Kobach Wins Effort To Keep Damaging Deposition Video Under Wraps

Current Secretary of State Republican Kris Kobach responds to questions on stage during the Gubernatorial debate at the Kansas State Fair, Hutchinson, Kansas, September 8, 2018. (Photo by Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images)
October 25, 2018 1:08 pm

The deposition video that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach feared would be used in campaign ads against him as he runs for governor will not be made available to the media, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson’s order was a win for Kobach, who had brought the issue to her attention after the challengers in the case for which the deposition was filmed indicated they intended to hand it over to media outlets that had requested the video.

A transcript from the deposition is already public; however, the transcript does not convey Kobach’s body language and tone during the deposition. In the video, which TPM viewed at the trial, he is uncomfortable, frustrated and often combative with the attorney deposing him.

The video clips from the deposition were played at a trial last March in the Kansas proof-of-citizenship voter registration case. Kobach was forced to sit for the deposition to be questioned about efforts he made to change the law that is at the heart of the case, the National Voter Registration Act — including a meeting he had with President-elect Donald Trump at which he was photographed holding a proposal recommending the law be amended.

Kobach’s legal team had also fought unsuccessfully against the move to play it during the trial. However, during that back-and-forth, Judge Robinson indicated the video  itself would not be publicly disseminated outside of the trial.

In her order Thursday she reiterated her reasons for playing it in court — “because it allows the trier of fact the opportunity to see the person testify live which is better than reading from the pages of a deposition” — as well as why she didn’t think it should be played or disseminated outside of the litigation without Kobach’s consent

“First, there is a rule against broadcasting; live witness testimony becomes part of the judicial record by virtue of the official court transcript,” she said in Thursday’s order. She also noted that she went out of her way to accommodate the media in the trial.

“The transcript of the video was unsealed upon designation and remains available to the public and press,” she said. “Under these circumstances, the Court finds that the public’s right to access the video was adequately protected.”

Read her order below:

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