A California court has rejected 14 of 15 criminal charges that a prosecutor who took money from Planned Parenthood for his campaigns had filed against one of the undercover investigators who produced a series of videos revealing Planned Parenthood’s baby body-parts trade.
Representatives for Sandra Merritt said they now will turn their attention to the last count, which they say “will also fall.”
WND reported when California lodged 15 felony counts against the two pro-life activists behind the landmark 2015 series alleging Planned Parenthood sold the body parts of aborted babies for profit.
The defendants are Merritt and David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress, who in 2015 released a series of undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood and other abortion industry players haggling over higher pay for the body parts of unborn babies.
One Planned Parenthood executive famously wanted more money for the parts because, “I want a Lamborghini.”
WND also previously reported Xavier Becerra – the attorney general who charged the investigators with recording abortion executives without their knowledge and conspiracy – took money from Planned Parenthood for his campaigns.
“He got a campaign contribution from Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards speaks very highly of him and has mentioned him in glowing terms in a press release,” said Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel.
When pro-abortion California Gov. Jerry Brown named Becerra as attorney general, Planned Parenthood boss Cecile Richards praised the appointment.
“Rep. Becerra is a long-time champion for women’s reproductive rights and health,” she said at the time. “As a former California deputy attorney general, he understands the importance of a woman’s right to access the full range of health care, including safe, legal abortion. At a time when reproductive health is gravely under attack in states across the country, we need leaders like Rep. Becerra to be responsible stewards of the law and protect the rights of millions of Americans, including the 850,000 California women, men and families that Planned Parenthood serves every year.”
Liberty Counsel said the Center for Responsive Politics shows Becerra received “$1,000 in 2014, $2,000 in 2012, $500 in 2004, $1,000 in 2002 and $1,035 in 1998 in congressional campaign contributions from Planned Parenthood.”
Staver charged at the time: “There is obvious political motivation behind the recent baseless criminal charges against Sandra Merritt and David Daleiden. Our client did not break any laws. With all the investigative media and reality TV shows that use investigative journalism in California, there has been no effort by the state to prosecute and for good reason, because the First Amendment has something to say about this. The attorney general has engaged in selective prosecution to target pro-life speech. When law enforcement selectively targets people, everyone should be concerned. This effort will fail.”
Liberty Counsel confirmed Wednesday that the San Francisco Superior Court had dismissed criminal counts 1-14 against Merritt.
The court ruled that counts 1-14 were legally insufficient, the organization said.
“The state has the opportunity to amend if it can plead a more legally sufficient and specific complaint,” said Liberty Counsel.
California’s attorney general filed 15 criminal counts against Merritt, with counts 1-14 for each of the alleged interviews and count 15 for an alleged conspiracy.
“This is a huge victory to have 14 criminal counts dismissed,” said Staver. “We will now turn our attention to dismissing the final count. Sandra Merritt did nothing wrong. The complaint by the California attorney general is unprecedented and frankly will threaten every journalist who provides valuable information to the public. This final count will also fall.”
Liberty Counsel argued that the criminal complaint for illegally recording supposedly “private” conversations in restaurants, hotel lobbies and other public places – the first ever filed against undercover journalists – was legally deficient for numerous reasons, “not the least of which was the attorney general’s decision to prosecute Merritt in secret proceedings, without identifying even the names of her accusers or purported ‘victims.'”
The complaint did not provide Merritt with the minimum notice required by the Constitution and California law of what she supposedly did wrong, so that she can mount a proper and vigorous defense. The complaint was also vague and full of inconsistencies, Liberty Counsel explained.
Part of the reason the charges failed was that Planned Parenthood itself admitted the recorded conversations took place in “non-confidential” public venues.
“Sandra did not break any law and the criminal complaint against her is legally deficient, vague and full of inconsistencies. No other citizen journalist or organization has ever been charged with a crime for undercover records,” said Horatio Mihet, Liberty’s vice president for legal affairs.
Dalieden’s case is being defended separately from Merritt’s.
While Planned Parenthood is now in a desperate fight in Congress to keep the $500 million annually it has been getting from taxpayers, President Trump and members of Congress have said that money would be better spent on community health centers that provide a full range of health services.
A U.S. House panel, headed by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., issued a report on CMP’s 11 videos “documenting the practices of local abortion clinics and groups affiliated with the fetal tissue procurement industry.”
Her panel, and another in the Senate, suggested prosecutors investigate Planned Parenthood’s actions.
One of the CMP videos showed an official admitting Planned Parenthood sells fully intact aborted babies.
Another has Deborah Nucatola of Planned Parenthood commented on crushing babies.
“We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact,” she said.
In the second video, Planned Parenthood’s Mary Gatter discussed how her compensation for organs could rise when she said, “I want a Lamborghini.”
The fifth video released shows Melissa Farrell of Planned Parenthood’s Houston clinic discussing “intact fetal cadavers”:
The seventh video has the testimony of a Planned Parenthood worker who tapped an aborted infant’s heart and saw it start beating.