The Thomas More Society, the legal team defending The Center for Medical Progress founder David Daleiden in the Planned Parenthood v. The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) civil trial, has announced that they will appeal the decision of the court. On Friday, the jury found CMP and its team members liable to Planned Parenthood for supposed damages to the abortion corporation after the CMP undercover videos were released showing Planned Parenthood employees discussing the sales of body parts from babies they had aborted.
“This lawsuit is payback for David Daleiden exposing Planned Parenthood’s dirty business of buying and selling fetal parts and organs,” lead TMS defense attorney Peter Breen said. “We intend to seek vindication into criminal activity by America’s largest abortion provider utilized standard investigative journalism techniques, those applied regularly by news outlets across the country.”
BREAKING: Jury awards Planned Parenthood $870K in punitive damages plus hundreds of thousands more in compensatory damages. Lady Justice was not blind in this trial, Judge Orrik’s rulings against CMP et al created bias against us with jury, black eye for #1A, dangerous precedent.
— CMP (@CtrMedProgress) November 15, 2019
Breen went on to say, “David’s findings revealed practices so abhorrent that the United States Congress issued criminal referrals for Planned Parenthood, and numerous states and elected officials have moved to strip it of funding. Rather than face up to its heinous doings, Planned Parenthood chose to prosecute the person who exposed it.”
U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick III told the jury that the First Amendment does not apply in this case, which defense attorneys disputed. Orrick has ties to Planned Parenthood and refused to recuse himself from the case or allow most of the undercover videos at the center of the case to be played for the jury.
“This case puts the constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech on trial,” said Tom Brejcha, Thomas More Society President and Chief Counsel. “It tests the sacred tenet of freedom of the press. Planned Parenthood decided that it was above the law. Planned Parenthood was wrong, and I am confident that we will win on appeal.”
The jury awarded a total of $870,000 in punitive damages to Planned Parenthood including $125,000 from Daleiden, $25,000 from Sandra Merritt, $200,000 from BioMax (CMP’s undercover company), and $400,000 from CMP. Two former board members of CMP, Albin Rhomberg and Troy Newman are said to owe Planned Parenthood $70,000 and $50,000 respectively. Planned Parenthood dropped punitive charges against Adrian Lopez, one of the undercover investigators.
Terrisa Bukovinac, founder and executive director of Pro-Life San Francisco told Church Militant that this “shocking ruling … shows we no longer live in a democracy. Undercover journalism is now illegal in America…”
In a Facebook post after the verdict came in, defense attorney Paul Jonna called the ruling a “temporary victory” for Planned Parenthood.
“The verdict is the natural product of Judge Orrick’s erroneous legal rulings — like refusing to allow the jury to see most of the videos that are the subject of the case, telling the jury that the defendants don’t have a First Amendment defense (even though they clearly do), striking key defense experts and affirmative defenses, directing a verdict on trespass and breach of contract, and refusing to tell the jury that they should assume the truth of the videos since PP didn’t sue for defamation (among countless other errors),” he explained. “We needed a miracle to get a defense verdict under these circumstances. Ultimately, though, this verdict won’t stand. The court made too many mistakes and we have a tremendous record for appeal. We will continue to fight to protect the First Amendment and the rights of the unborn.”
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