A federal judge accused of having close ties to the abortion industry said he will hold pro-life investigator David Daleiden’s lawyers in contempt Tuesday.
Courthouse News reports U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick III said Daleiden’s lawyers published undercover video footage of a National Abortion Federation meeting in violation of a court order.
“Criminal defense counsel … do not get to decide whether they can violate the preliminary injunction,” Orrick said Tuesday in court.
The video footage in question was released in May. It shows top Planned Parenthood staffers attending meetings of the National Abortion Federation in 2014 and 2015 and discussing gruesome details about aborted babies. In one clip, several attendees made jokes about eyeballs from aborted babies “rolling down into their laps.”
Orrick forced the videos to be taken down.
Daleiden refused to say whether he published the video Tuesday in court, according to the report. Orrick, who has ties to the abortion industry, said he will hold attorneys Steve Cooley and Brentford Ferreira in contempt.
The Center for Medical Progress, Daleiden’s group, said his attorneys are being persecuted “just for trying to use the same video evidence in his defense that the California AG is using in his prosecution.”
Here’s more from the San Francisco Chronicle:
Matthew Geragos, an attorney for Cooley and Ferreira, said Tuesday that the lawyers were not defying Orrick’s order but merely trying to defend their client and his right to a public trial. But the judge said the lawyers and their client were not entitled to decide whether to obey court orders.
Orrick has not yet issued a formal contempt order, but he could require Daleiden and his lawyers to pay damages to the National Abortion Federation and could also refer the attorneys to the State Bar of California for discipline.
The postings “placed NAF and its members in danger,” said Derek Foran, a lawyer for the National Abortion Federation.
In a statement after the hearing, the Center for Medical Progress said it would appeal Orrick’s “unconstitutional gag order.”
In a statement, Daleiden’s group continued: “The [California] State prosecution is such a bad case, Planned Parenthood and NAF want Judge Orrick 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.
In June, Daleiden’s lawyers asked that Orrick recuse himself from the case, arguing that he has links to the abortion industry. They said Orrick has had a long relationship with an group that partners with Planned Parenthood, and his wife publicly supported abortion online.
While Orrick was secretary of the board of the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center, the organization “embedded a Planned Parenthood clinic inside its premises, and lists among its ‘key partnerships’ … Planned Parenthood Shasta Pacific …” according to the request.
The Planned Parenthood affiliate also is a member of the National Abortion Federation, the plaintiff in the case, according to the court document.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed charges against Daleiden and fellow investigator Sandra Merritt in March, alleging that they recorded private conversations without people’s consent in the state.
The Thomas More Society, which is representing Daleiden in the case, questioned who really is running the show:
“The pendency of simultaneous federal civil cases proceeding side-by-side with such a major state criminal prosecution of multiple felonies was bound to breed the most serious and grave complications, not to mention the miscarriage of justice. Must the pro-lifers’ criminal defense lawyers seek prior federal permission before summoning or cross-examining prosecution witnesses, or introducing videos or other documentary evidence into the trial record? Must the state court Judge, Hon. Christopher Hite, consult with the federal Judge, Hon. William Orrick, before ruling on objections to evidence?
“And who is actually directing the criminal case, Attorney General Becerra, or the federal civil plaintiffs, the National Abortion Federation and Planned Parenthood Federation of America, who lobbied him and his predecessor, then Attorney General Kamala Harris, to bring these excessive felony charges? We will carry on with efforts to see that justice is ultimately achieved in these troubling cases.”