Video tapes of the 12-day federal trial over the constitutionality of Prop. 8 may soon be available for viewing.
Federal Judge James Ware Monday released a 16-page decision in which he found "no compelling reasons" to keep the tapes sealed now that the trial is over … writing that the videos are part of the official judicial record. Ware wrote that releasing them furthers transparency and public trust in the justice system.
Judge Ware also rejected arguments from Prop. 8 backers that unsealing the tapes would have a chilling effect on their witnesses, saying that was “unsupported hypothesis or conjecture.”
The ruling is the latest in a string of legal defeats for Prop. 8 supporters, who are currently appealing last year's decision by (now retired) Judge Vaughn Walker striking down the same sex marriage ban as a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Like all decisions in this long and winding legal road, this one will surely be appealed. In fact, an attorney for Prop. 8, anticipating Monday's decision, asked for a stay during the oral arguments in late August. Judge Ware today granted that stay until September 30th. It will be lifted at that time unless a higher court (the 9th Circuit of the U.S. Supreme Court) grants a further stay.
Of course it's not like the composition of the tapes is secret. A written transcript of the proceedings exists, as does a verbatim re-enactment based on the those transcripts. And in case that's not enough, "8", a Broadway play by Academy Award winning writer Dustin Lance Black will have its first reading in NYC Tuesday. Among those participating are Morgan Freeman, Cheyenne Jackson and Marisa Tomei.