A San Francisco federal judge stepped aside Thursday, at least temporarily, from the case of antiabortion activists who posted secretly taped recordings of abortion providers’ meetings after the activists accused him of bias because of his former work for a charity associated with Planned Parenthood.
U.S. District Judge William Orrick III had scheduled a hearing next Wednesday on whether to hold David Daleiden, leader of the Center for Medical Progress, and his lawyers in contempt for posting links to the recordings despite Orrick’s February 2016 injunction prohibiting any public disclosure.
In a brief order Thursday, Orrick denied bias and questioned whether the filing was timed to delay the contempt hearing. But he postponed the hearing and said the request to remove him would be referred, under the court’s rules, to another judge selected at random.
In their filing Wednesday, Daleiden and his organization said they had learned only recently that Orrick had been a board member of the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center in 2001, when the charity agreed to let Planned Parenthood place a clinic on the center’s property in San Francisco. They also said Orrick’s wife has publicly endorsed Planned Parenthood and criticized the Center for Medical Progress.
In addition, they contended, Orrick revealed prejudice at a hearing last month when he said Daleiden’s release of the videos could cause “real harm to human beings.”
Last month, Daleiden’s lawyers in that case posted YouTube links to many of the recordings, and the names of some of the people attending the meetings. Former Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, Daleiden’s lead attorney in the criminal case, said his office had obtained the information from Becerra’s office as evidence and thought it should be shared with the public.
But Orrick said at a May 25 hearing that his injunction barred Daleiden and his lawyers from any release of the material. He ordered the postings taken down immediately.
Full story at SF Gate.