Attorneys for the pro-life activist say the dismissal ‘sends a strong message to Planned Parenthood’
By Bonnie Pritchett
(WNS)–A judge dismissed one of the two charges against pro-life activist David Daleiden stemming from his undercover investigation of a Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Houston. Attorneys for Daleiden said the dismissal confirms their claim that the grand jury made a “rush to criminalize” their client and that the Harris County District Attorney’s office aided the process.
In January, a grand jury handed down indictments against Daleiden and fellow Center for Medical Progress (CMP) investigator Sandra Merritt following the jury’s investigation of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast (PPGC) for illegally selling aborted fetal remains. A three-year undercover investigation by CMP produced incriminating evidence against the abortion giant. But that evidence and alleged collusion between PPGC and the district attorney’s office was used against Daleiden and Merritt, their attorneys claim.
“The dismissal of the first indictment … sends a strong message to Planned Parenthood and their political cronies that colluding to suppress the First Amendment rights of citizen journalists will never work,” Daleiden said in a statement.
In her ruling late Monday, Judge Diane Bull wrote she had no jurisdiction in the case because it was not properly filed at the outset. Bull said an indictment “must state every essential element of the offense. Failure to do so renders it void because it fails to confer jurisdiction to the court.”
Daleiden was charged with a misdemeanor for offering to buy human organs, namely, fetal tissue. The law cited in the indictment defines “human organ” and the prohibitions for the transfer of human organs for “valuable consideration.” But the law also stipulates some exceptions, notably, that money can change hands for clinical or physician services or reimbursement.
The indictment against Daleiden did not note the exception. Without it, the judge had no jurisdiction over the case and could only dismiss it.
“We do not intend to appeal the judge’s decision,” said Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson. “Our office remains focused on the felony charge pending in the 338th District Court.”
Defense attorneys never cited the mistake in their months-long plea to quash the charges against Daleiden for attempting to purchase fetal remains.
“All charges against Daleiden and his investigators should be dismissed, based on the evidence that Harris County District Attorney’s prosecutors colluded with Planned Parenthood to secure these indictments,” said Daleiden’s attorney, Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society.
Evidence surfaced last month in a sworn statement by PPGC attorney Josh Schaffer. In it he implicated Assistant District Attorney Sunni Mitchell in the release of a CMP undercover video to him. According to Breen, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton gave the videos to the district attorney with explicit instructions that it not be released to PPGC.
Anderson has not commented on the allegations of collusion between his office and PPGC.
Daleiden and Merritt still face a second-degree felony charge of tampering with a government document for allegedly presenting false driver’s licenses in order to gain access to the Houston Planned Parenthood facility, one of the largest in the nation. A hearing on that charge is scheduled for July 26 in Harris County District Court.