A San Francisco federal judge is not biased against antiabortion activists who secretly recorded abortion providers at national meetings and will be allowed to remain on the case he has been on for nearly two years, another federal judge has ruled.
David Daleiden and his organization, the Center for Medical Progress, were seeking to remove U.S. District Judge William Orrick III from a case he has handled since it was filed in July 2015. They claimed the judge had veered from neutrality with his past work for a charity that shared space with a Planned Parenthood clinic, and with his wife’s Facebook comments “liking” Planned Parenthood.
Their disqualification request was assigned, by random selection, to another judge on the court, James Donato, who ruled Monday that Orrick had shown no sign of bias.
Daleiden and his colleagues, posing as fetal researchers, entered the annual meetings of the National Abortion Federation in San Francisco in 2014 and in Baltimore in 2015 and made clandestine videos of conversations with some of the participants, which they posted online.
They said they had been acting as investigative journalists. But Orrick ruled in February 2016 that they had obtained the information by fraud and barred any public release of the recordings, including those they had already posted. A federal appeals court upheld his ruling this March.
The activists moved to disqualify Orrick a week before a hearing he had scheduled on whether to hold Daleiden and some of his lawyers in contempt of court.
The lawyers had posted YouTube links to many of the same recordings after obtaining them as evidence in a criminal case filed by state Attorney General Xavier Becerra against Daleiden and his employee, Sandra Merritt. Becerra accused them of violating a state law that requires consent to record another person’s private conversations.
In accusing Orrick of bias, Daleiden and his organization cited his past work for the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center, which aids immigrants. Orrick, appointed to the bench by President Barack Obama in 2013, was a San Francisco attorney and a member of the charity group’s board in 2001 when the group agreed to house a Planned Parenthood clinic on its San Francisco property.
The ruling returned the case to Orrick, who rescheduled the contempt-of-court hearing for Daleiden and his lawyers to July 11.
Full story at SF Gate.