[Update December 8, 2010: This archive is now the “official” channel for public access to the documents. The AGBC’s office has taken over updating duties. Thanks, guys.]
Oral arguments are beginning. We’re celebrating the first live action by opening up our internal archive of court documents. This includes practically everything filed by every party to the case.
This is the same archive we use internally. New filings are usually posted within a few days, often sooner.
People in the polyamorous community— and outside it— are very interested in this case. We hope this will help everybody to follow its progress, and to understand the events as well as the issues.
We also hope the community at large will take the chance to analyze and criticize all sides’ arguments. This is an important public debate as well as an important legal one. We invite everyone to use our forums to discuss the filings and their implications.
This post is already too long, but we’ll be making more from time to time, pointing out what we think are the most interesting and newsworthy things in old and new filings. In the meantime, we suggest you look over the parties’ opening statements, filed between November 1 and November 15 (see the technical section for how to find documents easily by date). There are three sets:
- November 1-2: Opening arguments from those against section 293, explaining why it violates the restrictions in the Charter of Rights
- November 8: Opening arguments from those for section 293, explaining why they think it does not violate any Charter of restrictions, and/or why the violation is justified under Charter section 1.
- November 15: Reply openings from those against, explaining why they think that Charter section 1 does not apply to the violations in question.
By default, the folder is sorted by the date we uploaded or modified each file. This is not useful, because we don’t upload the files in order. If you click on the word “Name” at the top of the “Name” column, you’ll get a view sorted by name. Since the documents are named by date filed, this will give you a chronological view of the case.
When you click on the link, most of you will get a view with too little space for the document names. If you log into a Google account (perhaps created for this purpose), you’ll be able to click on the “View folder” link, and get a view where you can widen the “name” column. You should also be able to search the document text, but be aware that searching scanned PDFs doesn’t always work.
Google Docs can be a bit slow and unreliable about displaying these. Unfortunately, we don’t have the resources to host them directly at the moment, although we’re looking into it. In the meantime, if something doesn’t load, try reloading it, and if it still won’t load in the Google Docs preview page, try downloading it instead (use the “Download” link in the left-hand column on the preview page, or use the right mouse button over a document name to get a menu).
Why the wait?
We’ve wanted to release this for a long time. We’ve held on out of concern for witness privacy. That’s why we removed most of the names when we first released our own affidavits.
Several things have made us decide it’s OK to go ahead:
- In June, shortly after we published anonymized versions of our own affidavits, the full versions were published by the press. The names and lifestyles of all our witnesses were detailed in newspaper articles. That made the matter moot for our own people.
- The FLDS has gotten permission to present completely anonymous evidence. We’re confident that the Court would give the same privilege to any other party who had a good reason to ask for it. We were worried that we couldn’t safely anonymize other people’s evidence, or even know if they wanted us to do so. Now we know that they can anonymize it, to their own satisfaction, before we ever receive it.
- One party had said it might ask the court to seal certain evidence and ban its publication, in order to protect a witness. That party now says it does not plan to ask for such a ban.
- Elsewhere on the Web, we’re beginning to see what we think are biased collections of court documents… and we don’t believe the people posting them share our privacy scruples. We want to provide a full view of the case.
More about the archive
These are all public records that you could get down at the courthouse, but as far as we know many of them aren’t available anywhere else on the Web.
Way back in June, we posted mostly anonymized versions our own affidavits. Others have posted various documents from the case. Advocates have tried to advance their own views of the case by posting selected material. We think this is the first time anybody’s given the public access to everything, without picking and choosing.
Unless we’ve made some kind of error, the archive includes every document officially filed in court by every party to the case so far, except for the “Brandeis” evidence.
Brandeis briefs are reference collections of published papers and books, to be referred to in the parties’ legal arguments. We’ve held back that material because of copyright concerns. We have, however, included the introductory affidavits that list the Brandeis material, so those of you who are interested can go find it for yourselves.
We’ve carefully chosen what to release, but if anybody finds anything we should not have published for some legal or ethical reason, we will of course remove it. We will also abide by any restrictions or publication bans the Court may put in place in the future. At present there are no such restrictions.