NEW YORK, April 15 (Reuters) - Supporters of California's
Proposition 8 banning gay marriage are claiming that the
federal judge who struck down the ban violated his own court's
rules by showing a video clip from the procedings during a
public lecture. In a motion filed in the 9th Circuit Court of
Appeals, Prop 8 backers demand that Vaughn Walker stop airing
the video and that he hand over all copies of any recordings of
Walker, who has stepped down from the bench, showed a clip
from the trial on Feb. 18 to students at the University of
Arizona, during a lecture on the history of cameras in the
courtroom. He has called the recording "part of the public
The subject of video cameras emerged as a major point of
contention during the Prop 8 trial last year. Those in favor of
gay marriage wanted the proceedings to be videotaped, as did a
collection of media organizations. Opponents of gay marriage
sought to block it, saying it would deter witnesses from
Walker himself wanted the trial recorded: He had just begun
a program to videotape some trials. But gay-marriage opponents
appealed, and the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a halt to the
program, saying it had been established "in haste." Walker said
he would honor the stay and that he would record the trial
simply for his own purposes -- to review the record to aid him
in deciding the case. The recordings were filed under seal.
In their filing on Wednesday, gay-marriage opponents said
Walker violated his court order and local rules governing the
federal courts in San Francisco, and that he defied the Supreme
Court's order. Walker should be "ordered to cease further
unlawful and improper disclosures of the trial recordings" and
should return tapes in his possession, the filing said.
Walker's 42-minute lecture in Arizona included footage from
the Lindbergh kidnapping trial and other trials where cameras
were allowed in the courtroom. At the end of the lecture,
Walker played a three-minute clip from the Prop 8 trial -- a
cross-examination by David Boies, who represented gay-marriage
The gay-marriage opponents' motion raises an interesting
First Amendment question, Professor Wilson Huhn of the
University of Akron School of Law said in an interview. "Does
the public have a right to this information," Huhn said, "even
though there is a court order against disseminating this?"
The coalition representing supporters of gay marriage
framed the legal question in terms of public access. "Why
should the public be denied the opportunity to see and hear
what happened in a public trial in a public courtroom in a case
involving the constitutional rights of millions of people?"
said Theodore Boutrous of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, another
lawyer for gay-marriage supporters.
Walker declined to comment to Reuters Legal. In a letter to
the 9th Circuit on Thursday, Walker seemed to acknowledge the
"If the court believes that my possession of the videos as
part of my judicial papers is inappropriate, I shall, of
course, abide by that or any other directive the court makes,"
The 9th Circuit must still rule on gay-marriage opponents'
appeal of Walker's ruling. Oral arguments in the case, which
were conducted in December, were shown live on C-Span.
Walker has used the recording in several speeches and plans
to use it in a presentation next week at Gonzaga University Law
School, according to his letter to the 9th Circuit.
The appellate case is Perry v. Brown, 9th Circuit Court of
Appeals, No. 10-16696.
(Reporting by Carlyn Kolker of Reuters Legal; additional
reporting by Dan Levine of Reuters)