Landmark Daleiden case heads to federal court of appeals
November 26, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – As lead trial counsel for the defense, many people have asked me what happened to bring about the recent jury verdict in favor of Planned Parenthood against David Daleiden and his co-defendants. Despite over three decades of trial experience, I can tell you that I have never seen anything like this mockery of a trial in San Francisco. Given the liberal venue purposely chosen by Planned Parenthood, we knew from the outset that it would be an uphill battle. It soon became obvious from the early rulings of the federal judge assigned to the case, an Obama appointee, that he was heavily favoring Planned Parenthood. We moved to disqualify the judge because he had ties to Planned Parenthood when he was in private practice and, even while this case was pending in his court, his wife had posted on Facebook that she supported Planned Parenthood. Our request was denied.
Many dozens of motions were filed in the case by both sides and Planned Parenthood won almost every one of them, regardless of the legal support in favor of the defendants’ position. In ruling on the pretrial motions, the court struck the defendants’ key defenses based on “public policy” (meaning there was an obvious public benefit in disclosing Planned Parenthood's heinous crimes); and the “unclean hands” defense (meaning that Planned Parenthood was responsible for bringing about their alleged damages because of their own wrongful acts). The judge also instructed the jury that the defendants had no First Amendment defense and that the truth of their undercover videos, which were at the center of the dispute, was irrelevant. The judge also refused to instruct the jury that the defendants were not responsible for the conduct of third parties who acted in response to learning of the plaintiffs’ wrongful acts. This was despite the fact that the plaintiffs admitted at trial that the incriminating words spoken by them on the videos were true and accurate.
The judge would not let the defendants show most of the compelling videos to the jury, and other videos were played in court without the sound. Therefore, the jury could not hear the words actually spoken by the plaintiffs that proved their guilt. Since the judge ruled that the truth of the videos did not matter, the defendants were not able to put forth their compelling evidence that the plaintiffs had been illegally selling fetal tissue and organs for profit.
The defendants were also prohibited from informing the jury that the U.S. Senate had conducted a lengthy investigation, and had found Planned Parenthood had probably violated the law. For this reason, Congress referred Planned Parenthood and its third party brokers to the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI for further investigation and prosecution. Moreover, the defendants were not allowed to present evidence that Planned Parenthood’s broker-partners in Orange County, California had been prosecuted and convicted for selling baby body parts for huge profits.
Furthermore, the defendants were not permitted to call their designated expert witnesses to testify that Planned Parenthood was engaged in outrageous practices that violated medical standards. This included their using those third party brokers, who stood to profit greatly from the sale of the baby body parts, to obtain the consent from the pregnant women to donate their fetal tissue and organs. This was the case even though Planned Parenthood was previously forced to admit to Congress that they lied to those women on the consent forms about the kind of research they were going to do with the fetal tissue and organs.
Moreover, no one told those women that although they were “donating” the fetal tissue and organs, the body parts were going to be sold by Planned Parenthood and their third party brokers for large profits. Nor did they tell those women that the abortionists would alter the abortion procedures to obtain more marketable body parts. They also did they not tell them that they would take steps that would make it highly probable that some babies would be born alive. In some of those cases, the babies’ still-beating hearts were removed from their bodies for experimentation.
The defendants were entitled to defend against Planned Parenthood’s claims, based on the California recording law, on the grounds that they were seeking to prevent violent crimes against “persons” (i.e. born alive babies). Nonetheless, the judge repeatedly admonished the defense counsel to keep their evidence in that regard at a “high level.”
By this he meant that we had to try to sanitize the evidence, thus preventing the true barbarity of the plaintiffs’ actions, in trading in human body parts from born alive babies (i.e. homicide), from being driven home to the jury. To top things off, the judge directed a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs on their breach of contract and trespass claims. This alone virtually guaranteed that the plaintiffs would be the prevailing parties. Thus, everything about the trial, from first to last, was engineered by the judge to guarantee a verdict in favor of Planned Parenthood. As a Board Certified Civil Trial Advocate, who has tried over 50 civil cases in multiple federal and state courts, I have never witnessed anything that approached the open bias that unfairly favored Planned Parenthood at this trial.
The repeated rulings in favor of the plaintiffs, on every major issue, particularly concerning the voluminous, one-sided jury instructions and verdict forms, made the trial a gross travesty of justice. The silver lining is that much good evidence of Planned Parenthood’s criminality was brought to light even though the judge ruled that it was irrelevant. And, significantly, we succeeded in laying the foundation for an excellent record on appeal. For that reason, the unjust result that the judge handed to Planned Parenthood on a platter should be reversed. The case is far from over and, given the importance of the First Amendment issues, it could very well be ultimately decided by the United States Supreme Court. If this verdict were to stand, then undercover journalism will basically be over in this country. In that tragic event, lawless organizations like Planned Parenthood will continue to engage in illegal acts and lie about them with impunity – indeed, as they are presently doing in the wake of this charade of a trial.
Charles LiMandri is the Chief Counsel of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund which represented David Daleiden and various other defendants as lead counsel. He is Board Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy and is a Member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society acted as co-counsel for Daleiden.