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Monday, April 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Abortion Foe Must Reveal Source of Leaked Videos

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A federal judge has ordered an anti-abortion activist group to turn over all materials protected by a court order to outside counsel after some videos covered by the order were leaked late last month.

The National Abortion Federation, which sued the Center for Medical Progress in July for violating confidentiality agreements by secretly recording its meetings, says it has identified the person who published the court-protected videos.

A person who posted videos on YouTube of the foundation's April 2014 annual meeting claims the videos came from a source on Capitol Hill, not from the center or its founder, David Daleidan.

All materials covered by the restraining order were turned over last month to Congress in compliance with a subpoena issued by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

In an Oct. 30 ruling, U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick granted the foundation's request to serve a deposition subpoena to question the individual who posted the leaked videos.

After the ruling, Daleidan's attorneys asked Orrick to reconsider his order until the center has a chance to respond to the foundation's subpoena request.

The judge granted Daleidan's request on Monday, imposing a deadline of noon on Tuesday for the center to justify why he should not allow the foundation to question the person who posted the videos about the source of the leak.

Discovery Disputes

In his Oct. 30 ruling, Orrick also ordered the center to reveal the names of people and organizations with whom it shared confidential information obtained from the foundation's annual meetings.

The judge rejected Daleidan's claims that his First Amendment rights protect him from having to disclose the names of people and organizations with whom he freely associated.

Orrick said knowledge of who received the information is needed to allow the foundation to adequately prepare for its request for a preliminary injunction, adding that the center was not allowed to redact names when responding to the foundation's discovery requests. He said the names will stay restricted as attorneys' eyes-only material and referred to as "Does" in publicly filed documents.

"I reiterate my prior conclusion that the protective order adequately protects any First Amendment associational rights of CMP and these few individuals/organizations, if such rights exist," Orrick wrote.

The judge also ruled that Daleidan may not invoke the Fifth Amendment rights of persons who infiltrated meetings under his direction as a basis for not revealing their names.

"It is important to reiterate that Fifth Amendment privilege is a personal privilege: it adheres basically to the person, not to information that may incriminate him," Orrick wrote.

However, Daleidan still claims he can shield the names of people he directed to infiltrate the meetings based on his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination with respect to potential conspiracy charges.

Orrick ordered Daleidan to submit a brief by Wednesday on whether his Fifth Amendment rights allow him to hide the names of those he ordered to attend and secretly film the meetings.

The foundation's July 31 lawsuit against the center claims the abortion foes falsely posed as employees of a biomedical company in order to gain access to the meetings.

It also claims the center and its associates violated the privacy of its members and breached signed confidentiality agreements.

In recent months, the center has released at least six videos of Planned Parenthood officials and others discussing the preservation and transfer of fetal tissue for research.

A study commissioned by Planned Parenthood in August found four of those videos were deceptively edited to imply wrongdoing and that the videos showed no evidence that the nation's largest abortion provider sold fetal tissue for profit as alleged.

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