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Prop. 8 Judge Considers a Televised Trial

Prop. 8 Judge Considers a Televised Trial

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A San Francisco judge will hear arguments Wednesday morning for and against televising a suit that challenges California's Proposition 8.

Attorneys for the two gay couples who filed the suit have supported a televised trial, writing to the court that access to the watershed case is of vital public interest. "There are hundreds of thousands of gay and lesbian Californians who have a direct stake in the outcome of this case," attorney Theodore J. Boutrous wrote to the court last week. "Ultimately, however, the issues of this case are of such transcendent importance that every Californian should be afforded an opportunity to view the proceedings to the greatest extent practicable."

Prop. 8 backers, led by attorney Charles Cooper, have asserted that broadcasting the bench trial could result in "compromised safety, witness intimidation and/or harassment of trial participants."

In December the judicial council for the ninth U.S. circuit court of appeals announced a pilot program permitting cameras in some nonjury civil cases. Several national media outlets, including CNN and the Associated Press, have asked that cameras be allowed, with a pool feed to be provided by In Session, formerly Court TV.

The Courage Campaign, a grassroots group based in Los Angeles, claims it has gathered more than 50,000 signatures since Tuesday afternoon urging the court to allow cameras. Judge Walker is seeking public comment on the issue through Friday.

The trial is scheduled to begin Monday in San Francisco.

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