January 28, 2010
By Julia Rosen
Remember way back when, before the trial started, when NOM was predicting they would lose this case because Judge Walker wasn’t ceding to their lawyers’ every demand and motion?
Turns out the actual proceedings of the case didn’t make NOM’s president Maggie Gallagher any more confident about the outcome. Today out of nowhere she penned a letter whining to Judge Phyllis Hamilton, Chair of the Rules Committee that Judge Walker simply attempting to get the trial televised lost the case for them. Well actually, she put Judge Hamilton’s name/address at the top, but addressed the letter to Judge Walker. Don’t worry…as you will see these details don’t matter too much to Maggie.
My objection to televising high-profile trials is not theoretical. It emerges directly from the experience of the attempt to televise the trial for Proposition 8. Two-thirds of the expert witnesses-people who had been willing to sit for deposition, to prepare testimony, to fly to Sacramento to testify-dropped out under the prospect of having their faces and names televised.
Uuum, Maggie the trial was in San Francisco. While we residents of humble Sacramento are happy to be confused with our much more famous (and by you despised) neighbor 85 miles west, we won’t try and take away this spotlight from San Francisco.
The Supreme Court stepped in to prevent the broadcast of these hearings. But it was too late. Expert witnesses had already dropped out. The trial had been changed, forever, by the mere prospect of television broadcast.
Our case for Proposition 8 has been deeply harmed. The public record has been impoverished and the information available to reviewing courts permanently reduced all because some witnesses feared retaliation as a result of the publicity. I wish they had more courage, but I cannot view their fears as unreasonable.
Maggie conveniently forgets that part of the televising plans included allowing witnesses to request that the cameras be shut off during their testimony. NOM and Prop 8 built their case on unfounded fear and are now trying lay the groundwork for appeal, or at least influence the media narrative. More from Maggie:
Here’s the bottom line: If the Supreme Court should overturn Proposition 8 and find a constitutional right to gay marriage I will never know whether or not that would be a result of the haste to televise the trial.
Oh poor Maggie, I have a tiny violin playing for you. My heart is just breaking.
More seriously, if these witnesses were as good as Mr. Blankenhorn and Dr. Miller, you were better off having them not testify. For proof I give you this lede from an article in the SacBee today:
The star witness for backers of Proposition 8 testified Tuesday that he’s confident – but has no evidence – that same-sex marriage would increase divorce rates and lower the rate of heterosexual marriage.
Blankenhorn had no evidence because he was not really an expert and chances are that if this was a jury trial, he would not have been admitted as an official expert witness.
My guess is the witnesses they had lined up were supposed to actually testify that children are better of in homes headed by a man and a woman than a same-sex couple. After all, that’s what Pugno was claiming was their big argument. They never got a legitimate social scientist up there to prove this, not that it would actually be possible. Study after legitimate study has proven that children do just as well with same sex parents as they do with opposite sex ones.
The facts, they burn.
Really that’s what it comes down to, the facts. Judge Walker will weigh the evidence presented in court and issue his legal opinion. Maggie, et al are just upset that we have three branches of government that check and balance each other. They simply want public opinion to be the final word, not those pesky “activist judges”, you know like George H. W. Bush appointees like Judge Walker. So, they whine and complain. They try and shut the public out to in order to keep them from hearing these facts, not the fears and lies of a campaign.
This letter will have no effect on the trial. It is simply an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of its proceedings. And perhaps to hear some violin music.