Greg Lipper Quoted in Coverage of California Eavesdropping Prosecution

Partner Greg Lipper is quoted by Courthouse News Service in an article on the invasion-of-privacy prosecutions against two anti-abortion activists who secretly recorded Planned Parenthood staff at conferences and restaurants and then selectively edited the recordings to suggest that Planned Parenthood was trying to sell fetal tissue. The defendants, David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, are charged with multiple counts of felony invasion of privacy for recording the Planned Parenthood employees, in violation of California’s law requiring two-party consent before recording, after posing as employees of a company that buys fetal tissue. 

In the article, Greg addresses arguments that the First Amendment prohibits prosecuting these defendants for what they contend was legitimate undercover recording. Although the First Amendment would require two-party consent rules to yield in many public or semi-public settings, especially when the information recorded is newsworthy, many of the recordings at issue in this case likely do not implicate the defendants’ First Amendment rights. Greg observed, however, that when it comes to interpreting statutes regulating eavesdropping and invasion of privacy, “[c]oncerns about journalism may inform where the lines are, how broadly or narrowly the statutes are interpreted.”

Greg’s practice includes criminal defense, appellate and Supreme Court litigation, and First Amendment cases. Greg has significant experience representing journalists: While a lawyer at Covington & Burling, he represented the Newspaper Association of America in its effort to persuade Congress to enact a reporters-privilege law to protect confidential sources; performed pre-publication review of stories for local-news broadcasts across the country; and obtained asylum for an Eastern European journalist who was persecuted for her reporting.

Gregory Lipper