Contact: Liberty Counsel, 407-875-1776, Media@LC.org; Press Kit
SAN FRANCISCO, June 22, 2017 /Christian Newswire/ -- Yesterday, the San Francisco Superior Court dismissed criminal counts 1-14 against Sandra "Susan" Merritt. The court ruled that counts 1-14 were legally insufficient. The state has the opportunity to amend if it can plead a more legally sufficient and specific complaint. The California's Attorney General filed 15 criminal counts against Merritt, with counts 1-14 for each of the alleged interviews and count 15 for an alleged conspiracy. "This is a huge victory to have 14 criminal counts dismissed," said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. "We will now turn our attention to dismissing the final count. Sandra Merritt did nothing wrong. The complaint by the California Attorney General is unprecedented and frankly will threaten every journalist who provides valuable information to the public. This final count will also fall," said Staver.
Photo: Horatio Mihet with Sandra Merritt
The Attorney General has been an advocate for Planned Parenthood, and the abortion giant has supported his political campaigns. Merritt was one of the two journalists who exposed Planned Parenthood's unethical and potentially illegal profiteering from the sale of aborted baby body parts.
Liberty Counsel argued that the criminal complaint for illegally recording supposedly "private" conversations (in restaurants, hotel lobbies and other public places) - the first ever filed against undercover journalists - was legally deficient for numerous reasons, not the least of which was the Attorney General's decision to prosecute Merritt in secret proceedings, without identifying even the names of her accusers or purported "victims." The complaint did not provide Merritt with the minimum notice required by the Constitution and California law as to what she supposedly did wrong, so that she can mount a proper and vigorous defense. The complaint was also vague and full of inconsistencies.
The Attorney General, who has received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Planned Parenthood, claims that Merritt and David Daleiden filmed 14 people without permission between October 2013 and July 2015 in Los Angeles, San Francisco and the county of El Dorado. One felony count was filed for each person filmed. The 15th charge was for "criminal conspiracy" to invade "privacy." However, the videos produced by Merritt and Daleiden exposed unethical and potentially illegal conduct by Planned Parenthood, and Planned Parenthood itself has admitted, under oath, that the recorded conversations took place in "non-confidential" and public venues.
"We asked the San Francisco Superior Court to dismiss these outrageous and baseless charges against Sandra Merritt, and the court agreed to dismiss 14 of the 15 counts" said Horatio Mihet, Liberty Counsel's Vice President of Legal Affairs and Chief Litigation Counsel, who appeared with Sandra in court. "Sandra did not break any law and the criminal complaint against her is legally deficient, vague and full of inconsistencies. No other citizen journalist or organization has ever been charged with a crime for undercover recordings," said Mihet.
Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.