After the confounding indictment of Pro-Life citizen journalists with the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) by a Harris County Grand Jury impaneled last year, lawyers have filed a motion to quash the decisions based on shocking abuses committed by the Harris County District Attorney’s office.
Lawyers filed two motions which address the misdemeanor and felony charges against CMP leader David Daleiden in a Harris County criminal court. The thorough review of the series of events that culminated in Daleiden’s indictment, and provision of evidence that Planned Parenthood was made privy to the entire investigation as the evidence unfolded, paint a scathing picture of corruption and incompetence within the Harris County D.A.’s office.
As the motions to quash outline, this anti-Life bias appears to have guided the direction and outcome of the farcical investigation from the beginning. The investigation was initiated after gruesome video footage shot within Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast was released by the Center for Medical Progress, and was conducted under the auspices that Planned Parenthood was the target of the investigation as Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick directed. Instead of investigating or indicting Planned Parenthood, prosecutors shifted the focus of their commission to the CMP and apparently dropped scrutiny of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast altogether.
The motions state that David Daleiden’s due process rights under the Texas Constitution were violated, and that prosecutors leaked Grand Jury information to unauthorized persons – including Planned Parenthood counsel. These leaks ultimately trickled into the hands of the National Abortion Federation, another plaintiff that sought to silence the CMP by means of a lawsuit. On January 5, 2015, David Daleiden’s lawyers received a letter from the National Abortion Federation (an exhibit in the motion to quash) stating that CMP video footage which was covered by a temporary restraining order had been produced to the Grand Jury, to which Planned Parenthood was privy, and the content of this video footage was in turn revealed to the National Abortion Federation. The incident is unsurprising given the D.A.’s level of intimacy with the abortion industry. For example, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast board member Lauren Reeder is employed by the District Attorney’s office.
The Grand Jury process also violated the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, according to CMP counsel, in part due to the ambiguity surrounding the investigation and the shift from Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast to members of the Center for Medical Progress. In December, prosecutors filed a vague “hold over” which failed to specify whom or what entity the Grand Jury would investigate. Not until the bombshell indictment of the Center for Medical Progress was crucial information about the shift of scrutiny to the CMP divulged. The botched process of the Harris County District Attorney culminated in the publication of the indictments of the CMP online long before the indicted persons were in custody or under bond, which is also a clear violation of Texas law.
In spite of the vagueness and ambiguity with which the D.A.’s office dealt with the case publicly and in courts, the abortion industry reports having remained abreast of the investigation throughout. In fact, at an invitation-only press conference held by Planned Parenthood following the indictment, Planned Parenthood counsel Josh Schaffer brags that he “explicitly pushed prosecutors” to charge the Center for Medical Progress. The motion to quash astutely notes that the identity of David Daleiden’s cohort, Sandra Merritt, was not revealed until December 30, 2015, which was two weeks after the “hold-over” order was filed. This suggests that the pair did not become targets of the investigation until “after the expiration of the Grand Jury’s term,” which ultimately invalidates their indictments.
Josh Schaffer went on to state that prosecutors apprised him of the shift in investigative focus. And Schaffer wasn’t the only abortion industry pawn bragging about being bedfellows with the Harris County D.A. In a late-January New York Times article, National Abortion Federation lawyer Derek Foran announced “that he had insider information and ‘learned about the indictments in Texas about a half-hour before they were publicly announced.’”
Earlier this year, Texas Right to Life outlined myriad instances of corruption at District Attorney Devon Anderson’s office. We had hoped that, in spite of an obvious relationship between the D.A.’s office and the Houston abortion industry, an unbiased investigation of potentially criminal activity at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast could be conducted, per the request of Lt. Governor Patrick last August. Unfortunately, events unfolded in an all-but-unbiased manner.
Read the full Misdemeanor and Felony Motions to Quash here.