‘Public trial records-including video records-should serve to inform our national debates, not be withheld from them,’ Herrera says
SAN FRANCISCO (Feb. 2, 2012) — A federal appeals court today ruled against publicly releasing the video record of a 2010 U.S. District Court trial challenging the validity of Proposition 8, the narrowly passed state constitutional amendment that eliminated marriage rights for same-sex couples in California. The decision is only one aspect in the broader legal battle currently before a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel. No ruling has yet been issued on the merits of the appeal of former Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s Aug. 4, 2010 holding that Prop 8 was unconstitutional.
In response to the Ninth Circuit panel’s decision to withhold the video record of the trial, City Attorney Dennis Herrera issued the following statement:
“A free society deserves maximum transparency in the conduct of the public’s business to the full extent our technology allows, and that’s why I’m disappointed with today’s decision. The issue of marriage equality continues to be one of national importance, as we’re seeing now in the State of Washington. Public trial records — including video records — should serve to inform our national debates, not be withheld from them.”
Herrera’s brief in the dispute argued against giving credence to Prop 8 proponents’ continuing narrative in the case to justify withholding the video record, “the myth that they, rather than gay men and lesbians whose equal citizenship they have continued to deny, are the victims here; that they or their witnesses are at risk of persecution or harassment because of their speech or religious beliefs….”
The City intervened in the federal challenge to Prop 8 alongside the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which filed the case on behalf of two California couples in May 2009. In doing so, the City Attorney’s Office is representing the public sector interest in opposing discriminatory marriage laws. The case is: Perry v. Brown (formerly Perry v. Schwarzenegger), U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Case No. 10-16696. Briefs and additional information on the case are available on the City Attorney’s Web site at https://www.sfcityattorney.org/, and AFER’s website at http://www.afer.org/.
PDF of the Prop 8 trial video 9th Circuit ruling presskit (Feb. 2, 2012)