HOUSTON, Texas — One of the charges against the pro-life Planned Parenthood video maker has been dropped.
Lawyers for David Daleiden provided Breitbart Texas with a copy of the order from the Harris County criminal court judge dismissing the Class A misdemeanor charge for prohibition of the purchase and sale of human organs.
The judge ruled that the court does not have jurisdiction over the case. The judge ruled that the indictment was based on Texas Penal Code section 48.02 but the indictment did not reference the exception named within the Penal Code section. The judge ruled that “The indictment’s failure to negate this exception renders it void.” A prosecutor must negate the existence of this exception and prove beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant’s conduct does not fall within the exception.
The exception provides that “It is an exception to the application of this section that the valuable consideration is: (1) a fee paid to a physician or to other medical personnel for services rendered in the usual course of medical practice or a fee paid for hospital or other clinical services; (2) reimbursement of legal or medical expenses incurred for the benefit of the ultimate receiver of the organ; or (3) reimbursement of expenses of travel, housing, and lost wages incurred by the donor of a human organ in connection with the donation of the organ.”
Daleiden lawyer Jared Woodfill told Breitbart Texas, “This is a huge win for the pro-life movement. The charges brought by Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson were spurious at best.”
Earlier articles reported that the D.A. was merely pursuing where the grand jury wished to go. It will be interesting to see if she tries to refile on the charge.
Daleiden’s other lawyer, Terry Yates, told Breitbart Texas, “I think the judge’s ruling is very sound. She came to her conclusion before addressing the arguments in the motions to quash the indictment.” He said there were many good legal reasons for dismissing the charges laid out in their motions.
Breitbart Texas has reported extensively about the defensive motions, and the charges filed in Harris County against Daleiden and Sandra (Susan) Merritt. The pair took undercover videos while at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast (PPGC), the mega-abortion mill in Houston. The videos seek to expose the illegal selling of aborted baby body parts.
As reported by Breitbart Texas in mid-April, Daleiden’s lawyers filed motions to quash his indictments urging that the Planned Parenthood lawyer, Josh Schaffer, boasted during a press conference that prosecutors maintained a “dialogue” with him “throughout” the grand jury proceedings and told him that the grand jury’s focus later “shifted” to Daleiden. Schaffer admits in his affidavit that he told the prosecutor that he believed Daleiden and Merritt had broken the law for felony tampering with a government document, and that Daleiden had committed a crime by offering to buy fetal tissue.
Daleiden’s lawyers also urged that Schaffer boasted that the grand jury never even took a vote on whether or not to indict Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, nor did they call a single witness from PPGC before the grand jury.
In addition, Daleiden’s lawyers urged that the District Attorney did not follow the law when she told Planned Parenthood and National Abortion Federal lawyers that Daleiden and Merritt had been indicted by a grand jury. The move by the DA to tell abortion mill lawyers of the indictments at that point has been called by defense lawyers “an unusual move.” The response to Daleiden’s motions filed by the DA admits that her office did not follow the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure but said that the oversight was a technical violation that cannot serve as a basis for quashing the indictments. The DA’s response is attached to the Breitbart Texas article.
Daleiden’s lawyers also asserted that the grand jury that indicted Daleiden and Merritt, was without proper authority to issue the indictments because the order holding them over to a new term lacked the legal requirements. In the State’s written response, the DA argued that the law allows a judge to extend a grand jury beyond its term if the grand jury is investigating matters already before it. Moreover, making the request even more specific by naming the individual or case being investigated would violate grand jury secrecy.
The Center for Medical Progress released the following statement in response to the dismissal of the indictment:
Judge Diane Bull’s swift dismissal of the bogus charge against CMP founder David Daleiden of trafficking human organs is the latest confirmation that the indictments from a runaway grand jury in Houston were a politically-motivated sham all along. In finding that the indictment was void on its face, Judge Bull’s ruling directly contradicts the District Attorney’s argument that the indictment was valid despite the DA’s collusion with Planned Parenthood. The dismissal of the first indictment today sends a strong message to Planned Parenthood and their political cronies that colluding to suppress the First Amendment rights of citizen journalists will never work. The Center for Medical Progress follows all applicable laws in the course of its investigative journalism work and as more details about Planned Parenthood’s contracts for aborted baby parts come to light, it’s clear that Planned Parenthood and their business partners like StemExpress are the ones who are guilty of trafficking in human body parts.
Breitbart News reported on August 4, 2015, that “A video just released by the Center for Medical Progress taken undercover in Texas shows a Planned Parenthood research director discussing the sale of whole intact aborted babies to a company that resells them to medical researchers.” The video was of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast’s Director of Research Melissa Farrell. One of the claims that Farrell makes on the tape is that PPGC in Houston has more revenue from research proceeds than all the other Planned Parenthood facilities combined.
There have been no indictments against Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast by the Harris County grand jury. The grand jury instead indicted Daleiden and Merritt for felony tampering with a government record. Daleiden was also indicted for the misdemeanor charge of offering to buy fetal tissue.
The indictments of Daleiden and Merritt surprised pro-life advocates who expected that an investigation of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in Houston would result in criminal action against Planned Parenthood executives for selling baby body parts. Anti-abortion activists started a petition drive that asks Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson to drop the charges.
Felony charges against Daleiden and Merritt are still pending for tampering with a government document in association with the alleged use of fake driver licenses.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with additional information.