By Dave Andrusko
And so it began Tuesday, the first of what is expected to be a nine-day long preliminary hearing to determine whether the 15 felony charges of invasion of privacy against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt will go to trial.
Daleiden, founder and project lead of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), caused a national uproar with his series of undercover videos documenting that Planned Parenthood trafficked in the fetal body parts. Lawyers for the pair insist they are the object of a political attack from politicians such as California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Ca.)
As Courthouse News’s Maria Dinzeo reported, Tuesday marked the first time any of Daleiden’s videos have been played in open court.
“This preliminary stage is the put-up-or-shut-up stage,” said attorney Horatio Mihet, representing Merritt. “What today has revealed is the prosecution by the attorney general is political in nature and built on a house of cards.”
The brunt of the charges, Dinzeo writes, is that Daleiden and Merritt improperly “recorded abortion providers from Planned Parenthood at the National Abortion Federation’s [NAF’s] annual meetings in 2014 and 2015 in San Francisco, Los Angeles and El Dorado, California.” However, as Dinzeo added,
Outside the courtroom, Daleiden’s attorney Peter Breen said California’s penal code, enacted under the California Invasion of Privacy Act, excludes any conversation that can be reasonably overheard or recorded.
“None of the content was confidential,” he said.
He added Daleiden – who founded the Center for Medical Progress – is an undercover journalist and should be protected by California’s shield laws.
Daleiden added in a statement,
“Planned Parenthood abortion providers appeared under oath in court today and admitted supplying the body parts of children in the womb to for-profit brokers like StemExpress. Meanwhile, the Vice President of the National Abortion Federation denied any knowledge of the gruesome trafficking in fetal body parts, despite hosting StemExpress as a major vendor at the trade shows. The first day of testimony confirmed what we have been saying all along—this is a biased attack on First Amendment civil rights and a political prosecution to shield Planned Parenthood from accountability for their crimes against women and children.”