Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Maybe it's time to run the Capri Theatre out of business after it shuts down a showing of Siegelman documentary because of content about Leura Canary

(From flickr.com)
Montgomery's Capri Theatre has a history of bold, forward thinking. It was one of the few theatres in the country to show The Last Temptation of Christ, at a time (the late 1980s) when that was not necessarily a popular thing to do.

Today's management seems hell-bent on proving the theatre is managed by a bunch of Cro-Magnons. The Carpi has cancelled a showing of Atticus v. The Architect: The Political Assassination of Don Siegelman, a documentary about the prosecution of Alabama's former Democratic governor.

The film already has been shown in Birmingham and Atlanta, and a screening was set for July 8 in Montgomery. But that has been scrapped because, says theatre director Martin McCaffrey, the film portrays former U.S. attorney Leura Canary -- prosecutor on the Siegelman case -- in a "false and defamatory manner." Why is that a sensitive issue? Because Canary serves on the Capri's board of directors.

Now, that is insular and tribal thinking of the highest order -- and it suggests Alabama has gone backward, not forward, over the past 25 years or so.

How stupid is the Capri's action -- and McCaffrey's statement? Let us count the ways:

(1) Neither McCaffrey, nor any of the other board members, has a way of knowing whether the documentary, directed by Steve Wimberly, presents false information about Canary. If the film allegedly made false assertions directly about McCaffrey, or any other individual on the board, the directors might have an ethical leg upon which to stand. But Canary likely is the only member of the board who has first-hand knowledge about issues in the film, and the board apparently is blindly taking her word for things -- even though prosecutorial misconduct in the case has been widely reported in multiple news outlets. This is another case of white privilege and entitlement in Alabama. If Leura Canary claims a film's content is false -- even though she previously has made no such public showing -- then movie-goers in central Alabama are not entitled to watch the film and make up their own minds.

(2) "Defamatory" is a court term, with a specific legal meaning -- and McCaffrey likely has no idea what that is. By law, a defamation claim must be determined at trial, before a jury. It's not an issue that one person, not even a judge, can determine. That's because it involves First Amendment issues that have been treasured in this country for more than 200 years. The law holds that a judge cannot be a one-man censor in a definition case. But Martin McCaffrey seems to think he and his board can be one-man censors of the Siegelman documentary.

(3) By any definition, Leura Canary is a public figure. That means the bar for defamatory content is extremely high when applied to her. New York Times v. Sullivan sets the standard for a public figure -- information must be published with "actual malice" (actual knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for the truth) in order to be defamatory. Translation: McCaffrey and his board have no clue what they are talking about.

(4) If Canary's actions in the Siegelman case were so noble, why has the U.S. Department of Justice been stonewalling for almost 11 years on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for documents about her actions. In fact, a case now is pending in federal court -- Joseph Siegelman v. U.S. Department of Justice -- and public records suggest documents were turned over for review to U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala roughly three months ago, and we've still seen no sign of the documents being made public. Is Canary living in utter fear that the documents soon will become public, and that's why she's trying to hijack the Capri Theatre and its audience? Seems pretty darned likely to me.

Powerful evidence suggests Leura Canary was, in fact, part of a conspiracy to unlawfully prosecute Don Siegelman, so that Republican Bob Riley could become, and then remain, governor. From Josh Moon, of Alabama Political Reporter:

Canary was a federal prosecutor during Siegelman’s prosecution and ultimate conviction. Canary’s husband, Billy, was a powerful player in the state’s Republican Party and served as an advisor to eventual Gov. Bob Riley.

Leura Canary said she recused from the case against Siegelman, but there have long been allegations by Siegelman’s camp that she remained active throughout. A number of emails and other items – all detailed in the film – were discovered following Siegelman’s conviction.

I try to make limited use of terms like "outrage" here at Legal Schnauzer. But the Capri's actions are an outrage. Alabama citizens, from the Montgomery area and beyond, should protest the Capri until the Siegelman film is put back on the schedule. In the alternative, they should boycott the Capri until it goes out of business.

Don Siegelman himself said it well in a public statement:

The truth should trump the prosecutor's embarrassment at being exposed on the big screen for her wrongdoing.

The former governor nailed it -- and perhaps we are seeing signs that the Capri has outlived its usefulness. An "independent theatre," which is captive to the whims of a corrupt board member, perhaps is not worth having.


Anonymous said...

You nailed it, Schnauzer. Time for some civil disobedience!

Anonymous said...

Martin McCaffery has been with the Capri since 1980s. He should be ashamed of himself.

Anonymous said...

I'm sick of Leura Canary and her slimy, New York husband running Montgomery. Hit the exits, you creeps.

Steve said...

If only she would sue!

Meanwhile I hope that this is released as a DVD or on line or I will never get to see it 🙁
I did contribute a little to the funding call.

Anonymous said...

Down with the Capri! Down with the Capri!

Anonymous said...

Billy Canary threatened to pull sponsorships from the Capri. I'm betting that's the real reason the plug was pulled on Siegelman film.

Anonymous said...

Shut it down! Shut it down!

Anonymous said...

Two-point memo to Mr. McCaffrey:

(1) Grow a spine;

(2) Tell Ms. Canary she has three choices:

a. Sit back and enjoy the Siegelman film.

b. Stay home.

c. Resign from the board.

It's her choice.

Unknown said...

Manager Martin McCaffrey is in a hard spot; the Board calls the shots. A timid Board could destroy the Capri's repetition. Please don't boycott. Instead let's wash out the timid Board. Surely there are many more members that want a bold screen than favor censorship. If someone doesn't like the film they could try to sue to film maker but I don't appreciate their attempt to keep the film from me. I will ask tomorrow when there is a Board election and comment on Josh's posting at the Capri Facebook page with what I've found out. Perhaps some will volunteer their services to serve on the Board by commenting that posting by Josh.

legalschnauzer said...


Thanks for sharing. Do you know who is on the board? Are there corporate sponsorships?

vintagecarole said...

Is Canary still employed by RSA?
I knew eventually she would surface.

legalschnauzer said...

VC --

As far as I know, Leura Canary still is employed with RSA.

Unknown said...

Some boards are elected; some are self-perpetuating. Alas, the thirteen or so members of the Board of the Capri choose how to fill vacancies. I had hoped that members that hate censorship could swamp out the old board but I was wrong.

legalschnauzer said...

New information in Montgomery Advertiser article today about Siegelman film:


"The board member isn’t named. McCaffery said in an interview Tuesday morning a board member presented a list of “false and defamatory” items in the film to other board members, leading to the decision.

"Leura Canary, a former federal prosecutor and frequent target of Siegelman’s camp, serves on the Capri board.

“The board’s action speaks for itself and I have no further comment,” Canary wrote in an email.

legalschnauzer said...

@4:12 --

Wow, that is interesting. Thanks for sharing.

So Canary went behind closed doors and begged her fellow board members not to show the film.

I'm sure no board member had the guts to say:

(1) Leura, would you take questions and testify under oath, on video, about these issues? Would you do this with a member of the Siegelman/Scrushy defense team asking questions?

(2) Would you write an open letter to the DOJ, encouraging them to release all documents about your recusal, instead of stonewalling for 11 years?

e.a.f. said...

censor ship is alive and well in the U.S.A. not only as pointed out in this post but at the White House briefings with no cameras permitted when ever some one deems that is to be the case. this will get worse as time goes by. This is the way the naziS AND OTHER dictatorships start out, censorship.

Anonymous said...

This is "outrage?" REALLY? The refusal to show a documentary is an outrageous act? Outrage is what is happening to the people of Mosul while ISIS tries to hang on to its last base, using innocent men, women and children as human shields against bullets. Outrage is terrorists blowing up car bombs, or running over innocent people on the London Bridge. Outrage is a man walking into a restaurant in Paris and opening fire on innocent people, killing several. Outrage is a doctor going into a hospital in Bronx, NY and opening fire against helpless people.

The refusal to show a movie is not outrage. It may be insensitive, it may be obstructive, it may be unfair. But it isn't outrage. It is the act of a private entity who had the right to show the movie or not.

The board was doing nothing more than exercising its right (and your precious right) to exercise free speech. They are not a governmental entity, and thus, can say or do what they want, or refuse to show something it or its board deems offensive, misleading, and yes, even defamatory.

To defame someone does not require anything other than allegations. Your tortured analysis of what is required for defamation is based upon a claim that one is damaged by defamation. The board's declaration that the movie defames Ms. Canary or shows her in a false light is nothing more than a statement.

Put your outrage in your pocket for something that truly deserves it, Snowflake.

legalschnauzer said...

@8:07 --

Sounds like you are expressing outrage over my use of the term "outrage." Deep stuff, Snowflake.

Anonymous said...

Your "outrage" is much ado over nothing. I'm not the one whining and bitching over the refusal to show a lousy movie. I'm simply pointing out how absurd your "outrage" is over the decision not to show a movie that some people don't agree with. How is this any worse than students demanding that certain speakers be banned because their views differ from the students? Is that outrageous?

legalschnauzer said...

@9:10 --

Oh no, a Snowflake like you would never bitch or whine. You're an intellectual giant. That's why you use words like "Snowflake." Hah!