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Ninth Circuit Court Orders Prop 8 Trial Tapes To Remain Sealed

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled 3-0 that video records of the Proposition 8 trail will not be released to the public.

That case—in which Judge James Ware supported gay-marriage proponents’ efforts to overturn a same-sex marriage ban in California—is still on appeal.

Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr. of American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) believes Prop 8  supporters fought to ensure the tapes weren’t released because they didn’t want their hateful language or identities revealed.

Says Boutrous:

“It speaks volumes that the proponents of Proposition 8 are so insistent about concealing the videotaped record of this historic trial. They know the videotape would expose their baseless campaign of fear and let the public see the powerful evidence we submitted showing that Proposition 8 flatly violates the United States Constitution. That’s why they fought so hard to keep the tapes secret.”

Last September, Judge Ware ruled that they should be released, emphasizing that “Transparency is pivotal to public perception of the judiciary’s legitimacy and independence. But in its ruling, the Ninth Court reiterated that Judge Vaughn Walker, who presided over Perry v. Schwarzenegger, had told the litigants the tapes would remain sealed.

“The integrity of our judicial system depends in no small part on the ability of litigants and members of the public to rely on a judge’s word,” said the Ninth Court in its ruling today.

Anti-marriage-equality forces are pretty pleased with their minor victory: “To rule otherwise would severely undermine the public’s confidence in the federal courts by breaching the bond of trust between the people and their justice system,” said Austin Nimocks of the pro-Prop 8 Alliance Defense Fund told the San Fransisco Chronicle.

Source: AFER

  • 14 Comments
    • christopher di spirito
      christopher di spirito

      New York state legalizes same-sex marriage.

      Washington state legalizes same-sex marriage.

      Meanwhile, the legal challenge to the viciously homophobic Proposition 8 remains mired in the California court gulag system where I predict it will remain for many years to come.

      Feb 2, 2012 at 3:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ChrisC
      ChrisC

      Is there ANY idea as to when there may be a ruleing on Prop 8? At this rate it seems as though Texas will have Marriage Equality before California (in a manner of speak).

      Feb 2, 2012 at 3:42 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mike UK
      Mike UK

      do you not have “road closed” signs in the US, you have to rob British ones! :)

      Feb 2, 2012 at 4:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      “”the Ninth Court reiterated that Judge Vaughn Walker, who presided over Perry v. Schwarzenegger, had told the litigants the tapes would remain sealed.””
      ______________

      Yes, and he also struck down Prop 8. That hasn’t stopped the Ninth Circuit from hearing an appeal to the case. Funny how they are so concerned about one thing he said and are doing everything they can to uphold it, but don’t seem to care about the other thing he said…i.e., his decision.

      The ninth circuit has done everything they could to avoid doing ANYTHING on this case. Meanwhile, the rest of the country is passing them by.

      Feb 2, 2012 at 4:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      Re Cam’s statement, “The ninth circuit has done everything they could to avoid doing ANYTHING on this case.” … not true at all. It’s taking far longer than we’d like, but it is not like the court doesn’t have a backlog of cases to go through, and it takes a while to generate a legal opinion that is airtight enough to have a decent chance of being upheld on an appeal.

      Feb 2, 2012 at 6:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      Mike UK – I think the British road sign was used because none in the US say “No public access” – at least I’ve never seen any. Shall I thank you for allowing us Yanks to use it? :)

      Feb 2, 2012 at 7:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      What exactly are “video records” of a trial? Did this occur in open court or closed session? Why would Judge Walker promise the litigants the tapes would remain private? Is there any dispute that he actually did say this or not? What I’m driving at is (a) if a person or representative of a group testifies (and we’re not talking about something really sensitive like a young minor child testifying about abuse) why would the testifier assume their remarks are not available for review by the public?

      Feb 2, 2012 at 7:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mike UK
      Mike UK

      @Jaroslaw: can we have it back when you’re finished with it please, there’s a recession on you know!!! ;)

      Feb 2, 2012 at 7:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      @B: said…

      “Re Cam’s statement, “The ninth circuit has done everything they could to avoid doing ANYTHING on this case.” … not true at all. It’s taking far longer than we’d like, but it is not like the court doesn’t have a backlog of cases to go through, and it takes a while to generate a legal opinion that is airtight enough to have a decent chance of being upheld on an appeal.”
      ________________-

      In cases of civil rights they can be sped up. Additionally, this case isn’t arguing the merits of the case, they are merely supposed to determine whether or not the original judge’s decision was based solidly in the law. But rather than expedite it, as they are supposed to do when delaying it can damage people, they have delayed and delayed.

      Feb 2, 2012 at 7:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      No. 9 · Cam wrote, “In cases of civil rights they can be sped up.”

      Really? Part of the delay involved a question of standing, where the 9th Circuit Court
      asked the California Supreme Court for a ruling on a specific legal issue involving the California constitution. It’s not like the California Supreme Court dropped everything it was doing in order to respond as fast as possible.

      While they can respond quickly when it is a “slam dunk” decision, that isn’t always the case. It’s in our interest for them to take enough time to produce a ruling that won’t be perfunctorily rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.

      Feb 2, 2012 at 11:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CJ
      CJ

      One thought.

      I would suspect that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will uphold Walker’s ruling AND that they know that this will eventually go to SCOTUS.

      That being said, assuming ALL justices involved in this lawsuit are FULLY AWARE that this will go to SCOTUS… it is far better to lean towards the side of caution vs. not. In other words, it’s better to be fair (or even give the anti-equality side a bone) vs. doing anything that may appear as prejudicial, inappropriate, etc. If all the Ts are crossed and all of the I’s are dotted it will be increasingly difficult for SCOTUS to find ANYTHING that could cause Walker’s ruling to be overturned.

      Again, just a thought. The 9th Circuit judges aren’t dumb. They know that this is a landmark case. If they are liberally minded they will NOT want to screw this up. They’ll do everything they can to ensure Walker’s ruling stands.

      Feb 3, 2012 at 12:25 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • 13Zeroither
      13Zeroither

      Goddamn fucking assholes.

      Feb 3, 2012 at 12:40 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Steve
      Steve

      Remember that this is not the important decision. This is just about the video. The decision on the merits of the case, is yet to come.

      On this part, there were/are good arguments on both sides. So, it is entirely possible that SCOTUS might disagree. Because of that, it seems to make good sense to have this decision separate from the decision on the merits. The separation allows the decision on the merits to be as clean as possible, without extraneous stuff in the same document.

      Feb 3, 2012 at 1:35 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      @B:

      You also ignored my comment on the fact that this isn’t a redo of the entire case, merely a finding on whether the case was tried correctly and the judge did so properly.

      Pretending that this takes a long time is false.

      Feb 3, 2012 at 8:15 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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