SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Anti-abortion crusader David Daleiden and his attorneys could be held in contempt of court for publishing the names of abortion providers and links to videos barred by a federal court order.
Publication of secretly taped videos from the National Abortion Federation’s April 2014 annual meeting were banned by a federal judge, which the Ninth Circuit upheld in March.
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge William Orrick III issued an order to show cause why Daleiden and his attorneys Steve Cooley and Brentford Ferreira should not be held in contempt after the lawyers posted links to YouTube videos and the names of secretly taped abortion providers on their website.
The names and videos were presented as evidence to support Daleiden’s challenge against 15 felony charges he faces in San Francisco Superior Court for the secret recordings and alleged conspiracy to invade privacy.
The names were removed and more than 300 videos had been deleted as of Friday morning after Orrick ordered Daleiden to immediately take them down.
Orrick issued the permanent injunction in February 2016, citing increased death threats and harassment of abortion providers, coupled with the fact that Daleiden’s group, the Center for Medical Progress, lied to gain entry to the meetings and signed agreements vowing to keep information gained there private.
The California attorney general sent Cooley’s office a confidential list of the 14 unnamed abortion providers whose privacy Daleiden is accused of invading, according to the defense attorney’s website.
Cooley argues the names should not be confidential because Daleiden has a right to publicly confront his 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,” Cooley states on his website.
Orrick scheduled a hearing on the order to show cause why Daleiden should not be held in contempt for June 14.
National Abortion Federation attorney Derek Foran said he’s not sure how long the videos and names were made public online. He first became aware of them at 5 a.m. on Thursday, he said.
“My client is on heightened security alerts in order to protect its members,” Foran said, adding the abortion providers have already received threats as a result of the disclosure.
Though he is unsure exactly what form the sanctions might take, whether as jail time, fines or other penalties, Foran said he will urge the court to issue “significant sanctions.”
“The court has broad contempt power to enforce its order, and we’re going to ask them to invoke that power because it’s outrageous,” Foran said.
Reached by phone, Cooley refused to speculate on whether he and his client might be slapped with sanctions for violating a federal court order. But he maintained the documents published on his website were already made publicly available by the San Francisco County Superior Court.
Cooley said the public’s right to know about public proceedings is a fundamental principal under California law.
“We have a right to file motions on behalf of an accused criminal and ensure his constitutional rights are upheld,” Cooley said of his decision to file materials in state court that were barred by a federal court order.
When asked if he was obligated to file those exhibits under seal, Cooley replied: “I wasn’t a party to the injunction so I never read the injunction. I don’t think so.”
Cooley said he would respond in detail to the federal court’s order after the National Abortion Federation files its brief in support of sanctions by the May 31 deadline.
Cooley and Ferreira are with Steve Cooley & Associates in Rolling Hills Estates in Los Angeles County; Short is with Life Legal Defense Foundation in Ojai, California; and Foran is with Morrison Foerster in San Francisco.