***Correction*** The charges were dismissed, not dropped. The article has been updated.
(Houston, TX) This morning Texas District Court Judge Brock Thomas dismissed charges against Center for Medical Progress investigators David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt. The two investigators released numerous videos implicating Planned Parenthood in trafficking baby body parts for profit which is a violation of federal law, as well as, violating the federal partial-birth abortion act.
A grand jury that was convened to investigate charges brought up in the evidence indicted Daleiden and Merritt instead with a felony count of tampering with a government record for using false identification. They used this to access Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast which is based in Houston. Both faced up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
“The dismissal of the bogus, politically motivated charges against CMP project lead David Daleiden and investigator Sandra Merritt is a resounding vindication of the First Amendment rights of all citizen journalists, and also a clear warning to any of Planned Parenthood’s political cronies who would attack whistleblowers to protect Planned Parenthood from scrutiny. Planned Parenthood tried to collude with public officials to manipulate the legal process to their own benefit, and they failed. A year after the release of the undercover videos, the ongoing nationwide investigation of Planned Parenthood by the House Select Investigative Panel makes clear that Planned Parenthood is the guilty party in the harvesting and trafficking of baby body parts for profit,” Center for Medical Progress said in a statement on their website.
Liberty Counsel who represented Merritt released the following statement. “Realizing that its deficient indictment against Sandra “Susan” Merritt was bogus, the State of Texas has finally agreed to dismiss its baseless and frivolous charges. The decision today clears Sandra of any criminal wrongdoing. She no longer faces a jail sentence for exposing the truth about Planned Parenthood.”
“Today’s dismissal in Houston is a huge win for the First Amendment rights of undercover journalists. David Daleiden used standard undercover journalism techniques and followed all applicable laws in doing so. This meritless and retaliatory prosecution should never have been brought. Planned Parenthood did wrong here, not David Daleiden.” Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society who represented Daleiden said in a released statement.
Daleiden’s attorney in May submitted a motion to quash the indictment citing that Harris County District Attorney Sunni Mitchell conspired to share illegally share evidence with Planned Parenthood’s attorney.