By Dave Andrusko
The legal case against Center for Medical Progress investigative reporters David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, already rickety, suffered a serious blow Wednesday afternoon when San Francisco Superior Court Judge Christopher Hite dismissed 14 “invasion-of-privacy charges” against them. (Mr. Daleiden will be speaking at the 2017 National Right to Life Convention at 12:30, July 29.)
Defense lawyers will now go after the sole remaining charge– for “criminal conspiracy” to invade “privacy”–brought against the pair, based on the same video recordings. Those videos, claims pro-abortion California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (who brought the charges in March) were taken of 14 people without permission between October 2013 and July 2015 in Los Angeles, San Francisco and the county of El Dorado.
(There are other outstanding legal issues as well, which we will discuss later in this post.)
“This is a huge victory to have 14 criminal counts dismissed,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “We will now turn our attention to dismissing the final count. Sandra Merritt did nothing wrong. The complaint by the California Attorney General is unprecedented and frankly will threaten every journalist who provides valuable information to the public. This final count will also fall.”
Writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, Bob Egelko observed
In Hite’s court, lawyers for Daleiden and Merritt argued that their ability to put on a defense was unfairly hobbled because the charges stated only the date of each recording and did not name the person recorded or specify which of the hundreds of videos was the subject of the charge.
Prosecutors said they had provided the names to defense lawyers under a court order to keep them confidential. But Hite ruled that the charges were still too vague and must specify each of the 14 recordings that were allegedly made without consent.
He said no such specificity was required, however, for the charge of conspiring to violate abortion providers’ rights by surreptitiously recording them.
The state of California has the opportunity to amend their charges and Becerra says they “will be making the requested changes.”
As for the remaining “criminal conspiracy” to invade “privacy charge,” Staver pointed out that “Planned Parenthood itself has admitted, under oath, that the recorded conversations took place in ‘non-confidential’ and public venues.”
There are two other separate matters NRL News Today has written about previously. Last year U.S. District Judge William Orrick issued an order prohibiting Daleiden and his group from making the recordings public.
Last month Judge Orrick was annoyed that “links to videos that the judge had barred from release appeared on the website of [Daleiden’s] attorneys,” according to the Associated Press. The undercover “preview” video that stirred Judge Orrick’s ire showed top Planned Parenthood staffers (some of whom had appeared in the previous 13 CMP videos) who were attending meetings of the National Abortion Federation in 2014 and 2015.
As was the case with the prior CMP videos, the cavalier, flippant attitudes of participants towards the unborn babies whose body parts they were harvesting is both stomach-turning and soul-chilling.
In response to Judge Orrick, Daleiden’s attorneys, former Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, and former Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Brentford J. Ferreira, took down the video which they had posted on a new web portal created to feature their legal defense of Daleiden as well as the names of the 14 people whose privacy Daleiden was accused of violating.
Finally there is still a civil lawsuit on this matter pending in California, “brought against the CMP by Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation,” according to National Review Online’s Alexandra DeSanctis. “Unlike these criminal charges, however, that suit does not carry the threat of jail time.”