By Charlie Johnston
On Friday, California Superior Court Judge Christopher Hite dismissed six of the 15 charges against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, stemming from their undercover investigation of Planned Parenthood and some of its partners, committing them to trial on the nine remaining. They will be arraigned on the remaining charges on Jan. 30 next year and then a trial date will be set, probably for sometime in the spring or early summer.
The most extensive coverage today of the ruling came from LifeSiteNews and from LifeNews. LifeSite emphasized that the case will go to trial and that up to 10 years in jail is a possible outcome. LifeNews emphasized the charges that were dropped. Though with different emphases, both sites are accurate.
I spoke to Daleiden earlier today. We had discussed the matter earlier this week. He was upbeat and excited. He texted me the following formal statement:
“Former California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris concocted this bogus, biased prosecution with her Planned Parenthood (PP) backers against undercover video reporting, and now their case is falling apart as the facts about PP’s criminal organ trafficking are revealed in the courtroom. The remaining charges under the California video recording law – the first and ONLY time it has ever been used against undercover news gatherers – will fall for the same reason that five charges were dismissed today: these were public conversations easily overheard by third parties. The real criminals are the PP leadership who sold fetal body parts from late-term abortions and weaponized the justice system to try to cover it up.” (emphasis of “only” is mine).
I read Judge Hite’s order this afternoon. The only crime that is posited to have been committed is the violation of privacy. Hite’s order is rather agnostic on the matter, stating that in the nine remaining charges, the matter is sufficiently gray that it is for a jury to determine. All conversations were held in public places.
Judge Hite is a whole different sort of fellow than Judge William Orrick, who presided over the recent federal civil trial. While Hite is from San Francisco, he has played it straight and has no personal or business ties to PP, as Orrick does. He is not expected to order a jury that it must rule a certain way on any charges – as Orrick did to the jury in the civil case. (In fairness, any such order is strictly verboten in a criminal trial).
Some on Daleiden’s side suspect that Hite is trying to split the baby with this ruling, neither rejecting PP and the Atty. Gen’s case out of hand but sending them a signal about how much of a dog this case is by the dismissals. That makes sense. I have thought for over six months that the AG’s office is trying to find a way to make Hite the scapegoat for its crumbling case.
Over three years ago, Daleiden regarded forcing abortion doctors to testify publicly under oath as a primary goal. That goal has been accomplished in both the preliminary hearing to the criminal trial and in the civil trial. In both of these proceedings, abortionists have confirmed under oath that they were selling baby body parts for profit, in violation of the law, and that babies who survive abortion and are born alive are sometimes killed by vivisection after birth. I will guarantee you that when the indictments against PP and some of its affiliates come down from the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) investigation that has been going on for almost a year, this testimony is going to bite PP and friends in the hind end. Judge Orrick could get away with telling the civil jury that all crimes that Planned Parenthood committed that came out in the trial were irrelevant, but that does not mean there is going to be no reckoning.
Some of PP’s lawyers seemed, for a time, to be trying to get the organization to step back from the abyss. They took a moderate, conciliatory course in a seeming effort to get PP to understand that even if it prevailed through the “fix-is-in” justice in Orrick’s court or some fine legal points in the criminal court, the self-incriminating testimony of some of their employees would ultimately destroy them. The moderates were quickly aborted by PP. Any victories they gain right now are entirely pyrrhic.
I have long been in favor of having as many public forums under oath as we can. The longer PP employees and affiliates testify, the more rope they give the DOJ. I always knew that, in the civil suit, it probably has to get out of a California court before Daleiden gets an honest hearing. Even so, the case was so strong by Daleiden’s lawyers in the civil case, I was surprised at the outcome. Of course, the judge’s antics gave a ton of material for appeal. The next step is the Appeals Court in the 9th Circuit, still in California. Even so, the more time goes on, the less liberal the 9th Circuit becomes (Thanks, Senator McConnell!) It may well be the Supreme Court before Daleiden gets an even shake in that one.
In the criminal case in the state court, Judge Hite, however left his personal leanings may be, seems focused on acting to do honor to his seat on the bench, refusing to use his power to be an advocate for anyone.
I have been hoping throughout this process that Daleiden does NOT win just yet (though I would have loved a better outcome in the civil case). Every loss goes on to appeal – and gets closer to getting out of San Francisco. Meanwhile, it provides the raw material which will ultimately bring down Planned Parenthood. That is my goal.
Meanwhile, in Texas, the case of nine-month-old Tinslee Lewis will reach a new milepost next week. Cook Children’s Hospital had planned to use the horrific Texas 10-day forced euthanasia law to withdraw care from her over quality of life issues last month. As usual, it was Texas Right-to-Life (TRTL) which stepped in to get a court to halt the soft execution. (Disclosure: I am a sporadic outside consultant to TRTL). While the action was only stayed until Dec. 10, Cook Hospital has reportedly agreed to go into a formal agreement to continue care until there is a formal court hearing. This afternoon, Judge David Peeples was assigned the case, though a date for hearing has not yet been set.
Texas Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the Lewis family and TRTL. Paxton argued that the Texas law is unconstitutional because it denies its victims any due process. This is great news, because if Paxton follows up, it may ultimately mean the revocation of this hideous law entirely. It is a great scandal to me
that the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops (TCCB) has been a major proponent of this law, twisting itself in knots to pretend it is consonant with Catholic Doctrine. Of course, the TCCB is the political arm of the Texas Bishops. Ft. Worth Bishop Michael Olson was reportedly the prime mover in getting the TCCB behind this anti-Catholic law. But Olson now has other problems as a movement to recall him as Bishop has already gained over 1,400 mandates which have been forwarded to Rome.
While many organizations talk the talk (including the TCCB) Texas Right-to-Life is a champion which always walks the walk, even when catching a lot of heat from establishmentarians for doing so. I have to give a shout-out to TRTL’s corporate counsel, Emily Cook, who is on the front lines of getting in at the early stages to put a stop to these things – and has become incredibly effective at it.
A lot of people are alive today because of the great work of TRTL. If this latest action gets the forced euthanasia law overturned, a lot more will be saved.
Astonishingly, the beatification of Fulton Sheen has been postponed at the behest of a few unnamed Bishops. Even more astonishingly, there are NO allegations that have caused this halt. It is just that certain Bishops want even more investigation on top of the exhaustive investigation prior to Beatification. Personally, I suspect the delay is because of the steadfast orthodoxy of the late Archbishop Sheen and his astonishing success as a public Catholic Evangelist. What is not so well known is that Sheen was also one of the most gifted theologians of the last century. The last thing the revolutionaries trying to change Church Doctrine want is to have extensive public re-hashing of the powerful and clear defense of the faith Archbishop Sheen was so brilliant at.
I spoke yesterday with Dr. Peter Howard, president of the Fulton Sheen Institute. Howard takes a more benign view of the matter than I do. The Atty. Gen of New York is doing an exhaustive investigation into historical abuse allegations in the state, similar to that conducted in Pennsylvania a few years ago. Howard thinks this is just an excess of caution – and things will be back on track soon.
Our own Beckita Hesse, managing editor of this site, and Fr. John B. Wang are preparing for a major evangelization effort in China next year, following the distribution of over 200,000 copies of the book, “The Holy Biography of Jesus,” throughout China this year. It is a sorrow to me that orthodox Catholics in China get more support from this little site than they get from the Vatican, which is sworn to defend both the faith and the faithful. But it makes me proud that people here soldier on to hearten the faithful and be a sign of hope.
A few suggestions for this season of giving…if you have a little extra, I hope you will think of these organizations. Every one of them is staffed in critical areas by people who are friends to me, some of them very close friends. That is both disclosure AND my way of letting you know that I know personally that any money you give will go to good use. As always, please don’t send money you don’t have – your first duty is to your family. But if you have a little extra, here are some choices for your stocking:
1) David Daleiden’s Center for Medical Progress. This is where he gets the money to continue the investigations and keep the fight going. His steadfast resolve in the face of furious attack has made him one of my dearest friends and a man I deeply admire. What wonders he has accomplished through his steady determination!
2) Texas Right-to-Life. I often say that if TRTL was half as good as it is, it would be the TWO most effective Right-to-Life organizations in the country. Jim and Elizabeth Graham, the president and vice-president have become my dear friends and close confidantes. There is no challenge too great or daunting for them when respect for life is in the balance. They cannot be intimidated, though many have tried.
3) The Fulton Sheen Institute. This one, led by Dr. Peter Howard, does not solicit donations, but makes arrangements for presentations on Fulton Sheen’s life as well as organizing retreats, pilgrimages and Parish missions. Dr. Howard also wrote one of the finest pieces on Our Lady of Guadalupe I have ever seen. We were speakers at a retreat together in the Diocese of Peoria in Illinois a few years ago.
4) The evangelization of China. This is an ongoing project that our own Beckita Hesse and Fr. John Wang hope to put into hyper-drive in the next year. I do not have an online link for donations, but you can make a check out to: Diocese of Helena, POF-China, then send it to: Fr. John B. Wang, 425 Ford St., Missoula, Montana 59801
They say that charity begins at home. Well, these are some of my homies. I hope they become yours, too.