[Ed. Note: FDL has complete team coverage of Perry v. Schwarzenegger–including more legal analysis, court documents, videos, and liveblogging direct from the federal court in San Francisco. You can find it all on our dedicated Prop 8 page.]
Judge Vaughn Walker announced today that he would prefer that both sides in the Prop 8 trial delay their closing arguments –”perhaps for a matter of weeks” — in order to allow him to review all of the evidence, testimony, and exhibits that have been presented.
There was no objection from either side to this proposal; there is no jury in this case to be inconvenienced (or worse, tainted) by allowing time to pass and memory to fade. Given the huge volume of exhibits entered into evidence, and Judge Walker’s scrupulous documentation and reminders about getting documents admitted when they’ve been presented to and examined by witnesses, the Judge knows he’s got a lot to digest and understand.
Judge Walker has consistently used the phrase “how much weight, if any weight at all, I will give this testimony” when entertaining objections. He has, almost without exception, admitted rather than excluded evidence on that basis. Again because there’s no jury to be overwhelmed by a vast amount of (possibly conflicting) evidence, the Judge himself will evaluate evidence. While we observers may treat all testimony equally as we hear it, Judge Walker has a big job ahead as he thinks about what to weigh and how much weight to give to every piece he hears and reads.
So no one should begrudge the Judge his “couple, or maybe several weeks” before we all troop back to the Burton Courthouse to hear the unsurprising arguments from opposing counsel. While some of what they say may be needed reminders about what we — and the Judge — heard early on and throughout the trial, you can be pretty sure that Judge Walker will have made his decisions about what evidence matters or what he won’t weigh so heavily.
So when the Plaintiffs conclude their witnesses today, and when the Defendant-Intervenors complete their case (only two witnesses are planned, we think) then we get a little break until the lawyers return to give us their summaries.