Cameras In Court OK'd In California: Gay Marriage Trial Could Be First Up

Ellen DeGeneres and Portia De Rossi (AP)

The must-see TV of David Boies, Ted Olson & The Gay Marriage Debate could soon be hitting your flatscreen.

The Recorder: The Judicial Council of the 9th Circuit authorised television cameras in certain district court proceedings Thursday, reviving a national controversy just weeks before a groundbreaking trial over same-sex marriage is slated to begin in San Francisco.

The 9th Circuit currently allows cameras to televise appellate arguments, as does the 2nd Circuit. A private vendor has also recorded a handful of district court proceedings in New York.

But under the 9th Circuit’s new experimental program — in which only civil, nonjury trials would qualify — district courts would be likely to use their own camera equipment, said Circuit Executive Cathy Catterson. The method of distribution would be figured out on a case-by-case basis. 

Each district’s chief judge will determine the distribution details, and San Francisco’s chief judge, Vaughn Walker, is presiding over the gay marriage case. It’s practically made for TV already: an amusing judge, the Bush and Gore adversaries (Olson and Boies) teaming up to fight the anti-gay marriage amendment, Prop 8, and the drama that a controversy as big as gay marriage will provide.

In an interesting sign of the times, it is those opposing gay marriage — the defendants in this case — who are uneasy about having the proceedings televised. They fear anti-gay marriage witnesses would be “subject to harassment and retribution, the Recorder said.  

The trial is scheduled to begin in January.

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