Monday, June 13, 2011

Prop 8: Judge Ware hears case on Vaughn Walker

I'm going to set you up with a couple of inserts from different articles related to what's going on with the case. Or you can follow AFER on Twitter to see the live updates posted during the trial.
Judge says there's no evidence that gay judge who heard Prop 8 case wanted to marry

U.S. District Chief Judge James Ware said during a court hearing that there was no evidence that retired Judge Vaughn R. Walker ever wished to marry his partner, a physician.

Sponsors of Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that resurrected a ban on same-sex marriage, argue that Walker’s ruling against the marriage ban should be wiped from the books because his long-term relationship created an interest in the outcome of the case.

(Read the rest here at the LA TIMES)

Judge James Ware proves combative at Proposition 8 Hearing

Ware, who was named chief judge after Judge Vaughn Walker retired earlier this year, quickly put the heat on Charles Cooper, the attorney for Prop. 8 supporters. Ware asked Cooper about recusal rules, and the attorney argued that Judge Walker should have declared that he was in a long-term, same-sex relationship and recused himself from the case.

But Ware didn’t seem to find much credibility in that argument, then asking Cooper how he could know if Judge Walker wanted to overturn Prop. 8 so that he could get married. “You can be in a long-term relationship with it being for the purposes of marriage,” Ware told Cooper.

Cooper replied: “There are platonic friendships that are long-term in nature that do not normally lead to marriage.” Observers in the courtroom burst into laughter.

Ware retorted: “"What fact would you cite to the court that Judge Walker had an interest in changing his relationship [into a marriage]? … to say that he maintained a long-term relationship doesn’t put him in the shoes of what the plaintiffs were doing."

The judge also didn’t seem to buy into the argument that a gay judge had any more bias than a straight judge. He asked Cooper if a judge who had been sexually assaulted would be required to disclose her victim status in a case involving rape.

Theodore Boutrous Jr., attorney for the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), which is leading the fight against Prop. 8, told Judge Ware that the motion was frivolous.

Boutrous said the motion targets Judge Walker’s sexual orientation and stereotypes by saying the Walker’s romantic relationship is indistinguishable from that of other gay people. He also said it was widely known that Walker was gay, but was never made an issue by Prop. 8 supporters during the initial trial.

(Read the rest @ the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News)

Quick ruling expected on gay jurist in Proposition 8 case

U.S. District Chief Judge James Ware, who is deciding a request by backers of Proposition 8 to throw out last August’s ruling against the ballot measure, said he would try to issue a ruling in the next 24 hours.

“This is the first case where a same-sex relationship is the subject for disqualifying a judge, so it is important that we treat it seriously and get it right,” Ware said.

Ware did not disclose how he would rule, but many of his comments during arguments suggested he would rule that retired Judge Vaughn R. Walker was not required to step aside when he was assigned to hear the Proposition 8 challenge.

(Read the rest again @ LA TIMES)

Prop 8: Double-edged diversity
Should the federal judge who struck down Proposition 8 have his ruling nullified because he's in a relationship with a man? The easy answer is no. This is just a variation on the argument that Judge Vaughn R. Walker should have recused himself from the case because he's gay. It's no more valid than the first argument.

But the conservatives challenging Walker's role in the case are, ironically, drawing on a theory of diversity more often heard from liberals. The argument goes something like this: Having a judge who is African American or a woman or a "wise Latina" changes the way justice is administered. Life experience, in this view, is a valuable credential.

(Read the rest here @ LA TIMES)

California Court hears challenge over gay Judge

Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware heard the case on Monday, taking over since Walker has retired.

Ware, an African-American judge nominated to the bench by George H.W. Bush, sharply questioned Charles Cooper, the attorney defending California's marriage ban.

"If a reasonable person thought a black judge should recuse himself from a civil rights case, that would be sufficient to recuse the judge?" Ware asked.

"No, your honor," Cooper responded.

(Read the rest @ Reuters)

Prop 8 Backers Back In Court Today for More Legal Theater Over Judge Vaughn Walker
Supporters of Prop 8, who are still fighting a losing battle in the California courts over an unconstitutional law that neither the governor nor the attorney general care to support, are back in federal court today in San Francisco to air their complaints about Judge Vaughn Walker, the man who first ruled that Prop 8 was unconstitutional. Their complaints are that Judge Walker's ruling should be invalidated based on the fact that he had a bias in the case, being himself a gay man who potentially wanted to be legally married; and they have a separate complaint about Walker's use of videos of the trial in public speeches, claiming the video was supposed to be sealed after the trial.

(Read the rest @ SFIST.COM)

Lawyer Target CA Gag Marriage Ruling by Gay Judge
Lawyers for backers of the voter-approved ban asked Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware to vacate a decision issued by his predecessor last year that declared Proposition 8 an unconstitutional violation of gay Californians' civil rights.

They maintained that former Chief Judge Vaughn Walker should have recused himself from the case or disclosed his relationship because he and his partner stood to personally benefit from the verdict.

"It now appears that Judge Walker, at the time the complaint was filed and throughout this litigation, occupied precisely those same shoes as the plaintiffs," attorney Charles Cooper said.

Ware sharply questioned Cooper on why he assumed Walker had any intention of getting married just because he was in a decade-old relationship.

(Read the rest @ FORBES)

Same-sex marriage hearing focusing on gay judge

Walker publicly revealed after he stepped down in February that he is in a 10-year relationship with a same-sex partner. Rumors that he was gay had circulated before and after he presided over the Proposition 8 trial in early 2010.

Ted Olson, one of the lawyers for the two same-sex couples who successfully sued to overturn the measure, said he was unaware of any other cases in which a ruling was challenged because of the issuing judge's sexual orientation. He called the move to disqualify Walker frivolous and demeaning and said that expecting judges to reveal parts of their personal lives when hearing gay rights cases would set a dangerous precedent.

"What would a judge do who was Mormon knowing the Mormon Church took such an active role" in campaigning for Proposition 8, Olson asked. "What would a judge who had a nephew or niece or son or daughter who was gay or lesbian do? We have an unlimited number of permutations of what a judge might be asked to disclose."

Many legal scholars have said they do not expect Ware to overturn Walker's decision. They point out that while having a judge's impartiality questioned because he is gay is new territory, efforts to get women judges thrown off gender discrimination cases or Hispanic judges removed from immigration cases have failed.

Nonetheless, in a fundraising appeal to Proposition 8 supporters Friday, Ron Prentice, chairman of the religious coalition that qualified the gay marriage ban for the November 2008 ballot, said, "We are much more hopeful for success with a judge presiding over the case who has greater respect for legal precedent and the rule of law."

(Read the rest @ CBS News)

Okay so, now its time for my input. I have to admit when following AFER on Twitter I was getting really really excited for all of this. At the same time I'm a realist before I'm an optimist. Judge Ware has not made his decision yet, but I have to say the outcome is looking pretty good. If he rules in favor of the proponents for Prop 8, that will be that for marriage equality in this case. However, if he rules in favor of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, it will be a pivotal moment for us in the case of Perry vs. Brown.

Judge Ware did say that he would try to have his decision within 24 hours, but he also said about his trying to do so, "you know how that goes." I'm going to keep an eye on what's going on over the next day or two (or the rest of my life, considering all I do is keep an eye on it).

Also I just wanted to say that I haven't posting as much as usual and wanted to apologize. In preparation for the case that was heard this morning before the Court... it seemed that bringing some good news next, rather than bitching about what needs to be done might have been a breath of fresh air. So thank you for following and keeping an eye out for my posts.

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