Judge: Anti-abortion leader's attorneys violated court order
Posted July 11
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge said Tuesday he will hold attorneys for the head of an anti-abortion group in contempt after links to videos that the judge had barred from release appeared on their website.
U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick said attorneys Steve Cooley, a former district attorney in Los Angeles, and Brentford Ferreira had violated his injunction.
The two attorneys represent David Daleiden, a leader of the Center for Medical Progress. The center has released several secretly recorded videos that it says show Planned Parenthood employees selling fetal tissue for profit, which is illegal. Planned Parenthood said the videos were deceptively edited to support false claims.
The videos stoked the American abortion debate when they were released in 2015 and increased Congressional heat against Planned Parenthood.
The center is also behind secret recordings at meetings of an abortion providers' group, the National Abortion Federation. Orrick blocked the release of those videos, but publicly accessible links that led to at least some of the blocked videos appeared on Cooley and Ferreira's website in May.
Cooley and Ferreira represent Daleiden in a related criminal case in California accusing him of recording people without their permission in violation of state law.
Orrick said there was "no possible excuse" for links on the attorneys' website.
"With respect to the criminal defense counsel, they do not get to decide whether they can violate the preliminary injunction," the judge said.
Matthew Geragos, an attorney for Cooley and Ferreira, said the attorneys were "legally entitled" to put out evidence to find witnesses and other information that could clear Daleiden in the criminal case.
"We won't stand and allow a criminal case to be interfered with," he said after the hearing.
Daleiden is also facing contempt for the video links. Orrick did not immediately rule on whether he would hold Daleiden in contempt, though he said Daleiden would also be held liable for any costs stemming from the contempt finding against his attorneys.