Newsbreak

Judge in Planned Parenthood video case may be removed for bias

David Daleiden, Center for Medical Progress, Planned Parenthood

He has ties to Planned Parenthood, yet he’s been allowed to rule against those exposing Planned Parenthood. Now there’s a chance Judge William H. Orrick could be forcibly removed from the case after The Center for Medical Progress’ (CMP) project lead, David Daleiden, filed a motion to have Orrick pulled due to his conflict of interest. This week, a federal appeals court ordered the abortion groups suing Daleiden to answer the accusations about Orrick.

CMP Special Counsel attorney, Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society, explained that in December, Daleiden had filed a petition for an “extraordinary writ of mandamus” in the Ninth Circuit United States Court of Appeals; it asked that Orrick step down from presiding over the lawsuits against Daleiden and CMP due to Orrick’s clear conflict of interest and “other facts creating the appearance of bias.” Thomas More Society reports on this week’s response from the Ninth Circuit appellate court:

On Wednesday, February 28th, a three-judge “motions panel” ruled that Daleiden’s “petition for writ of mandamus raises issues that warrant an answer.” The panel ordered that the abortion groups suing Daleiden in Judge Orrick’s courtroom, namely, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (“PPFA”), its many California-based affiliates as well as others, and the National Abortion Federation (“NAF”), file answers to the mandamus petition within 14 days. The panel further directed that in their answers, the abortion groups “shall address the basis for the district court’s denial of [Daleiden’s] motion for disqualification of Judge William H. Orrick under 28 U.S.C. Secs. 144, 455(a) and 455(b)(1).” And the panel specified that, “in particular,” the answers [shall] address Judge Orrick’s relationship with Good Samaritan Family Resource Center.”

READ: A tale of two journalists — How California selectively prosecutes investigative journalism

The legal defense organization explained:

Judge Orrick issued a gag order, which Daleiden is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down as an illicit “prior restraint” on free speech, censoring Daleiden’s remaining video footage taken at NAF annual meetings in 2015 and 2016. On Monday, February 26th, NAF’s counsel filed its opposition to the Supreme Court hearing the appeal. Earlier, NAF had formally waived its right to respond, but the justices ordered that it respond.

Thomas More Special Counsel Breen said:

We welcome this ruling by the 9th Circuit panel as we were asking the court to order Judge Orrick to do what he should have done preemptively on his own…that is, recuse himself and step aside from presiding over a case in which he has had a direct, personal, and decades-long relationship with an organization whose property and employees were alleged by the abortion provider plaintiffs to be endangered by our client’s citizen journalism, namely, the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center (GSFRC), of which he was a founder and longtime officer and director, and which houses one of the plaintiff PPFA affiliate’s facilities. This relationship was established during Judge Orrick’s leadership tenure on the board, and GSFRC continues in an active joint venture with this plaintiff PPFA affiliate. At the same time, Judge Orrick has been held out to the public as serving as an Emeritus Board Member of GSFRC. This relationship was not disclosed to the parties, nor did Judge Orrick disclose its full extent or duration to the U.S. Senate during his confirmation process.

As Live Action News reported last June:

Orrick spent several years a board member of the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center (GSFRC) in San Francisco. During his tenure as the board’s secretary, Daleiden says, “GSFRC embedded the Planned Parenthood clinic inside its own headquarters, where Planned Parenthood Shasta Pacific continues to operate to this day as a ‘Key Partner’ of GSFRC.

And Planned Parenthood itself praised the partnership between it and the GSC.

Planned Parenthood case

Meanwhile, Live Action News noted that “Orrick’s wife, Caroline, has multiple social media posts supporting Planned Parenthood, including changing her profile picture to an ‘I stand with Planned Parenthood’ frame on her Facebook page. The instructions for using the frame reveal not only support of the abortion corporation, but a direct stance against the CMP videos.”

Planned Parenthood case

Orrick’s wife also liked posts that were anti-CMP and liked both posts that referred to pro-lifers as part of a “domestic terrorism” movement, as well as a post that reported on Daleiden’s indictment on the very issues her husband was making rulings about, clearly showing a conflict of interest that should have resulted in his recusal.

Planned Parenthood case

Daleiden said last year that the “judicial scales” have been weighed against him from the beginning because of the weight Planned Parenthood carries with the judge:

Judge Orrick has a personal bias and prejudice in favor of Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation and against the Center for Medical Progress and me. CMP and I feel unable to receive fair consideration of our arguments before Judge Orrick because we do not enjoy the close personal and professional relationship with him, forged over many years, that Planned Parenthood does.

Now, thanks to the Ninth Circuit appellate court, at least the issue of the conflict of interest and Orrick’s refusal to recuse himself must be addressed in this legal process.

Thomas More Society offers these links for background information on this case:

  • A copy of the filed petition for a writ of mandamus in Planned Parenthood et al v. the Center for Medical Progress et al and National Abortion Federation v. the Center of Medical Progress et al is available here.
  • Read background on this and related cases in which the Thomas More Society is defending Daleiden for his exposé of Planned Parenthood’s participation in trafficking baby body parts here.
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