Judge Dismisses Most Charges Against Undercover Journalists Battling Planned Parenthood
A California court on Wednesday dismissed 14 of 15 criminal charges filed against two undercover journalists from the Center for Medical Progress who were charged with violating California’s privacy laws when they exposed Planned Parenthood’s alleged sale of organs harvested from abortions.
Throughout 2015, the Center for Medical Progress released a series of undercover videos revealing the vast amounts of money Planned Parenthood makes selling organs from aborted fetuses.
The court called the charges legally insufficient but gave the state until July 17 to file a revised complaint if it wants to continue the case against David Daleiden, the founder of the Center for Medical Progress, and his associate, Sandra Merritt.
It was unclear Wednesday whether the state would continue the case.
“This is a huge victory to have 14 criminal counts dismissed,” said attorney Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, representing Merritt.
“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,” said Staver.
“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,” said Horatio Mihet, Liberty Counsel’s vice president of legal affairs and chief litigation counsel.
At the time the charges were filed, Daleiden said they were nothing but politics.
“The bogus charges from Planned Parenthood’s political cronies are fake news,” Daleiden said in a statement.
“We look forward to showing the entire world what is on our yet-unreleased video tapes of Planned Parenthood’s criminal baby body parts enterprise, in vindication of the First Amendment rights of all,” the statement read. “The public knows the real criminals are Planned Parenthood and their business partners.”
California has further acted by approving a law to bar any whistle-blowers or journalists from conducting undercover investigations of “health care providers,” a broad term that would include Planned Parenthood’s abortion clinics.
This proposal was criticized by Republican state Sen. John Moorlach, who said the bill will only help those who have something to hide.
“When 60 Minutes uses a hidden camera and discovers a unique story, it’s called outstanding journalism,” Moorlach said. “But when a private citizen does it and unmasks a very, very unpleasant truth, it’s a call for legislation.”