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PoliticsNation, Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

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April 30, 2014

Guests: Karen Bass, Barry Scheck, Steve Olenick, Jonathan Capehart, Mayor
Kasim Reed, Ryan Grim

REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Ed. And thanks to you for
tuning in.

Tonight`s lead, disgraced Clippers owner Donald Sterling appears defiant a
day after the NBA commissioner said he wants to force Sterling to sell the
team. Sterling is indicating he`s ready for a legal fight, saying today,
quote, "The team is not for sale, and I`m not selling the team."

So what happens next?

There`s really no precedent for this. But today the league constitution, a
set of NBA laws, were made public. It had been secret and there`s a major
focus on Article 13, the section containing the process for termination of
ownership. It confirms the commissioner can force a sale by a vote of
three-fourths of the owners, and this morning, the Sacramento Kings owner
said they have the votes.


VIVEK RANADIVE, SACRAMENTO KINGS OWNER: The owners, I know, George, are all
color blind and they found that this behavior was outrageous, so I would be
surprised if it isn`t a unanimous vote. I would be very surprised if that
was not the case.


SHARPTON: Unanimous vote. It looks like the owners want him out.

Tomorrow, a key NBA owners committee will meet to discuss the next steps
and set a time table for a vote.

And buyers are already ling up. Today we learned Oprah Winfrey is
interested in buying the Clippers, if Sterling is forced to sell the team.
And we also learned the players were ready to make a major protest last
night, preparing to walk off the court right after the tip-off and boycott
if the punishment wasn`t enough.

The players want Sterling out. The owners want Sterling out. And the
public appears to want Sterling out, but what happens if Sterling fights?
What would a legal fight look like?

This is a defining moment for the NBA and for the country.

Joining me now, our sports -- are sports attorney, Steve Olenick, whose
clients include several Clipper players, and "The Washington Post`s"
Jonathan Capehart.

Thank you both for being here tonight.


STEVE OLENICK, SPORTS ATTORNEY: thanks for having me.

SHARPTON: Steve, from what you know about Donald Sterling, do you think he
wants to fight?

OLENICK: I think he`s going to fight. He`s a billionaire. He`s a lawyer.
He has the means to actually fight this, and, you know, in a lot of ways,
Reverend, he does actually have a case.

SHARPTON: What`s his case?

OLENICK: You can sue -- assuming everyone votes him out, he`s going to
immediately file for an injunction. He`s going to say all these contracts
have been breached, and he`s going to potentially sue in state and federal
law for antitrust litigation, that`s going to go on for a very long time.

SHARPTON: Wouldn`t in a lawsuit he open himself up to be deposed on his
racial statements, both here and in the past, and for that matter, his
marital status with his mistress being the one allegedly that taped this
stuff? Wouldn`t he have a lot of exposure in depositions?


OLENICK: He is going to be very much exposed. However, when you have the
means to actually do it, he may say, you know what, unless I can sell this
or assign it to my family member, he may be ready for the fight.

SHARPTON: Well, Jonathan, what do you think?

CAPEHART: Well, look, I think from all I know and all that I have read,
Donald Sterling is a very -- is probably the most litigious owner in the
NBA and has shown time and time again that he is not afraid to go to court,
and he`s a lawyer himself.

The thing that I found interesting in the bylaws that I was able to look
at, especially Article 13, or Chapter 13, there is no morals clause in
there. The commissioner is able to get a team owner to sell if he gets
three-quarters of the vote, but it`s under strict criteria, and they all
have to do with financial management. And so to be --

SHARPTON: Well, 13 doesn`t, though. Thirteen. Let me put it up.


SHARPTON: It says that -- as it says, an owner can be voted out if found
they, quote, "willfully violate any of the provisions of the constitution
and bylaws, resolutions, or agreements of the association. That`s pretty


SHARPTON: And if -- and if the vote -- if the owners say that they feel
that making racial remarks and saying you don`t want a race there, violates
the rules of the association that holds.

CAPEHART: Well, I mean, yes, in terms of getting the owners to vote him
out, but if he sues and then it goes to a court of law, that`s the point
I`m trying to make, is that perhaps Donald Sterling will feel that, well,
he can`t -- he can`t find justice as he -- as he might define it with his
fellow NBA team -- NBA team owners, while he`ll go to court and force the
issue in court, where legally he might be on stronger footing.

SHARPTON: But he signed the document. He agreed to this. I mean, all of
the owners agreed to this. How does he go to court and say, I want to sue
for something that I signed with the owners, agreeing to it?


OLENICK: Reverend, I think that one of the key fundamental things is what
is the asset value and what is the purchase price going to be for the
Clippers? I think when you start looking at that, that is his strongest
claim. If the owners have colluded and they`ve agreed to vote him out,
they are going to have to determine a price that he agrees to, to sell the
team. That`s why you`re starting to see all these celebrities.


OLENICK: All these people want to get in on this because if you
potentially get a Los Angeles Clippers for $600 million, you just stole the
team. The team is worth much more than $600 million.

SHARPTON: And this may be --

OLENICK: You saw what the Milwaukee Bucks went for.

SHARPTON: And this may be, Steve, what he`s doing is trying to negotiate a
deal with price, because as much as Jonathan says he doesn`t appear to be
afraid to go to court, he settled on two or three times. I think he`s a
lot more bluff than he is bite because he didn`t go to the mat on the
discrimination suit, he settled for millions of dollars.

OLENICK: One hundred percent. And when you can get potentially a billion
dollars for this franchise, he may just say, you know what, I`m done, thank
you, I`m out.

SHARPTON: Let me play for you, Jonathan, Commissioner Silver said the
NBA`s taking Donald Sterling`s past behavior into account. Listen to this.


ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER: In meeting out this punishment, we did not
take into account his past behavior. When the board ultimately considers
his overall fitness to be an owner in the NBA, they will take into account
a lifetime of behavior.


SHARPTON: So when the board takes into account his past behavior, his
lifetime of behavior, they have a strong, as far as I`m concerned, I`m not
a lawyer, but as far as I can see as a non-attorney here, 13 could easily
fit their determining that he does not fit the laws or what the association
stands for.


SHARPTON: And what court would tell them that they can`t say what the
association stands for?

CAPEHART: Well, like you, Reverend, I`m not a lawyer and I don`t even play
one on TV, but when it comes to providing all of the ammo that they need to
get the three-quarters of the vote or unanimous vote to vote him out or to
force the sale of the Clippers, there`s plenty of evidence there, plenty of
lawsuits, plenty of horrible depositions on top of what we already know
from the recordings between himself and V. Stiviano, that there`s no way he
should remain a part of the NBA.

The sad part and the tragedy here with a little T is that all of the things
before these recordings came to light, the lawsuits, the discrimination in
housing that he`s been -- he`s been accused of and has been taken to court
over, that`s been known for years in Los Angeles. And so it took these
recorded conversations, racial conversations that he had with Stiviano, to
force the issue, to force the NBA to finally do something about him.

SHARPTON: Now let me ask you this, Steve, getting away from the legal part
and to what it`s done for the country, what the impact this is in terms of
sports and race that a lot of people, including me, were very concerned
about and raised from the beginning of these tapes surfacing.

Let me play what head coach Doc Rivers, who was hired by Sterling. He
talked about the future last night prior to the game. Listen to this.


DOC RIVERS, CLIPPERS HEAD COACH: Is this over? No, it`s not over, but
it`s the start of a healing process that we need and it`s a start for our
organization, you know, to try to get through this.


SHARPTON: So a healing process. Dealing with this in terms of how the
nation, how the sport, how people deal with this kind of ugly rhetoric from
the owner of one of our professional basketball teams.

OLENICK: You`re right, and, you know, the sad part, Reverend, with a lot
of this, this is a historic precedent in sports. It is a landmark, you
know, case for potentially could actually rise to the Supreme Court
potentially, but I will say this. With all of this it`s a good thing
because a group of people have come together and they are actually trying
to do something for the betterment of society and you`re starting to see
that, that everyone came together, they potentially boycotted, they wanted
to see action, they got the action, and hopefully this is the first step in
getting a lot more minorities to invest into professional teams.

And I hope that we see this going forward. I think this is a great thing,
and I hope that it continues. I hope we start getting a lot of momentum.

SHARPTON: I think his defiance will backfire if, in fact, he`s not
bluffing. And we`ll see. He also would have problems, I think, Jonathan,
with broadcasting games. I mean, there`s a lot of people that he had
before including broadcast and all, that just won`t be there if he tries to
hold on, and I think that it would be foolish, but then again that`s up to

Steve Olenick and Jonathan Capehart, thank you both for your time tonight.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Rev.

OLENICK: Thank you very much.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, the Oprah effect. Doesn`t the NBA need more
diversity in the front office? Don`t team owners need to look more like
Team Rastas?

Also, Paul Ryan meets with black lawmakers about his notorious comment,
blaming poverty on the culture of inner cities. Did he apologize? Did he
make amends? We`ll talk to a lawmaker inside the room.

And what really happened in that horrific botched execution that reignited
the death penalty debate? A condemned man gasping, grimacing, crying out
after he was supposed to be sedated. Isn`t America better than this?
That`s ahead on POLITICS NATION.


SHARPTON: Today, Republicans decided to block a pay increase for 28
million Americans. How`s that for an election year strategy?


the ones who are here today, that you`re on your own. Without even looking
them in the eye.

Change is happening, whether Republicans in Congress like it or not.


SHARPTON: Change is happening. We`ll talk about it next.


SHARPTON: Politics over people. That`s the choice Senate Republicans made
today, when they voted and blocked the raising of the minimum wage to
$10.10 an hour. President Obama said the decision made no sense.


OBAMA: By preventing even a vote on this bill, they prevented a raise for
28 million hard-working Americans. They said no to helping millions work
their way out of poverty. And keep in mind this bill would have done so
without any new taxes or spending or bureaucracy. They told Americans,
like the ones who are here today, that you`re on your own. Without even
looking them in the eye.


SHARPTON: Increasing the minimum wage should be one of the easiest votes a
senator takes. People have rallied in support of it all over the country,
poll after poll shows strong majorities of American public favor an
increase by large gaps and large margins.

And states are already moving forward. Just this week, Hawaii`s
legislature passed a bill to raise the minimum wage to $10.10. Maryland
passed a similar bill earlier this month, and Connecticut`s governor signed
an increase in the law just last month. But at the federal level,
Republicans offered up the same old tired excuses for saying no.


SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: We all want to see hard-working American
families work their way toward the American dream, but we`re not going to
be able to do that by the federal government setting wages.

SEN. MIKE ENZI (R), WYOMING: Young people and those new to the workforce
are those who typically earn the minimum wage.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MINORITY LEADER: Washington Democrats are just
not serious about helping the middle class.


SHARPTON: Did he just say that with a straight face? Not serious about
helping the middle class? This comes from a politician who`s in a
Republican Party that demonizes the working class and fights for the 1

Senator Harry Reid hit that point after the vote today.


SEN. HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: They are fighting for the
billionaires. We`re fighting for people who are struggling to make a


SHARPTON: So they attacked the working poor and fight for the billionaire
Koch brothers. Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group backed by
the Kochs, urged the senators to vote no on the minimum wage hike, and
Republicans were more than happy to do their bidding.


REID: Republicans are defending very publicly, six of them at least, the
Koch brothers while they come to the floor and oppose raising the minimum


SHARPTON: Defending billionaires on the Senate floor, but refusing to give
working people a living wage. It`s a startling contrast, and one the
American people won`t forget.

Joining me now is Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Ryan Grim, Washington bureau
chief for "The Huffington Post."

Thank you both for being here.

RYAN GRIM, HUFFINGTON POST: Thank you, Reverend.

MAYOR KASIM REED, ATLANTA: Thank you for having me, Reverend Al.

SHARPTON: Mayor Reed, let me go to you first. You see it up close. You
see it from a very close vantage point. What would an increase in the
minimum wage mean for regular working people?

REED: It means people will be able to have lives with dignity. If you
work full time for the current federal minimum wage, you earn about $14,500
a year, so if you`re a part of a family of four, you`re still in poverty.

This goes against the American ethic of fairness and valuing hard work, and
what we need to do is to help the 28 million individuals that would be
helped, the 16.5 million families, but it`s also a clear wake-up call. The
only way we`re going to get the minimum wage raised to $10.10 is to win
elections, Reverend Al, and that`s going to start with the Senate, and then
we have to move to the House.

Folks on the other side of this issue believe that because we`re in off-
year elections that they can behave in this way, that they can deny 28
million Americans access to a rate of pay that will allow them to live.
Not even have a high quality of life, simply to live, and it will also
significantly stimulate the economy. But they think since we`re in an off-
year election, that they can take votes like this and not worry about it.

If we were in a presidential year, this issue would be attracting much more
attention. We`ve got to show folks at the polls.

SHARPTON: Which is why we`ve got to bring out numbers of people concerned,
no matter what party they are in, in this year.

REED: Like never before.

SHARPTON: Ryan, Republicans always say they don`t want to raise the
minimum wage because it would cost jobs, but it would also lift 900,000
people out of poverty and income would rise by $2 billion. Would this be
good for the economy?

GRIM: It would certainly be good for the economy. Just on the level of
demand. In other words, if you have an extra $500 in your pocket, and
that`s roughly what it would mean if you went from the current minimum wage
to $10.10 an hour. That`s nearly $500 a month in your pocket.

Now in a lot of towns, that`s a rent payment, you know, that`s making sure
your electricity doesn`t get cut off. And, you know, that means you can
actually maybe buy some fruits and vegetables at the grocery store, and
that`s $500 that`s getting pumped into your local economy every single
month that wasn`t -- that wasn`t going there before. Instead, it was going
out to shareholders or whenever else it was going at the very top.

So, you know, certainly, and economists do not agree that this would cost
jobs, you know, the CBO number that`s being tossed around says that, you
know, this would mean that some certain jobs when -- you know, would not be
filled at some point. Not that jobs would be lost, and it also said 16.5
million people would get a raise, so even the CBO report, which Republicans
are using to oppose this, said it would be -- on net it would be better for
the economy.

SHARPTON: You know, Mayor Reed, you`re the mayor of Atlanta and a national
figure on many short lists of national deliberations, but your heart is
there as everyone is, in home, and President Obama talked about a letter
today he received from a woman in your home state of Georgia. Listen to

REED: Yes.


OBAMA: Sheila lives in Lilburn, Georgia, and at the time she was working
two jobs, making $8 an hour each. Sheila wrote, "I do not have days off.
I have hours off. But she kept going to work every day because she wanted
to be able to afford college tuition for her daughter. And so she wrote to
me and said, I do not want a pot of gold, all I want is to pay for college
and pay my bills in full every month.


SHARPTON: I mean, do Republicans try to act like people like Sheila don`t
exist, Mr. Mayor?

REED: But that`s why we`re here to remind them. You know, we took action
in Atlanta. Right now every full time employee in our city makes more than
$10.10 an hour because we listened to President Obama and we listen to
people like Sheila.

If Sheila was working two full-time jobs, that`s still only $29,000 a year,
and that`s why we got to win elections as we come up in the midterms,
Reverend Al, and that`s why we got to hold the United States Senate.

SHARPTON: Now, Ryan, the Economic Policy Institute has a report on who
would benefit from a minimum wage hike. The average worker is 35 years
old, 56 percent of them are women, and 28 percent have children.

Now Republicans always say that these are all young people. It`s just not
true, is it?

GRIM: No. think, you know, the idea of the kind of pimple-faced teenager
taking your order at McDonald`s or, you know, working at the beach on the
summer for minimum wage is very outdated. You know, people who still see
that as the regular minimum wage worker are not in touch with what the
economy has become, and especially over the last five years. You know,
this so-called recovery that we`ve had, all of the profits, all of the
recovery, has gone to the top, while wages have just continued to stay flat
or even fall in a lot of areas.


GRIM: So, you know, people who were once making, you know, $50,000 a year
are now making $30,000. People making $30,000 are making $20,000, and
people who have been unemployed for more than a year and their fallback
plan was to go work retail somewhere, can`t even find retail jobs because
there`s so much discrimination against long-term unemployed and because
there are more job seekers than there are jobs.


GRIM: And, you know, so this is just a problem that`s facing people that
the Republicans who don`t seem to be able to recognize.

SHARPTON: All right. I`m going to have to leave it there, but Mayor Reed,
I noticed that 11 of the senators who voted to block minimum wage are up
for re-election, so you`re saying vote, vote, vote this year.

REED: Let`s go. Let`s go.

SHARPTON: All right. Mayor Kasim Reed --

REED: That`s the only way these folks are going to get the message.

SHARPTON: Mayor Kasim Reed, thank you so much, sir, for taking time to be
with us tonight. And Ryan Grim, thank you, as well.

Well, coming up, we`re going to look at last month. Paul Ryan blamed
poverty on an inner city culture of not working. Today, the big meeting on
that comment with the congressional black caucus. Someone inside tells
what happened behind closed doors.

Plus, Florida Governor Rick Scott was searching for horror stories on the
health care law, but what he found should be scaring him.

And more on Oprah Winfrey interested in buying the Los Angeles Clippers.
The evolution of race in professional sports. That`s ahead.


SHARPTON: Everyone loves a good scary movie, right?



GEENA DAVIS, "THE FLY": Be afraid, be very afraid.



COLIN CLIVE, "FRANKENSTEIN": It`s alive. It`s alive. It`s alive. It`s



SHARPTON: And here`s Rick! Florida Governor Rick Scott was out looking
for his own scary movie. The Republican is running for re-election, and
yesterday he went to a senior center in search of Obamacare horror stories.
What he found instead was a horror story all his own. One man said he was
completely satisfied with his health care. Another said he was very happy.
A woman said she and her husband were very pleased. And another man added,
no problems. One woman said, I don`t have any complaints. They don`t
write scary movies any better than that, do they, Governor Scott?


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Were you surprised that you didn`t get complaints from
this crowd today?

GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: You know, as I travel the state, what I hear
from people is, they are having a harder time getting a physician. One
lady here talked about the number of orthopedic surgeons that are now --
she can`t get -- find an orthopedic surgeon to help. I hear about, you
know --

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: That was one person out of 20, though.


SHARPTON: Now, that was true, but Governor Scott forgot to mention that
when he asked, quote, "asked the group if others were finding physicians,
were opting out of Medicare, the response was a chorus of nos." Looks like
Rick Scott`s search for Obamacare horror stories is coming to an end.
Wait, did you hear that? That scary movie music means something is about
to happen, a dramatic moment is coming.

And here it is, here it is. A brand new poll shows Rick Scott, who`s
running against Obamacare, is ten points down against his Democratic
competitor, former Governor Charlie Crist. Maybe Governor Scott should
spend more time helping people sign up for Obamacare and less time
searching for horror stories. Did Rick Scott think we wouldn`t notice he
should be shaking in his boots? Nice try, but here`s how this movie ends.
We got you.


SHARPTON: Today, Congressman Paul Ryan met with members of the
Congressional Black Caucus to explain his offensive remarks about poverty,
which he blamed on inner city culture. Here are those comments from back
in March.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: We have got this tailspin of culture in our
inner cities in particular of men not working and just generations of men
not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of
work, and so there`s a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.


SHARPTON: No culture of working in the inner cities. Members of the black
caucus and others were outraged.


talking about solving the problem of poverty, he started out talking about
blaming people for being poor. There has been nothing done but to say that
people who don`t work are lazy, and I think that he should be not only
ashamed of himself --

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: If you know the least, you shouldn`t speak the loudest.
Inner city men suggest race, and Chairman Ryan, I think, knows that. If
not, I think we`re going to have to try to create an atmosphere where he
can learn things.

challenge his assumptions about the laziness, as it were, of inner city

comes in and apologizes and just confesses ignorance.


SHARPTON: Congressman Ryan never apologized directly. He said his
comments were inarticulate, but had nothing whatsoever to do with race.
Today he went on to explain himself. So what happened?

Joining me now, Congresswoman Karen Bass, Democrat of California, who was
in that meeting today. Congresswoman, did Paul Ryan apologize today or
explain himself further?

BASS: Well, he did not apologize. He said that he mis-communicated and
that he was inarticulate, as was described before, and what he told us is
that he had been traveling the country and going to different districts
and, in fact, said he had even been to some of our districts and that he
was observing and studying poverty, because this is an issue that he wants
to take on long-term. One of the things that I believe, Rev, and I`ve said
this before, is that first of all, if he was in any of our districts, that
was definitely news to us, because we most certainly did not know that, but
I believe that he does not know or understand what it is that he is seeing.

So we asked him questions about the implications of his budget and his
policy and how that impacts poverty. I do have to tell you, Rev, the
meeting was extremely short, and so the dialogue really did not allow for a
complete back and forth.

SHARPTON: So it was a short meeting, it was not a long range meeting where
people could really say what they wanted to say?

BASS: Well, exactly. I mean, people did have an opportunity to say what
they wanted to say and to ask him questions, but there was not enough time
for a sufficient dialogue, and then it was interrupted by votes. But I
think one thing that is very clear is that he has a very specific
philosophy, and he said that, and he called it that, and he described what
it was, and he even acknowledged that some programs, such as the earned
income tax credit, was a good program, but he believed that the way some of
the programs are, create a disincentive to work, and, obviously, members of
the Congressional Black Caucus disagreed with that, and we have several
members who sit on the Budget Committee and they were asking him very
specific budget-related questions, such as why would he cut Pell Grants,
why would he cut food stamps, how does we feel that that, you know,
contributes to alleviating poverty, and I don`t believe that there was an
opportunity to hear a real substantive answer.

When it came to Pell Grants, he said he was not calling to cut Pell Grants,
he was just saying that they shouldn`t be increased over time. Well,
that`s, you know, a question as to how you view that. In our
interpretation, that`s absolutely a cut. It might be a cut that takes
place in the out years, but it absolutely is a cut. And so the collision
of two philosophies, but I think what`s very important is that he intends
to continue working on poverty, and I think he is going to provide all of
us with an opportunity to have a very serious debate in our country that we
need to have.

SHARPTON: But he also called for a new tone in the debate. Take a listen.

BASS: Uh-huh.


RYAN: Policy makers from all sides of the aisle need to take a look at
whether we are fighting poverty successfully or not, and I think we can
learn from these exchanges with one another, and I think what we`re trying
to accomplish here is improving the tone of debate so that more people are
invited to this debate.


SHARPTON: But the tone of the debate, the congressman is the one who used
pretty disturbing tones when referring to poor people in the past. Listen
to his tone.


RYAN: Higher tax rates will decrease the number of makers in society and
increase the number of takers. We don`t want to turn this safety net into
a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lived of dependency and

Teach a man how to fish, he can feed himself for a life. Don`t simply feed

We`re getting more and more takers than makers in America.


SHARPTON: I mean, is that the tone that he`s talking about what we need to

BASS: Well, we absolutely need to change that tone specifically, and if
we`d had more time, believe me, a number of us would have asked him about
those very specific quotes, and so I think if he is going to delve into
this issue, it provides an opportunity for us to lift a lot of the issues
that happen around the country in terms of people really understanding the
barriers that people have in society and the policies that contribute to

So, if you want to get people off of food stamps, if you want to reduce
poverty, I got a solution for you, raise the minimum wage. It`s not rocket
science. There`s a jobs program that the president put forward a couple of
years ago, that`s a great opportunity.


BASS: You know, putting people back to work, that`s the way you lift
people out of poverty.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman Karen Bass, thank you so much for your time this

BASS: Thanks for having me on.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, does the NBA need someone like Oprah Winfrey to buy
the Clippers? A look at diversity in pro sports.

Also, the judge who gave a man just one month in prison for rape finally
gets reversed.

And we`ll look at the unanswered questions from that botched execution that
horrified the country. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Today in Oklahoma, the governor ordered an investigation into
that botched execution that horrified Americans all over the country, even
many who support the death penalty. Clayton Lockett was convicted for the
1999 murder of a teenaged woman. He was set to be executed last night by
lethal injection, but something went terribly wrong. At 6:23 p.m., prison
officials began the execution, given Lockett a drug to knock him
unconscious. At 6:33, a doctor and prison officials announced Lockett was
unconscious, but three minutes later, witnesses say he began to move, even
lifting his head off the execution table.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: At 6:37, he said, "Something`s wrong." At 6:39, he
still lifting his shoulders and head off the gurney, grimacing. And
appeared to be in distress.


SHARPTON: Witnesses say Lockett writhed, clenched his teeth and appeared
to struggle against the restraints holding him to the gurney.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: And at 6:39, he did, right before they closed the
curtain, he said -- he had full upper body movement, he was able to lift
his head and his shoulders from the gurney.

He was struggling to talk, but those are the words we got out -- man, I`m
not, and something`s wrong.


SHARPTON: Something`s wrong. Something was very wrong. At 6:39, prison
officials finally react, stepping in to stop the proceedings.


ZIVA BRANSTETTER, TULSA WORLD REPORTER: After about three minutes of this,
the warden who was inside the room said we`re going to close the blinds
temporarily, and they closed the blinds, but they never reopened them.


SHARPTON: The execution was halted, Lockett was pronounced dead from a
heart attack at 7:06 p.m. Officials later said Lockett`s vein failed and
the pain medication never took effect. Without effective sedation, the
lethal drugs are known to cause agonizing suffocation and pain. Prison
officials insist the problem was not caused by an experimental three-drug
cocktail that had never been used before. Despite lawsuits, the state
refuses to disclose the origins of those drugs. Many questions remain
about this case, but also about the process by which our government takes
the lives of its own citizens. Is that process fair, is it just? These
are questions many Americans are asking tonight. Some for the very first

Joining me now is Barry Scheck, co-director of The Innocence Project.
Thanks for being here tonight, Barry.


SHARPTON: You know more about executions than most. What`s your reaction
to what happened?

SCHECK: Well, the first thing is, everybody should have seen this coming.
There was litigation about the secrecy of the method that they were going
to use in terms of the drugs, because states have been running short of the
drugs that have been approved for humane executions, so they`ve been going
to these companies that are doing these compoundings, and in this instance
the courts refused in the final analysis to say exactly what was going to
be used for purposes of the execution, and look how it was botched.

And this on the heels of South Dakota, the execution of a guy named Michael
Lee Wilson on January 9th, where he`s saying, I feel my whole body burning.
Again, with this secrecy, Ohio, Dennis McGuire was executed on January
16th, and he was gasping for air for ten minutes. Everybody knew that was
going wrong, so this has been happening again and again and again and
again, and it doesn`t matter whether you`re for or against the death
penalty, it`s cruel and unusual punishment.

SHARPTON: You`re one of the foremost civil rights attorneys and civil
liberties attorneys in the country. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has an
independent review but he`s being led by a public safety commissioner that
she appointed. As one who`s seen it all and has been a leading figure in
these kinds of situations, how independent can that review be, Barry?

SCHECK: Well, on the face it really can`t be. Because you can`t
investigate yourself, and you have to bring in independent professionals.
Now I don`t want to prejudge it too much, because maybe they`ll bring in
some other independent individuals to look at this, but it`s a very bad
process that`s already occurred here in Oklahoma, because initially the
courts said we`re going to not make this a secret process and then there
was pressure from the governor, pressure from the legislature where they
threatened to impeach the judges, because they`re working all out and they
go forward with this secretly, so there`s a lot of answering to do here.

SHARPTON: You know, one of the things, and you`ve worked at this very
hard, probably more consistently than anyone I know, and that is around the
number of false death row convictions that are unacceptably high. A new
study shows that of the 7,482 deaths handed down from 1973 to 2004, 117 or
about 1.6 percent, were exonerated. With more time and resources, the
study says 4.1 percent or more of the more than 200 prisoners would have
been exonerated. Now, that means one in 25 death row inmates are likely
innocent. I mean, shouldn`t that shock Americans, Barry?

SCHECK: Well, it should, and it`s especially important to know where that
study came from. That was a recent article by Sam Gross and colleagues in
the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, so that`s the leading
scientific organization in the United States, if not the world, that is
taking a look at this and saying when you really do a statistical analysis
where you compare apples to apples, it`s frighteningly high rate of
potentially wrongful convictions and wrongful executions. Now, look, we
have Cameron Todd Willingham in Texas where we believe we have demonstrated
an innocent man was executed in the state of Texas.


SCHECK: There`s a book coming out By Jim Liebman at Columbia Law School
about Carlos DeLuna, another individual that I think the evidence
overwhelmingly shows was executed and is innocent in Texas, and Texas is
not the only state. So you know, people that are dealing with the question
of the death penalty now, we have to ask ourselves, you know, we can`t just
have it for a few counties in the United States. The truth of the matter
is, 14 counties in the United States with five percent of the United States
population, are responsible for 53 percent of the executions. And counties
with 28 percent of our population produce 95 percent of the institutions.


SCHECK: So it`s a very small number of counties. We know where it is,
Maricopa County, Arizona, you know, certain counties outside of Los
Angeles, Harris County, places in Florida. So a very small number of
places that are generating these executions.

SHARPTON: Well, I wanted to have you on, because you know this better than
anyone I know, and tonight many Americans that never asked about this
question of the death penalty are asking tonight because of Oklahoma.
Barry Scheck, thank you for your time.

SCHECK: Thank you, Rev.

SHARPTON: Coming up, justice delayed, but not denied. A Montana Supreme
Court makes a dramatic decision in a case involving a teacher convicted of
rape. Please, stay with us.


SHARPTON: We saw justice today in Montana, as the state Supreme Court
overturned a judge`s bizarre one-month sentence for a child rapist. Back
in 2007, a former high school teacher named Stacey Dean Rambold pled guilty
to raping a 14-year-old student. His victim killed herself before Rambold
went to trial. Last summer, Judge G. Todd Baugh sentenced Rambold to 15
years in prison for his crime, but suspended all but 31 days of that
sentence, saying the victim was as much in control of the situation as the
teacher and that she was older than her chronological age. He was later
forced to apologize.


G. TODD BAUGH, MONTANA DISTRICT JUDGE: I`m not sure just what I was
attempting to say at that point, but it didn`t come out correct. What I
said was demeaning to all women, not what I believe in, and irrelevant to
the sentencing.


SHARPTON: Today, the Supreme Court rebuked Baugh for his comments and
ordered that a new judge resentence Rambold to a minimum of two years in
prison, as state law requires. A disciplinary complaint against Judge
Baugh is still pending. We`ll continue to follow this story.


SHARPTON: Today, Oprah Winfrey announced that one of her new favorite
things might be the Los Angeles Clippers. Oprah says she`s interested in
being part of a group that buys the team. Whoever buys the Clippers, it`s
clear the league could use some more diversity. Right now there`s only one
black owner in the NBA, Michael Jordan. He represents just two percent of
the ownership, but 76 percent of NBA players are African-American.

Over the last few decades, the league has slowly become more diverse. Earl
Lloyd was the first black player in the NBA back in 1950, three years after
Jackie Robinson integrated baseball. Bill Russell became the first black
coach in 1966. B.E.T. Founder Robert Johnson became the first black owner
of any pro sports team in 2003. A decade later, we still have just one
black owner in the NBA. Isn`t it time that team owners look a bit more
like their rosters? The NBA commissioner has agreed to meet with civil
rights leaders and I, we should discuss diversity. We should discuss
ownership. Not just talent on the court, but ownership in the owner`s box.
That`s America. And we need to start reflecting it.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.


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