General Recap & Update (Winter 2010)

Roe v. Planned Parenthood (Ohio)—Civil action for damages and injunctive relief filed against PP for performing abortion on fourteen-year-old girl in violation of Ohio law. Claims on behalf of girl and parents include violation of parental notice and consent statutes, informed consent statute, and law requiring reports in cases of suspected child abuse. Trial set for February 2011.

Hoye v. Oakland—Federal constitutional challenge to Oakland “Mother May I” ordinance restricting speech outside abortion clinics. Following initial successful challenge, city passed amended ordinance, prompting a second challenge. City’s motion to dismiss denied. Motions for summary judgment heard June 26. On August 4, federal district court judge Charles Breyer ruled Oakland’s “Mother May I” ordinance constitutional. Opening brief and motion for injunction pending appeal were filed in Ninth Circuit in November.

People v. Hoye (Oakland)—Criminal prosecution arising from municipal “Mother May I” ordinance. Pastor Walter Hoye was acquitted of charges of “intimidating” pro-abortion escorts, but was convicted of two counts of unlawfully approaching unspecified persons entering the clinic. Rev. Hoye turned down probation, requiring him to stay 100 yards away from the clinic, and instead serve a 30-day sentence and paid a fine. On August 24, Judge Stuart Hing denied the Alameda County District Attorney’s motion for a lifetime injunction against Rev. Walter Hoye coming within 100 yards of the clinic. Opening appellate brief has been filed.

Alabama v. Shaver et al. (Ala.)—Pro-lifers arrested for trespassing on a public sidewalk outside Parker High School in Birmingham, Alabama. Nine activists were jailed overnight without food or water and some were shackled. In addition, the police unlawfully seized and damaged the group’s van and confiscated their video equipment. At arraignment, the prosecutor demanded that the jailed youth agree not to sue the police for violating their constitutional rights in exchange for dropping the criminal charges. When the nine activists refused the offer, the prosecutor set the matter for trial. Trial is scheduled to begin in April.

Fairbanks v. Planned Parenthood (Ohio)— Lawsuit filed alleging that PP violated Ohio law by their failure to report the sexual abuse of minors. The suit alleges that Fairbanks was brought to PP by her father, who had been sexually assaulting her since she was thirteen. He sought an abortion for his daughter at PP to cover up the sexual abuse and resulting pregnancy. Although minor attempted to tell PP personnel of abuse, they ignored her and failed to report, allowing abuse to continue. PP’s motion to dismiss some of the claims is pending.

People v. Weimer (Jackson, Miss.)—Pro-life picketer convicted of violating local sign ordinance. Appeal pending. City’s response due January 2010.

People v. Pollian et al. (Dayton,Ohio)—Pro-lifers on public college campus arrested and jailed on charges ranging from disorderly conduct to trespass to felony assault on a police officer. Grand jury convened on felony charge, but refused to indict. Motion to dismiss remaining trespass charges pending.

Aurora, Illinois—Multi-pronged attack on Planned Parenthood for lying its way into Aurora, the fastest growing city in Illinois some 40 miles west of Chicago, to open what was in 2007 the largest mega-clinic providing abortions in the U.S., including some twelve surgical recovery rooms! Planned Parenthood deemed Aurora “ground zero” in its nationwide effort to “protect reproductive freedom.” Three different lawsuits remain pending against Planned Parenthood and compliant city officials for failing to enforce municipal zoning regulations and building permit requirements that are diligently enforced against all other Aurora citizens, for suppressing First Amendment-protected protests and prayer vigils, and—against Planned Parenthood alone—for defamation, as it libeled and slandered protest leaders as “violent” and having been found guilty of “violent crimes,” this despite Planned Parenthood having been one of the class member plaintiffs in NOW v. Scheidler, a nationwide class action in which the entire abortion industry claimed that these same protest leaders were violent and lost. That case, in which LLDF played a pivotal role, went up to the U.S. Supreme Court three times, and the last two trips culminated in wins by 8-1 and 8-0 margins.

A second amended & supplemental complaint has been filed in the zoning action, pending in DuPage County Circuit Court. The First Amendment lawsuit is about to be settled on terms favorable to the pro-lifers. The libel case hit a brick wall when the lawyers for Planned Parenthood prevailed on the trial judge to interpret Illinois’ newly effective (just days before suit was filed) anti-SLAPP law—a law designed to protect citizen participation in seeking relief from government—in a way that penalizes the pro-lifers who were themselves citizen participants in seeking relief from government against Planned Parenthood’s libels and slanders. The trial judge held that because the libels and slanders were uttered in an effort by Planned Parenthood to get its zoning and building permits approved, the fact that they were tortious, illegal and wrongful was beside the point. Planned Parenthood was totally immune from suit and free to spread whatever lies it wanted so long as it was trying to get its permits, according to the trial judge, and indeed the pro-life plaintiffs would have to pay its attorney’s fees, said to exceed $300,000 for less than a year’s efforts. The cases are now on appeal, with two appeals pending in that case alone before the Illinois Appellate Court.

People v. Hunt (Asheville, N.C.)—Pro-lifers arrested at A-B Tech College for not complying with unconstitutional permit requirement. Appeal filed following trial court conviction.

Vivian Skovgard v. Pedro (Ohio)—Civil action arising from unlawful arrests for trespass of two sidewalk counselors standing in the public right-of-way. Discovery proceeding. Trial set for January 2010.

Blythe v. Cypress College (Calif.)—Pro-lifers arrested for trespassing on a public college campus for allegedly refusing to leave property not open to the general public. The prosecution dismissed all charges and the judge found the pro-lifers “factually innocent” and ordered that all record of the arrests be removed from their criminal records. Lawsuit filed against college and police department for false arrest and civil rights violations. A mandatory settlement conference is set for March 17, 2010. The judge has requested the Chancellor of the college, the Mayor of Cypress, and the Chief of Police attend the conference that will begin with a visit to the campus to review the current unconstitutional “free speech zones” designated by Cypress College.

Blythe v. Cypress College II (Calif.)—Pro-lifers arrested for the third time on the campus of Cypress College for refusing to stand in the “free speech zone” located sufficiently far away from the most traversed areas of campus to make contact with any students virtually impossible. The prosecution dismissed all charges just moments before the trial was set to begin. A third lawsuit has been filed against the college and the police department for false arrest and civil rights violations. This case has been related to the preceding case, with the goal of a single resolution for both cases.

White v. Laguna Beach (Calif.)—Pro-lifer arrested for blocking a public sidewalk in Laguna Beach. When the criminal case went to trial, the police officer brought photos that proved Mr. White was not blocking any sidewalk and that other members of the public were free to traverse the walkway undeterred. The court found Mr. White not guilty. A civil lawsuit for false arrest and civil rights violations has been filed against the City and the officer who made the unlawful arrest. On January 12, 2010, the court granted the City’s motion for summary judgment, holding that, in light of the “heavily congested” sidewalk, the officers acted lawfully. An appeal has been filed.

Cox, et al. v. Romano, et al. (Calif.)—Pro-lifer forcibly removed from Chaffey College campus and property unlawfully confiscated for simply walking into the campus police station and asking who made an order telling the Survivors they could only stand in one specific location on campus. When other pro-lifers tried to find out what had happened to their friend, they too were arrested and quickly ushered into a private room where the police covered the windows so no one could see what was happening inside. The police threw one pro-lifer on a table and vigorously frisked him removing everything from his pockets. The police handcuffed the other pro-lifer in a dark bathroom with his hands locked to a metal bar above his head. The two were held in jail for more than three days before being released on bail. The appellate court threw out the unlawfully seized property, resulting in the dismissal of six charges. Defendants acquitted by jury in May 2009. Victory! Civil rights complaint filed in federal court. College administrators and campus police must file an answer to the claims by February 21, 2010.

Conrad v. San Bernardino (Calif.)—Sidewalk counselor arrested for trespassing in parking lot open to the public. Charges dismissed. Lawsuit for false arrest and constitutional violations filed against city and clinic security guard. Victory! City settled for monetary damages. Settlement with clinic reached prior to summary judgment hearing.

White v. San Bernardino (Calif.)—Pro-life picketer arrested for sign ordinance violation for failing to hold sign off the ground while avoiding fire department hosing off pro-life Mother’s Day messages chalked on sidewalk. Charges dismissed. Lawsuit against city and clinic security guard. Victory! City settled for monetary damages. Settlement with clinic reached prior to summary judgment hearing.

Guengerich, et al. vs. Baron, et al. (Calif.)—Pro-lifers arrested for causing a campus disturbance at Los Angeles City College. The alleged disturbance consisted of five individuals peacefully holding signs and handing out literature on a public college campus. The event was captured on video and will be used to defend the group against these frivolous charges. After a hearing at the L.A. City Attorney’s office, no charges were filed. Claim against LACC denied. Complaint for civil rights violations filed in federal court on January 7, 2010.

Colantuono vs. College of Alameda (Calif.)—Pro-lifers arrested for trespassing on a public college campus. College of Alameda administrators told the police that they did not approve of the Survivors signs and literature and therefore they wanted the group removed from the campus. Three activists spent twelve hours in jail before being released. Government tort claims denied by operation of law because college failed to respond. College desires to settle case without formal civil complaint being filed. College will have draft of new speech policy sent to plaintiffs for review and approval. Plaintiffs are awaiting settlement proposal from Peralta Community College District, due by January 15, 2010.

People v. Wiechec (Colo.)—Pro-lifer arrested for disrupting a lawful assembly by protesting at a rally opposing the Colorado Personhood Amendment held on steps of state capitol. Charges dismissed after pro-abort governor subpoenaed to testify about unconstitutional application of the law against pro-lifers but not against pro-abortionists. Civil suit filed against individual state police officers and governor’s attorney who instigated the arrest. Victory! State settled civil suit for monetary damages.

Womenscare Gynecology, Inc. v. Holy Spirit Catholic Church, et al. (Missouri)—Injunction sought against pro-life sidewalk counselors. Preliminary injunction denied. Discovery proceeding.

ACT v. John Doe (Mass.)—Advanced Cell Technologies sued anonymous pro-lifer who posted an opinion on their work in embryonic stem cell research. ACT sought records from Yahoo to obtain pro-lifer’s identity and other personal information. Motion to quash subpoena filed.

Planned Parenthood v. Arizona (Arizona)—Arizona abortionists and abortion facilities (including Planned Parenthood) filed two separate lawsuits, one in state court, one in federal court. The suits sought to enjoin common sense laws related to informed consent for abortion, parental consent for minors, and health care rights of conscience. LLDF and allied attorneys represent intervenors defending the law.

Citizens of Pasco, Washington v. PP/Pasco (Washington)—City Council of Pasco approved special use permit for Planned Parenthood clinic over recommendation of Planning Commission to deny. Appeal filed by local residents and businesses.

People v. Pomeroy (Calif.)—Pro-life sidewalk counselor cited for sign ordinance violation. Arraignment set for March 3, 2010.

Planned Parenthood v. Ross Foti (Calif.)—Five years after entering into a mutually binding stipulated injunction with sidewalk counselor Ross Foti, Planned Parenthood is attempting to rewrite the terms of the injunction by bringing a contempt action against Foti for actions not prohibited in the injunction. The contempt action also seeks to have Foti held in contempt for actions of unrelated third parties, in an effort to prevent these third parties from praying and demonstrating at the clinic. Trial held on February 4–5. Judge indicated that plaintiff had not met their burden, but ordered further briefing. Final ruling expected in April.

McCullen v. Coakley (Mass.)—Amicus brief filed in support of petition for certiorari in case challenging constitutionality of Massachusetts law prohibiting “entering or remaining” within 35 feet of abortion clinic.