Let’s call this what it is — belated recognition that Harris County prosecutors abused their power in indicting pro-life activists for undercover investigative journalism targeting a favored political power. One month after a Houston judge dismissed a misdemeanor indictment for being too flawed to pursue, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office was supposed to defend felony indictments this morning in court. Instead, prosecutors folded:
The Harris County District Attorney’s office on Tuesday dismissed all charges against anti-abortion activists who secretly videotaped Planned Parenthood officials in Houston.
David Robert Daleiden and Sandra Merritt were charged with tampering with a governmental record, for using a fake identification to gain access to the facility. In a surprise move before a hearing on the legitimacy of the indictment, prosecutors dismissed the charges.
Deleiden and his attorneys claimed victory for the anti-abortion movement, saying they were satisfied with the decision.
What. A. Shock. The DA couldn’t even make the argument that the indictment was legitimate, at least not with a straight face. Instead of dragging this out another month, Harris County prosecutors should have dropped all charges last month when the judge tossed out the misdemeanors. Instead, they forced Daleiden and Merritt to deal with a clearly political indictment intended to embarrass and silence them, rather than speak out about what their investigation discovered.
As LifeNews reminds us, that became clear in the course of fighting the indictment:
Last month, LifeNews chronicled the explosive new evidence showing the Houston district attorney behind the bogus charges against pro-life advocate David Daleiden colluded with attorneys for Planned Parenthood.
According to attorney for Daleiden, District Attorney Devon Anderson shared confidential information with the abortion business, which she was supposed to be investigating for running afoul of state laws prohibiting the purchase or sale of body parts form aborted babies.
Yet, in recent court filings by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast’s attorney Josh Schaffer admitted in a sworn declaration that the Harris County DA’s office shared evidence with Planned Parenthood. That occurred even after the Texas Attorney General’s office had forbidden Anderson’s office from doing so.
The declaration was included as part of the DA office’s response to David Daleiden’s motion to quash the indictment against him, alleging prosecutorial misconduct.
It’s clear enough that Harris County’s prosecutors were running interference for Planned Parenthood. Perhaps the state of Texas should look into the conduct of these prosecutors, who took a regular investigative-journalism technique and attempted to criminalize it. This looks like a clear abuse of power — certainly more clear than the supposed felonies committed by CMP.
Daleiden’s attorney, Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society, calls this a “huge win” for free speech in a statement to the media, including Hot Air:
“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.”
Indeed. But Planned Parenthood didn’t do all of the wrong here.