Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Judge orders Prop 8 trial video unsealed; grants limited stay

U.S. District Court Judge James Ware granted a motion this morning (Monday, September 19) to unseal the videotape of last year’s historic trial on Proposition 8, California’s same-sex marriage ban.  At the same time, he granted a stay until Friday, September 30. His decision to unseal the video is likely to be appealed quickly.

Ware heard arguments last month in his San Francisco courtroom over releasing the video.

Ted Boutrous, one of the top attorneys for the team challenging Proposition 8 in the federal Perry vs. Brown lawsuit, told Ware at the time that releasing the videotapes would enable the public to “see and hear” why Ware’s predecessor ruled Prop 8 unconstitutional. A lengthy, written transcript of the full proceeding has been available to the public for some time.

At the time of the Prop 8 trial, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was just beginning to roll out a new program to consider allowing for broadcast of trials and hearings. Judge Vaughn Walker, who presided over the Prop 8 trial, asked to allow broadcast of that trial as part of the new program. Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in and said no.

David Thompson, an attorney for Yes on 8, said his legal team did not object to Walker’s videotaping of the trial because of Walker’s assurances that the video would be used only by him, in chambers, in preparation of his final decision in the case.

In August 2010, Walker ruled Prop 8 unconstitutional. On September 6, the California Supreme Court heard oral arguments on whether there is any authority in state law to justify allowing Yes on 8 attorneys to appeal Walker’s decision in Perry v. Brown given that state officials have decided against appeal and have asked to abide by Walker’s decision. Their decision is expected soon.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, September 19, 2011 @ 10:26 am PST
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