U.S. District Judge William Orrick is holding the defense attorneys of Pro-Life journalist David Daleiden in contempt of court. The judge’s decision, which entails a hefty $137,000 fine for Daleiden, came after a link to videos by the Center for Medical Progress appeared on the defense attorneys’ website. Daleiden’s attorneys, Steve Cooley and Brentford Ferreira, argue that the judge’s decision further indicates collusion with the abortion industry and an attempt to interfere with the ongoing criminal case against Daleiden and his colleague Sandra Merritt.
Orrick had previously filed an injunction against posting the videos, which show undercover footage of the National Abortion Federation’s conference. In response to the contempt ruling, Daleiden’s defense attorneys noted that the footage is now public record as part of the evidence in California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s ongoing criminal case against Daleiden and Merritt. Becerra initially charged the investigators for the Center for Medical Progress with 15 felony charges for supposedly violating privacy in the undercover recordings. After the bogus charges were dismissed, Becerra amended the charges and refiled them. Cooley and Ferreira stated:
[Calif.] Attorney General Xavier Becerra has entered this footage into the public record by filing a public criminal proceeding based on it. The preliminary injunction obtained by NAF in a federal civil suit cannot bind this State criminal proceeding. (In fact, the SF Superior Court is now releasing certified copies of the court filings to the public with the links to the videos.)
The Center for Medical Progress posted on Facebook that the contempt ruling appears to be possible collusion with the abortion industry and an attempt by the judge to “intervene in the middle of this separate (and bogus) state criminal prosecution to put his thumb on the scales and forbid David from getting a fair trial.” Earlier suspicions of Judge Orrick’s ties to the abortion industry led the Center for Medical Progress to file a motion to disqualify the judge from ruling on the lawsuit brought by NAF against Daleiden.
Cooley and Ferreira posted the videos on their website in order to build their defense of Daleiden as an investigative journalist and possibly locate witnesses. Matthew Geragos, an attorney for Cooley and Ferreira, said, “We won’t stand and allow a criminal case to be interfered with,” indicating their perception that the contempt ruling is a blatant attempt to meddle in the separate criminal case. Daleiden will be held liable for $137,000 in NAF’s legal fees supposedly related to the contempt charges.
Although Daleiden and Merritt were temporarily vindicated last month, the latest developments in California show their legal battles are far from over. Some journalism organizations have expressed concern over the charges brought against the Center for Medical Progress, because the charges threaten the First Amendment rights of all journalists. This, coupled with the many suspicious instances of apparent collusion with the abortion industry, indicates that the proceedings are unjust and based on persecution of those who dare to expose the abortion industry.