Attorney: Indictment of Center for Medical Progress Videographers ‘Clearly Political and Meritless’

By Barbara Hollingsworth | January 28, 2016 | 12:46pm EST
Charles LiMandri, president and chief counsel of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund. (FCDF)

(CNSNews.com) – An attorney who represents David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) called their indictment by a Harris County, Texas grand jury “clearly political and meritless,” and predicted that the charges against them would be dropped.

“We feel very strongly that the indictment will be dismissed,” attorney Charles LiMandri, who represents Daleiden and Merritt in the first case filed against CMP by StemExpress in Los Angeles, told CNSNews.com.

Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson announced the indictment on Monday after a grand jury convened to investigate a Houston Planned Parenthood clinic’s alleged sale of aborted baby parts - which CMP exposed in a “sting” video - cleared the abortion provider and indicted the undercover videographers on felony charges instead.

"As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us," Anderson said in a statement. “All the evidence uncovered in the course of this investigation was presented to the grand jury. I respect their decision on this difficult case."

CMP responded that it “uses the same undercover techniques that investigative journalists have used for decades in exercising our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and of the press, and follows all applicable laws.”

And LiMandri, who is president and chief counsel of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, pointed out that the Texas statute prohibiting the use of false IDs under which the duo was indicted includes a few notable exceptions.

“The indictment says that they used a California government-issued ID with someone else’s name to access Planned Parenthood facilities and get members of Planned Parenthood to speak with them. But this is the kind of thing undercover journalists do to get the information they need. You can’t go into a den of thieves wearing a cop’s uniform,” he told CNSNews.com.

Screen shot from a video by the Center for Medical Progess taken at a Houston-area Planned Parenthood clinic. (CMP)

“The statute under which they were indicted allows for exceptions if the fake government ID is not intended to be used for a criminal purpose, such as getting access to secret government files or stealing Social Security checks,” he continued.

LiMandri pointed out that subsection (f) of Section 37.10 of the Texas Penal Code states: “It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (a)(1), (a)(2), or (a)(5) that the false entry or false information could have no effect on the government’s purpose for requiring the governmental record.”

The indictment also charges Daleiden with a misdemeanor for allegedly violating another law prohibiting the sale and purchase of human organs.

“This is a criminal charge, so intent is part and parcel. David Daleiden never took possession of aborted baby parts and he certainly had no intention to pay money for them,” LiMandri said. “It’s insane.”

“There’s no question in my mind that all this legal maneuvering against David and Sandra’s work at CMP is intended to set an example and let others know that the abortion industry will do everything and anything to  keep its profits intact,” he told CNSNews.com.

“Planned Parenthood waited a while to see if the public outcry died down,” he added. “I don’t think they thought things through. Maybe they just wanted to scare David and Sandra. But despite their best efforts to divert attention from their illegal activity, this strategy is going to backfire.

 “I am sure that their criminal attorney in Texas will move to dismiss this meritless indictment before the government is embarrassed by having a judge or jury completely exonerate my clients,” LiMandri said, adding that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s announcement that the statewide investigation of PP would continue despite the indictment “will not go unnoticed by the court.

“I am very confident that they will be fully exonerated,” he predicted.

Related: David Daleiden: Planned Parenthood Claim That Videos Were Edited Is an 'Attempt to Distract'

Related: Animal Rights Ruling Cited to Defend Daleiden, CMP From Nat'l. Abortion Federation Lawsuit

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