- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 13, 2015

A California judge rejected Thursday an effort by StemExpress to gain access to video footage from the pro-life Center for Medical Progress exposing the company’s business relationship with Planned Parenthood.

The bioservice company, which won a temporary restraining order July 28 against the center, is attempting to stop the release of the undercover video by obtaining a preliminary injunction at an Aug. 19 hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court.

On Thursday, however, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Joanne O’Donnell said the firm is unlikely to prevail.

“Plaintiff does not persuade the Court that the discovery it seeks is necessary to obtain the preliminary injunction. That is because it appears unlikely that the Court is going to grant the preliminary injunction,” said the judge in her Thursday order.

One reason: obtaining a temporary injunction to stop the footage from being released would violate the center’s First Amendment rights.

“The injunction Plaintiff seeks would prevent Defendants from disseminating the videotapes,” said the judge. “First, this proposed injunction would constitute a prior restraint on the Defendants’ rights under the First Amendment and the parallel protections under the California Constitution.”

StemExpress, a for-profit company based in Placerville, California, is focused on stopping the release of footage showing three employees at a dinner with undercover investigators from the center, according to court documents.

The company has argued that the footage was obtained in violation of California’s two-part consent law on recordings, but the judge said Thursday that even if the video were obtained unlawfully, such a violation would not prevent its release.

The center has released six videos since July 14 as part of its Human Capital investigation on Planned Parenthood’s providing of fetal tissue and organs from abortions to companies such as StemExpress for payment.

Planned Parenthood officials have denied any wrongdoing, noting that federal law allows abortion clinics to receive reimbursement for costs related to the transfer and storage of fetal tissue.

StemExpress did not have an immediate public comment on the ruling, but noted in a statement earlier this week that the court had denied the center’s motion to dissolve the temporary restraining order.

CMP has also refused to produce witnesses for depositions or respond to document requests previously ordered by the Court,” said the company in a Tuesday statement. “StemExpress will continue to seek this discovery and pursue all legal remedies against CMP and its officers.”

Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund president Chuck LiMandri, who represents the center, lauded the court’s decision, saying that, “People who don’t have anything to hide don’t go to court to stop journalists from reporting the truth.”

“The court was right to deny StemExpress‘ request to gain access to damaging material against them obtained through solid investigative journalism,” Mr. LiMandri said in a statement.

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