Judge Vaughn Walker ruled today that TV cameras won’t be able to cover the Prop 8 trial live, but a delayed feed will be posted on YouTube, perhaps a day after each proceeding.
The plan is subject to approval of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Media organizations, including the AP, Fox News, CNN and the major broadcast networks, had sought permission to cover the trial, arguing the public interest was so great that it warranted dissemination to the largest audience possible. The plan was to have the trial shown on InSession, a successor to Court TV, but Walker rejected that request, indicating that he wanted the court to have control over the cameras.
The solution is essentially a compromise, and Walker also said that there may be a live stream of the trial to Ninth Circuit courthouses in Pasadena, Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco. Other feeds could be transmitted to other cities, including Chicago.
Although the federal court has not allowed camera coverage of trials before, Walker said that he thinks “it’s worth attempting in a case of this nature and of this public interest.”
He also said witnesses would have the option of having cameras turn off if they didn’t want to be videotaped, responding to concerns of Proposition 8 supporters who fear the exposure will subject them to retribution.
Update: According to Thomas Burke, the attorney representing the media coalition, Walker did not specifically address whether witnesses will be able to request to have their images obscured during their testimony, but the technical means for obscuring a witness was demonstrated during today’s hearing. “It is a very fluid situation and one the court can address on a witness by witness basis,” he said.
There’s also some question as to when the video feed will be uploaded, with some reports saying it’ll happen on the same day. I’ve been told that much depends on technical know how. More here.
Walker’s court also did a test of how the proceedings will look on YouTube, which you can see here.
Supporters and opponents of televising the Prop 8 trial have been lobbying Walker on the issue.
Rick Jacobs, chair of the Courage Campaign, which collected some 82,000 signatures supporting televised coverage, said that the decision was “an important first step” that was “halfway to a fair hearing.”
“We now ask the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to take the next step toward transparent jurisprudence by allowing a press camera in the courtroom so all Americans can see and hear as a fundamental issue of civil rights is litigated,” Jacobs said in a statement. “Overruling this halfway measure would be a travesty for openess and accountability.”