Judge Christopher Hite of the San Francisco Superior Court denied the requests of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and his abortion allies to seal and shield from public viewing the video evidence to be shown in the courtroom during Sandra Merritt’s upcoming preliminary hearing, scheduled for April 22 to May 3, 2019. However, Judge Hite will seal the video evidence after the hearing. He will also allow Merritt’s accusers to continue to press their charges anonymously, under “Doe” pseudonyms.
Liberty Counsel is defending Merritt against 15 felony charges brought against her by the attorney general in connection with her undercover journalism work which exposed Planned Parenthood’s trade in baby body parts. In an unprecedented move, and at the request of abortion giants Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation, the attorney general sought to try Merritt in secret on these bogus charges, and to completely prevent the public from ever seeing the undercover videos which are alleged to have been illegally recorded.
Merritt and Merritt’s co-defendant, David Daleiden, the founder of the Center for Medical Progress, are the first undercover journalists to be criminally prosecuted in the history of the state. Liberty Counsel has shown that, to date, no other citizen journalist or journalism organization has ever been charged with a crime for undercover recordings made in the public interest. Together, the weight of the evidence demonstrates that the prosecution against Merritt is selective and discriminatory.
Last month, a U.S. Court of Appeals overturned a preliminary injunction so now the state of Texas can block Medicaid funding to abortion providers because of these undercover videos that demonstrated a severe lack of accepted medical and ethical standards. This ruling demonstrates the importance of Merritt’s journalistic work and how Planned Parenthood and others in the abortion industry are seeking to illegally profit from the bodies of dead babies.
Merritt has a constitutionally-guaranteed right to a public hearing. Merritt cannot be tried on the basis of secret evidence that only the government can see and probe. Liberty Counsel is pleased with the court’s decision to allow the public to see the video evidence at the preliminary hearing but is immediately appealing the other aspects of this decision which allows anonymous witnesses and prevents the public from seeing the video evidence after the proceedings.
“Attorney General Becerra’s attempt to shield from the public the very same videos upon which he bases his political prosecution of Sandra Merritt is truly astonishing,” said Horatio Mihet, Liberty Counsel’s Vice President of Legal Affairs and Chief Litigation Counsel. “The only reason the attorney general wants to have these videos sealed and kept from the public eye is because the videos themselves provide damning evidence that these allegedly confidential conversations were not in fact confidential. The videos themselves put the lie to the Attorney General’s case and reveal it for the fraud that it is,” said Mihet.
Liberty Counsel’s Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The attorney general’s brand of ‘justice’ based upon secret proceedings and secret evidence is not acceptable in a free nation governed by a Constitution which guarantees public proceedings for the accused,” said Staver.