Is It Illegal to Film Something Illegal?

By Hannah Grayson

The defendant and his associates, in an effort to expose what they believed to be an illegal practice, had been recording conversations of what they thought was the selling of fetal body parts just after an abortion.

In Department 10 on Friday morning, a defendant provided his own testimony at his preliminary hearing in front of Judge Hite. Over the course of the preliminary testimony, the defendant was questioned by his counsel on various media and research that had led him to believe that there was illegality.

It began, the defendant testified, in 2010 with an old broadcast of the show 20/20 from 2000 that tells the story of a whistleblower from a Planned Parenthood facility. The defendant felt empowered to do a great amount of his own research over the last few years. The defendant testified he built up a fake undercover “fetal procurement company” in an effort to network within the industry to find evidence of crimes.

Videos and audio of some of these conversations were presented to the court. In many of these conversations, both recalled by the defendant and played in court, the person being recorded is talking of what the defendant believes to be the common practices within this network. He also recalls many doctors revealing to him that they performed abortions very late in the gestation period. The conversations with these doctors and technicians are laid out in order to show the defendant’s reason to believe that what he heard was illegal.

But two clips from the same interview were thrown out by the judge as appearing to be edited and not the originals. Furthermore, the clips were the only ones shown in which the subject knew they were being recorded.

The evidence presented in this preliminary hearing was to show the defendant was not aware of his crimes and was led to believe that what he was doing was legal; he perceived a threat from the “fetal procurement industry.” He had even consulted with several lawyers and, the defendant testified, they said what he was doing was legal.

This testimony by the defendant was not concluded as the court session ended. His testimony will conclude on Monday, September 16 at 9:00am in Department 10.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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