Former U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker has lawyered up.
Walker, who struck down the Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage, has tapped Ephraim Margolin, a San Francisco criminal defense lawyer and frequent counsel to judges, to handle the controversy surrounding the trial video, which has thrust the former chief judge back into the case.
Margolin today turned over Walker's copy of the digital trial recording, which the Prop 8 proponents had demanded. Prop 8 proponents say Walker violated various rules and broke his word by showing a snippet of the sealed video at a speech in Arizona, which was captured by CSPAN, and on other occasions.
Margolin's letter reiterated Walker's position that the recording is part of Walker's chamber record and to be used at his discretion.
Margolin's letter says Walker is turning over the video for the court's consideration, and he cites a 2009 guide to federal judges' papers, which says, "The chambers papers of a federal judge remain the private property of that judge or the judge's heirs."
The Prop 8 proponents have asked the court to order Walker to refrain from publicly showing the recordings, which were recorded for the stated purpose of Walkers' in-chambers use and for the parties to show during closing arguments in the 2010 bench trial.
Margolin said it was unclear how much more work he would do on Walker's behalf. "We'll see the briefs, and then we will find out," he said.
How did Walker, who has started his own alternative-dispute practice, pick Margolin to help him out?
"I represented a lot of judges," Margolin said. "I also like him."
Margolin has represented some 130 judges before the state bar and the commission on judicial performance, a biography says.
Walker, a proponent of cameras in the courtroom, has defended his airing the video, but said he would comply with any order of the court. Since then, the subject has become a bit of a First Amendment fight with media organizations, represented by Davis Wright Tremain's Thomas Burke, arguing for the unsealing of the video.
The question is now one for Northern District Chief Judge James Ware, who inherited the case when Walker left the bench. The case is on appeal, but the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said the video issue is one for the lower court.