A federal judge has sanctioned two California lawyers for their roles in posting secretly recorded videos of abortion providers that had been barred from public release by injunction.
U.S. District Judge William Orrick III of the Northern District of California on Thursday ordered Steve Cooley, the former Los Angeles County district attorney, and Brentford Ferreira to pay part of a $195,359 civil-sanction fine. The lawyers are jointly liable with David Daleiden, the anti-abortion activist who covertly filmed two National Abortion Federation conferences, and his advocacy organization, the Center for Medical Progress.
Orrick in July found the attorneys, Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress in civil contempt for violating a preliminary injunction that prohibited them from making public any footage from the National Abortion Federation gatherings or disclosing the names of any of the organization’s members.
Cooley and Ferreira, who are representing Daleiden in a state criminal case, said they temporarily posted the videos to find women who had been “harmed” by the recorded medical professionals, according to media accounts. Daleiden alleges the video shows illicit marketing of fetal tissue. The National Abortion Federation said the videos were edited in a deceptive way.
Orrick on Thursday ordered the attorneys to pay for the National Abortion Federation’s security costs as well as the organization’s bill for legal services provided by a Morrison & Foerster team.
“In setting this amount, I have considered the magnitude of ‘the harm threatened by continued contumacy, and the probable effectiveness of any suggested sanction in bringing about the result desired,’” Orrick wrote.
Cooley and Ferreira have appealed the civil contempt order.
The judge scaled back the amount of legal fees—$280,482—sought by the National Abortion Federation’s Morrison & Foerster team, led by partners Derek Foran in San Francisco and Marc Hearron in Washington. NAF had sought an hourly rate of $910 for Foran and $885 for Hearron. Orrick awarded reimbursement rates of $503-an-hour for each attorney’s services. Six Morrison & Foerster associates sought fees ranging from $540 an hour to $785, according to a declaration Foran filed.
“NAF’s counsel have not justified their requested rates in reference to fee awards in other cases or with affidavits demonstrating that the requested rates are reasonable for similarly situated attorneys in similar practice areas,” Orrick wrote.
Foran, a litigation partner, and Hearron, who specializes in appellate litigation, were not immediately reached for comment Thursday afternoon.
“Obviously any lowering of the amount is appreciated except for the fact that the injunction is still in place and has a chilling effect on criminal defense counsel,” said Los Angeles attorney Matthew Geragos, who is representing Cooley and Ferreira.