- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 31, 2017

A federal judge on Thursday fined pro-life investigator David Daleiden and two of his attorneys nearly $200,000 after finding them in contempt of court for the release of undercover videos.

U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick said the $195,359 tab would compensate the National Abortion Federation for “expenses incurred as a result of the violation of my Preliminary Injunction Order,” which had banned the release of the video footage taken at NAF meetings.

Mr. Daleiden’s attorneys, Steve Cooley and Brentford Ferreira, were included in the sanctions intended to ensure “current and future compliance” with the order.

Mr. Daleiden described the sanctions as an attack on his rights to defend himself. Matthew Geragos, an attorney for Cooley and Ferreira, told the Associated Press that he is appealing.

Mr. Daleiden’s California-based Center for Medical Progress filed earlier this month for a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court to appeal the “unconstitutional gag order” preventing the release of the undercover footage.

“Judge Orrick’s gag order, issued at the behest of Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation, is an unprecedented attack on the First Amendment by a clearly biased federal judge,” said Mr. Daleiden in an Aug. 3 statement.

The center has moved to disqualify Judge Orrick for his previous involvement as a board member of the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center, which is affiliated with Planned Parenthood.

In July 2015, the NAF sued center for its undercover sting operation in which investigators posed as members of a fake biomedical company at the federation’s 2014 and 2015 annual meetings.

Judge Orrick granted a permanent injunction prohibiting release of the videos in February 2016, saying they posed a threat to the safety and privacy of the federation’s members, which was upheld in March by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Even so, Mr. Daleiden’s attorneys posted in May a three-minute video, using the footage from the meetings, that showed doctors affiliated with Planned Parenthood making gruesome comments and joking about procedures.

Lisa Harris, medical director at Planned Parenthood of Michigan, says in the video that abortion doctors should concede that it’s murder, saying, “Let’s just give them all the violence. It’s a person. It’s killing. Let’s just give them all that.”

The judge calculated the amount of the civil contempt sanctions based on legal fees, staff time and travel expenses incurred by the NAF as well as “security costs paid to outside vendors” to uncover and monitor threats prompted by the release of the videos.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed 15 felony charges in March against Mr. Daleiden and a fellow investigator, Susan Merritt, for conspiracy to invade the privacy of those secretly recorded in the sting operation.

“The right to privacy is a cornerstone of California’s Constitution, and a right that is foundational in a free democratic society,” Mr. Becerra said. “We will not tolerate the criminal recording of confidential conversations.”

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