The Los Angeles Times reports that proponents of Proposition 8 have filed an emergency appeal to the United States Supreme Court to enjoin the federal district court trying the lawsuit challenging Proposition 8 from showing the trial on You Tube after the day’s proceedings:
Reporting from Washington – The lawyers defending California’s Proposition 8 and its ban on same-sex marriage urged the U.S. Supreme Court today to block video coverage of next week’s trial in San Francisco.
They filed an emergency appeal with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and argued that their client’s right to a fair trial would be jeopardized if each day’s proceedings were put on YouTube.
The trial “has the potential to become a media circus,” wrote attorney Charles Cooper. “The record is already replete with evidence showing that any publicizing of support for Prop. 8 has inevitably led to harassment, economic reprisal, threats, and even physical violence. In this atmosphere, witnesses are understandably quite distressed at the prospect of their testimony being broadcast worldwide on YouTube.”
I’m not sure I agree with this analysis. The trial isn’t going to be the typical trial in the sense one might think. There likely will be many experts and academics testifying as witnesses rather than the run of the mill voters who participated in the election in November 2008. There’s less likely to be a media circus in a federal court room like the one we saw in the O.J. Simpson trial. Those who think that will be the case haven’t spent much time inside a federal court room. Most federal judges run a pretty tight ship, and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and other local court rules, including the judge’s ability to run his courtroom like his own personal kingdom will keep the media and others in order.
Frankly it just looks bad for the Proposition 8 proponents to want to hide this trial from the public. I think the federal challenge to Proposition 8 has an uphill battle. But, regardless, I’m a big believer in open and public access to our judicial system. I think cameras in the courtroom are not only appropriate, but more and more likely in the future. Let’s let the world see the finest judicial system at its best, particularly in this case when the arguments are going to be ground breaking, unique, and critically important.
The Mercury News has a good article overview on the upcoming trial. Should be interesting.