David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, undercover investigators for the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), have officially begun the process of appealing the lawsuit in which a judge awarded a massive $16 million in fees to Planned Parenthood.
Last year, Judge William Orrick — who notably has ties to Planned Parenthood — awarded Planned Parenthood over $13 million in “attorneys fees and costs,” even as appeals for the ruling were underway. This award was in addition to the more than $2 million awarded to the abortion corporation after a jury ruled in its favor on all counts in the civil case. That decision involved Orrick as well, as he specifically barred the jury from considering Daleiden and Merritt’s First Amendment right to free speech, as well as from even viewing the undercover videos which purport to expose Planned Parenthood’s illegal activities.
Planned Parenthood employees have admitted under oath that the statements they made in the undercover videos were, in fact, real.
This weekend, CMP, David Daleiden, and undercover investigators for CMP filed opening briefs on appeal at the federal Ninth Circuit to overturn the $16 million decision, pointing out a number of problematic issues with the original trial. Liberty Counsel, representing Sandra Merritt, issued a press release noting some of the powerful admissions from the witness stand which strengthened the claims of the Defendants.
The Center for Medical Progress also issued a press release announcing the appeal. Some claims in that release are quoted below:
- Judge Orrick allowed Planned Parenthood to make an end run around the First Amendment, where Planned Parenthood sued for research and management costs stemming from the release of the undercover videos, but did not prove in court the videos were false or defamatory—in fact, Planned Parenthood admitted in court the videos were authentic. Judge Orrick’s $16 million fine for the videos and injunction against further investigation awarded to Planned Parenthood, without any defamation claim, are a threat to all undercover reporting.
- Judge Orrick excluded the expert testimony of Dr. Forrest O. Smith, the longest continuously practicing abortion provider in the United States, who testified the videos are evidence infants are being delivered alive and killed through organ harvesting in Planned Parenthood’s fetal research programs.
- Planned Parenthood’s fraud, trespass, and RICO claims presented no evidence to distinguish CMP investigators’ undercover networking with the abortion industry from pure speech protected by the First Amendment, and 9th Circuit and Supreme Court precedent. The “fake IDs” shown by some investigators were creative props never used for government ID purposes and cannot be the basis for a tripled RICO fine.
- The undercover video recordings at issue in the case were all made of professional conversations in public areas where third parties easily overheard—yet Judge Orrick would not allow the Defense to play the full videos of the conversations to the jury.
- One undercover investigator did not identify as pro-life and used his own name and ID to attend Planned Parenthood tradeshows—yet Orrick still allowed Planned Parenthood to sue him for “fraud” and “trespass” because he assisted a pro-life publication. Judge Orrick then punished the other Defendants further for actually subscribing to pro-life advocacy. The real “crime” in Orrick’s courtroom was pro-life speech, and guilt by association with it.
Due to his connections with Planned Parenthood, Orrick was asked to recuse himself from the case in 2017, but he refused to step down or disclose his relationship with Planned Parenthood. CMP’s press release also noted that Orrick attempted to influence another judge to keep him on the case. Orrick helped to open and run a Planned Parenthood referral facility while serving as a board member of the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center (GSFRC) in San Francisco; he and his wife have continued to give donations to Planned Parenthood, and have shown open support for the abortion business on social media — including in posts which compared CMP to “domestic terrorism.”
“Planned Parenthood got caught selling aborted baby body parts in the undercover videos, and their fetal trafficking programs have started to be held accountable,” Daleiden said in the press release. “Yet because of a biased federal judge who previously helped run a Planned Parenthood clinic in the fetal trafficking network, Planned Parenthood has been allowed to sue me and CMP for successfully reporting the facts while blocking us from defending ourselves.”
He concluded, “The animus against free speech about abortion and fetal trafficking was palpable in Judge Orrick’s courtroom, where no evidence against Planned Parenthood would be admitted and the real ‘crime’ is being pro-life. This judgment does not reflect equality or fairness and puts freedom of the press and the rule of law at risk for all Americans. This judgment must be reversed.”
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