Monday, November 18, 2019

Recusal Mythology in the Planned Parenthood Case

Greek Mythology
A San Francisco based federal jury reached a conclusion on Friday. The jury found that the anti-abortion group, Center for Medical Progress, and its president, David Daleiden and co-defendant Sandra Merritt, broke multiple state and federal laws when they secretly recorded and released videos of Planned Parenthood employees.

The jury did not buy any of the defendant's claims that they were investigating “violent felonies” because they believed that aborted infants were being born alive at Planned Parenthood clinics; that Planned Parenthood was illegally profiting from the sale of fetal tissue and that they were citizen journalists. CMP's videos created some 15 investigations in red and blue states. Every one of these cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing. CMP's videos were heavily edited.

With tripled punitive damages plus compensatory damages, Planned Parenthood is due $2.275 million. Daleiden was represented by the Thomas More Center. Merritt was represented by Liberty Counsel. Over a number of weeks, Mad Mat Staver wrote post after post about how his lawyers had done a stellar job.

The right wing echo chamber claims that Judge William Orrick III was obligated to recuse himself because of some (manufactured) conflict of interest. Staver has now written:
In 2017, Orrick was asked to recuse himself from the case as he has had “an ongoing and longstanding professional relationship with Planned Parenthood.” Judge Orrick is a founder of the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center, a San Francisco-based organization that houses a Planned Parenthood facility within its complex.
At The Federalist, Margot Cleveland writes:
Specifically, Judge Orrick was a founder and a longtime officer and director of the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center, an organization which, according to Daleiden, houses and participates in a joint venture with one of the named Planned Parenthood affiliates. Further, during the pendency of this case, as Breen pointed out in briefing, Orrick was “held out to the public as serving as an Emeritus Board Member of [the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center].”
I looked into this and this. Judge Orrick has not been associated with Good Samaritan for over 20 years. He resigned from the board in 1999. The organization was founded in 1894. It seems unlikely that Judge Orrick was alive at that time to have been a founder. That “joint venture” consists of Planned Parenthood occupying space in a large building that Good Samaritan owns. The clinic (Wohlford Family Clinic) is operated by Planned Parenthood of Northern California. Also occupying space in the building is a Protestant Episcopal church.

Judge Orrick has never had a financial interest in Good Samaritan. Claiming a conflict because a Planned Parenthood clinic operates out of the building is absurd.

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