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CMP founder files motion to quash indictment

On Thursday, attorneys representing the director of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), an antiabortion-rights group that produced misleading videos targeting Planned Parenthood, filed a motion with a Harris County judge to quash the charges filed against him, The Hill reports (Neidig, The Hill, 4/14).

Background

Last summer, CMP began releasing a series of misleading videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal tissue donation. Planned Parenthood has stated that the videos were heavily edited and that the filmed officials did not conduct any illegal activities. Further, a report by Fusion GPS, a research and corporate intelligence firm, found that the videos were manipulated.

Following the release of the videos, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) called for the Harris County district attorney to launch a criminal investigation into Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. The Harris County grand jury tasked with investigating Planned Parenthood cleared the organization of any wrongdoing and instead indicted CMP Director David Daleiden and employee Sandra Merritt.

Both Daleiden and Merritt were indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a government record. In addition, Daleiden was indicted on a misdemeanor charge related to buying fetal tissue. The charge of tampering with a governmental record carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, while the misdemeanor charge carries a maximum punishment of one year in jail.

In February, Harris County prosecutors offered Daleiden and Merrit probation. Under the offer, both individuals could avoid imprisonment and a criminal record (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/5). According to the Texas Tribune, Daleiden has rejected the offer. A spokesperson with the Harris County District Attorney's office said Merrit had not yet accepted the offer (Ura, Texas Tribune, 4/14).

Latest developments

In motions filed Thursday, Daleiden's attorneys call on the Harris County court to dismiss the indictments against Daleiden, alleging that the grand jury that indicted him was not empaneled correctly (Houston Chronicle, 4/14).

According to the Tribune, the motions claim that the grand jury exceeded its authority in indicting Daleiden (Texas Tribune, 4/14). Daleiden's attorneys also claim that the jury violated his due process rights. Specifically, they alleged that prosecutors worked improperly with Planned Parenthood by sharing details of the grand jury investigation with "unauthorized persons" (The Hill, 4/14).