The upcoming trial of Prop. 8 in San Francisco will now be televised on YouTube, according to a recent ruling by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker. “This certainly is a case that has sparked widespread interest,” Walker said during a hearing. “I think a trial can be highly informative.”
The trial, which begins on Monday, will be the first to be broadcast under a new program established in December by the 9th Circuit Judicial Council. Broadcasting of federal trials has previously been banned, but the new program will experiment with the distribution of video recordings of civil non-jury trials.
Chief Judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Alex Kozinski explained the new program, “We hope that being able to see and hear what transpires in the courtroom will lead to a better public understanding of our judicial processes and enhanced confidence in the rule of law. The experiment is designed to help us find the right balance between the public’s right to access to the courts and the parties’ right to a fair and dignified proceeding.”
All recording of the trial will be done by court staff and is expected to be posted on a YouTube channel either the same afternoon or the next day. In Session, formerly known as Court TV, asked for approval to professionally record and broadcast the trial. Judge Walker ruled to keep the broadcasting under court control.
The plan still needs final approval from Chief Judge Alex Kozinski before being implemented.
Judge Walker will also be the judge ruling on the Prop. 8 trial, a lawsuit brought by two same-sex couples claiming that the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage established by Proposition 8 violates the federal constitution.
Lawyers representing Prop. 8 supporters were resistant to proposals to broadcast the trial, arguing that the recording could intimidate witnesses or encourage persecution of Prop. 8 supporters. It appears the next few weeks will determine if these fears were valid. Judge Walker has committed to ending the recording if it interferes with the trial in any way.
The trial is expected to last two or three weeks.