Utah Attorney General’s Office, Brewvies battle over who’s an expert on ‘Deadpool’

Posted at 9:41 AM, Jan 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-31 12:20:42-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Lawyers for the movie theater Brewvies and the Utah Attorney General’s Office are battling over who can give an expert opinion on alcohol, sex, and the movie “Deadpool.”

In a pair of court filings obtained by FOX 13 on Tuesday, attorneys for the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission and Cinemapub, LLC are each trying to exclude so-called “expert witnesses” from testifying in upcoming hearings.

Brewvies is suing the DABC after the agency threatened its liquor license for showing the movie “Deadpool” last year. Utah law forbids full nudity in a place that serves alcohol. Brewvies is challenging the law as unconstitutional.

In its filing, the Utah Attorney General’s Office — representing the DABC — asked that Southern Utah University professor Kyle Bishop’s testimony be excluded “because Dr. Bishop is not qualified to opine regarding negative secondary effects, and because Dr. Bishop’s opinion that Deadpool is not obscene and not pornography are not necessary.”

Photo: 20th Century Fox / MGN

Photo: 20th Century Fox / MGN

“Dr. Bishop, as an English professor, is not qualified to opine that viewing Deadpool and consuming alcohol would not lead to negative secondary effects,” assistant Utah Attorney General Greg Soderberg later wrote in the filing. “Dr. Bishop is not a psychologist, criminologist, or statistician.”

The state also objected to Bruce Parker, a professor of architecture and planning, testifying about no negative effects from showing “Deadpool,” based upon police calls to the block around Brewvies in downtown Salt Lake City.

“While Mr. Parker might be qualified to opine regarding land use or zoning surrounding Brewvies, he is not qualified to opine regarding negative secondary effects,” Soderberg wrote.

Read the Utah Attorney General’s filing here:

In its own filing, Cinemapub attorney Rocky Anderson objected to the state relying on testimony from William George III, a psychology professor hired to provide expert testimony. Anderson said in the court filing that Dr. George has “a long history of performing laboratory experiments involving the consumption of alcohol while viewing pornographic materials (including what he describes as ‘deviant’ pornography) to determine the psychological impact on the individual subject and the degree of sexual aggression or sexual risk taking that results.”

“Dr. George has never been to Brewvies, never performed any studies relating to alcohol outside of a laboratory setting, never performed any studies, in the field or in the laboratory, of combining alcohol with viewing mainstream ‘R’ rated movies, and never performed any studies, in the field or in the laboratory, relating to any possible secondary effects from watching mainstream movies in traditional theaters that sell alcohol, and has never provided expert testimony outside the context of statutes addressing sexually oriented businesses,” Anderson wrote.

Brewvies’ lawyer said Dr. George admitted some of the raunchy scenes in “Deadpool” made him “laugh out loud.” However, Anderson disagreed with the conclusions.

“Dr. George opines that watching Deadpool ‘can’ drive the viewer to drink more, but not that it ‘will’ do so,” he wrote, asking the judge to exclude his testimony. “Dr. George only ‘speculates’ that watching Deadpool ‘can’ drive people to be more sexually aggressive, but not that it ‘will’ do so.”

Read Brewvies’ motion here:

Lawyers for both the state and Brewvies have asked a judge to extend deadlines for filings, but the case is scheduled for a three-day trial in July.