Pro-life activist David Daleiden asked a Houston court Thursday to dismiss charges stemming from his undercover probe, arguing that prosecutors violated his rights by colluding with pro-choice advocates and leaking information to Planned Parenthood.
Attorneys for Mr. Daleiden, lead investigator with the Center for Medical Progress, filed motions to quash the two indictments handed down Jan. 25 related to his hidden-camera investigation into fetal-tissue procurement at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.
“The irregularities in the case were manifold,” said Thomas More Society’s Peter Breen, an attorney representing Mr. Daleiden, in a statement. “The abuses occurring during and after the grand jury’s proceedings were in gross violation of Mr. Daleiden’s right to due process under the Texas Constitution as well as his statutory rights.”
In the days after a Harris County grand jury released indictments against Mr. Daleiden and fellow investigator Sandra Merritt, Planned Parenthood attorney Josh Schaffer bragged at an invitation-only press conference that he “explicitly pushed prosecutors” to indict the two CMP investigators, according to the motion.
“Mr. Schaffer further stated that during the grand jury proceedings, he and prosecutors maintained a ‘dialogue … about the details of the case, and kept that going throughout,’” said the motion, citing a Reuters article.
Mr. Schaffer also said that Harris County prosecutors “confided in him that the grand jury’s focus had ‘shifted’ to Daleiden throughout the course of the investigation,” said the motion, even though Texas law requires grand-jury proceedings to remain confidential until the defendant is in custody or has been released on bond.
In addition, National Abortion Foundation attorney Derek Foran told the New York Times that he learned of the indictments a half-hour before they were announced, further demonstrating what Mr. Daleiden’s attorneys described as “collusion with pro-abortion lawyers.”
The grand jury was convened in September to examine possible wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, but was held over after its term expired Dec. 16 without specific guidance or directions, according to the motion.
At that point, the holdover grand jury undertook a new investigation targeting Mr. Daleiden and fellow investigator Sandra Merritt that was “not authorized or permitted by the order obtained by the prosecutor shepherding these cases, and therefore for this reason alone, the charging instrument should be quashed,” the motion said.
Mr. Daleiden and Ms. Merritt were indicted on felony charges of tampering with a government record by creating fake driver’s licenses as part of their nearly three-year investigation of Planned Parenthood’s fetal-tissue sales.
Mr. Daleiden was also indicted on a misdemeanor count of attempting to purchase human organs. He has denied any wrongdoing and refused to enter into a plea deal with prosecutors that would allow him to avoid jail time, according to his legal team.
In August, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called on Harris County Attorney General Devon Anderson to investigate Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast after allegations about fetal-tissue sales were raised in a CMP video.
Mr. Daleiden is also fighting civil lawsuits filed by the NAF and Planned Parenthood. Earlier this month, Mr. Daleiden’s Orange County apartment was raided by 11 agents acting at the behest of Attorney General Kamala Harris.
He has retained former Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley to represent him in the California matter. The Republican Mr. Cooley ran against and lost to Ms. Harris, a Democrat, in the 2010 race for attorney general.
The center has released more than a dozen videos featuring undercover footage of Planned Parenthood officials and others involved in the procurement and sale of fetal tissue from abortions for medical research.
Planned Parenthood president and CEO Cecile Richards has denied any wrongdoing and said that the organization’s affiliates will no longer accept reimbursement for costs related to procuring fetal tissue.