Six weeks of testimony have ended and a San Francisco jury is now in its second day of deliberations in the case involving the undercover journalists, David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt. Daleiden and Merritt with the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) secretly recorded and exposed Planned Parenthood operatives discussing, even bragging about, how to maximize the sale of aborted baby body parts.
The lawsuit was brought by Planned Parenthood and seven of its affiliate organizations.
But before Judge William Orrick gave the case to the jury for deliberations, the judge decided in advance that the defendants were guilty of trespass at the various facilities where they recorded their conversations with Planned Parenthood doctors and staff.
The judge told the jury, "I have already determined that these defendants trespassed at each of these locations. Because I determined that these defendants trespassed, the law assumes that Planned Parenthood has been harmed and is entitled to an award of nominal damages such as one dollar for each trespass," according to The Daily Wire. The judge went on to say that the jury must accept his ruling and only decide if Planned Parenthood suffered damage from the trespass and how much in damages it should be awarded.
This isn't the first time lawyers for Daleiden and Merritt have felt this judge was inherently biased against the defendants.
Back in 2017 when the lawsuit against them was in its earliest stages, the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF) asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to force Orrick to recuse himself from Daleiden and Merritt's case, saying that the judge had "an ongoing and longstanding professional relationship with Planned Parenthood."
According to the FCDF, Judge Orrick is a founder of the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center (GSFRC), a San Francisco-based organization that houses a Planned Parenthood facility within its complex. The Planned Parenthood facility became part of this Resource Center while Orrick served as the organization's secretary and counsel. Orrick's wife not only expressed hostility to the Center for Medical Progress on social media, but the FCDF argued, she used her husband's image to endorse inflammatory public statements about the disputed facts of this case.
Orrick also told the jury it couldn't look at this as a First Amendment case, where freedom of speech and the press could be considered as a defense.
"Unfortunately, we couldn't get Judge Orrick to back off from his insistence that the jury be instructed that the First Amendment … does not state any kind of defense to the charges in this case," Thomas Brejcha, founder of the Thomas More Society, told LifeSiteNews.
"Which, frankly, we think is a terrible misreading of our fundamental constitutional laws about free speech," he added.
But in closing arguments, Peter Breen, senior counsel for the Thomas More Society, argued that the case was all about freedom of the press and exposing wrong-doing that could not have been revealed any other way.
"This is a case of undercover journalism. And we, the people, need that information. You need that information. You may not like seeing that information. It may be difficult or whatever. But we don't want to stop the flow of information."
The secretly recorded conversations happened in public places and took place in 2014 and 2015. CBN News previously reported that these shocking undercover videos reveal various abortion doctors and staff discussing abortion techniques and how best to preserve fetal organs in order to get the best price when sold for research.
On one audio clip, an abortion consultant is heard saying that abortionists will dilate the cervix to get an intact baby if they know a researcher wants a whole body. A video shows a former medical director for Planned Parenthood in Los Angeles flippantly talking about prices of fetal remains while sipping wine and joking about wanting a "Lamborghini." She also spoke about adjusting the abortion procedure technique to make it less "crunchy," therefore keeping baby body parts better intact, according to the Daily Wire. A long-time abortionist testified at trial that it is almost certain that some of the abortionists featured in the undercover videos deliberately altered abortion procedures in a way that led to the birth of living babies with beating hearts. This would help preserve intact organs, but also could put women at greater risk.
Breen argued that at no time in the trial did Planned Parenthood deny the accuracy of these tapes, according to Breen's closing transcript.
"Now, Planned Parenthood could have tried to dispute this issue, but when push came to shove here at trial, a place where you need hard evidence to back up your claims, they had nothing. This is what so outraged the public. The true words of Planned Parenthood's top abortion doctors and other personnel," he told the jury.
Daleiden also testified that as he researched the issue prior to going undercover, it was an exposé of trafficking in baby body parts broadcast by ABC News' 20/20 in 2000 that helped inspire him to go undercover himself and see if such criminal activity was still going on.
According to the Center for Medical Progress' own trial summary, Daleiden's co-counsel, Charles LiMandri of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, as he continued closing arguments, played a clip from the 20/20 episode of then-Planned Parenthood president Gloria Feldt stating that anyone breaking the law by selling aborted baby body parts must be investigated and prosecuted. LiMandri asked the jury to take Feldt at her word.
Peter Breen, as he begins his closing arguments, summarizes what he believes this trial is all about:
"This case is about the steps it took for private citizen investigators to cut through a curtain of silence and concealment. They didn't do it for profit or for personal gain. They did it for the paramount public purpose of letting Americans know and law enforcers investigate whether and to what extent our laws may have been violated. And they are not just any laws, but these are laws relating to homicide against born human beings. Laws against the selling of body parts and organs of aborted human fetuses. And the laws against changing medical procedures without knowledge and consent to obtain more valuable fetal parts. And after six weeks of trial, the lawyers for Planned Parenthood just conceded why they are suing here today. In the words of Melvin Galloway (Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America), "the brand was damaged."
They wanted to protect the brand. But what is it that hurt the brand? The very words spoken by Planned Parenthood personnel on those videos is what hurt the brand."