updated 8/30/2007 11:29:37 AM ET 2007-08-30T15:29:37

Guests: Joan Walsh, Emily Heil, Stewart Schmidt

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Tonight: Leading Republicans trying to stem the damage from what Keith just recreated, Larry Craig in a public bathroom and a guilty plea.  The leadership has stripped him of his committee assignments, and Republican colleagues, including Senators John McCain and Norm Coleman, are demanding his resignation.  We look back at the political sex scandals of the past 10 years to answer the question: Doesn‘t it seem like more of these scandals involve “family values” guys?  We‘ll get to that in just a minute.

But first: Is Craig out in the Senate?  Does he have any hope of saving his career, at this point?  Here now, Joan Walsh, editor-in-chief of Salon.com, former presidential candidate and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan, Emily Heil, reporter for “Roll Call,” which broke this story.

Pat Buchanan, does he have any hope of surviving?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  I don‘t see how right now.  I think that what‘s going to happen is the people are really dumping on him.  They‘re dropping him.  And my guess is his committee assignments and the rest are gone.  I think he‘s certainly going to announce he‘s not going to run again, and I would guess he would quit the Congress of the United States.  He has no influence and no power left there.

ABRAMS:  Yes, I mean, Emily, isn‘t—isn‘t—by taking his committee assignments, aren‘t they essentially saying, We need you to leave, please?

EMILY HEIL, “ROLL CALL”:  Well, it seems to be a vote of no confidence for right now.

ABRAMS:  Yes, to say the least.

HEIL:  Right.  And for the people of his home state, you know, if he‘s not there, if he‘s not in a position of power, it makes it hard to see how he can represent them.

ABRAMS:  Joan, how do Democrats use this?  Meaning if he leaves immediately, do the Republicans get any sort of benefit from saying, We take care of business and we need him out, we get him out?

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM:  No, I don‘t think so, Dan.  As a matter of fact, I mean, this has been an open secret in Washington for years and years.  He‘s had to defend himself for years and years.  It‘s very tragic.  They have not wanted to get him out.  They have not worked to get him out.  They‘ve closed their eyes.  They‘ve looked away.  And now the poor man has been trapped, and it‘s clear that he‘s got to go and now they‘re showing him the door.  So I think there‘s a lot of hypocrisy here.

ABRAMS:  You would agree, Joan, right, he‘s done, right?

WALSH:  Oh, he‘s toast.  He‘s absolutely toast.

ABRAMS:  Right.  OK.

WALSH:  But it‘s also because it‘s a red state, so they can afford to force him out, have the governor appoint someone, and they think they can keep it.  That‘s the only reason...

ABRAMS:  Right.  A Republican governor who will appoint a Republican in the meantime.  All right.  Let‘s go onto this other issue, which I think is really interesting, all right?  And that‘s this question.  Are Republicans more prone to sex scandals?

We looked at the past 10 years, all right?  By our rough count, Republicans had double—double—the political sex scandals of Democrats, 10 to 5 over the past decade.  We looked at Congress, governors, and of course, the presidency.  And because Capitol Hill is no stranger to scandal, it was not an easy task going through the history.

But in the past year alone, there‘s Larry Craig, there‘s Senator David Vitter, who admitted seeing a prostitute, Congressman Mark Foley and those e-mails to congressional pages.

Now, you may remember Republican Illinois Senate candidate Jack Ryan, who dropped out of the race when his wife alleged he‘d taken her to sex clubs and asked her to have sex in front of other people.  Louisiana congressman Bob Livingston, an “impeach Clinton” leader, abruptly resigned hours before the vote to impeach Clinton after revelations he had an extramarital affair.

Ohio congressman Steve LaTourette‘s affair was exposed by “The Hill” newspaper in 2003.  GOP congressman Don Sherwood lost his seat last November after reports he settled a lawsuit with a former mistress who accused him of strangling there.  And there‘s former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who finally admitted he had an affair.  And revelations former congressman Henry Hyde had an extramarital affair 30 years earlier.  Representative Ed Schrock decided not to run for reelection after allegations came out about taped phone calls of him with another man.

Democrats have had their bad apples, too.  President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, “I‘m a gay American” Jim McGreevey, Congressman Gary Condit‘s career ruined when it was revealed he told police he had an affair with murdered intern Chandra Levy.  Former West Virginia governor Bob Wise admitted to an extramarital affair.  Kentucky governor Paul Patton‘s political career fell apart after allegations he retaliated against an ex-mistress‘s business when she ended the affair.

All right.  So there you have the last 10 years in political sex scandals laid out.  But bottom line, Pat, it does seem that, at least when you look at the last 10 years, you got 10 to 5, and you got these “family values” guys getting busted.  Are the Republicans involved in these sex scandals more often?

BUCHANAN:  I don‘t really think so.  I mean, in terms of morality up on the Hill, I think it‘s six of one, half a dozen of the other.  But I will say this.  There‘s no doubt about it, the retribution by the Republican base against people who engage in extramarital sex, and especially homosexual activity, is much more severe.  You remember the famous case of Gerry Studds and Barney Frank, one of whom had a fellow running a—basically, a full-service whorehouse in his basement, and the other of whom took a 16-year-old page around the world.  Both survived, were reelected.  But a Republican congressman involved with a 17-year-old female intern was thrown out immediately.

I don‘t know that there‘s more of one than the other.  It used to be back in the time of the Nixon era, it was the Democrats.  You know, Wilbur Mills and the other fellows...

ABRAMS:  All right.  So Emily, is this just a statistical aberration for the last 10 years?

HEIL:  Well, that‘s one explanation for it.  Another is that Republicans might be making themselves targets by pushing “family values” to the forefront of their political platform.

But in that vein, you have people like Larry Flynt of “Hustler” magazine or Mike Rogers, a blogger who has outed gay Republicans, who say, I have more names of members of Congress, but I‘m not going to release them because they‘re not hypocrites.  And so you have to look to where Republicans are.  And so are they making themselves more of a target?  Maybe.  Ask Larry Flynt.

ABRAMS:  Joan, what do you think about that, I mean, the possibility that maybe more people are coming out to expose Republicans because they‘re out there publicly advocating for these “family values”?

WALSH:  I think that absolutely is true, Dan.  I think Emily‘s just right about that.  And the fact is, people hate hypocrisy, and you‘ve got Republicans, closeted Republicans who are preaching anti-gay politics, really divisive politics, they set themselves up.  You‘ve also got—you know, you had impeachment.  President Clinton certainly sinned.  And then you had a witch hunt, a sexual witch hunt that made other people want to out the Republicans who likewise were having affairs...

BUCHANAN:  Well, Dan, let me get in here...

ABRAMS:  All right, Pat...

WALSH:  ... with women who weren‘t their wives.

BUCHANAN:  Look—look...

WALSH:  Sure, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  ... republicans do believe—do believe that there‘s a real moral component here, and that‘s what bothers us about Larry Craig—not that he‘s disorderly conduct, but the character of the behavior, even though it was—might have been—or he tried to have consensual sex between two men.  Republicans believe that isn‘t moral.  They believe adultery is immoral.  they hold these to be true.  They realize that men are sinners and women are sinners, and they‘re falling constantly.

What would you have them do, give up their moral beliefs when sometimes they fall themselves?  I don‘t know that, frankly, even Larry Craig...

WALSH:  I‘m not—you know what?  I‘m not...

BUCHANAN:  ... is guilty of hypocrisy.

WALSH:  I‘m actually not—I‘m not criticizing the voters.  Voters can do what they want.  I‘m criticizing leaders who preached and practiced this really divisive politics...

BUCHANAN:  But Joan, let me...

WALSH:  ... and demonized—and I think there is hypocrisy.

BUCHANAN:  Let me—let me...


ABRAMS:  Joan, hang on a second.  Go ahead, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  Look, let‘s talk about Larry Craig.  I don‘t—I am not sure he is a hypocrite for this reason.  I think he probably believes in “family values.”  It appears to me, this is a guy—here‘s a guy who risked his reputation, life, career, family for a couple of seconds of anonymous sex in a men‘s room in—he may not be a hypocrite...

WALSH:  It‘s tragic.

BUCHANAN:  ... he may be a man with a drive and a compulsion—right, it is tragic.

ABRAMS:  But wait.  But Pat...


ABRAMS:  Here‘s the thing, Pat.  You can‘t—and this came—this gets to the issue that came up with Vitter, as well, is you can‘t be out there preaching one thing, which is everything from gay marriage to gays in the military, you name it—you can‘t—and this is specifically related to this, and with Vitter it was...

BUCHANAN:  All right.  What...

ABRAMS:  ... generally the “family values.”  You can‘t preach one thing...

BUCHANAN:  You can...

ABRAMS:  ... publicly and then be asking...

BUCHANAN:  Well, let me ask you...

ABRAMS:  ... for forgiveness...

BUCHANAN:  Let me—look...

ABRAMS:  ... for a moment of misguided action.

BUCHANAN:  Hold it!  Hold it, Dan.  Look, suppose you believe in “family values.”  Suppose you believe that homosexuality is immoral.  And suppose you cannot control the fact...

ABRAMS:  Then you shouldn‘t be in the U.S. Senate, period.

WALSH:  You really shouldn‘t.

BUCHANAN:  That‘s preposterous!

WALSH:  You should get help with resolving...

BUCHANAN:  Look...


ABRAMS:  I‘m sorry, Pat.  Senators and Congressmen should be leaders in this community.  They should be able to live by the standards that they advocate.

BUCHANAN:  Well, they all fall from those standards.  We fall from journalistic standards.  I know priests who have preached against drunkenness and against alcoholism who can‘t help the fact that sometimes they fall into alcohol.  That doesn‘t make them hypocrites!

WALSH:  Homosexuality is not a disease!

BUCHANAN:  It makes them a failed human being.

WALSH:  Homosexuality is not a disease, Pat, and I‘m not going to sit here and have to call it that.

BUCHANAN:  You don‘t tell me that compulsion is not a...

BUCHANAN:  I have gay friends and gay relatives.

BUCHANAN:  Do you really think this guy...

WALSH:  It‘s...


ABRAMS:  One at a time.  One at a time.  Go ahead, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  You really...

WALSH:  It is absolutely wrong to...


ABRAMS:  Let him respond, Joan.  Go ahead, Pat.

WALSH:  All right.

BUCHANAN:  You really think—look, now, I don‘t know Larry Craig that well, but I do know anybody who preaches as he does and who risks everything on this insane two seconds in a public place, there‘s something wrong with him.

ABRAMS:  But Pat , you‘re making...


ABRAMS:  ... it‘s an isolated incident.

BUCHANAN:  I don‘t care if it‘s isolated or not, Dan.  It doesn‘t make any difference.  Anybody that would risk it for something like that in a men‘s room has a problem, for heaven‘s sakes!

WALSH:  Pat...

ABRAMS:  OK.  So do you want that person with a problem in the U.S.


WALSH:  Look, the guy is going to do what he did, then I think he has probably damaged himself beyond repair.  Let me ask you a question.  Suppose he had been in a bar and he‘s a gay man and he had propositioned someone in a bar in just a way that made a pass at some man.

ABRAMS:  Right.

BUCHANAN:  Do think he should be fired from the Senate for immorality?

ABRAMS:  Of course not.

BUCHANAN:  Well, then, OK.  He shouldn‘t—because...


ABRAMS:  Pat, it‘s the difference between a crime and not a crime.

BUCHANAN:  Well, come on.  Why is it a crime?  Because it‘s a nuisance in a public men‘s room.

ABRAMS:  Look, if you want to challenge the criminal law...

WALSH:  Pat, I‘m glad you‘re a libertarian.

ABRAMS:  ... that‘s fine.  You could—you could—Pat...

WALSH:  I‘m glad to hear you‘re libertarian.

WALSH:  I‘m not a libertarian!


ABRAMS:  I‘m sure they‘d be happy that you‘re going to be advocating...

BUCHANAN:  I think it‘s a good law.

ABRAMS:  ... a change in the criminal law.


ABRAMS:  Let me ask, real quick, Emily Heil, bottom line, are we going to see more Republicans jumping on the “Get rid of Craig” bandwagon in the weeks and the days to come?

HEIL:  I think we are.  I think that there have been enough prominent Republicans out in front of this.  And if you look at David Vitter, I couldn‘t find anyone to talk to me about him in the days after his scandal.  No one would talk about it.  They said, This is a private matter.  This is a family mater.  And when he eventually met with Republicans behind closed doors, they gave him a hearty round of applause, as I was told.  I don‘t think that Senator Craig is going to get that kind of reception.

ABRAMS:  I think—my guess is—my guess is we‘ll see in the next week, I would guess that we‘re going to see him resign.  But look, that‘s just my guess.  Who knows.

All right.  Joan Walsh, Pat Buchanan, Emily Heil, thanks a lot. 

Appreciate it.

BUCHANAN:  Thank you.

HEIL:  Thank you.

WALSH:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Up next: In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I was there and joined one New Orleans resident as he boated home to survey the damage for the first time.  Now, two years later, he joins us to talk about what his house and his community look like today.

And later: A chaotic scene as an angry family lashes out at a murder suspect during an arraignment, but it‘s just one of several recent courtroom outbursts caught on tape.  We examine this phenomenon.  And as we head to break, a little more from Larry Craig—the musical version.


CRAIG:  ... nasty...

naughty boy...

probably even a nasty, bad, naughty boy.

You‘re a naughty boy.



ABRAMS:  It was two years ago today that Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans, destroyed much of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  I was in New Orleans in the days after the hurricane and met, among other people, Stewart Schmidt, who was getting ready to go back to his home for the first time.  We‘ll talk to him in a minute, but first a look back at our trip with him as he returned home in 2005.


ABRAMS:  Are you nervous?

STEWART SCHMIDT, HURRICANE KATRINA SURVIVOR:  Well, emotionally, I don‘t think I‘m ready for this.  I thought I was.

Set sail now to my waterfront property.

(INAUDIBLE) right here.  I‘m trying to get a reading.  It‘s higher than six feet.

Kind of a Mediterranean old townhouse (INAUDIBLE) ‘30s and—oh, God. 

There it is.

ABRAMS:  (INAUDIBLE) break any glass, even.  That‘s a good sign.

SCHMIDT:  Yes, it is a good sign.

Oh, man.

ABRAMS:  You all right?

SCHMIDT:  Yes.  I just want to get some pictures.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Got it.

SCHMIDT:  Mom and Dad.  Oh!  Oh!  Oh, no!  Oh.  Oh, no!  Oh!

ABRAMS:  Everything is so much intact, and yet then you just see the water.

SCHMIDT:  Yes, the water.  (INAUDIBLE) plants.  My wife had all the plants on the front porch.  We moved them all in.

ABRAMS:  All right, I‘m going to put this in the front.  Then you lower the last one down.  It‘ll be interesting to see if this little boat holds up.

How did you decide what to take?

SCHMIDT:  You know, I was (INAUDIBLE) What am I doing?  You know, I‘m taking (INAUDIBLE) I don‘t know.  I had to get back there.  There‘s a part of me that needed to get back to the house, just to connect with my house and this area before I moved on.  And I don‘t know what I‘m going to do.  You know, I have a lot of good plans.

ABRAMS:  Do you want to go back and live in that house again?

SCHMIDT:  After seeing this, I don‘t know.  I‘m not sure.  You know, when the water goes down (INAUDIBLE) at this point, I would say no.


ABRAMS:  But Stewart did go back, and he‘s rebuilding his home.  He‘s also helping others in his neighborhood do the same.  Stewart Schmidt joins us now.  Stewart, good to see you again.  Thanks for coming back on the program.

I want to put up a picture on the screen.  You‘ve come a long way since Katrina hit.  How are things going?

SCHMIDT:  It‘s been a long road.  It‘s been—it‘s been mixed emotions the whole way.

ABRAMS:  But you‘re rebuilding.  At the end of our piece there, you weren‘t sure you‘d be able to go back.  You decided to go back?

SCHMIDT:  We made a decision to come back.  And after the decision was made, we were just committed to rebuilding and being a part of the rebuilding of New Orleans.

ABRAMS:  You‘re still living in a FEMA trailer, though, aren‘t you?

SCHMIDT:  We are.

ABRAMS:  In front of the house?

SCHMIDT:  In front of the house.  It‘s been tight quarters and it‘s been tough.  But you know, there are times when I feel like hugging my wife or strangling her, one or the other.


SCHMIDT:  But we do a little bit of both.

ABRAMS:  Has the government been helpful?  I mean, how much has the government been involved in the rebuilding process?

SCHMIDT:  As far as the politics of it, you know, I place my vote and I support the candidates that I choose, and that‘s as far as it goes.  The rest of it is really, you know, my activities involved in my community.

ABRAMS:  And New Orleans, it is getting back to the city that you know and love?

SCHMIDT:  It is.  And I think it‘s going to be better.  I‘m still optimistic about that it‘s going to be a better place.  And I think there are tremendous opportunities there and—to do things that are—that would be—New Orleans would be a better place.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Stewart, I got to say, you look good.  You know, you look better than the last time I saw you, standing on the edge of a major flood.  And I hope you‘re doing as well as you look.

SCHMIDT:  Well, thanks.  You know, it‘s a lot—it‘s a lot nicer sitting here in air-conditioning and nice and dry, versus being in a boat with holes in it and toxic water all around.


ABRAMS:  Yes, a number of people who told us how unsafe it was, that boat that we were riding in as we were going to your house.  Stewart, good to see you, and really great to see the rebuilding effort.  Good luck with that, and keep us updated, all right?

SCHMIDT:  Thanks, Dan, for your interest.  Appreciate it.

ABRAMS:  Coming up:  A Vermont courtroom erupts in chaos as family members lash out against an accused murderer.  It‘s just one of a series of courtroom brawls.  We‘ll look at why they are becoming more common.  That‘s coming up.

But first: Fox says they mean business about financial news, and with their new business network starting up, they may want to get a “Finance for Dummies” book for their correspondents.  That‘s coming up next in “Beat the Press.”


ABRAMS:  Time for tonight‘s “Beat the Press, our daily look back at the absurd and sometimes amusing perils of live TV.  First up: Last night, Nancy Grace provided in-depth coverage of Idaho Republican senator Larry Craig‘s legal troubles, and she continued to remind viewers what crime he pled guilty to.


NANCY GRACE, HOST, “NANCY GRACE”:  A U.S. senator pleads guilty to soliciting sex in a bathroom!

A senator pleads guilty under oath to soliciting sex in a public bathroom.

Soliciting sex in a public bathroom?  That is a crime!

I‘ve got the plea right in front of me.


ABRAMS:  Nancy, lawyer to lawyer, if you‘ve got the plea right in front you, then you got to know he didn‘t plead guilty to soliciting sex.  Disorderly conduct is what he pled guilty to.  Sure, we know what he was doing, but if you‘re going to talk about pleading guilty, let‘s get the crime right.  I‘m sure my pal, Nancy, appreciates this pro bono advice.


ABRAMS:  All right.  Next up: I‘m not a financial correspondent.  I am interested in home prices, and I know there‘s been a lot of talk about the median—M-E-D-I-A-N—home prices recently.  The median price is that price midway between the least expensive and most expensive homes sold in an area during a given period time.  Now listen to Fox‘s business correspondent, Rebecca Gomez, on the median home price.


REBECCA GOMEZ, FOX CORRESPONDENT:  We could see a nationwide drop in the medium home price.  Of course, we‘ve seen prices fall in local markets, but we‘re talking about nationwide medium home price drop for the first time ever.


ABRAMS:  Sure sounded to me like she was saying “medium.”  And if so, they may have to do some work before the launch of that business network.

Finally, here on “Beat the Press,” we are equal opportunity offenders, even when our own network makes a mistake.  Listen to what our friend, Kevin Tibbles, is talking about, and then check out the map.


KEVIN TIBBLES, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  The Missoula, Montana, grandparents are truckers who every week make the journey between their home and Philadelphia.  But just past Fairmont, Montana, in the wee hours of the morning Sunday, their trip was derailed.


ABRAMS:  Their trip was derailed in Fairmont, Minnesota.  I‘m no geography expert.  Our graphics team is, though.  Take a look at the map they made.  They got it right.  Kudos to Kevin.  He fixed his mistake for the West Coast version of the show.

But let‘s quickly check in with a geography expert to explain how this mistake could have happened.


LAUREN CAITLIN UPTON, MISS TEEN SOUTH CAROLINA:  I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don‘t have maps.


ABRAMS:  Exactly the problem.  Thank you to Miss Teen South Carolina for that explanation.

We want your help in beating the press.  If you see anything amusing, absurd or just plain right or wrong in the press, please go to our Web site at Abrams.msnbc.com.  Leave us a tip in the box.  Please include the show and the time you saw the item.

Still ahead: New Jersey mom Liza Murphy has not been seen since getting into a fight with her husband 10 days ago.  He apparently hasn‘t been cooperating with police, either.  He‘s hired a lawyer.  His attorney is with us, going to answer some tough questions coming up.

But first, outrageous courtroom brawls caught on tape, including one just this week in Vermont.  We‘ll look at why these fights are becoming more common in courts around the country.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You stole my (bleep) kid...



ABRAMS:  That was the most recent case of courtroom chaos, this time in Vermont during an arraignment for Michael Christmas, accused of murdering his brother-in-law.  It began when the victim‘s girlfriend swore at Christmas, calling him gutless.

Total bedlam erupting inside courtroom scenes almost a regular occurrence now with families of the victims and the accused often sitting side-by-side. 




ABRAMS:  Before we show you more of these, I want to check in with Judge Bill Dressel, president of the National Judicial College, and Judge Mablean Ephriam, former host of “Divorce Court.”  Thanks very much to both of you for coming on.  Appreciate it.

All right, Judge Dressel, first of all, let me ask you—it does seem like we‘re seeing more and more of these cases of literally all-out brawls in courtrooms.  Any explanation for why? 

HON. PETER DRESSEL, NATIONAL JUDICIAL COLLEGE PRESIDENT:  One of the big problems is the newer courtroom is so small you don‘t have the ability to really, you know, keep people separated.  And so thus they‘re sitting close together and, as you described, a very emotionally charged situation. 

ABRAMS:  Anything judges can do, Judge Ephriam? 

JUDGE MABLEAN, FORMER “DIVORCE COURT” HOST:  Yes, I think it‘s incumbent upon a judge to make sure that his bailiff or her bailiffs let them know cases where there is likely to be volatile situations.  When you look at your court calendar, and you know what the circumstances are, and you know if there‘s family members, and it‘s the victim, and it‘s heated, you know that more than likely there is going to be some type of brawl attempted.  So then you want to caution your bailiffs so that they will seat the people in a different manner as they come into the courtroom or limit the number of people who come into the courtroom, things like that. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, I think that makes a lot of sense.  All right, let‘s play another example.  This is in Tacoma, Washington, a brawl erupted between two families, the family of the man being sentenced and the family of the victim.





ABRAMS:  Judge Dressel, you ever had a time where you‘ve known it might be so volatile that you said that you just can‘t have the victim‘s family and the defendant‘s family in the courtroom at the same time? 

DRESSEL:  Yes...

MABLEAN:  Yes, of course. 

ABRAMS:  Let me let Judge Dressel get that one.  Yes?

DRESSEL:  Yes, of course.  And what you do, as the other judge said, I‘d come on.  You make a speech, and you kind of tell them that, and you watch them.  And if there does appear to be anything, you have the bailiff immediately escort them out.  But what you try to do is you alert the law enforcement, so you have somebody in uniform sitting there in the courtroom so they know there‘s that presence there and, if they act up, they‘re going to be removed. 

ABRAMS:  This next piece of sound is from our crime and punishment series, so you‘ll notice that it‘s filmed on film so you can really get a good picture of what happened here.  This is right after the defendant has been found guilty.  He literally goes after the D.A. and tries to grab the bailiff‘s gun. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We the jury in the above entitled cause find the defendant, Jesus Pablo Vasquez, guilty... 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Get down!  Get down!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Turn the camera off. 


ABRAMS:  Wow, Judge Mablean—I‘ve been asked to call you Judge Mablean—I would assume that there are a lot of times when they‘re reading a verdict, when that‘s got to be a particularly tense time in the courtroom.

MABLEAN:  The reading of a verdict is always a particularly tense time.  And any experienced prosecutor and bailiff knows that that‘s the time to make sure you have back up in the courtroom, more than one bailiff, to make certain that you know who the players are in the courtroom, what side they‘re on, that they‘re separated.  That‘s what is really important for an experienced bailiff to be in your courtroom, one who knows how to handle those potential type of situations. 

And you also need to know something about the suspect or the defendant.  This defendant appeared to be a gang member.  There was a lot of tattoos and insignia on his body.  So that in and of itself is the clue that there‘s likely to be a problem.  And so you bring in sufficient back up.  You usually stand behind the defendant at that point, as opposed to standing to the side, so you can make certain that, if he attempts to do anything as soon as the verdict is read, that you will be ready—that the bailiff will be ready for that defendant and will not be caught by surprise. 

ABRAMS:  Let me show this Ohio courtroom.  This is Jason Howard, who was charged with killing his ex-girlfriend and her three children.  He was handcuffed when two of the relatives of the victim went after him. 




ABRAMS:  Judge Dressel, I‘ve got to believe it‘s still pretty rare, though, that family members or anyone are able to actually get at a defendant in the courthouse.

DRESSEL:  Yes, it really is.  That‘s why you have the separation there between the spectator section and the well of the court where the business is being conducted.  And if you have any sense that something could go wrong, you position somebody there in uniform to look at it so they know that they‘re not going to be able to do it.  When the rare occasion does, it takes everybody by surprise.  You saw in the tape, they had a lot of people in the courtroom, but yet these things get out of hand quickly. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, all right.  Let me show one more, and I‘m going to ask Judge Mablean about this one.  This is the father of a murder victim going after his son‘s killer. 




ABRAMS:  Judge Mablean, I‘ve got to believe there‘s a reluctance even to charge a victim‘s family member who acts out emotionally like that, because I think that there probably is a lot of sympathy for victims‘ family members. 

MABLEAN:  No, there‘s not a reluctance to charge them, because if you hesitate on charging them, when you send a message out that it‘s OK for you to behave in that manner.  We all experience that when a loved one is hurt, but you cannot use the courtroom as a revenge because you can‘t take the law into your own hands for punishment.  That‘s what the trial was all about. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, but...

MABLEAN:  I personal experienced that in my family.  I had a niece who was killed by a boyfriend, shot at point-blank range.  And when the trial began, I mean, even at the arraignment, I knew that that was a proceeding that I could not attend because I knew how I felt emotionally.  And I told my sister and my brothers—it was my sister‘s child—I knew how she felt.  And I suggested to her that perhaps she shouldn‘t attend the courtroom proceedings, as well. 

ABRAMS:  It‘s good advice.  And, look, I think that the reality is, though, that I‘ve seen a number of cases where they decided not to charge people out of sympathy and understanding for them, but I think you‘re absolutely right that you simply just can‘t do that in a courtroom. 

Judge Dressel and Judge Mablean, thanks so much for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

DRESSEL:  Thank you. 

MABLEAN:  Thank you. 

ABRAMS:  Up next, police complete the search for a missing New Jersey mom who hasn‘t been seen since getting into a fight with her husband more than a week ago.  Up next, we‘ll talk to the husband‘s attorney about why he‘s not cooperating. 

And later, two brothers putting the gross back in grocery store, thanks to an Internet rap spoof.  Now the supermarket chain is suing them, claiming the video is driving away customers.  They‘re with us for our “Winners and Losers,” coming up.


ABRAMS:  Tonight, there is news in the hunt for a missing New Jersey mom.  Just 10 days after Liza Murphy disappeared, police announced today they are calling off a search for the mother of three.  Two hundred police officers and volunteers failed to yield any clues in the 400 acres around her home.  Her husband, Joseph, attempted suicide by running into traffic last week.  He‘s retained a criminal defense attorney and is apparently refusing to cooperate with authorities. 

Joining us tonight is Joseph Rem, Joseph Murphy‘s attorney, and the Emerson, New Jersey, police chief, Michael Saudino. 

Thanks to both of you for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.  All right, Joe, so let me start with you.  True that your client is no longer cooperating with authorities? 

JOSEPH REM, ATTORNEY FOR MISSING MOM‘S HUSBAND:  Exactly the opposite of the truth.  When I became involved in the case, I merely sent an e-mail to the county prosecutor and to chief of the trial staff telling them I was involved in the case...

ABRAMS:  So he‘s going to answer questions? 

REM:  I told him, I said, if you want to contact my client, simply do it through me.  We‘ll be glad to cooperate. 

ABRAMS:  Chief, is he cooperating fully? 

MICHAEL SAUDINO, EMERSON POLICE CHIEF: If that‘s what Mr. Rem is willing to do, I consider that cooperating, yes, sir. 

ABRAMS:  But it sounds like an if, meaning it doesn‘t sound like that‘s been the case up to now?

SAUDINO:  Well, there was a point where Mr. Murphy would not speak with our investigators because he said he had retained an attorney. 

ABRAMS:  So you‘re going to let your client speak to the authorities?

REM:  I can tell you this.  I told the authorities, if they want to speak with him, talk to me.  No one has asked me to do so. 

ABRAMS:  Sir, then let‘s get this out in the open then.  Chief, do you want to speak to his client? 

SAUDINO:  Absolutely. 

ABRAMS:  OK, are you going to let them speak to him? 

REM:  I‘m going to let them speak to me first, and then we‘ll decide whether he speaks to them.

ABRAMS:  So you‘re not going to commit to letting him speak to the authorities?

REM:  I need to find out what they want to do.

ABRAMS:  They want to find out where she is.  That‘s what they want to do.  I can promise you that‘s his answer.  His answer is going to be, “We want to know where she is.  We want to find out from his client what he knows and how he can help in that.” 

REM:  There‘s two different things.  One is to find out where she is.  The other is to see if they can get him to incriminate himself in their belief that something did occur. 

ABRAMS:  So it sounds to me like the answer is going to be no.  I mean, when I hear a lawyer answer the question that way, the answer is he‘s not going to cooperate with the authorities, per your advice. 

REM:  That‘s your take on it.  It‘s not mine.

ABRAMS:  All right, let me play this sound.  This is from Michelle Sigona, from “America‘s Most Wanted,” in a conversation with some of the family members of Liza.  I want you to listen to this, and then I want you to respond to that.


MICHELLE SIGONA, “AMERICA‘S MOST WANTED” CORRESPONDENT:  I did have a pretty extensive conversation with Liza‘s dad.  And what he says is that the relationship was strained and behind closed doors that a lot of mental abuse is taking place, not physical abuse, but that he was verbally and mentally abusing Liza.


ABRAMS:  What do you make of that? 

REM:  Well, every marriage goes through periods of strain.  In this case, as you know, she was carrying on an affair.  And whenever you engage in an affair, your affections for your spouse drift, and you become distant.  And that‘s going to cause a problem in any marriage. 

ABRAMS:  Isn‘t that also a motive for someone like a husband to take action against a strained wife? 

REM:  When you say “take action,” you‘re saying that the fact that some one becomes somewhat emotionally distant, is that a motive to murder?  If so, then there‘s millions of people around this country with motive to murder.

ABRAMS:  But they all don‘t have missing spouses.

REM:  That‘s true.  And that‘s an unfortunate coincidence.  And that‘s what leads people around this nation to suspect that something‘s happened.  In fact, there is no crime scene.  There‘s no proof that there was a crime.  There‘s no evidence even—a scintilla of evidence suggesting that there was one. 

ABRAMS:  But so the defense, I assume, at this point is that there still could be the possibility of a suicide.  And that‘s why I think they searched this 400 acres around her home.  They found nothing.  Let me ask the chief about that.  Chief, you‘ve called off the search at this point, why? 

SAUDINO:  Actually, Dan, we didn‘t call it off.  We‘ve completed the search.  I am reasonably confident that these areas that we searched, that Liza is not in any of these locations.  We‘ve been in there with dogs and a limited amount of police officers.  But after yesterday‘s extensive search with approximately 255 people, a combination of law enforcement and volunteers, almost shoulder to shoulder through these areas, I am confident that she is not in this location. 

ABRAMS:  But, Chief, you heard Mr. Rem refer to the fact that Liza was supposedly having an affair.  Do you know anything about that?  And, if so, have you talked to this person, if this person exists? 

SAUDINO:  I can only comment that we did know about it, and, yes, we did talk to that individual.  And I cannot comment any further on that right now. 

ABRAMS:  But you have spoken to him? 


ABRAMS:  OK, and have you gotten a chance, has your client gotten a chance to speak—I mean, any chance to speak to this guy?

REM:  We have no idea who he is.

ABRAMS:  And what is your client doing?  His wife is missing, right.  I mean, presumably, regardless of what the state of their relationship was, if he‘s an innocent man, he‘s got to be doing everything that he can to help in the search.  What is he doing? 

REM:  Right now, he‘s lying in a hospital bed unable to move.  Every bone in his body is broken.  His pelvis was broken.  He has serious internal injuries.  His face was crushed beneath the vehicle that he stepped in front of between that and the roadway.  Right now, he‘s struggling to breathe. 

ABRAMS:  Did he do anything before the suicide attempt?

REM:  Yes.  When the police came to him, every single question they asked of him, he answered.  He gave them extraordinary access into the intimate details of his life.  He made startling admissions.  He talked about intimate events that occurred between him and his wife.  He could not have been more cooperative.  

ABRAMS:  Chief, is that true? 

SAUDINO:  Yes, initially Mr. Murphy did give us quite a bit of information.  However, his information was the only information we had to go on. 

ABRAMS:  And so the point being that you need some follow-up?

SAUDINO:  Well, we would like some follow-up, yes, absolutely.

ABRAMS:  But no people of interest, no suspects yet in the case, Chief?  

SAUDINO:  Again, suspects means we have a crime.  Right now, all we have is a missing person.  We are treating it as a missing person, but we also understand that there could be extenuates circumstances as to why she is missing. 

ABRAMS:  An important distinction and appreciated.  Chief, thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Joseph Rem, thank you for coming in.

REM:  Dan, my pleasure.

ABRAMS:  Up next, will today‘s big loser be Leona Helmsley, who‘s getting a bum wrap for leaving her dog $12 million, Karl Rove who had help wrapping things up at the White House, including his car, or two brothers who are being sued for an Internet rap about working at a supermarket?  We‘ll hear from them in tonight‘s “Winners and Losers.”


ABRAMS:  Time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers” for this 29th day of August, 2007.


ABRAMS (voice-over):  Our first winter, 36-year-old British artist Johnathan Yeo, the brains behind this controversial new portrait of President Bush, controversial because it‘s made up of more than 100 images from porn magazines.  This is a cleaned-up version of the portrait.  The real thing was unveiled at a London art gallery last night. 

Our first loser, the man known as Bush‘s brain, Karl Rove.  He found his car in need of some clean-up at the White House today.  Pranksters plastic-wrapped his Jaguar, sticking two bald eagles on the trunk and adorning it with a sign that Rove would probably see as pornography.  It said, “I love Obama.”

The second winner, Montana trucker Ted Maki, who survived a terrifying incident Sunday when a bowling ball crashed through his windshield striking him across the face. 

TED MAKI, HIT BY BOWLING BALL:  The way I look at life is you just take what comes your way and deal with it the best you can and get to work and put it behind you.

ABRAMS:  The 10-pounder sent Maki‘s car careening off the road, splitting three lanes of traffic.  It left Maki with non-life-threatening injuries and an unidentified suspect in big trouble. 

The second loser, two of heiress Leona Helmsley‘s grandkids left in the gutter by a 10-pounder named Trouble.  Helmsley left $12 million to Trouble, her 10-pound Maltese, and nada for her fully grown grandkids Craig and Meegan.  The queen of mean left a spare spot in her mausoleum for her pooch to be buried right beside her. 

But the big winners of the day, the 40,000 who packed the streets of Bunol, Spain, for the world‘s largest food fight today.  The annual Tomatina festival pits brother against brother, with a tomato as the weapon of choice.  More than 240,000 pounds of soon-to-be ketchup were thrown during the all-day event, with some tourists even wrapping their heads in goggles to protect them from the flying produce.

The big losers of the day?  Brothers Mark and Matthew D‘Avella whose rap song about produce has landed them in a legal food fight with their former employer.  A&P Supermarkets is suing the brothers for $1 million for what they‘re calling a disgusting and distressing video filmed in their store and posted online. 


ABRAMS:  Joining us on the phone is Mark D‘Avella, one of the brothers who appears in the “Produce Paradise” video.  They‘re brothers who are being sued by A&P.

Mark, thanks for coming on the program, and we apologize.  Apparently, the car that we sent for you crashed, and then you didn‘t have enough money to take a taxi, which makes me ask the question.  Of course, you‘re being sued for a million dollars and you don‘t have enough money for a cab.

MARK D‘AVELLA, BEING SUED FOR ONLINE VIDEO:  Yes, exactly.  I had no cash.  I couldn‘t afford it.

ABRAMS:  Let me ask you a question.  You know, A&P is making a lot of

look, I think that it was stupid for them to sue you because, obviously, we wouldn‘t have done this segment if they hadn‘t sued you.  So now they‘re getting more bad publicity; you‘re getting more good publicity as a result of it.  But, you know, they make comments about how you‘re putting the company in a negative light, et cetera.  Did you actually put some of that food back in—I mean, you‘re faking, I assume, urinating there, right?

D‘AVELLA:  Oh, yes, that was a water bottle.  All of the produce we used in the video we had purchased outside the store.  We had brought it in, in a bag, with our video camera.  And nothing that we touched or put on the—like, we used in the video was never put back on the shelf. 

ABRAMS:  And you‘re bummed out about getting fired from the job?  

D‘AVELLA:  Yes, that bummed us out.  It bummed us out even more that our own company that we‘ve been working for, you know (INAUDIBLE) stabbed us in the back and decided to, you know, sue us for $1 million.  It‘s just kind of disappointing that large companies are trying to crushing the, you know, creative minds of America‘s youth. 

ABRAMS:  The creative minds who watch a cucumber slowly fall on to the floor.  Mark D‘Avella, thanks a lot.  Appreciate you coming on the show. 

D‘AVELLA:  Hey, take care, Dan.

ABRAMS:  That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  Coming up next, confessions of a serial killer.  See you tomorrow.



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