Judge considers holding lawyers, anti-abortion leader in contempt for posted links to banned videos

Legal Ethics


A federal judge in California is considering a contempt sanction against the leader of an anti-abortion group and two of his lawyers for violating an injunction that barred release of undercover videos.

U.S. District Judge William J. Orrick scheduled a June 14 contempt hearing after the lawyers apparently posted YouTube links to some or all of those videos, The Associated Press reports. YouTube later removed a video showing Planned Parenthood officials making gruesome comments about abortion, the Washington Times reports.

Orrick had banned release of the videos, taken at meetings of the National Abortion Federation, in the group’s civil suit against the anti-abortion organization Center for Medical Progress. The lawyers whose website featured the links represented the center’s director, David Daleidin, in a separate criminal case, Orrick said in his May 25 order (PDF).

The lawyers are Steve Cooley and Brentford J. Ferreira of Steve Cooley & Associates. Daleidin is charged with 15 felonies in California stemming from the undercover videos, according to the Washington Times.

Orrick ordered Daleidin to require the lawyers to take down the links and to seek to remove the videos from YouTube.

Orrick had issued an injunction banning release of the videos in a February ruling that applied to Daleidin and the Center for Medical Progress. The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the injunction in a March decision (PDF).

Orrick said in the February ruling that representatives for the Center for Medical Progress had used false identification and set up a phony corporation to gain access to the NAF meetings. Surreptitious videos taken at the meetings violated confidentiality agreements the officials had signed to gain access to the meetings, Orrick said. Those confidentiality agreements provided for injunctive relief in the event of a breach.

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