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Kozinski: Walker’s “request” to broadcast Perry trial “not ripe for decision” | Hunter of Justice

Kozinski: Walker’s “request” to broadcast Perry trial “not ripe for decision”

by on January 13, 2010  •  In Uncategorized

Confusion is growing over the status of Judge Walker's plan to broadcast the trial in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, soon to enter its third day.  A letter written by Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Kozinski indicated that the only televising of the trial that will go forward if the Supreme Court lifts its stay will be the streaming of video to rooms in other federal courthouses. That, according to Kozinski, is the only form of distribution that he has approved.

The letter characterizes Walker's plan for wider broadcasting as a "request to place a video recording of a non-jury civil trial on the Northern District's website," which is "not ripe for decision" because "necessary technical issues have not yet been resolved." The original YouTube plan appears to have been abandoned.

Kozinski's letter was a response to a letter from the U.S. Judicial Conference pointedly reminding the Ninth Circuit that Judicial Conference policy states that broadcasting of trial proceedings should not be allowed. According to SCOTUSblog, the Judicial Conference wrote Kozinski two days after receiving a letter from Rep. Lamar Smith, senior Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, asking that the Conference "do everything in its power to intervene" to block the broadcasts. In other words, Prop 8 defenders called in some muscle from Capitol Hill.

Kozinski's letter strongly defends the new Ninth Circuit policy allowing videocasting of non-jury civil trials. He also argues that the Judicial Conference policy statement is advisory and not binding on the Court of Appeals judges.  Kozinski closes by saying:

Let me assure you that we will be proceeding with great caution.  Every project is subject to my personal approval, and I am examining the details of each proposal meticulously.  If and when the request from the Northern District of California becomes ripe for my consideration, you may rest assured that I will examine all aspects of it with great care.

Defenders of Prop 8 (who are seeking to block any form of televising of the trial) seized on the apparent changes in the planned mode of distribution in a supplemental brief urging the Supreme Court to stop any dissemination from going forward.

In light of Judge Kozinski's letter, there is a strong possibility that tomorrow the Court will rule only on whether the trial can be broadcast to other federal court buildings, leaving for another day the question of whether further telecasting will be allowed.

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