Legal Ethics

Federal judge holds lawyers in contempt for posting links to banned videos by anti-abortion group

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A federal judge in California said on Tuesday he is holding two lawyers in civil contempt for posting links to undercover videos recorded by an anti-abortion group.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick said he would hold in contempt lawyers Steve Cooley and Brentford Ferreira, the Associated Press and Courthouse News Service report.

Cooley and Ferreira posted links on their website to videos recorded by the Center for Medical Progress during meetings of the National Abortion Federation. Orrick said there was “no possible excuse” for posting the links, according to the AP story. The lawyers “do not get to decide whether they can violate the preliminary injunction,” he said.

Orrick had banned release of the secretly recorded videos in a civil suit by the National Abortion Federation. Orrick said officials with the Center for Medical Progress had violated confidentiality agreements they signed to gain access to the NAF meetings. The center officials had also used false identification and set up a phony corporation to get into the NAF meetings, Orrick previously found.

Cooley and Ferreira represent the director of the Center for Medical Progress in a separate criminal case that contends he violated state law by recording people without their permission.

Matthew Geragos, who is representing Cooley and Ferreira, had argued the lawyers didn’t think they were bound by the injunction in the civil case, and they posted the video links to find witnesses who could support the defense of their client, David Daleiden. Orrick is also considering whether to hold Daleiden in contempt.

Geragos asked Orrick to stay his ruling for 30 days to allow for the filing of an appeal, according the Courthouse News Service coverage. Orrick said he wasn’t inclined to grant the request, but he would consider it.

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