The Ninth Circuit posted an announcement today that it will issue its decision tomorrow on whether the videotapes of the trial in the Perry case must be released to the public. The District Court judge ruled that they should be, but the Court of Appeals then stayed any release pending its decision (after a separate oral argument just on the stay). If this court affirms the original ruling of the trial court, it may or may not also suspend actual release until the Prop 8 proponents have time to seek review either en banc or before the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the clerk of the Northern District of California, where the case originated, announced that even without a built-in stay, that court won't be able to process release of the tapes until at least next week.
Whatever. I can't get very excited, frankly, about whether these tapes are released. Yes, they will provide the material for lots of terrific quickies on YouTube, and these might have educational value, but I'm dubious about how many people's minds will be changed by seeing them. The legal point – public access to judicial proceedings – is important, but muddied by representations made during trial that there would be no public release of these recordings. And I don't think that the court's ruling on this point will predict anything about how the ruling on the merits will come out.
Oh yeah…what about that ruling on the merits? I've been asked a couple of times why I think it's taking so long. Actually, it hasn't taken any longer than I expected. If the case had not been set for expedited consideration, this phase might well drag on for months. But it is on an expedited track, and for that reason, my guess is that it won't be much longer. If I had to bet – which thankfully I don't – I would wager that there will be a ruling this month. Valentine's Day?