Federal Judge Holds Planned Parenthood Video Maker’s Criminal Defense Attorneys in Civil Contempt of Court

Planned Parenthood Videos
AP File Photo/Bob Levey

U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick has found the two criminal defense attorneys for Center for Medical Progress’s David Daleiden to be in civil contempt for having published video recordings of the National Abortion Federation (NAF) annual trade meetings.

Daleiden, 28, is the video journalist whose undercover work exposed alleged profiteering from the sales of body parts of aborted babies by Planned Parenthood and its partners in the biomedical procurement industry.

Center for Medical Progress (CMP) posted to Facebook on Tuesday:

PERSECUTION BY PLANNED PARENTHOOD'S CRONIESThis afternoon, Planned Parenthood's proxies at the National Abortion…

Posted by The Center for Medical Progress on Tuesday, July 11, 2017


In May, Orrick ordered any video links and references to the identities of members of the NAF to be taken down from the Internet after CMP released new video footage in which NAF abortionists are heard sharing graphic details about the dismemberment of unborn babies.

Footage of the 2014 and 2015 NAF trade shows reveal abortionists discussing, amid laughter, the difficulties they face in their jobs, such as “the head that gets stuck that we can’t get out,” and “an eyeball just fell down into my lap, and that is gross!”

Orrick found the criminal defense attorneys to be in violation of a preliminary injunction that he had entered and which had been affirmed by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

That injunction will soon be “petitioned for review by the U.S. Supreme Court as an unconstitutional censorship decree and a ‘prior restraint’ on the free speech rights of Daleiden and and his company, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP),” says a press release from the Thomas More Society, which has been underwriting Daleiden’s and CMP’s criminal defense.

Former Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley & Associates (SCA) is representing Daleiden. Cooley – who narrowly lost a statewide election for California Attorney General to now-U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris – and former Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Brentford J. Ferreira, say the prosecution from the office of the California Attorney General is “grossly politically-motivated.”

In April of 2016, Daleiden contacted SCA after agents of the California AG’s office served a search warrant at his home and confiscated his computers, hard drives, and electronic documents.

In September 2016, emails obtained by the Washington Times showed that then-California AG and U.S. Senate candidate Kamala Harris’s office collaborated with Planned Parenthood to produce legislation that specifically targeted Daleiden.

The emails, according to the Times, were accessed through a public records request, and revealed conversations between officials of Harris’s office and Planned Parenthood regarding legislation that criminalizes undercover journalists for publishing and distributing recordings of private communications with abortion providers.

Following receipt of the preliminary injunction in a civil suit, NAF and Planned Parenthood pursued the California AG to initiate a criminal investigation to further stifle Daleiden’s undercover work.

On March 28, 2017, the new California Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, announced a criminal complaint charging Daleiden and colleague Sandra Merritt with 15 felony counts against the state’s “confidentiality” legislation.

“Every video recording for which the Attorney General is charging David was obviously and unquestionably made in a public place where it could not possibly be considered ‘confidential,’” said Ferreira. “The only difference between David’s conduct and that of undercover video journalists every day in the state of California is the fact that he recorded the political backers of the state’s top prosecutor.”

Both Becerra and Harris have been the recipients of campaign funds from Planned Parenthood.

According to OpenSecrets.org, Becerra received a total of $5,535 from Planned Parenthood during his congressional election bids between 1998 and 2014.

Harris is on record as having received $2,600 in 2016 from Planned Parenthood for her Senate race campaign. Additionally, the current U.S. senator was the recipient of $39,855 from the Abortion Policy/Pro-Abortion Rights lobby group, according to OpenSecrets.org.

ElectionTrack.com also reported Harris received $15,000 from Planned Parenthood for her attorney general campaign bids.

Harris’ U.S. Senate campaign website also featured a petition asking voters to support and protect Planned Parenthood’s federal funding.

In June Superior Court Judge Christopher Hite dismissed 14 of the 15 felony charges lodged against Daleiden and his colleague Sandra Merritt. However, he did not dismiss the charge claiming the two conspired to violate privacy rights.

Earlier in July, Becerra’s office refiled the felony charges against the video journalists, who are now due to be arraigned on July 17.

Daleiden’s attorneys at the Thomas More Society, which is underwriting his criminal defense, filed a motion in June, requesting that Orrick be disqualified from his case “on the grounds that there is evidence of bias in favor of the plaintiff and prejudice against the defendants.”

Peter Breen, special counsel with the Thomas More Society, told Breitbart News:

Some of the evidence we’ve brought forward is that as recently as September of 2015 – several weeks after entering the temporary restraining order in the NAF case – we’ve learned that the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center, which is interlinked with a Planned Parenthood affiliate that is a member of the National Abortion Federation – that they are holding out Judge Orrick as an emeritus member of their board.

The National Abortion Federation – their allegations were there would be harm to their members – and, so, you’ve got an entity that is in partnership with a member that actually hosts one of the NAF members. Now you’ve got the judge being held out by that entity as part of the organization, as connected to it.

The Los Angeles Times’ editorial board has also taken issue with Becerra’s actions against Daleiden:

It’s disturbingly aggressive for Becerra to apply this criminal statute to people who were trying to influence a contested issue of public policy, regardless of how sound or popular that policy may be. Planned Parenthood and biomedical company StemExpress, which was also featured in the videos, have another remedy for the harm that was done to them: They can sue Daleiden and Merritt for damages. The state doesn’t need to threaten the pair with prison time.

“Yet another appeal seems in order here, for as the L.A. Times editorialized, California’s felony criminal prosecution of these pro-life undercover journalists was a gross ‘overreach’ as two massive federal cases were already pending against them in Judge Orrick’s federal court,” Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, said in a statement.

Brejcha further explained the complications and potential conflicts:

The pendency of simultaneous federal civil cases proceeding side-by-side with such a major state criminal prosecution of multiple felonies was bound to breed the most serious and grave complications, not to mention the miscarriage of justice.  Must the pro-lifers’ criminal defense lawyers seek prior federal permission before summoning or cross-examining prosecution witnesses, or introducing videos or other documentary evidence into the trial record?  Must the state court Judge, Hon. Christopher Hite, consult with the federal Judge, Hon. William Orrick, before ruling on objections to evidence?  And who is actually directing the criminal case, Attorney General Becerra, or the federal civil plaintiffs, the National Abortion Federation and Planned Parenthood Federation of America, who lobbied him and his predecessor, then Attorney General Kamala Harris, to bring these excessive felony charges?

Orrick is expected to issue a written opinion, specifying whatever sanctions he may impose on Daleiden and his criminal defense lawyers.


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