Will the Olson-Boies Federal Challenge to Prop 8 Be Televised?
The Prop 8 challenge could be the first case to be televised under new authorization from The Judicial Council of the 9th Circuit, according to The Recorder:
The Judicial Council of the 9th Circuit authorized television cameras in certain district court proceedings Thursday, reviving a national controversy just weeks before a groundbreaking trial over same-sex marriage is slated to begin in San Francisco.
The 9th Circuit currently allows cameras to televise appellate arguments, as does the 2nd Circuit. A private vendor has also recorded a handful of district court proceedings in New York.
But under the 9th Circuit's new experimental program -- in which only civil, nonjury trials would qualify -- district courts would be likely to use their own camera equipment, said Circuit Executive Cathy Catterson. The method of distribution would be figured out on a case-by-case basis.
"It might be posted later in the day, it could be edited, or it could be live. It would depend on the nature of the case," Catterson said.
Cases to be considered for the pilot program, and the distribution details, will be decided by each district's chief judge, in consultation with 9th Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski. In San Francisco it is the Northern District of California's chief judge, Vaughn Walker, who is presiding over the federal challenge to Prop 8.
Walker first raised the possibility of a televised broadcast several weeks ago, and lawyers representing pro-same-sex-marriage plaintiffs support the idea. The defendants oppose it, saying anti-gay-marriage witnesses could be subject to harassment and retribution. When the topic arose again this week, Walker alluded to possible 9th Circuit action and asked for another discussion with the parties should authorization occur.
The U.S. Judicial Conference officially opposes cameras in the court, and it has "strongly urged" each circuit council to prohibit the practice, said Karen Redmond, a spokeswoman for the Administrative Office of the Courts. Only the 2nd and 9th Circuits have broken ranks.
Defense lawyer Cris Arguedas, who sits on the state's Bench Bar Media Committee, generally does not agree with cameras in the courtroom, but she feels differently about the Prop 8 trial: "It's an extremely important issue to the public, and I think it's right to have it be available in this way, as opposed to some little bank robbery case that doesn't matter to the public, but might matter to the guy on trial."