Judge decides who’s an expert on ‘Deadpool’ in lawsuit over Utah liquor law

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge has decided who can be an expert on “Deadpool” and alcohol in an ongoing lawsuit against the state of Utah.

In an order issued Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge David Nuffer rejected many of Brewvies’ requests for expert witnesses to be considered. One of them was to testify about artistic merits of “Deadpool.”

Photo: 20th Century Fox

“While (Dr. Kyle) Bishop may be qualified to opine ‘regarding the tone, content and artistic value of Deadpool,’ his opinion is not reliable,” Judge Nuffer wrote. “The statute at issue does not implicate the value of the film, or challenge its primary effect, but simply prohibits showing films portraying specified types of conduct. The conduct prohibited in films is consistent with live conduct that is prohibited on premises regulated by the Utah Alcoholic Beverage Commission. No expert testimony is necessary to determine whether the film at issue violates the statutory standard.”

Judge Nuffer did allow an urban planner to testify to counter Utah’s claims of “negative secondary effects” as a result of alcohol and sexual content, but blocked some of his research from being presented. The judge did allow a state witness to present evidence regarding secondary effects of alcohol.

“(Dr. William) George’s opinion on whether there are negative secondary effects from viewing explicit material while consuming alcohol is relevant. Those effects may be at the heart of this litigation,” Judge Nuffer wrote.

Brewvies found itself under investigation by Utah’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control after it showed the movie “Deadpool.” A provision of Utah liquor law forbids a liquor licensee from serving alcohol and showing full nudity or explicit sexual conduct. Faced with revocation of its license, Brewvies sued the DABC challenging the statute.

Both sides have asked the judge for summary judgment. Brewvies wants the judge to strike down Utah’s law, while the Utah Attorney General’s Office has asked him to uphold it.

Read the judge’s ruling here: