Merritt Criminal Hearing To Dismiss Case This Friday

Nov 15, 2023

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The motion to dismiss hearing will be held this Friday, November 17, 2023, in Superior Court of San Francisco County, regarding the criminal case of Sandra Merritt brought against her by former California Attorney General Xavier Becerra for her undercover journalism work which exposed Planned Parenthood’s trade in baby body parts. The hearing begins at 9 a.m. PT.

Liberty Counsel is defending Merritt and has asked the Court to dismiss all eight felony charges (originally 15) against her on the grounds that California’s recording law, Penal Code section 632(a), is a content-based speech restriction that violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled in Project Veritas v. Schmidt that Oregon’s ban on surreptitious recordings of conversations is a content-based restriction that violates the First Amendment right to free speech and is invalid. The three-judge panel reversed the district court’s dismissal of a complaint challenging, as an unconstitutional restriction of protected speech, Section 165.540(1)(c) of the Oregon Revised Code, which generally prohibits unannounced recordings of conversations, subject to several exceptions. 

California’s current recording law is substantially similar to Oregon’s law that was struck down. Like the Oregon law, California’s law and its exceptions “draw a distinction between topics” and whether the recorded conversation is a “confidential communication.” Since Penal Code section 632(a) is nearly identical to Oregon’s unconstitutional statute, and similarly unconstitutional, it should suffer the same fate and Merritt’s case should be dismissed. 

Merritt and David Daleiden, founder of Center for Medical Progress, released videos in 2015 following a 30-month undercover investigation exposing Planned Parenthood and other organ procurement companies regarding aborted baby body parts. The videos showed certain Planned Parenthood affiliated executives haggling over prices of aborted baby body parts and discussing how they change abortion procedures to obtain more intact organs. In October 2022, a three-member panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled against Merritt and Daleiden regarding numerous errors of the trial court, including the award to Planned Parenthood of “damages” involving legally recorded conversations without allowing the jury to hear those conversations, and without requiring Planned Parenthood to prove that the conversations recorded in public places were “confidential.”

Judge Christopher Hite previously dismissed all but eight of the original 15 felony charges as he made factual findings that the recorded conversations were not confidential. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The Superior Court of San Francisco County should dismiss the eight criminal charges against Sandra Merritt for her undercover work in exposing Planned Parenthood’s crimes. The recent decision from the Ninth Circuit declaring that Oregon’s recording law is unconstitutional justifies the Superior Court of San Francisco County reversing the previous unconstitutional judgment against Sandra regarding California’s recording law.” 

Liberty Counsel provides broadcast quality TV interviews via Hi-Def Skype and LTN at no cost.

 





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