The National Abortion Federation (NAF), the industry trade group for abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood, dragged David Daleiden and his entire legal team into court yesterday, insisting that David and his criminal defense attorneys be held in contempt of court for the release of videos that were uploaded to a private website in May. NAF is seeking monetary damages, including reimbursement for time spent by NAF employees scouring the internet for “hostile” and “negative” comments directed at abortion providers. NAF also asked the court to take a number of other punitive steps, including forcing Life Legal to “disgorge” funds related to our efforts to raise money for David’s legal defense—meaning NAF wants to put donor money in their bloodied pockets.
While the hearing ultimately concerned David, Judge William Orrick questioned David’s entire legal defense team, including Life Legal’s Katie Short, about the posting of the May videos. The attorneys invoked the attorney-client privilege, which prohibits attorneys from divulging confidential communications with their clients. California law requires an attorney to maintain client confidentiality “at every peril to himself or herself.” (BPC § 6068(e)(1))
David’s criminal defense attorneys argued that David has the right to a vigorous defense against the felony charges he is currently facing. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a fifteen-count complaint, alleging that David illegally recorded conversations during which Planned Parenthood directors discussed the sale of baby body parts for profit. However, the conversations took place in public spaces where there would be no reasonable expectation of confidentiality.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Orrick found David’s criminal defense attorneys in contempt of his 2016 order prohibiting the release of videos related to National Abortion Federation conferences. He took under submission the question of whether David and the Center for Medical Progress will also be held in contempt. Judge Orrick will issue an order shortly awarding money damages to NAF, but he denied many of NAF’s other punitive requests, including disgorgement of Life Legal donations.
“The National Abortion Federation did not present sufficient evidence that David was involved in the release of the enjoined videos,” said Alexandra Snyder, Life Legal Defense Foundation Executive Director. “Derek Foran, lead attorney for NAF, said that the videos were released with the hashtag #PlannedParenthoodSellsBabyBodyParts. He called this a ‘horrendous term’. I agree. The business of tearing babies apart and profiting from the sale of their parts is horrendous.”