quiet dismissals to all-out legal battles.

The Moores sued CBS, Showtime Networks and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen in September. The comedian of “Borat” fame disguised himself as Erran Morad, a supposed Israeli counterterrorism expert, and sought to interview Moore in Washington, D.C. for the show “Who is America?”

During the filming, Cohen allegedly whipped out a device that he said would detect pedophiles. Cohan called it Israeli technology as he waved it over Moore’s chest and it beeped.

The interview ended. Moore sued in District of Columbia Federal Court alleging the comedian committed fraud.

The defendants sought a change of venue in October, asking to move the case to the Southern District of New York, in accordance with the agreement Moore signed before sitting down for the interview.

Moore opposed the transfer. “There can simply be no consent, or legally binding agreement, when one party misrepresents not only their identity but also their purpose of the purported agreement, as Defendants have clearly and admittedly done here,” Moore’s motion states.

A hearing has been set for April 29.

Last year, Moore filed two cases in Etowah County, (Gadsden) Alabama. The first was against a super political action committee and groups and people associated with it that took the campaign allegations of sexual improprieties — such as an allegation that Moore was banned from a shopping mall in Gadsden — and ran with them in political ads. Moore called the multimillion-dollar ad campaign defamation.

Six judges in Etowah County had recused themselves from the case by the end of July 2018. Although Highway 31 Super PAC and the other defendants in the case filed a motion for extra time to file an answer, they didn’t get to. The Moores voluntarily dismissed the case in September 2018.

“There’s only so many battles you can maintain at any time,” said Trenton Garmon, one of the Moores’ attorneys.

“It was going to take probably $25,000 to $50,000 to present it to a jury by the time we did expert testimony and depositions. It was a good suit, but Judge Moore and his wife are not litigious people. They didn’t want to proceed and so we agreed to dismiss it.”

During the 2017 campaign, Garmon represented Moore’s nonprofit, the Foundation for Moral Law, though he does not represent the Moore family today.

Moore filed his second case against three women who during the campaign accused Moore of sexual improprieties. Last year, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the case. But that case has sat in Etowah County — quietly.

“It’s been nearly a year and everything is being held up by this case in Montgomery that’s brought by the Covington & Burling firm, which first interviewed one of the accusers before she went on national television,” Moore said. “People should be aware that things like this don’t come out on national television 32 days before an election. Something’s up.”

But the case with the most heat, the bitter case, is the lawsuit Leigh Corfman, the woman who stepped forward in the pages of the Washington Post, filed against Moore in Montgomery, the state capital, in January 2018.

Corfman claimed Moore defamed her when he denied her allegations that he sexually abused her when he was in his 30s and she 14.

She sought in February to subpoena Commercial Polygraph Inc. for the results of a polygraph Moore underwent. 

Moore sought to quash the subpoena. “The results of polygraph examinations are, in general, inadmissible in Alabama,” wrote Melissa Issak, Moore’s attorney. She added that Corfman’s attorneys did not show how the examination contributed to “any alleged defamation.”

On March 19, Corfman’s attorneys filed a motion to further depose Moore and lodge a complaint against his attorney for allegedly violating Alabama’s rules of professional conduct.

“Since the start of this litigation, Mr. Moore, his wife Kayla, his close supporters, and his attorneys have unleashed at least 80 written and oral attacks against Ms. Corfman. Social media posts have attempted to shame her for her inability to recall precise details of Mr. Moore’s sexual abuse of her 40 years ago,” the 10-page filing states.

Such statements could taint a potential jury pool, the document said.

Corfman’s attorneys also want to depose Moore again. According to the filing, someone attempted to bribe Corfman’s former attorney with at least $10,000 to discredit her.

On April 5, Corfman’s attorneys from Covington & Burling and the Birmingham firm Lightfoot, Franklin & White, asked the court for a motions hearing on the matter.

Moore said his attorneys have yet to depose Corfman.

On April 6, another Alabaman with name recognitionannounced he was seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate: Thomas Tuberville, former football coach for Auburn University. The Mason-Dixon poll did not ask respondents their view of him. 

Courthouse News reached out to the Alabama Democratic Party and the campaigns of Doug Jones and Thomas Tuberville, but none responded.

Garmon said he believes that the litigation involving Moore may not cause drag to a possible campaign.

When the accusations came out, Garmon had Moore take a private polygraph test before he would represent him.

“He said it didn’t (happen). He passed the polygraph, and I believed him, but I’m not Jesus,” Garmon said. “I don’t think it would have an adverse effect. I think it’s probably as much as anything refined him. I mean, it’s refined his reputation. Say, if somebody steps up out of the bushes now, it looked insane before, but at this point, it looks not insane or out of the ordinary, but it looks malicious.”

Moore was removed as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in 2003 after he refused to move a monument to the 10 Commandments from the Heflin-Torbert Judicial Building. He resigned from the same position in 2017 after he was suspended for directing Alabama’s probate judges to not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  

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