A ‘biased judge with close Planned Parenthood ties spent six weeks trying to influence the jury with pre-determined rulings and suppressed the video evidence…’
(Liberty Headlines) A federal jury found Friday that an anti-abortion activist illegally secretly recorded workers at Planned Parenthood clinics and is liable for violating federal and state laws. The jury ordered him and others to pay nearly $1 million in damages.
After a six-week civil trial, the San Francisco jury found David Daleiden trespassed on private property and committed other crimes in recording the 2015 videos.
He and the Center for Medical Progress argued Planned Parenthood illegally sells fetal tissue, which the group says it does not do despite the videotaped confessions otherwise.
The judge presiding over the San Francisco court refused to permit defendants to present evidence about the veracity of the videos, narrowly focusing instead on the act of secretly recording in violation of state laws that require two-party consent.
Daleiden and a co-defendant, Sandra Merritt, are set to go on trial starting Dec. 6 on 14 counts each of invasion of privacy. They have pleaded not guilty and argue they are undercover journalists shielded from prosecution.
Planned Parenthood sued the activists as part of what the group called “a multi-year illegal effort to manufacture a malicious campaign.”
“The jury recognized today that those behind the campaign broke the law in order to advance their goals of banning safe, legal abortion in this country, and to prevent Planned Parenthood from serving the patients who depend on us,” the organization’s acting president and CEO, Alexis McGill Johnson, said in a statement.
Daleiden said the jury reached the verdict after a “biased judge with close Planned Parenthood ties spent six weeks trying to influence the jury with pre-determined rulings and suppressed the video evidence.”
The judge barred the release of some the videos.
Daleiden and Merritt sneaked into numerous Planned Parenthood meetings and other abortion rights gatherings and shot undercover videos of their attempts to buy fetal material. They published the videos in 2015.
Planned Parenthood claims it doesn’t sell fetal body parts for profit and charges only modest expenses to cover costs of donating them for medical research. The organization stopped seeking reimbursement for its shipping costs, and it never faced charges.
Planned Parenthood says punitive and compensatory damages from Friday’s ruling total $2.3 million.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press