In case you harbored any doubts about the growing importance of video sites like YouTube and others, then a recent ruling from a California court should dispel such doubts once and for all. Next week, California’s controversial Proposition 8, which banned same sex marriages in the state, goes on trial in Federal Court. In a first-of-its-kind-ruling, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco ordered that the trial will be videotaped for later release on the Internet via such sites as YouTube, but will not be televised.
The ruling came over the objections of Proposition 8’s sponsors. Prop. 8’s sponsors maintain that witnesses and those favorable to their side of the dispute have faced harassment by anti-Prop 8 groups, and that further broadcast of the proceedings via the Internet will increase the danger.
Judge Walker disagreed with this argument, and will maintain the power to conceal witnesses’ faces and identities on the video recordings. Furthermore, Judge Walker cited the intense public interest in the case, and noted that it was a perfect candidate for a pilot program approved last month by the federal appeals court in San Francisco to allow telecasting of selected nonjury civil trials.
“I’ve always thought that if the public could see how the judicial process works, they would take a somewhat different view of it,” the judge said.
UPDATE!! Prop. 8 Lawyers File Emergency Appeal To High Court Over YouTube Ruling
Lawyers for the proponents of Prop. 8 have filed an emergency appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that their client’s right to a fair trial would be jeopardized if each day’s proceedings were put on YouTube.
As reported in an LA Times article, which can be linked here, Prop. 8 proponents are arguing that the trial “has the potential to become a media circus.” Moreover, the measure’s backers contend that they have been, and will be, exposed to “harassment, economic reprisal, threats, and even physical violence.”
In response, opponents of Prop. 8 sent petitions signed by 140,000 individuals, urging that the Prop. 8 trial – set to begin on Monday – be televised as ordered by District Court Judge Vaughn.
The emergency appeal was heard by Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. Kennedy asked for a response from the state by noon on Sunday.