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Prop. 8 Trial's Videos To Remain Sealed For Now

Publication Date: 
September 28, 2011
San Francisco Chronicle
Bob Egelko

Lecturer Vaughn Walker is mentioned by Bob Egelko in the below San Francisco Chronicle article for his role in video-taping last year's same-sex marriage trial in San Francisco.

The videos of last year's same-sex marriage trial in San Francisco will remain sealed, at least for now, while a federal appeals court considers arguments by sponsors of Proposition 8 that making the recordings public would endanger witnesses and damage the "credibility and integrity of the federal judiciary."

Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware ruled Sept. 19 that the videos would be released this Friday unless a higher court intervened. On Monday, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco issued a temporary stay, which is likely to be renewed while the appeals court and the U.S. Supreme Court review the dispute.

Ware's predecessor, Judge Vaughn Walker, presided over the January 2010 trial on Prop. 8, the 2008 initiative that banned same-sex marriage in California. Under a new rule that allowed camera coverage, Walker approved a live telecast to other federal courthouses and proposed recording the trial for the court's website, but the Supreme Court overruled him.


Walker continued recording the trial and told the opposing lawyers they could use the videos in their closing arguments. He said he did not intend a public broadcast.

Walker ruled in August 2010 that Prop. 8 discriminated unconstitutionally against gays and lesbians, a decision that the measure's sponsors have challenged in the appeals court.

Walker has played brief excerpts of the videos in lectures at colleges, both before and after leaving the bench in February, prompting accusations by Prop. 8's sponsors that he was violating his own promises, the court's rules and the Supreme Court's decision.