9th Circuit Says Videotapes in Prop 8 Case to Remain Sealed

Citing efforts to retain "sanctity of judicial process", the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that videotapes shot of the Proposition 8 trial will remains sealed: "The integrity of our judicial system depends in no small part on the ability of litigants...the public to rely on a judge’s word..."

WalkerHere's a brief section I pulled from the ruling:

Interpreted in their full context, at least two of Chief Judge Walker’s statements amount to unequivocal assurances that the video recording at issue would not be accessible to the public. No other inference can plausibly be drawn from the record. First, following the Supreme Court’s issuance of a stay against the public broadcast of the trial, Chief Judge Walker stated in open court that he was going to continue “taking the recording for purposes of use in chambers,” but that the recording was “not going to be for purposes of public broadcasting or televising.” It would be unreasonable to expect Proponents, upon reading the Supreme Court’s opinion andhearing Chief Judge Walker’s statement in response, to foresee that a recording made for such limited purposes might nonetheless be released for viewing by the public,either during or after the trial. Had Chief Judge Walker not made the statement he did, Proponents would very likely have sought an order directing him to stop recording forthwith, which, given the prior temporary and further stay they had just obtained from the Supreme Court, they might well have secured.

Read the ruling, AFTER  THE JUMP...

Our legal expert Ari Ezra Waldman will have analysis as soon as he can take a closer look...

11-17255 #73 - Decision

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  1. I hope this hints that the are going to rule that Prop 8 is unconstitutional.

    Win some, lose some-attitude.

    Posted by: gayalltheway | Feb 2, 2012 1:04:33 PM

  2. While for political reasons I would love it for the video to be broadcast, letting the testimony of the bigots burn in the bright light of day like an exposed vampire, I think this decision is a no-brainer. If the judge says the video will not be released, they shouldn't be released.

    Posted by: Rich | Feb 2, 2012 1:12:22 PM

  3. This is hardly a surprise, and the rational for the decision seems sound. At the end of the day, disclosure of the tapes is not nearly as important as what the Court of Appeals decides on the constitutionality of Prop 8. What is unfortunate is going to be the noise made by ADF, NOM and their ilk about it, and how it will be used in support of their fundraising efforts.

    Posted by: MiloTock | Feb 2, 2012 1:13:42 PM

  4. what was most amazing, and at the same time unsurprising, about the trial was the sheer fact that the only defense the Prop 8 team had was "but they're GAYY!!!" , as if that automatically makes some form of argumentative sense.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Feb 2, 2012 1:23:35 PM

  5. I'm sure I missed something along the line but if the judge declared twice the videos were for the courts only, not the public, why did the anti-prop 8 team waste some much time trying to get them released?

    Posted by: KP | Feb 2, 2012 1:46:04 PM

  6. When you get right down to it, I simply don't understand why any court proceeding is not public. We're not talking about some private corporation deciding how to govern itself, we're talking about what is and is not legal under the U.S. Constitution. Why are these proceedings not wholely and completely open to the citizens of the U.S., either in person or via broadcast? The legislative branch doesn't normally work this way, why is it allowed for the judicial branch? I've never understood this.

    Posted by: jim | Feb 2, 2012 1:55:40 PM

  7. And the asshats at NOM will declare this a victory, lol!

    Posted by: Robert in NYC | Feb 2, 2012 2:01:28 PM

  8. Sanctity? Really? I had no idea that the court was a religious institution, but it explains a lot.

    Posted by: S.C. | Feb 2, 2012 2:15:16 PM

  9. I scanned through the document, looking for "sanctity," but didn't find it. I did, however, find "integrity" used.

    Posted by: Reed | Feb 2, 2012 2:20:51 PM

  10. You're right, 'sanctity' is not used in the document. I'd sure like to know where that quote used in this blog article comes from. A quote is a quote, and needs attribution.

    Posted by: S.C. | Feb 2, 2012 2:29:20 PM

  11. whatever happened to open and honest government?

    Posted by: walter | Feb 2, 2012 2:32:58 PM

  12. Now with this issue settled we can expect a final decision as to whether Prop 8 is constitutional or not in just a matter of days or at most weeks. That's the decision we are all really waiting for. And either way, that decision will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The whole reason behind this lawsuit was to push the case before the U.S. Supreme Court. The religious right believes if/once it goes there the far-right judges will declare same-sex marriage unconsititutional.

    Posted by: OS2Guy | Feb 2, 2012 2:35:20 PM

  13. I'm supposed to believe NOBODY can leak this video?

    Posted by: Randy | Feb 2, 2012 2:38:44 PM

  14. They use the words "foreseeable future". Does this mean that when this case is finished, they could be released? What would the harm be at that point? Their one witness has already said he is not afraid of a backlash. Ari, can you give any guidance on that?

    Posted by: Chris Gable | Feb 2, 2012 2:47:15 PM

  15. "Sanctity" *is* used in the document. See page 6, lines 1-3: "...the interest in preserving the sanctity of the judicial process is a compelling reason to override the presumption in favor of the recording’s release."

    Posted by: DSC | Feb 2, 2012 2:47:34 PM

  16. Where's WikiLeaks on this?

    I frankly can't believe Judge Ware ruled the tapes to be unsealed. That's absurd. Not only did Judge Walker promise the litigants they wouldn't be, he used that promise against the Proponents in his ruling because they did not then call those witnesses who were purportedly afraid to have the video of their testimony made public.

    In defense of AFER's legal position on this - the argument to release the tapes was not started by our side; it was only made in response to the Proponent's motion that all copies of the tapes be returned to the court. Our side had a copy and did not want to return it, so they argued for unsealing the whole thing while they were appearing anyway to oppose that motion. I'm sure they had no illusions of succeeding on that argument, but kitchen sink and all that.

    Still ... the tapes exist, and I have a feeling they will see the light of day someday, and hopefully before I personally see my last day.

    Posted by: Zlick | Feb 2, 2012 2:48:36 PM

  17. Will you walk into my parlour?" said the Spider to the Fly... This is too funny... the Prop8ers will be talking about how the 9th circuit was spot on with this ruling, blah, blah, blah... but when the 9th circuit upholds Judge Walker's ruling it will be "Judicial Activism"... their collective heads will whiplash between singing the praises and denouncing the activism. It will clearly illustrate in real time that the real definition of Judicial activism is when you don't agree with the ruling...

    Posted by: MikeH | Feb 2, 2012 2:56:59 PM

  18. So, the 9th circuit court *DOES* consider itself to be a religious institution.

    Definition of SANCTITY
    : holiness of life and character : godliness
    a : the quality or state of being holy or sacred

    Posted by: S.C. | Feb 2, 2012 2:57:25 PM

  19. Earn money trashing Madonna this weekend


    Posted by: Terry M | Feb 2, 2012 3:49:37 PM

  20. I'm not impressed. Given that the only reason the trial was not broadcast was that it just barely missed the requirements of the exploratory program that will eventually lead to the recording and public availability of ALL court proceedings in the 9th Circuit, the hand-wringing about what witnesses feel seems quite manufactured.

    As to Walker's "promise" not to broadcast the video, yes, one might assume those who heard those words took it to mean that he wouldn't... for some period of time. Certainly not FOREVER. Will we be, yet again, subject to the gay exception? Will another case about us yield another precedent that only applies to us? Will the Prop 8 video never, ever see the light of day? Absurd.

    Posted by: BobN | Feb 2, 2012 4:06:11 PM

  21. Walker was full of himself and needed to be smacked down. Better on this then on the real issue.

    Posted by: Bingo | Feb 2, 2012 4:06:25 PM

  22. They can leak Pentagon emails, but these video tapes are "sealed?" - LMFAO. I bet we see the tapes before the end of the year... start the CLOCK.

    Posted by: Hollywood, CA | Feb 2, 2012 7:16:08 PM

  23. Not sure why all the drama over the use of the word sanctity. Also defined as -
    3. the condition of being inviolable;
    And sacred is also defined as -
    4. reverently dedicated to some person, purpose, or object:
    In fact, I hold many things sacred and I haven't practiced a religion in more than 20 years. I am as agnostic as you can possibly get without being full on atheist, but I just don't see the problem with the word in the context of this decision. Me thinks we are becoming a bit thin skinned these days.

    Posted by: Kenneth | Feb 2, 2012 9:42:30 PM

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