Prop 8 Trial Tapes Remain Sealed

The decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals not to release tapes of the Prop 8 trial is no surprise. A three judge panel had voiced some skepticism about releasing them given that U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker had told attorneys at the time that he would use them only for his review.

“The record clearly shows that Chief Judge Walker did make a commitment not to permit the public broadcast of the recording,” Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote in the opinion.

He also wrote, “Thus, his commitments were not merely broad assurances about the privacy of judicial records in the case; they could not have been more explicitly directed toward the particular recording at issue.”

It was Walker himself who played excerpts of the trial in a speech he gave in Arizona, triggering the effort by Prop 8 supporters to make sure that the video remained sealed.

Reinhardt was clear that the decision was a narrow one, and had nothing to do with whether cameras should be allowed in federal trial proceedings.

Chad Griffin, board president of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which has been pursuing the case to overturn Prop 8, said, “AFER will continue to do everything we can to make sure that the public sees the facts of what happened in that courtroom.”

What he is referring to is a staged reading of “8,” Dustin Lance Black’s play about the trial, with George Clooney, Martin Sheen, Matt Bomer and Matthew Morrison among those in the cast. The benefit will take place on March 3 at the Wilshire Ebell in Los Angeles.

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