Now the Opponents Of Prop 8 Must Turn Over All Their Internal Documents In Federal Trial

If has to turn over its internal memos and emails, then so too must Equality California, Californians Against Eliminating Basic Rights, and the ACLU, according to an order today from U.S. Magistrate Joseph Spero. Any documents “that contain, refer or relate to arguments for or against Proposition 8” must be made available, with “private communications: between “core leaders” exempt. (If someone can explain to us why Spero, and not Judge Vaughn Walker is the one making this call, please do.) [AP]

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  • NVLawMan

    Spero has made ALL of these types of decisions in this case. It is very common for bench judges to defer these matters to administrative judges. It brings a sense of oversight and fairness to the trial and also streamlines the process (ie- in this case, these arguments were constant and were held simultaneously while the actual trial went on before Judge Walker by staff attorneys).

  • AlwaysGay

    Equality California better not hand over a single document. The heterosexual-only marriage activists have balked at handing over documents everywhere not just in California and the heterosexuals running the government have done a thing about it. Now it’s Equality California’s turn to balk.

  • Dick Mills

    I doubt that any internal discussions between the NO on 8 group would have any bearing on the case. The way I understand it, Olsen and Boies want their communications because those documents might reveal the true animus that exists among those in the YES camp, and that animus could go a long way toward “proving” that the main purpose behind Prop 8 was a pernicious prejudice. But since the ballot initiative didn’t strip rights away from the Pro H8 group, any animus from those in the NO group would be immaterial.

    But, I agree that there should be a hostage swap of documents here. The YES on H8 group shouldn’t get a single piece of documentation from the NO group until they show us theirs.

  • hmm

    NVLawman, not quite accurate.
    Spero is a “Magistrate Judge”, not an administrative judge. And not sure what you’re talking about re: staff attorneys. In the federal courts, discovery matters are generally referred to magistrate judges. The parties can essentially appeal any ruling to the district court judge assigned to the case, though, and my guess is they likely will here. (The earlier discovery issue went through the same pattern.)

  • TommyOC

    While we’re at it, I hope the No on 8 guys reveal their donor rolls. To set the example.

  • Dick Mills

    TommyOC, I think that you should check your facts. Both the No and Yes groups have, as they are required to do so by law, made the names of their donors public. It isn’t an option, it is the law. And, with a quick google search, you can find the lists from both campaigns.

  • Lukas P.

    Prop 8 proponents protest truth? They had much to fear in handing over their documents, because their animus would be — and WAS — exposed.

    Donor rolls, as said by others before me, are public record. For both sides.

    If any side in any debate/case wants to prevail, then they should have nothing to conceal in the underpinnings of their funding or arguments.

    Not a legal scholar here, but I can’t imagine that Prop 8 proponents or opponents would have been ill-prepared for this type of request.

    William Tam’s own ill-fated decision not to defend his own arguments was put in bright lights when he was obliged to appear as a “hostile witness” and unable to convey in rational terms his reasons to support Prop 8.

    I’m staying tuned to what happens next!

  • tavdy79

    @AlwaysGay: I think Equality California should agree to do so only if all the prop. 8 supporters’ documents are also handed over (from memory, they all were).

    I doubt EqCa has anything to fear from their documents being available to the opposition lawyers because they ran a squeaky clean campaign. Why else would they have been the ones pushing for full disclosure all along, while Prop 8’s supporters were opposed? What does that say about who has reason to fear full disclosure?

  • Sapphocrat

    @Dick Mills: “Both the No and Yes groups have, as they are required to do so by law, made the names of their donors public.”

    On the surface, yes, they did — but (in my *opinion*) Yes On 8 fulfilled only the minimum requirements, and (in my *opinion*), the extent of that “fulfillment” is highly questionable.

    As one who’s been compiling a massive database of all donors for and against marriage bans (concentrating primarily on CA PH8, AZ P102 & FL Amend. 2) for more than a year now, I’ve gone over tens of thousands of donor records from both sides with a fine-toothed comb.

    The California Yes On 8 records (the subject here) are relatively clean, compared to Arizona’s and Florida’s (which, I *believe*, were in many instances purposely obscured by the anti-gay PACs — and neither AZ nor FL pushed for accuracy or follow-up on incomplete or “anonymous” donors, as the states themselves were required to do) — but the Yes On 8 records are a shocking mess when compared to the No On 8 donor records.

    Meaning: It is my *opinion* that the Yes On 8 people (and/or a significant number of donors themselves) did everything in their power to make identification of donors as difficult as possible.

    Now, NOM — using made-up stories about “violence” against pro-H8 donors — is fighting tooth and nail to keep the identities of Maine’s anti-gay donors secret. (Everyone here probably knows about this battle, brought on by the tireless Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate — but if not, the ongoing story is definitely worth knowing.)

    I apologize for going a bit OT here, and I’m not disagreeing with you, Dick, but I think it’s worth mentioning as yet another illustration that while the anti-gay orgs may appear to follow the law, they do so while beating the *spirit* of the law to a bloody pulp.

    As for the subject of this story, it doesn’t strike me as any big deal — assuming, of course, No On 8 has nothing to hide. I don’t think it does; while I’m not an EQCA insider, I think No On 8’s worst offense was running a truly piss-poor campaign (but that, too, is beside the point).

    AFAIC, No On 8 should immediately — and happily — hand over whatever the order demands. As tavdy79 says above, No On 8 appears to have run a “squeaky clean campaign” — and it would only behoove all of us if they continued to take the high road and maintain complete transparency… unlike their enemies.

  • Dick Mills

    @Sapphocrat: I fully concur. Not that it’s truly eyeopening, but those in the Yes on 8 camp, hold themselves up to be upstanding, above-reproach, and of “pure” intent. But, if these campaigns have taught us anything, it is that they are none of those things. Again, it’s not revelatory, but more like the final argument for anyone yet to be convinced.

  • Someone

    What have we got to lose by showing those documents? If there is incriminating stuff there, then we ought to be ashamed of the folks fighting dirty. Yes, we want rights, but don’t you want them to be earned the right way?

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