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ProtectMarriage.com General Counsel Andy Pungo Issues Statement on U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Against Television Prop. 8 Trial

Contact: Carla Hass, 916-834-9969

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 13 /Christian Newswire/ -- The following statement can be attributed to Andy Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com on the stay issued by the United States Supreme Court prohibiting televising the Prop 8 trial: 

We are relived that the United States Supreme Court intervened today to protect our witnesses from the harm that would come with televising the Prop 8 trial. As we have said from the start, televising the proceedings in a high-profile case is unprecedented in federal court, and impedes our ability to get a fair and impartial trial. Most importantly, putting Prop 8 supporters on the witness stand and broadcasting their testimony worldwide would virtually guarantee a serious risk of harm threatened by anti-Prop 8 extremists.

In fact, the Supreme Court decision expressly acknowledged that there is already a track record of Prop 8 supporters being subjected to "harassment as a result of public disclosure of their support," including death threats, confrontational phone calls and e-mail messages, lost jobs, Internet blacklists, boycotts, vandalism and physical violence.

The Supreme Court said it intervened to prevent the televising of the Prop 8 trial because the trial court, with help form the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, had violated federal law by suspending the current rules prohibiting the televising of trial "at the eleventh hour" without going through the proper legal process.

Other statements from the Court's decision include:

The Court's interest in ensuring compliance with proper rules of judicial administration is particularly acute when those rules relate to the integrity of judicial processes. The District Court here attempted to revise its rules in haste, contrary to federal statutes and the policy of the Judicial Conference of the United States. It did so to allow broadcasting of this high-profile trial without any considered standards or guidelines in place.

This case, too, involves issues subject to intense debate in our society. The District Court intends not only to broadcast the attorneys' arguments but also witness testimony. [...] This case is therefore not a good one for a pilot program.

The District Court attempted to change its rules at the eleventh hour to treat this case differently than other trials in the district. Not only did it ignore the federal statute that establishes the procedures by which its rules may be amended, its express purpose was to broadcast a high-profile trial that would include witness testimony about a contentious issue. If courts are to require that others follow regular procedures, courts must do so as well.