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Virtual Triality: View the Prop 8 Re-Enactment

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on February 11, 2010 11:45 AM

Now you can't see it, now you can. That was the fate of the highly publicized Proposition 8 federal trial, but now, it is playing on a computer screen near you. In a neat circumvention of the Supreme Court ban on cameras in the courtroom where the Prop 8 trial was heard, intrepid filmmakers have taken matters into their own hands and have created a virtual trial based on transcripts and reports from the actual proceedings.

As discussed in a prior post, the Supreme Court handed down a January 11 decision banning the time delayed broadcast of the trial proceedings on Youtube. According to a report by the San Francisco Chronicle, L.A. filmmakers John Ainsworth and John Ireland were following the proceedings closely and were frustrated by their inability to see the federal trial. John Ainsworth told The Chronicle, "We were poised ... getting ready to watch it," when the court ruled, said Ainsworth. "It frustrated me. Who were they to say that I can't watch this, especially when it's in a public courtroom?"

Armed with court transcripts, blog posts, a courtroom observer to give advice regarding witnesses and the general atmosphere, as well as some legal advice from USC law professor David Cruz, the filmmakers have set up their film re-enactment of the proceedings, with a new installment to be posted every few days on the film's website: www.marriagetrial.com.

Kindly enough, although partisan in their hopes for the outcome of this case, the filmmakers say they they took pains to cast attractive performers on both sides. The Chronicle reports their stated goal is "transparency, not swaying anybody."

Actors participating in the project with names some may recognize are: Gregory Itzin, who plays the president in the television series "24," as star defense witness David Blankenhorn, Tess Harper, star of the 1983 film, "Tender Mercies," as one of the plaintiffs and Hollywood survivor Adrienne Barbeau, as plaintiffs' witness, psychology Professor Letitia Peplau.

The film's run will conclude sometime late this month. In the age of instant celebrity, the Supreme Court may want to note that the filmmakers have heard no complaints from trial participants at this point. The Chron reports the only calls the directors have received have been a few comments from lawyers and witnesses offering tips on how to portray them.

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