AG Brnovich Leads 20-State Amicus Brief to Protect Law Enforcement Investigative Powers

PHOENIX – Attorney General Mark Brnovich led a coalition of 20 attorneys general in filing an Amicus Brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in opposition to the law enforcement gag order issued in the David Daleiden and Center for Medical Progress v. National Abortion Federation case.

Daleiden is asking the Supreme Court to remove a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals injunction barring him from releasing additional undercover footage from a National Abortion Federation convention because of a non-disclosure agreement that he signed to attend the conference.

The attorneys general argue the Ninth Circuit’s decision to block the release of certain undercover videos to law enforcement sets a dangerous precedent that could hamper law enforcement’s ability to effectively receive and investigate possible civil and criminal wrongdoing.

If the decision were to stand, everyday law enforcement investigations could be restricted if involved parties signed a contractual disclosure agreement, and this would empower wrongdoers to shroud their actions and communications. Ultimately, well-meaning whistleblowers attempting to report suspected criminal activity could be barred from communicating with law enforcement under the threat of court-enforced injunctions and costly legal proceedings.

The attorneys general warn the Ninth Circuit Court’s decision would adversely affect the early stages of investigations where law enforcement is best positioned to determine the truth and obtain evidence before the potential target might take evasive actions such as destroying records, hiding assets, and influencing witnesses.

As the chief legal officers for their respective states, attorneys general routinely receive confidential tips and complaints from whistleblowers, victims, and others. Attorneys General rely upon their subpoena power and requests for voluntary information to carry out criminal and civil investigations. By imposing a host of contract-based prior restraints on communications with investigators, the Ninth Circuit’s decision sets a precedent that will harm law enforcement’s ability to gather information that can be crucial to protecting the public.

The attorneys general further argue that the Ninth Circuit failed to adhere to established Supreme Court law regarding the existing standard for restricting communications and disclosure to law enforcement agencies.

Arizona was joined by Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin in their brief.

Full copy of the Amicus Brief.