According to The Thomas More Society, which is part of the legal team representing Daleiden, a petition was filed with the Ninth Circuit in December of 2017 asking that the court order William Orrick, a San Francisco federal judge, to step down from presiding over two lawsuits because of an apparent conflict of interest and other facts creating the appearance of bias.
Judge Orrick spent 23 years working with and for the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center which runs a family planning clinic in partnership with Planned Parenthood, the same organization whose attorneys are suing Daleiden for releasing videos that revealed abortion industry executives bartering over body parts obtained from aborted babies.
Instead of tossing out the petition, a panel of judges of the Ninth Circuit decided that the questions raised by Daleiden’s team about Judge Orrick “warrant an answer.” The panel ordered the abortion groups suing Daleiden in Orrick’s courtroom – which include Planned Parenthood Federation of America and many of its California based affiliates as well as the National Abortion Federation – to file an answer within 14 days.
In their answers, the lawyers were ordered to address, in particular, Judge Orrick’s relationship with Good Samaritan Family Resource Center.”
The tersely worded order also directed Orrick to “address the petition if [he] so desires.”
Daleiden's lawyers will then have five days to respond to those answers.
The order was served not only on Judge Orrick, but also on District Judge James Donato, to whom Judge Orrick had referred Daleiden’s initial motions for disqualification and who denied both of them.
Peter Breen, Thomas More Society Special Counsel, explained, “We welcome this ruling by the 9th Circuit panel as we were asking the court to order Judge Orrick to do what he should have done preemptively on his own…that is, recuse himself and step aside from presiding over a case in which he has had a direct, personal, and decades-long relationship with an organization whose property and employees were alleged . . . to be endangered by our client’s citizen journalism, namely, the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center (GSFRC), of which he was a founder and longtime officer and director, and which houses one of the plaintiff PPFA affiliate’s facilities. “
When both sides in the case submit their responses, the case will be referred to the next available motions panel.
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NOTE: This article was updated to correct a reference to The Thomas More Society which was listed as the Thomas More Law Society in error.