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Prop 8 Trial Video to Stay Sealed, 9th Cir. Rules

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on February 02, 2012 11:57 AM

Curiosity will remain unsatisfied for those following the Prop 8 trial. Video of the 2010 federal proceedings will remain sealed, according to an order issued by the 9th Circuit.

That video was recorded at the insistence of Judge Vaughn Walker, who ultimately found the same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. He repeatedly promised the parties that it was intended for internal use only -- that it would help him when it came time to prepare his order.

In making its decision, the 9th Circuit thoroughly explained that it was not opining on courtroom cameras, open proceedings or freedom of the press. It was only analyzing the circumstances surrounding the Prop 8 trial video and its sealing.

Judge Walker had initially planned to publicly broadcast the proceedings, but proponents of Prop 8 disagreed. They appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in their favor.

In accordance with the Supreme Court's decision, Judge Walker amended his plan to broadcast the trial. He would still record the proceedings as allowed under court rules, but the Prop 8 trial video would be used in-chambers only.

He again made this promise when providing copies to the parties for use during closing arguments. They could retain those copies so long as they did not release them to the public.

Citing these promises, the 9th Circuit wrote, "the integrity of our judicial system depends on no small part on the ability of litigants and members of the public to rely on a judge's word." It also pointed out that Judge Walker acted on the "advice" of the Supreme Court.

As such, the Prop 8 trial video probably won't be released if the parties choose to appeal.

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