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Fifth Circuit Recognizes Legal Quagmire Created by District Court Gag Order Restricting Info from Being Shared with Law Enforcement, the Court, and the Public

Today (Wednesday, November 27, 2019), the Fifth Circuit ruled in the mandamus matter. A copy of their ruling may be read below. In response, Louisiana Solicitor General Liz Murrill issued the following statement:

"Justice Elrod’s concurrence makes important points regarding the general deficiencies with the vastly overbroad protective order put in place by the lower court. Additionally, she details Louisiana’s important state interest in public health and safety that is the basis for our desire to unseal Doe 2’s deposition.

This ruling shows what a procedural quagmire we find ourselves in. All we want to do is bring additional, relevant information to the attention of Law Enforcement and the Court. As Judge Elrod states, this is also information that is important to the public.

A Writ of Mandamus is a very narrow procedural remedy that is not available if a party has another remedy. The Fifth Circuit has indicated we could use another method of appeal, and that we may obtain the relief we seek if we pursue that remedy. Judge Haynes believes the U.S. Supreme Court may also act on a motion directed to it. We plan to take these actions."


UPDATE: Yesterday (November 25, 2019), the Fifth Circuit requested a response from the June Medical plaintiffs. The Circuit imposed a December 2nd deadline.

“The information, obtained in discovery, is relevant to the case before the Supreme Court and relevant to law enforcement and licensing authorities. We are hopeful the district court’s gag order will be lifted so that information which could affect women’s health and safety will no longer be hidden from law enforcement, the courts, and the public.” - Louisiana Solicitor General Liz Murrill


BREAKING: Department of Justice Attorneys Uncover Suspected Criminal Activity by Abortion Provider While Litigating Case Now Before SCOTUS; Provider Tries to Hide Evidence from SCOTUS and Prosecutors

Upholding their obligations and duties at the Louisiana DOJ to refer alleged criminal activity for investigation and prosecution, attorneys today filed a writ of mandamus with the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals requesting the unsealing of information so that a criminal referral can move forward against a staff member at a Shreveport abortion provider.

BATON ROUGE, LA - The attempt by June Medical Services (d/b/a Hope Medical Group) to hide evidence of criminal and professional misconduct discovered in pending litigation is leading attorneys for the Louisiana Department of Justice to ask a federal appeals court to intervene and permit reporting to appropriate authorities. The potential criminal conduct was discovered during the LADOJ's work defending State laws regulating abortion providers. A companion case regarding whether Hope Medical Group can adequately represent its patients is now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

"I am deeply concerned about the basic health and safety of Louisiana women. And Hope's continued efforts to hide this information from the Supreme Court and to block reporting to proper authorities casts serious doubt on Hope and its abortion providers' claims that it represents the interests of Louisiana women. As DOJ officers, if we learn of potentially criminal activity during litigation, we have a legal obligation to report it to criminal investigators and licensing authorities," said Louisiana Solicitor General Liz Murrill. "We also have a basic legal duty to protect the public from dangerous behavior when we learn of it. Shockingly, Hope Medical Group is refusing to unseal this evidence and permit us to carry out our legal duties."

The information that was uncovered would normally lead the LADOJ to make a criminal referral. However, the presiding federal judge has sealed a large number of important documents and information regarding the case. The LADOJ is asking the appeals court to vacate that order.

The district court litigation is captioned June Medical Services, LLC v. Gee, No. 16-444, and is one of three challenges filed by Hope Medical Group to abortion-related health and safety laws. The companion case in the Supreme Court is Gee v. June Medical Services, LLC, No. 18-1460, in which Louisiana Solicitor General Liz Murrill is defending a State law (RS 40:1061.10) that requires an abortion clinic's medical staff to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital consistent with laws involving doctor licensing and ambulatory surgery center licensing requirements.