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Tag: Judge Walker

Prop 8 Lawyer Wants Closing Arguments Close to Cameras

By Julia Rosen

Shocking nobody, Charles Cooper from Protect Marriage and the Prop 8 side wants the courtroom during closed arguments closed to cameras. He penned letter to Judge Walker in response to the one last week from the Media Coalition. Advocate:

In a letter to U.S. district judge Vaughn R. Walker, attorney Charles J. Cooper wrote that allowing cameras in the courtroom would violate an earlier stay order by the U.S. Supreme Court, which in January blocked broadcast of trial proceedings as part of a pilot project previously approved by a judicial council of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Karen Ocamb has the full letter up at LGBT POV (and Scribd is below, thanks Kathleen!).

This is the interesting bit, beyond the arguements over due process and other lawyerly talk.

Fourth, there is little merit to the Media Coalition’s argument that “the concerns earlier reviewed by the Supreme Court should not preclude” the public broadcast of closing arguments because they “will solely consist of the arguments of counsel—and not witness testimony or evidence.” As an initial matter, the parties may play excerpts from the video-recorded depositions during the course of closing arguments. In any case, in Hollingsworth, the Supreme Court specifically cited the findings and policies of the Judicial Conference of the United States, noting that while those policies “may not be binding on the lower courts, they are at the very least entitled to respectful consideration.” 130 S. Ct. at 712 (quotation marks omitted). While it is true that the deleterious effect of public broadcast on witnesses is one of the concerns undergirding the Judicial Conference’s policy, it is by no means the only concern. As we have explained previously, the Judicial Conference’s policy also rests on findings that public broadcast has negative effects on some judges and attorneys, including distraction, grandstanding, and avoidance of unpopular decisions or positions. Moreover, the Judicial Conference has repeatedly stressed that “the presence of cameras in a trial courtroom … increases security and safety issues” and that “[t]hreats against judges, lawyers, and other participants could increase even beyond the current disturbing level.”

There’s a lot there, so let’s unpack it.

First, Cooper is contending that since there exists a chance that video taped depositions will be aired that the whole proceedings should not be televised. That’s an easy fix. Turn off the video feed and just use the sound, or turn the cameras completely off.

The rest of it is Cooper arguing that, because the Supreme Court doesn’t like cameras to begin with, and cited some “Judicial Conference” in their original decision, Walker should listen to what the Conference says and not allow cameras in. If that is the case, then the whole pilot project for video taping other trials ought to be junked out the window. But there has never been an explicit ruling from the Supreme Court saying that cameras should never be allowed in a court room.

Note that Cooper is managing to work in a “protect us, we are victims” line right there at the end. It just does not hold water when it comes to the closing arguments. These are well rehearsed lawyers who are very used to the public eye, as is Judge Walker.

Now we wait for Walker to issue his ruling on the request from the Media Coalition.

[scribd id=31885883 key=key-1amn3l3n3xvrp9ayzrrm mode=list]

26 Comments May 24, 2010

Media Coalition Requests Closing Arguments Be Filmed

By Julia Rosen

The Media Coalition has sent a formal request today to Judge Walker that they be allowed to film the closing arguments, tentatively scheduled for June 16th. As most of you remember, Judge Walker originally was going to let the trial be recorded and posted to YouTube, but the Supreme Court overturned his ruling. Given all that transpired, it would be surprising if Judge Walker rules in favor of open access.


In the letter, media lawyers argued that the local federal court has now properly established rules for televising federal court proceedings, and that concerns about witnesses are no longer relevant for closing arguments conducted by the lawyers.

Here is the letter the Media Coalition sent to Judge Walker:

[scribd id=31569783 key=key-rw1zmpygqir37y1r0fr mode=list]

67 Comments May 18, 2010

Walker upholds disclosure ruling

By Julia Rosen

Today Judge Walker upheld the ruling by a federal magistrate mandating that Prop 8 opponents (the good guys) turn over internal documents and emails to the other side. It looks like the issue over though. SFGate:

Walker’s decision could delay a verdict.

The American Civil Liberties Union, one of the three groups that must turn over the campaign materials, has said it would appeal if Walker upholds the magistrate’s order.

While it looked like it would only be a few weeks between oral arguments and the scheduling of closing arguments, it has been fights like this one that has been slowing down the process. The wheels of justice move slowly. We could be into summer by the time there is a ruling.

74 Comments March 22, 2010

Hearing today on disclosure

By Julia Rosen

Today Judge Walker is hearing an appeal of Magistrate Judge Spero’s ruling on disclosure by groups opposing Prop 8. Spero had expanded the disclosure needed by those groups, which they are trying to avoid.

Teddy over at FDL tried to liveblog it this morning, but there is no overflow room. He was in the courtroom itself and the clerk asked him to close his laptop. Will update when we have more information.

135 Comments March 16, 2010

Closing Arguments May Be Televised

By Julia Rosen

Judge Walker is proceeding forward to get the closing arguments televised. This is great news for accountability and transparency in the trial. And I’m sure welcome news for our Trial Trackers, for while you all loved all of the liveblogging, it’s just not the same as watching it live on TV.

Despite a rebuff from the U.S. Supreme Court, the Bay Area’s federal judges are again proposing to allow cameras in their courtrooms, a plan that could lead to telecasting of closing arguments in a suit challenging California’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Given the likelihood that Judge Walker will be active from the bench, peppering the lawyers with questions, the closing arguments are likely to be very interesting and not just a couple lawyers standing and talking for hours on end.

If his court approves the new rule next week, Walker could allow camera coverage of the arguments along the lines of his previous order, subject to approval by Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Telecasting lawyers’ arguments, without witness testimony, might pass muster with the Supreme Court, which hasn’t objected to televised hearings of arguments before the Ninth Circuit.

No witnesses, no real argument against this one and Prop 8’s defenders aren’t saying yet if they will still try and fight it.

Prop. 8’s sponsors, who opposed telecasting the trial, won’t say whether they would challenge the airing of final arguments.

With no specific broadcast plan on the table, “we’re not going to speculate on how we would feel about that,” said Andrew Pugno, lawyer for Protect Marriage, the Prop. 8 campaign committee.

Oh Pugno, we know you have no reason to oppose it now, but you will invent something to try and keep this trial behind closed doors. The question is…will the courts rule in your favor this time?

148 Comments February 26, 2010

What’s More Likely to Happen?

By Julia Rosen

Here is a question for all of you on this lovely Saturday and a poll to go with it.

What is more likely to happen in 2010: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) has a date certain for repeal (not just a moratorium) signed into law, the Employment Non-discrimination Act (ENDA) passes both houses of Congress and is signed into law by President Obama, or Judge Walker rules for the plaintiffs in Perry v. Schwarzenegger?

[polldaddy poll=2696734]

110 Comments February 13, 2010

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