An undercover journalist who exposed a strategy among abortionists to profit from selling the body parts of unborn children is asking a California appeals court to deal with pro-abortion bias the state has exhibited against her.
Sandra Merritt worked with David Daleiden at the Center for Medical Progress in 2015 to release videos of abortionists admitting the for-profit motive, with one declaring she sought more money for body parts because “I want a Lamborghini.”
The concerns previously were raised in the district court, which essentially ignored them.
Now Merritt is asking the Superior Court in San Francisco County, appellate division, to intervene and stop progress on the lower court’s action in Merritt’s case.
She contends Attorney General Xavier Becerra has a conflict of interest in pursuing the unprecedented case against Merritt. Becerra and his predecessor, Kamala Harris, who is now a U.S. senator, received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Planned Parenthood.
The state’s actions against Daleiden are being handled in a separate case.
The Center for Medical Progress videos revealed trade that likely violated federal law, which prohibits any profiting on body parts used by researchers.
But instead of bringing counts against the abortionists, pro-abortion activists sought charges against Daleiden and Merritt. They were accused of violating laws related to the conversations they recorded mostly in public restaurants.
Merritt’s defenders are the lawyers at Liberty Counsel, which notes she sought to recuse Becerra and to dismiss the case for selective, discriminatory prosecution.
In addition to Becerra and Harris receiving donations from Planned Parenthood, the attorney general’s office, after the probe began, “maintained an ongoing financial, political, and close working relationship with executive officers and employees of various Planned Parenthood entities,” Liberty Counsel said.
The motion filed by Merritt “demonstrated an indisputable loyalty by the attorney general to Planned Parenthood.”
Liberty Counsel said Becerra “made it very clear, publicly, when speaking at a Planned Parenthood event with the words ‘I Stand with Planned Parenthood’ behind him.”
Court filings already have demonstrated “how the investigation has been contaminated by the direct involvement of a Planned Parenthood employee, who directed the AG’s investigators to seize computers for Planned Parenthood from Merritt’s co-defendant, David Daleiden.”
Liberty Counsel said private meetings between Planned Parenthood representatives and Harris also resulted in a list of “action items” to be accomplished between the two entities.
“Meanwhile, both entities collaborated extensively to further prevent the release of videos exposing Planned Parenthood. They drafted Assembly Bill 1671, which was eventually enacted as Penal Code 632.1, which purports to criminalize Merritt’s actions, just as Planned Parenthood wanted.”
The motion points out that at least two companies in California were successfully prosecuted, forced to pay almost $8 million in penalties, and shuttered permanently in connection with their unlawful baby- parts transactions.
Further, several states and the federal government have moved to defund Planned Parenthood to varying degrees.
And the United States Congress “has conducted an investigation resulting in the referral of Planned Parenthood to law enforcement agencies for criminal prosecution in connection with its profiteering.”
“Not only does the camaraderie and collaboration between Planned Parenthood and the attorney general demonstrate a severe conflict of interest,” Liberty Counsel said, “but there are numerous other, well-publicized, undercover investigations that have taken place in California – exposing the meat industry, unethical treatment of animals, or consumer fraud – and yet Merritt and Daleiden are the first undercover journalists to be criminally prosecuted in the history of the state.”
Liberty Counsel said it has shown that no other citizen journalist or journalism organization has ever been charged with a crime for undercover recordings made in the public interest.
“Together, the weight of the evidence demonstrates that the prosecution against Merritt is selective and discriminatory. ”
Horatio Mihet, vice president of Legal Affairs and chief litigation counsel at Liberty Counsel, said the “irrefutable evidence of Attorney General Becerra’s bias comes straight from the horse’s mouth.”
“Attorney General Becerra has no business prosecuting this case, after pledging publicly to ‘stand with Planned Parenthood.’ The people of California deserve better, and the law plainly requires more.”
The new filing charges that the lower court “failed to carry out its duty to properly construe and apply controlling law, thereby abusing its discretion. Respondent likewise arbitrarily failed to follow controlling California Supreme Court precedent.”
“Applying incorrect legal standards, Respondent first deprived Merritt the ability to present evidence on her recusal and dismissal motions, on Sept. 10. 2018.”
Liberty Counsel said that “compounding its legal errors, Respondent denied Merritt’s Motions for lack of evidence on Oct. 5. 2018.”
The filing points out Planned Parenthood “sponsored and hosted” Becerra’s primary election party.
The videos remain available online, except for those censored by a Planned Parenthood-linked judge who has been handling cases involving Daleiden.
Here are two of the videos released by CMP: