A federal judge on Thursday ordered David Daleiden and his attorneys to pay nearly $195,000 in sanctions for posting videos surreptitiously recorded at private National Abortion Federation (NAF) meetings despite being ordered not to do so.
That amount includes $148,967 for NAF’s attorneys’ fees and $42,575 for the additional security costs NAF incurred to uncover and monitor threats resulting from Daleiden and his attorney’s release of the footage.
Daleiden, head of the anti-choice front group known as the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), first began publishing illicitly obtained video footage in July 2015. The footage featured actors posing as officers of a fake tissue procurement company Daleiden created under the name BioMax. In the videos, the actors—including Daleiden himself—appear to be haggling with Planned Parenthood officials about the cost of purchasing fetal tissue.
Some of the video footage was illicitly recorded at private NAF event. Daleiden and an associate, Sandra Merritt, infiltrated invite-only meetings through allegedly fraudulent means, recorded video footage despite signing confidentiality agreements promising not to, and published the footage after deceptively editing it to suggest Planned Parenthood was performing illegal “partial-birth” abortions and profiting from donations of what Daleiden and his supporters ominously call “baby parts.”
The widely discredited videos ignited a firestorm, triggering a string of Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and stoking violence against abortion care providers.
In February 2016, U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick issued an injunction in a civil case blocking CMP and Daleiden from publishing or disclosing “any video, audio, photographic, or other recordings taken, or any confidential information learned at any NAF annual meetings.”
In July of this year, new footage surfaced on Daleiden’s attorneys’ website, prompting Orrick to hold Daleiden and CMP, as well as Daleiden’s attorneys—Steve Cooley and Brentford Ferreira—in civil contempt of court.
Cooley and Ferreira, who are representing Daleiden in a separate criminal case in California, argued that they didn’t think they were bound by the injunction. They also argued that they were justified in publishing the material claiming it was necessary to Daleiden’s defense.
Judge Orrick rejected both arguments, noting in his ruling that the attorneys themselves “admit that their real goal was to score a win in the court of public opinion.”
After reviewing court documents submitted by the parties regarding the appropriate sanctions amount, Orrick held Daleiden, CMP, and his attorneys jointly liable for the $195,359 fine.
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