Judge Fines Planned Parenthood Undercover Video Recorder $200,000 for Contempt

David Daleiden / Getty Images

The man behind undercover videos at Planned Parenthood clinics was fined Thursday for releasing some of them against a judge's order.

U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick of the Northern District of California fined David Daleiden and his lawyers $200,000 for releasing online footage Orrick had barred from release, the Associatd Press reports. Daleiden, the founder and lead investigator of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), made headlines for recording secret videos of Planned Parenthood employees discussing fetal tissue sales.

Planned Parenthood denies it is guilty of profiting from fetal tissue sale, and has attempted to discredit Daleiden's videos as being illegally recorded and deceptively edited. A criminal case over whether CMP illegally invaded the privacy of Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation is ongoing. But Thursday's ruling was a civil one, based on Orrick's judgment that Daleiden and his counsel were guilty of contempt.

Orrick found Daleiden and his attorneys Steve Cooley and Brentford Ferreira to be "in contempt for willfully violating the clear commands" of his preliminary injunction. CMP denied that they released videos that were not already part of the public record.

"The blog was nothing more than a memorialization of public filings in the history of the case," Cooley said at the time.

Orrick, however, did not think that releasing the videos was in line with his preliminary injunction. An attorney for Cooley and Ferreira said he is appealing the ruling, and Daleiden said it constitutes an attack on his rights to defend himself.

Daleiden and CMP have petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States to lift the gag order on these videos imposed by California courts. They argue in their petition that the lower court's decision constitutes an unconstitutional act of "prior restraint."

"The nondisclosure provisions could not reasonably be construed to extend to the informal conversations Daleiden had with other conference attendees and that a preliminary injunction would violate the First Amendment's prohibition on prior restraints," the petition reads. "The preliminary injunction in this case serves precisely the impermissible goal of protecting institutional forces against factual revelations that threaten their political and public standing."

Planned Parenthood holds that Daleiden is the guilty party for "threatening the safety" of its staff and patients through the videos.

"The illegally obtained and maliciously edited video smear campaign launched by anti-abortion operatives threatened the safety and health of our patients and staff," said Crystal Strait, president of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California.