Rejecting arguments that a court order is crippling David Daleiden’s criminal defense, a federal judge Wednesday refused to lift an injunction banning the release of secretly taped videos of a National Abortion Federation meeting.
Attorneys for Daleiden, founder of the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress, told U.S. District Judge William Orrick III that his injunction is hindering Daleiden’s ability to defend himself against 15 state felony charges for conspiracy and invasion of privacy.
“When you have felony charges against your client, you have to be able to use everything for your client,” Daleiden’s attorney Peter Breen, with the Thomas Moore Society, told Orrick in court.
Orrick rejected that argument, finding the state court judge can admit parts of the enjoined videos as evidence if he deems it necessary in the interest of fairness and justice.
“If Judge [Christopher] Hite finds that some of the preliminary injunction material should be released, I’m not going to interfere with that, in order to protect the Fifth Amendment rights of Mr. Daleiden,” Orrick said.
Orrick banned release of videos in February 2016, finding it necessary to protect National Abortion Federation members from threats and harassment, and to enforce confidentiality agreements Daleiden and others signed while using fake aliases to infiltrate the group’s meetings.
Daleiden and his co-defendants claims their deception was an act of investigative journalism aimed at exposing criminal misconduct by abortion providers, whom they accused of illegally selling fetal tissue for profit.
But Orrick said he reviewed hundreds of hours of videos and found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing. Orrick concluded that Daleiden’s group had misleadingly edited videos to make it appear as though abortion providers were breaking the law.
Daleiden’s attorneys dispute that, citing investigations by Republican-led congressional committees that found his group’s investigation “generally had merit,” and a $7.7 million settlement two bioscience companies reached with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office in December 2017 for allegedly selling fetal tissue for profit.
Daleiden and his co-defendants also asked Orrick to dismiss the National Abortion Federation’s complaint, or to strike allegations under California’s Anti-SLAPP statute, which prohibits lawsuits designed to chill free speech.
Orrick said he would issue a written ruling on the defendants’ motions to dissolve or modify the injunction and to dismiss or strike the complaint in a few weeks. He set a case management conference for Dec. 11.
Full story at Courthouse News.