Image source: screengrab
Two former Los Angeles County District Attorneys — Steve Cooley and Brenford J. Ferreira, along with their firm, Steve Cooley and Associates (SCA) — have taken up the defense of David Daleiden, the undercover citizen journalist who brought to light the Planned Parenthood videos that revealed some of the shocking practices involving the harvesting and sale of human body parts at America’s top abortion provider.
In a statement released to the media today, Cooley and Ferreira say that they are “proud to announce their defense of citizen journalist David Daleiden against the grossly politically-motivated prosecution from the California Attorney General’s office.” SCA has created a media resources page related to the case, which features the following new, 3-minute trailer of Daleiden’s videos, released through his organization, The Center for Medical Progress, some of which have, due to court order, never been seen by the public:
According to the SCA media resources page,
The plaintiff in the civil suit, the National Abortion Federation (NAF) and its partner Planned Parenthood (PP), had importuned the Attorney General to initiate a criminal investigation into David in order to further suppress his undercover journalism. You see, David had exposed the most infamous and disturbing story of unethical and illegal medical practices since the Tuskegee Institute scandal-the harvesting and sale for profit of fetal organs, tissues and limbs from late term aborted fetuses.
When several of his videos hit the internet, the public outrage prompted congressional hearings and calls for the Federal defunding of Planned Parenthood. The civil suit resulted in an injunction (which is currently on appeal) preventing David from posting any videos taken at the 2014 and 2015 NAF conventions held in San Francisco and preventing David from naming or otherwise identifying anyone he filmed at those conferences.
But according to Steve Cooley, “Then-Attorney General, now U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, wielded unprecedented police power against a true American journalist while civil suits were already pending in Federal District Court concerning the same video-recordings.”
“Public Records Act requests filed by SCA,” said Cooley, “reveal the Attorney General’s real interest in this case is entirely political, meant to manipulate the law to do the bidding of their benefactors at Planned Parenthood.”
SCA revealed that Daleiden’s accusers were for some reason listed anonymously in the complaint filed against him, and a request for their identities to be revealed was ignored. Daleiden’s attorneys were forced to file a demurrer (a form of objection) to the complaint, stating that it “does not substantially conform to the provisions of [the] Penal Code…nor does it provide Mr. Daleiden with due process.”
Following this filing, Xavier Becerra, the new California Attorney General, “sent SCA a password-protected list of Does 1 through 14, stating that the names were somehow confidential, rather than amending the publicly filed complaint to publicly list David’s accusers. There is no protective order in place in state court that would protect the names of the Does, and David is entitled to a public defense.”
The full list of complainants has now been made available on the SCA media page, along with a viewable playlist of 17 videos related to the interviews of those involved in the complaint, some of which are becoming public for the first time as a part of this case.
Brent Ferreira, who wrote the demurrer to the complaint against Daleiden, said that “The First Amendment must apply equally whether you are pro-choice or pro-life, and a publicly-accused defendant is entitled to face his accusers in a public trial.”
“Anything less,” Ferreira continued, “is a corrupt attempt by the Attorney General to orchestrate a star-chamber proceeding reminiscent of the witch hunts and show trials of more unenlightened eras.”
The videos released by Daleiden have proven extremely controversial, leading to an investigation in their legality in multiple states. But even some outspoken opponents of the videos recognize that the legal proceedings against Daleiden in California are draconian. In a March 30, 2017 editorial, the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board wrote that
There’s no question that anti-abortion activist David Daleiden surreptitiously recorded healthcare and biomedical services employees across the state of California with the intent of discrediting the healthcare provider, Planned Parenthood — something his heavily edited videos failed to do. There’s also no question that it’s against state law to record confidential conversations without the consent of all the parties involved.
But that doesn’t mean that California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra should have charged Daleiden and his co-conspirator, Susan Merritt, with 15 felony counts — one for each of the 14 people recorded, and a 15th for conspiracy. It’s disturbingly aggressive for Becerra to apply this criminal statute to people who were trying to influence a contested issue of public policy, regardless of how sound or popular that policy may be. Planned Parenthood and biomedical company StemExpress, which was also featured in the videos, have another remedy for the harm that was done to them: They can sue Daleiden and Merritt for damages. The state doesn’t need to threaten the pair with prison time. [emphasis added]