Kristin Perry v. Edmund G. Brown, Jr.

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Law
  • Date Filed: 02-02-2012
  • Case #: 11-17255
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Reinhardt for the Court, and Circuit Judges Hawkins and N.R. Smith
  • Full Text Opinion

Protection of judicial integrity in a proceeding is a compelling interest to be protected in not releasing a recording under seal of trial proceedings.

In 2010, the trial was held regarding the litigation of California’s adoption of a Constitutional Amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage. Prior to the proceedings, the trial judge determined that for satisfaction of the public’s interest in the case, a video feed would be broadcast of the proceedings, accessible in various courthouses and online. At the time local law allowed this. However, the Supreme Court eventually issued a stay of the broadcast. The first two days of trial were recorded, assuming the stay would be lifted, which it eventually was not. The trial judge then determined that he would continue recording for his benefit in reviewing the trial in chambers. Before closing arguments, the parties were allowed to retain copies of the recordings, under a strict order to return the copies after closing arguments. The Court assumed that the trial recording is subject to the common-law presumption of public access. The Court then reviewed whether there is a sufficiently compelling reason to override this presumption. Proponents relied on the trial judge’s statements that the recordings would not be released or accessible to the public. The Court held that the integrity of the judicial process is a compelling interest that would be harmed by a release of the recording under seal, and the recording cannot be released. REVERSED.

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