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Last week, a Ninth Circuit panel declined to consider an appeal from undercover journalist David Daleiden regarding a $195,000 penalty he’ll have to shell out to his pro-abortion opponents.
Daleiden, who famously exposed alleged baby body part trafficking in 2015 within the abortion industry, including heavyweight Planned Parenthood, was hit with the penalty for using video footage which allegedly violated his dubious gag order.
“The federal judge presiding over related civil lawsuits, District Judge William Orrick, had held that criminal defense counsel’s use of the videos violated a gag order he imposed in one of the federal civil actions. Daleiden and his defense counsel appealed, arguing that Orrick had improperly imposed a criminal contempt penalty without granting the accused due process and that the federal civil injunction should not apply to Daleiden’s state criminal proceeding,” a statement from the Thomas More Society, representing Daleiden, outlined.
The Ninth Circuit also denied an appeal to have Daleiden’s federal civil cases reassigned to an impartial judge who does not have a history of public support for Planned Parenthood, as Judge Orrick does.
“You’ll recall that Judge Orrick has close ties to Planned Parenthood, and his wife is an outspoken abortion activist. This is another frustrating setback for David — especially after … the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear our appeal of the ‘gag order’ injunction Judge Orrick hit David with at the request of the National Abortion Federation,” noted Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, in a press release last year.
“In our view, unfortunately, the Ninth Circuit misread the district court order. It saw things in it that weren’t there and overlooked things that were, with the unhappy consequence of upholding two injustices to our client,” Thomas More Society Special Counsel Sarah Pitlyk said in a statement to The Daily Wire, last week.
“First, Mr. Daleiden and his criminal defense counsel remain subject to an exorbitant penalty for doing nothing other than trying to defend him against baseless, politically motivated criminal charges,” she noted. “Even worse than that, the Ninth Circuit also essentially ratified the federal court’s improper interference in Mr. Daleiden’s state criminal case, tying the defense’s hands going forward.”
“It is a travesty that Mr. Daleiden’s accusers can use the video footage at the heart of these cases against him — both in court and in the court of public opinion — but Mr. Daleiden’s legal team cannot use the same footage in his defense, even in his own court filings, without fear of an entirely different tribunal imposing punitive fines,” elaborated Pitlyk. “Holding Mr. Daleiden and his defense counsel in contempt under these circumstances flies in the face of the Sixth Amendment and fundamental principles of fairness. This is not how the criminal justice system is supposed to work.”
Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, a fellow undercover journalist working with the Center for Medical progress, were hit with a stunning 15 felony charges in March of 2017 for their undercover work relating to the abortion industry. The videos, which have been confirmed to be undoctored, allegedly showcased abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood affiliates, harvesting and profiting off of baby body parts. In one video, a Planned Parenthood executive notably haggles over prices of fetal remains while sipping wine and joking about wanting a Lamborghini.
The charges have been widely decried by folks on the Right for their threat to journalists, though the Left has been largely silent. However, the left-wing Los Angeles Times did admit in 2017 that the felony charges “are a disturbing overreach.”