Trumped Up Charges Against Planned Parenthood Exposers Dropped
A Texas court has dismissed all criminal charges against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, the pro-life activists whose undercover videos exposed Planned Parenthood's involvement in the sale of foetal tissue.
Harris County prosecutors asked the court to dismiss the charges, after Daleiden and Merritt refused plea-bargaining deals. The pro-life activists insist that they acted legally in filming Planned Parenthood employees and associates.
“Today’s dismissal in Houston is a huge win for the First Amendment rights of undercover journalists,” said Peter Breen, an attorney for the Thomas More Society who had represented Daleiden. “This meritless and retaliatory prosecution should never have been brought.”
Daleiden, 27, and Merritt, 63, were indicted in January by a grand jury in Harris County on charges of tampering with government records for using fake identification and offering to buy foetal tissue at a meeting at which Planned Parenthood officials explained how they provided the tissue to medical researchers. Their video, one of several widely circulated on the internet, said Planned Parenthood was guilty of selling foetal remains, accusations Planned Parenthood has denied.
At a hearing in the case on Tuesday, prosecutors with the Harris County district attorney’s office asked the judge to dismiss the charges, citing a potential legal issue with the grand jury’s term, which had been extended during the investigation.
One of Mr Daleiden’s lawyers, Jared Woodfill, said prosecutors could not bring a new target of investigation before grand jurors during an extension period. “The evidence that we had was very clear that David was never a target of an investigation during the original term, and so the indictment was fatally flawed,” he said.
The New York Times. July 27. CWN. July 27.