BREAKING: Several more charges dropped during July 28 hearing in Planned Parenthood case

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In a longstanding, controversial case regarding The People of the State of California vs. David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, two more of the 10 charges against Sandra Merritt, and one charge out of the 10 against David Daleiden were dropped Tuesday, July 28.

The case, in which Daleiden and Merritt went undercover to record conversations without consent that argued Planned Parenthood was, in fact, involved in the market for selling fetal body parts and changing abortion procedures for the purpose of obtaining better body parts during abortions, has garnered opinions from both sides of the issues surrounding the possible claim that Planned Parenthood was selling these tissues and organs for financial gain. 

Lawyer Nicolai Cocis of the Law Office of Nicolai Cocis, or Cocis Law in Murrieta has been one of the lawyers for Sandra Merritt in the criminal case, alongside Harry Mihet from Liberty Counsel in Florida. 

“We started out with 15 felony counts,” Mihet said. “We had a preliminary hearing and six of those accounts were dismissed September of last year, 2019.” 

Having nine counts remaining, Mihet added that the Attorney General attempted to add a 10th count after that.

“We filed what’s called a (California Penal Code) section 995 motion to dismiss asking another judge to review the findings of the preliminary hearing and that motion was heard today,” Mihet said. 

“We can report that of the remaining 10 counts, currently two of them have been dismissed to Sandra, our client, leaving eight that survived and then only one of them was dismissed to David Daleiden.”

The 10th count that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra was trying to add was for a violation of California Penal Code 483.5, according to Mihet. “It prohibits the manufacture, transport or furnishing of a deceptive identification document; there’s a safe harbor provision in the statute that says, the identification document has a disclaimer on it which is “not a government document.”

“If a license for whatever the document issued has that disclaimer on it then it doesn’t violate the statute,” Mihet added. 

At the preliminary hearing, the Attorney General introduced into evidence four different licenses that he claimed were used by Daleiden and one other investigator who is not prosecuted, according to Mihet. 

“The attorney general did not introduce into evidence any license that was alleged to have been used by Sandra,” Mihet said. “Not only that, the Attorney General did not ask Daleiden who testified at the preliminary hearing; did not ask him whether or not the ID that was alleged to have been used by Susan (known as Sandra) whether it contained that government disclaimer.”

The Attorney General did introduce into evidence a document that they claimed Daleiden used. “That document did not have that disclaimer, so on that basis, the court found there was not sufficient evidence to maintain that charge against Sandra, but there is for now at least sufficient evidence to maintain the charge against Daleiden.”

The other issue, according to Mihet, is the problem of how late the charges are.

“The statute of limitations is three years and the attorney general waited well over four years to try to bring this new claim,” Mihet said, adding that there may be hope for Daleiden on that. 

“That statute of limitations defect wasn’t addressed by the court today, that’s going to be addressed on Aug. 10 by a different judge,” Mihet said.

The remaining counts are in regards to illegal recording counts under Penal Code section 632 for seven different recordings involving seven different alleged victims, as the attorney general addresses them.

“These are people who admitted on tape that they were quite willing to alter abortion procedure to obtain intact fetuses or were willing to process the sale of aborted fetal body parts which is against federal law,” Mihet said. “They’re called alleged victims because they were recorded without their consent.”

Mihet and Cocis don’t believe there are merits to any of the charges. 

“The statute prohibits recording without consent but only of confidential communication,” Mihet said. The recordings administered were taped in public places, according to Mihet, with people within earshot of the conversations that took place.

“There was repeated testimony that we have obtained from these so-called victims where they acknowledge that, yes, there were others around as close as 3 to 5 feet from them when these conversations were taking place, and yes, they knew that those other people could overhear the conversation,” Mihet said. 

“They admitted they were not trying to take measures to whisper or to change the subject when others were coming-they made no efforts to try to keep others from overhearing and so from a statutory standpoint it’s quite clear that these were not confidential communications as that term is defined in the statute,” he added.

“There is no merit whatsoever to these charges, they were brought only because the target of the investigation is Planned Parenthood who is politically connected to the attorney general,” Mihet said. “They don’t have any legal merit, they don’t have any basis in fact, we believe ultimately that they will all be dismissed.”

The other defense is based on the same statute, in a different section, California Penal Code 633.5, which provides an exemption from prosecution for someone who reasonably believes that the recording is likely to yield evidence of a violent felony against the person.

“There is a lot of evidence that David and Sandra collected the recording, and this evidence was that Planned Parenthood and others in this dirty business were changing abortion procedures without the consent of the pregnant mothers,” Mihet said. 

“As a result of changing these procedures, they would sometimes have fetuses of babies that were born alive, hearts still beating in their chest, which they would then procure body parts from, and that’s murder,” he added.

The “tissue” that Planned Parenthood refers to is human baby body parts, according to Mihet. 

“They would be able to obtain intact body parts which would have greater value in the markets for baby body parts, and so they would change the position of the baby being aborted in the mother’s womb prior to the abortion,” Mihet said.

“They would do all kinds of other things, crush the baby, above and below the heart for example to preserve the heart,” he said.

Regardless of evidence on either side, the investigation is ongoing.

The ability to get two of the charges against Merritt and one removed from Daleiden has Mihet and Cocis hopeful.

“We do still have work ahead of us, and so the next step is to file an appeal to the Court of Appeal asking it to review the remaining eight counts as to Sandra, and hopefully to dismiss all of them,” Mehit said. “None of them have merit.” 

This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

Lexington Howe can be reached by email at lhowe@reedermedia.com.