On Wednesday, a California court dismissed all charges against David Daleiden, the founder of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) and the primary activist behind the undercover investigative Planned Parenthood videos. Only one of the 15 criminal charges filed against Daleiden and his partner, Sandra Merritt, remains, but her lawyer is hopeful that one will also be tossed out shortly.
Daleiden and Merritt were each charged with 14 counts of invasion of privacy for videotaping Planned Parenthood executives and employees from 2013 to 2015 without their consent and one count for alleged conspiracy.
Yesterday, San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Christopher Hite ruled that the first fourteen counts were vague and legally insufficient. He gave California Attorney General Xavier Becerra until mid-July to file a revised complaint with specific details, dates, victims, and circumstances.
Mat Staver, attorney and founder of Liberty Counsel, was thrilled with the court’s ruling:
This is a huge victory to have 14 criminal counts dismissed. We will now turn our attention to dismissing the final count. Sandra Merritt did nothing wrong. The complaint by the California Attorney General is unprecedented and frankly will threaten every journalist who provides valuable information to the public. This final count will also fall.
And Horatio Mihet, Liberty Counsel’s Vice President of Legal Affairs and Chief Litigation Counsel, pointed out that no other journalist has ever been criminally charged for undercover recordings:
Today we asked the San Francisco Superior Court to dismiss these outrageous and baseless charges against Sandra Merritt, and the court agreed to dismiss 14 of the 15 counts. Sandra did not break any law and the criminal complaint against her is legally deficient, vague and full of inconsistencies. No other citizen journalist or organization has ever been charged with a crime for undercover recordings.
CMP’s statement on the ruling said that it proves “the bogus charges from Planned Parenthood’s political cronies” are “fake news.”
Daleiden’s and Merritt’s victory in the court yesterday was the second time charges against them have been dismissed. Last July, a judge in Houston dropped charges made against the pair for being insufficient.
These charges in California were also mere political nonsense, as is evidenced by the fact that during his more than 20-year career in the US House of Representatives, Attorney General Becerra received thousands of dollars of campaign funds from Planned Parenthood.
Since Planned Parenthood’s own commissioned research firm found that “analysis did not reveal widespread evidence of substantive video manipulation,” pro-abortion advocates can no longer legitimately claim that the videos were “deceptive” and “highly-edited”. They have therefore resorted to conjuring up criminal charges against Daleiden and Merritt.
This second judge’s ruling shows the charges for what they are: a desperate attempt to move the spotlight away from the actual criminals, the Planned Parenthood officials who were caught on camera illegally selling babies’ body parts.
Photo credit: American Life League via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0