updated 8/6/2004 9:11:03 AM ET 2004-08-06T13:11:03

Guest: Lin Wood, Lisa Bloom, Jeralyn Merritt, John Clune, Chris Hazelip, William Portanova, Noel Soriano>

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, after we spoke with the lawyers for the alleged victim in the Kobe Bryant case, now the judge says no more talking.  We have more of what they had to say, part two of our cable executive. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LIN WOOD, BRYANT ACCUSER‘S ATTORNEY:  She has been honest from day one with the investigators as they‘ve had to question her about the most intimate details of her sexual life.  She‘s told them the good, the bad and the ugly.

ABRAMS (voice-over):  Her lawyers say she is ready to testify.  But will that testimony come in a civil trial for damages instead of a criminal one? 

Plus, a bizarre hostage drama in Florida—a county judge pretends to resign on live TV to end the standoff.  We‘ll talk with a lawyer whose life was at stake. 

And a potential bombshell in the Scott Peterson case; the judge calling a recess to allow the defense to look at some new evidence that could help Scott Peterson‘s defense. 

The program about justice starts now. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  First up on the docket tonight:  Part two of our cable exclusive in the Kobe Bryant case; my interview with the alleged victim‘s attorneys Lin Wood and John Clune.  Yesterday, after our program aired, the judge issued a gag order, saying that now it applies to the lawyers for the alleged victim as well.  So they cannot say anything more, but they did have more to say. 

They sat down with me after Judge Ruckriegel released transcripts of testimony from a defense expert who claims the alleged victim likely had sex with someone after her encounter with Bryant but before she took her rape exam.  Yesterday, her attorneys said it was simply untrue. 

Now part two of my interview with the attorneys for the woman at the center of the Kobe Bryant case.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOOD:  This girl just turned 19 years of age when this happened to her and she has put up this past year with her reputation being smeared, her privacy invaded, her life threatened.  And she has shown a tremendous resolve and a tremendous strength that I think people ought to respect what she has gone through.  And yet, she is still here fighting and she is not going to give up, whether it be criminal or civil, she will go forward to get justice.

There is nothing that they could say about this young lady in a courtroom that they haven‘t been able, through their intentional statements in court or their intentional statements in their pleadings that they haven‘t gotten out into the public mainstream already.  They‘ve aired their best information about...

(CROSSTALK)

WOOD:  ... this young girl and she has been honest from day one with the investigators as they have had to question her about the most intimate details of her sexual life.  She‘s told them the good, the bad and the ugly. 

ABRAMS:  Is that unfair...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... from their position which is...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... that Kobe Bryant is an innocent man and they want to try and figure out what‘s going on.

WOOD:  No one is going to deny Kobe Bryant the right to spend his hundreds of millions of dollars any way he chooses to do so.  And if he wants to spend $1 million or more a month to investigate this young girl‘s life because his defense lawyers have decided that the only way he‘s got a chance to get off is to destroy the reputation of this young girl, that‘s his right to do. 

Look, you don‘t have to attack her in terms of whether she is a legitimate expert witness or not.  I mean obviously in a civil case, I‘m going to spend a lot of time looking into Dr. Johnson from A to Z to find out how credible she is.  Experts can have legitimate conflicting opinions.  That‘s what this was that was released.  It was an opinion.  And I‘ll take this young girl and her straightforward direct testimony, truthful testimony about what she did and what she didn‘t do, I‘ll put that in front of a jury and weigh that against someone‘s opinion any day of the week.  I think this young girl will win that battle if it‘s between her and the opinion of a paid defense expert. 

ABRAMS:  There is a new report about a woman in Florida who has said that Kobe Bryant groped her at the very least inappropriately.  Is that going to be a relevant issue in this case? 

WOOD:  That‘s a decision for the prosecutors to make.  I‘m familiar with the report.  I can tell you that in a civil case, as you can imagine, that a thorough exhaustive investigation of Kobe Bryant‘s conduct, past, present will be undertaken and one of the things that we will be looking at will be whether there is a pattern, whether there have been prior instances. 

You know Dan, if you believe Kobe Bryant, if this was in fact as he says, consensual sex, if this was the first time, he‘s mighty unlucky, isn‘t he?  I just don‘t think it sells.  So we‘re going to be looking at that issue.  I can‘t confirm the credibility of this “Sports Illustrated” story, but I will confirm it in a civil case. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Lin Wood really throwing it down there, saying he‘s ready to go into Kobe Bryant‘s past. 

Joining me now to discuss is criminal defense attorney Jeralyn Merritt and civil rights attorney and Court TV anchor, Lisa Bloom. 

All right, Lisa, look, you know what everyone is going to say.  They‘re going to say if this case doesn‘t go forward and it just goes—moves forward in a civil court that they‘re going to say this is all about the money. 

LISA BLOOM, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY:   That‘s right, Dan.  I think it‘s appalling.  I think these two gentlemen are doing their client a terrible disservice.  I cannot believe that they are speaking publicly about her possible reconsidering of the charges, her possible filing of a civil suit, and that they are publicly saying that this judge should step down.  I‘m a victim‘s rights attorney myself.  I have done for years what these men are doing, representing a powerless person against a celebrity in a sexual assault case.  I would never have done any of these things...

(CROSSTALK)

BLOOM:  Why tell the world Dan?  Why?

ABRAMS:  Let me play—I‘ll play devil‘s advocate since I didn‘t realize that you both are going to be on the same side on this.  Their position is that this information comes out, released by the court...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  ... that it‘s one sided and that it‘s extremely inflammatory and their position is we don‘t think she can get a fair trial. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes, Dan...

ABRAMS:  And as a result...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Can I...

ABRAMS:  ... we‘re not going to move forward in a criminal case and if we want to really get down to it, we want to play on an even playing field where it would be in a civil court.  Go ahead Jeralyn.

JERALYN MERRITT, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  You know the fallacy with their argument is that first of all they keep saying the defense-paid expert.  But they don‘t tell you that the prosecuting has hired an expert, too.  His name is Rick Jobin.  He‘s from Canada.  It was in the “Rocky Mountain News” this morning and I‘ve looked up his article.  And he‘s going to testify that the semen and the sperm that was in her cotton underwear would survive a laundering.  Now don‘t you think that expert is paid, too?  So that...

ABRAMS:  But that person‘s testimony hasn‘t been released...

(CROSSTALK)

MERRITT:  What they‘re really going after is they want Kobe on the witness stand and in a criminal case they cannot force Kobe to take the stand.  If they drop the criminal case and if they go to a civil case they can subpoena Kobe.  They can make him go through depositions and they can make him testify.  But the other fallacy is that I don‘t think Kobe has ever said this was the first time he engaged in adultery.  He said it was consensual sex.  So, I don‘t think they would get in all those other instances they‘re talking about with Kobe.

BLOOM:  But Dan, my point is that these gentlemen are doing their client...

(CROSSTALK)

BLOOM:  ... a terrible disservice telling her to drop the charges. 

ABRAMS:  I don‘t know that they are telling her to drop...

BLOOM:  Well...

ABRAMS:  ... the charges.  I didn‘t hear them say we told her to drop the charges...

BLOOM:  Well they‘re saying that that is their advice.  I reviewed the transcript of your show yesterday Dan...

ABRAMS:  They didn‘t...

BLOOM:  ... which I got off of MSNBC.com. 

ABRAMS:  Well, I appreciate you going to our Web site...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... that‘s very good of you and I...

BLOOM:  You know I read it every day...

(CROSSTALK)

BLOOM:  I keep tabs on you Dan and listen...

ABRAMS:  ... spreading the word but the bottom line is they did not say we advised her to drop the charges.  What Lin Wood said was...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... that he thought that he might be able to be—it might be a fairer contest in a civil case than in a criminal trial. 

BLOOM:  Well they‘re suggesting that they think that‘s the best course of action.  I think that‘s terrible.  Look, I read that whole 100-page transcript about the DNA evidence. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.

BLOOM:  Very few people did.  I think very few people even knew what it was about.  But what was front-page news today was Kobe‘s accuser getting cold feet.  They have done a worse service to her by announcing to the world that she is having second thoughts. 

ABRAMS:  Well...

BLOOM:  That‘s what going to pollute the jury pool, not...

ABRAMS:  There isn‘t going to be a jury pool, though...

BLOOM:  ... telling potential jurors what...

ABRAMS:  That‘s the point, is I think that they‘ve talked to her about it—I mean they didn‘t say this to me...

BLOOM:  Well that‘s terrible advice...

ABRAMS:  ... it was the impression.  Why...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Well you know what Dan...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Let me take a break...

BLOOM:  ... if she‘s telling the truth...

ABRAMS:  ... hang on...

MERRITT:  OK...

BLOOM:  ... she should go forward and try the case...

ABRAMS:  Hang on.  Hang on.  Break—come back—more of my exclusive coming up.  And I ask is there any way for the prosecution to compete with this defense team? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOOD:  When you add on top of that the unlimited financial resources they have, the best prosecutors in the country would have trouble keeping up with that kind of defense team. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  New evidence that could help Scott Peterson, apparently important enough for the judge to call a recess to give the defense team more time to look at it. 

And he had a relationship with teacher Mary Kay Letourneau when he was just 12.  They now have two children together.  She‘s now out of prison, but will they be together again?  We‘ll hear from Vili Fualaau and one of his best friends.

Your e-mails abramsreport@msnbc.com.  I‘ll respond at the end of the show.

ABRAMS:  Coming up:  Is there any way prosecutors in the Kobe Bryant case can compete with a high paid defense team?  More of my cable exclusive with the lawyers for Bryant‘s accuser coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Lawyers for the alleged victim in the Kobe Bryant case are now formally banned from talking to the press.  That ruling comes just after we aired our cable exclusive interview with them last night.  But we have more that we did not show you yesterday.  Now back to the second part of that interview where I asked the alleged victim‘s attorneys in the prosecutors in the case are outgunned. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOOD:  Hal Haddon and Pam Mackey are the best in Colorado.  You know that Hal represented one of my clients, he formally represented John Ramsey.  I don‘t question their skill and ability and...

ABRAMS:  Do you question the skill and ability of the prosecutors? 

WOOD:  Well, when you add on top of that the unlimited financial resources they have, the best prosecutors in the country would have trouble keeping up with that kind of a defense team and a defense budget.  This is Eagle, Colorado.  I have some concerns that the financial restraints on the budget of Eagle doesn‘t allow these prosecutors the resources to match the unlimited resources be poured into this case by Kobe Bryant.  But I have met with the prosecutors.  I have not met with the district attorney, Mark Hurlbert. 

He got out of the case in terms of the trial before I got in, but I have met with the prosecutors and I am impressed with their determination.  I am impressed with their resolve and I am very impressed with the fact that they very strongly believe in this young girl‘s case.  So if you‘ve got to judge this as a matter of convictions and a matter of heart, these prosecutors are up to the task if called upon. 

ABRAMS:  If you were advising the prosecutors, would you say to them, let‘s pull out? 

WOOD:  We have the luxury of only having to advise this young lady and so we—they don‘t necessarily look for our advice, I think, on the issues of whether they should go forward or not.  They are going to obviously have a discussion, I think, with John and with this young lady.  But they are going to have to make their own decision there.  They are in charge of that prosecution. 

JOHN CLUNE, BRYANT ACCUSER‘S ATTORNEY:  We feel like we‘re back in the 1950‘s.  The whole case now is about the girl.  It‘s about what—and not about what the girl did in the room.  It‘s about what happened, what did she do before, what did she do after?  If an Eagle County jury could have a fair opportunity to hear the facts of what happened in that hotel room, we would be very happy with the prosecution going forward with this case. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  My take—again, seems this case is running on fumes, it‘s inevitable now that the D.A. himself is going to say that they don‘t want to go forward with this.  Remember—I meant to say the D.A. himself has said he‘s not going to try this case and that his deputies are going to take over.  That to me was the first sign that this case was in big trouble.  Even though this guy is handling all of the pretrial motions or most of them and he says oh, you know what, I‘ve got a reelection coming up.  I‘m going to let my deputies handle the trial. 

I‘m back with my legal team.  You know Lisa Bloom, I had people say to me before these attorneys came out, that the release of this transcript was going to serve as an excuse some said, as an explanation, some said, for this woman and the prosecutors to pull out of what was a weak case. 

BLOOM:  Well, I think that‘s absurd Dan.  I think the man on the street has no idea what this transcript is even about.  It only expands upon a point that the public has already known, namely that the defense contends she had sex with somebody in the 12 hours between Kobe and the rape exam.  Now this is easily disproved by the prosecution.  You get Mr.  X, you get him into court and he says where he was during that 12 hours, hopefully not with her, and that issue...

(CROSSTALK)

BLOOM:  ... is then put to rest.  But Dan, what message does it send if she drops charges?  I think the person on the street is going to think she was lying.  They caught her lying.  She couldn‘t go forward.  That‘s the only reason, frankly, I would believe...

(CROSSTALK)

BLOOM:  ... and I‘m on the victim‘s side. 

ABRAMS:  I agree with you in the sense that I don‘t think that you can say that oh because her name was released on a Web site twice, on the court Web site, even though her name was all over the Internet before that, and the fact that this one document came out that suddenly that means she‘s not going to get a fair trial...

BLOOM:  Yes, who cares?  The mainstream...

ABRAMS:  But...

BLOOM:  ... media didn‘t release her name. 

ABRAMS:  Right.  But what I would say is that this has long been considered a weak case for the prosecution.  Doesn‘t mean that she is lying, it means that it‘s been a weak case Jeralyn Merritt.

BLOOM:  You know, if she‘s a good witness, let her testify. 

ABRAMS:  Let me let Jeralyn—go ahead Jeralyn.

MERRITT:  You know there are a couple things.  First of all, I think that she may not even really make the decision until we get one more ruling from the judge.  Don‘t forget the judge has not yet ruled as to whether her two alleged suicide attempts are going to be able to come in through witness testimony or other of her emotional foible as they may be.  If those—if the judge says those come in, I have no doubt—well—I really don‘t think she‘s going to go forward.

I think she will then say I‘m going to go to the civil arena.  And I just want to rebut one other thing Lin Wood said about how the—Colorado is not funding this prosecution and that these are just little Eagle County prosecutors.  That‘s not true.  There is one prosecutor from Boulder County and there is prosecutor from Jefferson County, both of whom are two of the most experienced sex prosecutors in the state who are working on this case, who are going to try this case.  The prosecution is not outgunned by money or by talent.  They are outgunned by the fact that their facts are not going to stand up in court. 

ABRAMS:  Do you agree with that, Lisa?

BLOOM:  No, of course Kobe has ten‘s of millions of dollars and the prosecutors don‘t have that kind of money.  And frankly, after reading this transcript, it‘s like Clarence Darrow for the defense versus Gomer Pyle for the prosecution.  They are clearly outmaneuvered by this very intelligent, articulate, thorough defense team. 

ABRAMS:  Bottom line, question, Lisa Bloom, do you expect this case go to trial? 

BLOOM:  I hope it does go to trial Dan.  I hope she rejects this advice of her attorneys who clearly want to go forward with the civil suit.  They‘ve got a motivation to do that...

ABRAMS:  Wait a sec...

BLOOM:  She should go forward.  If she‘s telling the truth...

ABRAMS:  I don‘t get it.  Why would they be—I mean they can still go forward with the civil suit no matter what happens in the criminal case. 

BLOOM:  Why do they her to drop the criminal case...

MERRITT:  They don‘t want the criminal case. 

BLOOM:  Why do they want her to drop the criminal case? 

ABRAMS:  I‘ll tell you why.  Because the bottom line...

(CROSSTALK)

MERRITT:  Because they won‘t get any money in the civil case if they get—if Kobe gets acquitted. 

BLOOM:  Dan, why...

ABRAMS:  What do you mean?  Wait, wait...

BLOOM:  ... on earth would an attorney...

ABRAMS:  ... wait...

BLOOM:  ... say their client is thinking about changing her mind...

ABRAMS:  If he‘s acquitted in the criminal case, Jeralyn, that doesn‘t mean olla O.J. Simpson that you can‘t win in a civil case. 

MERRITT:  But under the facts of this case, I don‘t think they will.  If Kobe Bryant gets acquitted, I don‘t think anyone is going to want to hear another word from this woman, even though the standard of proof is going to be different in the civil case.  They‘re not going...

ABRAMS:  Do you think the public...

MERRITT:  ... there‘s no more facts to support her. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Do you think the public perception, Jeralyn, would just be too much? 

MERRITT:  Yes, I think so.

BLOOM:  Any reconsideration should be subject to attorney/client privilege.  They should never have disclosed that Dan...

ABRAMS:  I don‘t know.  I‘ve got to...

BLOOM:  That terrible for her case.  She‘ll be cross-examined about that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) trial...

ABRAMS:  Look, I‘ve got to tell you, I think that you are being too hard on the lawyers for coming out.  I think that they are the first time someone is defending this woman.  And regardless of what you think about this case, if I‘m advising her, I say up to this point no one served as your voice. 

BLOOM:  Yes, but they can defend her, they can say that she was raped, they can go after what happened that night, but why disclose publicly that she is thinking about dropping charges?  If she stays with it, she is going to be cross-examined about that now.  You had cold feet...

ABRAMS:  No, you can‘t be cross-examined...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... about what your attorney said...

(CROSSTALK)

MERRITT:  I wouldn‘t second-guess Lin Wood...

(CROSSTALK)

MERRITT:  He‘s too good an attorney...

(CROSSTALK)

MERRITT:  ... don‘t second-guess him Lisa...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Your attorney...

MERRITT:  Lisa, he‘s too good an attorney...

ABRAMS:  All right...

MERRITT:  ... I wouldn‘t second-guess him.

ABRAMS:  Jeralyn Merritt and Lisa Bloom, stay with us. 

Coming up, a county judge in Florida takes a highly unusual step on live TV.  She pretends to step down to end a hostage situation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I do hereby resign my position as county judge. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  It was fake, but it worked.  We talk with the hostage whose life she may have saved.

Later, surprise recess in the Scott Peterson case.  Another problem—this time so his lawyers can investigate new evidence that defense attorney Mark Geragos says could help his case.  What a mess...

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Now to a bizarre case out of Jacksonville, Florida—a man angry at a judge for finding him guilty of domestic abuse five years earlier apparently is still holding quite a grudge.  The man, John M.  Knight, took an attorney hostage yesterday and threatened to set off a bomb unless the judge, Sharon Tanner, resigned.  She did—or so it seemed. 

NBC‘s Pat Dawson explains. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We simply don‘t know where they are...

PAT DAWSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  For midday viewers in Jacksonville, it was a bizarre development in the midst of a dramatic hostage crisis.  A local judge suddenly appeared on live TV to resign. 

JUDGE SHARON TANNER, DUVAL COUNTY FLORIDA:  I do hereby resign my position as county judge...

DAWSON:  What viewers didn‘t realize was the resignation was a hoax, a ploy to meet the demands of an armed gunman who had taken a man hostage in this office building. 

SHERIFF JOHN RUTHERFORD, DUVAL COUNTY FL:  Judge Sharon Tanner had a previous criminal case involving the suspect.  He did demand that the judge go live on TV or there would be consequences. 

DAWSON:  The stand off had started barely an hour earlier when workers in the building got the order to evacuate quickly. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK, here we go. 

DAWSON:  Hundreds of people including children from a day care center hurried to safety as heavily armed police entered the building.  The gunman called Jacksonville‘s mayor, saying he had a hostage, a bomb and a bizarre demand, that Judge Tanner resign. 

MAYOR JOHN PEYTON, JACKSONVILLE, FL:  I was able to keep the suspect on the line and tried to follow the advice of the Sheriff‘s Department...

DAWSON:  Shortly after the judge‘s resignation, the hostage was released and the alleged gunman, John Matthew Knight, surrendered. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I had a woman judge discriminate against me...

DAWSON:  In another strange twist, Tuesday he sent this home video to local TV stations claiming the judge had ruined his life. 

Pat Dawson, NBC News, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Mr. Knight is currently being held without bond.  Joining me now is attorney Chris Hazelip, the man taken hostage yesterday.  Thank you very much for joining me.  We appreciate it. 

CHRIS HAZELIP, LAWYER HELD HOSTAGE:  Dan, it‘s good to be here. 

ABRAMS:  It‘s good for you to be well and healthy, et cetera.  Now, this guy comes into your office and he says he‘s with the Justice Department.

HAZELIP:  That‘s how he reported to the receptionist and of course I didn‘t have an appointment or anything but when I heard someone from the Justice Department was here to see me, I felt that I should meet with him. 

ABRAMS:  So what happened next? 

HAZELIP:  Well, my secretary retrieved him from our reception area and brought him to my office and I showed him into my office.  She closed the door and I shook his hand and said an unannounced visit from the Justice Department, tell me what‘s up?  And he said well, I lied.  I‘m not from the Justice Department, but I have a 9-millimeter Beretta that‘s loaded in this envelope and I have a bomb in this satchel and he pulled back his coat and he showed and I‘ve got a wire and this is a mercury switch and if anything happens to me and if you don‘t do exactly what I say then I‘m going to blow this place up.  And I‘m not kidding around. 

ABRAMS:  And then what?  And then he says you need...

HAZELIP:  Well...

ABRAMS:  ... to call...

HAZELIP:  Well, yes, but of course I asked him well, tell me your problem.  Maybe I can help you.  Tell me what‘s wrong.  And he began to tell me the story relative to the domestic battery case and how he felt he had been the subject of an injustice here.  He mentioned Judge Tanner and felt that she had wronged him and he began to tell the story and said that his life was ruined as far as he was concerned and this was his last measure. 

He was desperate and he had tried everything else and it hadn‘t worked.  So, I said well let me look at the materials that you have got and he laid them out before me and he had a lot of complaints about the justice system and lawyers and that sort of thing.  But ultimately he said you need to send these materials in a hand delivery package to our mayor, John Peyton.  I asked why. 

He thought the mayor would take anything from me and he said no, you just do it, you‘re at Rogers Towers.  We do a lot of work for Gate Petroleum Company, which is owned by Mr. Peyton‘s father...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

HAZELIP:  ... and apparently that‘s why he picked our law firm.

ABRAMS:  Right.

HAZELIP:  I‘m not exactly sure why he picked me, although he did ask for me by name.  I had never seen him before...

ABRAMS:  I was...

HAZELIP:  I do not know the man...

ABRAMS:  I was going to actually ask you about that.  So the judge then goes on television, pretends to resign because that‘s his demand.  After you were released, and after you were safe, did you call the judge and get a chance to talk to her? 

HAZELIP:  Well, it‘s funny you mention that and of course a lot happened before she went on television and there was—while I was in the room with him, which was about two hours, there was no TV feed or anything like that and I don‘t know whether the judge had gone on and I frankly don‘t know whether he knew the judge had gone on TV.  I found that out after the fact. 

But ultimately I wanted to thank many people and Judge Tanner was one of the chief people I wanted to thank and I tried to call her and she tried to call me.  But I happened to run into her at a hospital today when I was a visiting a relative that was having some surgery so—my father and anyway, I got to see her and I got to thank her in person, which was the best way. 

ABRAMS:  Well, it‘s good to see that you are safe.  I hope your father is well or is getting better.  I‘m not going to ask you personal questions.  Thank you very much for coming on the program.  We appreciate you taking the time. 

HAZELIP:  Thank you, Dan.  It was good talking to you. 

ABRAMS:  Scott Peterson trial on hold as the defense asks for extra time to test new evidence that defense attorney Mark Geragos believes could help clear his client.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Welcome back.  You know, you could call it a surprise delay in the Scott Peterson case.  I don‘t know.  I don‘t know that I‘m even surprised any more.  The defense gets a chance to test new evidence or examine it that they say could help clear Scott Peterson. 

MSNBC‘s Jennifer London is at the courthouse.  Jennifer, what happened? 

JENNIFER LONDON, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hi Dan.  Well here‘s what we know.  This morning the prosecution, we believe it was this morning, handed over some new evidence to the defense team.  Mark Geragos saying that while given this he is not ready to move forward with the case, he wants some time to test the evidence.  He would also like it get the preliminary results back.  So Mark Geragos asked Judge Delucchi for a continuance until Tuesday.  Judge Delucchi agreed to this and court has been delayed. 

Now, Mark Geragos would not elaborate on what this new evidence is other than to say it is scientific evidence.  He did say it could perhaps clear Scott Peterson, but he would not elaborate citing the gag order.  Of course, that did not stop reporters from asking him.  Geragos saying I can‘t comment, I can‘t comment.  When he was pushed a little further, the only thing that he would say is he simply reiterated what Judge Delucchi said this morning. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK GERAGOS, SCOTT PETERSON‘S ATTORNEY:  Judge Delucchi recessed until Tuesday specifically so that this new potentially exculpatory evidence could be examined.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LONDON:  I spoke with someone who is close to the case and also a defense attorney and he says this new evidence may have something to do with the bodies of Laci Peterson and Conner, but again, he says it may, we simply don‘t know at this point.  Now Judge Delucchi did tell the jury this morning that he is sorry for the delay.  He says that these things happen in a trial such as this, but he says that the witness list for next week is still intact and that they will have—quote—“a full plate on Tuesday”, which means, Dan, that we may in fact hear from Peterson‘s mistress, Amber Frey. 

ABRAMS:  Jennifer London, thanks.  Remember Macaulay Culkin and that movie “Home Alone” where he just like puts his hands and he goes this is unbelievable. 

My take—this is exactly what happened in the O.J. Simpson case.  The court became so consumed with new revelations, battles over who turned over what when, in the end, I think this jury may like that jury lose focus of the facts thanks in large part to the prosecutor‘s ineptitude.

Lets bring back our legal team—California defense attorney Bill Portanova and civil rights attorney and Court TV anchor Lisa Bloom.  Lisa...

BLOOM:  Yes Dan...

ABRAMS:  ... how do you defend?  I mean it‘s a mess.

BLOOM:  Well look, just because Geragos says it‘s potentially exculpatory doesn‘t make...

ABRAMS:  The judge is giving him until Tuesday...

BLOOM:  ... you know what, they are normally dark on Friday so it‘s really only one day.  They didn‘t have the jury coming in on Monday anyway so it‘s not that much time.  And look, if you had a buck for every time Geragos said this new piece of evidence is going to clear his client...

ABRAMS:  I agree with you...

BLOOM:  ... we could quit our day job. 

ABRAMS:  I agree with you about that, but the bottom line is it seems that this judge is getting a little fed up with the prosecutors to the point where—and I‘ll bring Bill Portanova in on this—you know I always say that these little instructions to the jury really don‘t mean anything in the end.  And when judges say oh you know prosecutors should have this and that or disregard the testimony you heard, you know goes in one ear and out the other.  But if you hear enough times about the prosecutors kind of messing up in the eyes of the judge then it does start to have an impact - Bill.

WILLIAM PORTANOVA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Oh, Dan, are you looking at me? 

ABRAMS:  I‘m looking at you man...

PORTANOVA:  I‘m looking at your camera...

ABRAMS:  ... looking at you.  Right back at you.

PORTANOVA:  Well let me tell you what we have here.  Yes, this case was never good in the first place and the government is trying to put together an entire case made out of tiny little mosaic tiles inferring all of this guilt evidence that really doesn‘t exist.  They just want you to believe it might exist based on these few tiles.

Geragos, every time he has an opportunity walks in and kicks the tiles all over the floor and every time he does it, the government doesn‘t really have a decent response.  What the government gets is a chewing out by the judge in front of the jury...

BLOOM:  OK, but nobody is saying the prosecution did anything wrong today.  They may have just received this evidence themselves.  The judge didn‘t dress down the prosecution today. 

ABRAMS:  Not yet. 

PORTANOVA:  Well, every single time there is a delay like this be based on any newly developed evidence it ultimately inures to the fault of the government because they are the one whose are supposed to have this case put together...

ABRAMS:  But Bill...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... concede that in every case defense attorneys complain why didn‘t you hand over the evidence?  You didn‘t hand it over fast enough, you didn‘t have over enough.  I mean every single high-profile case I have ever covered, I think...

PORTANOVA:  Well...

ABRAMS:  ... let me think about that...

PORTANOVA:  Well...

ABRAMS:  ... any one I can think of right now the defense has complained that discovery wasn‘t handed over...

BLOOM:  They may have just received it themselves Dan.

PORTANOVA:  Well the bottom line here is if he calls—if he cries wolf too often, it may inure to the benefit of the government.  But in the long-term where you have an inferential case like this where the government‘s judgment in bringing the charge is really the most important thing, the jury walks in believing the government knows what it‘s doing and if halfway through the trial they start getting this constant drip, drip, drip affect on the government really not having a handle on its own case, then they doubt the government‘s judgment and they stop giving the benefit of the doubt to the judgment...

ABRAMS:  Hey Lisa...

BLOOM:  Yes.

PORTANOVA:  ... before you know it, they start laughing at the government. 

ABRAMS:  Lisa‘s mother is Gloria Allred, the attorney for Amber Frey.

BLOOM:  Don‘t tell anyone.

ABRAMS:  No, we tell everyone.  The bottom line is Gloria can‘t answer all these questions.  Is Amber Frey still going to testify Lisa...

BLOOM:  My understanding...

ABRAMS:  ... next week?

BLOOM:  My understanding is she is still slated to testify beginning next Tuesday when the jury comes back. 

ABRAMS:  You know what that means.  It means I am going to be in Redwood City, California to be inside the courtroom. 

Bill Portanova and Lisa Bloom, thanks a lot. 

BLOOM:  Thanks Dan.

PORTANOVA:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, the mother of his children is now out of prison.  Mary Kay Letourneau began a relationship with Vili Fualaau when he was just 12.  We‘ll hear more from Vili Fualaau and talk with one of his closest friends about what‘s next for him.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  After seven and a half years behind bars for child rape, one-time elementary school teacher Mary Kay Letourneau is now a registered sex offender.  And Vili Fualaau, who was just 12 when they started their relationship, wants to see the mother of his children again.  Hours after Letourneau was declared an official—quote—“level two-sex offender”, considered likely to reoffend, Fualaau‘s attorney filed a motion to lift what‘s called a no contact order that keeps them apart. 

Fualaau‘s attorney pointed out that Mr. Fualaau is now 21 years old.  He does not fear Mary Kay Letourneau.  This morning Vili Fualaau spoke exclusively to “Today” show‘s Matt Lauer about his feelings for Mary Kay Letourneau, their affair, and their separation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VILI FUALAAU, HAS TWO KIDS WITH LETOURNEAU:  Basically I have been waiting for a long time for this to happen, for her to come out and now that I—now that she is out now, you know I‘m really excited to see her. 

MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, NBC “TODAY” SHOW:  There is a no contact order in effect, a lawyer on your behalf took actions to initiate, which you had to do to remove that no contact order.  So, is that for the ease of Mary visiting the kids so it won‘t be awkward.  You won‘t have to leave the house when she comes over or is that because you want to now say let‘s see if we can make it? 

FUALAAU:  I want to see who she is and if she is still the same person that I fell in love with and I want to see if she feels the same way for me. 

LAUER:  Do you want your children to be there for that first meeting? 

Is that maybe a little buffer zone? 

FUALAAU:  Well, I kind of want to be—you know I want to do it alone and then later we‘ll bring the kids in the picture. 

LAUER:  How long do you think it will take for you to decide whether this has a chance to work or not?

FUALAAU:  Well I‘m hoping by the end of this month. 

LAUER:  So in other words, if you see her at the end of this month, are you going it give it two weeks, two months?  Do you think you will know kind of quickly if you two have grown apart and there‘s no chance for getting back together? 

FUALAAU:  We left on awkward terms, so...

(CROSSTALK)

FUALAAU:  ... I can still remember that night.  We were spotted in front of her friend‘s house and taken and separated. 

LAUER:  That was the last time you saw her? 

FUALAAU:  Yes, I can remember word for word and what we did and what...

LAUER:  What were the last words you said to her? 

FUALAAU:  I love you. 

LAUER:  And she said? 

FUALAAU:  She said shut up, I‘m not leaving. 

LAUER:  What did you two talk about?  I mean when you two were alone together, which was hard...

FUALAAU:  Right.

LAUER:  ... it was hard for you two to be alone together.  She was your teacher. 

FUALAAU:  She was my teacher. 

LAUER:  What kind kinds of things did you talk about? 

FUALAAU:  We talked about anything and everything.  I‘m not the only person that‘s ever felt the feeling I felt, you know, and the people that are still in love, you know, for a long time, people that are married their whole life and love is very strong in their marriage, it‘s that feeling you know where you just know—it‘s not like you have to work at it. 

LAUER:  There was just a chemistry. 

FUALAAU:  Yes, it‘s just there and it belongs to you. 

LAUER:  What was the hardest part for you when she went off to prison? 

FUALAAU:  The hardest part was being separated without choice. 

LAUER:  I think you have described it some ways as a conspiracy against love? 

FUALAAU:  Yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

FUALAAU:  I believe sometimes maybe it was like a punishment from

God, the

whole adultery thing.  You know, sort of a test to see you know if we still love each other. 

LAUER:  You are 21 years old now, you have two daughters, 7 and 5, and you‘ve been through a lot.  Was it worth it? 

FUALAAU:  Was it worth it?  I don‘t know yet.  There is still more to come.  We got—have to hear her side.  I don‘t know if she still loves me.  There‘s still a lot more to come. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  My take—I‘ve said it before and I‘m going to say it again. 

Mary Kay Letourneau has done her time.  Vili Fualaau is a 21-year-old man.  If they want to be together for a day, a week or a lifetime, the court shouldn‘t be getting in their way. 

Joining me now on the set is Noel Soriano, a good friend of Vili Fualaau, who‘s been with him during his recent visit to New York.  Noel, thanks a lot for coming on the program.

NOEL SORIANO, FRIEND OF VILI FUALAAU:  Thanks for having me Dan.

ABRAMS:  All right.  So, you‘ve known him for years, years and years, since he was 13 years old...

SORIANO:  Correct. 

ABRAMS:  ... you‘ve known Vili.  Have his feelings changed over the years?  I mean while she was in prison, was he saying sometimes you know what, I‘m done, I‘m finished, this is taking too long? 

SORIANO:  I think his feelings only grew more and more with each and every day.  I remember times real late at night, early in the morning where he would keep me awake, calling me.  Noel, I can‘t sleep.  What‘s the matter?  I keep thinking about Mary...

ABRAMS:  What was he thinking?  What he was thinking about...

SORIANO:  Well basically her safety, first of all.  She‘s in prison and he was concerned about that, you know, about her well being, how she‘s doing.  Also there were rumors about her being in solitary confinement and he was real concerned, you know, and it just shows that he really loves her. 

ABRAMS:  As a legal matter, he was a victim, a victim of rape.  Was there ever a time where he felt like a victim of rape? 

SORIANO:  No.  Like you said, it‘s a legal matter.  OK...

ABRAMS:  But personally, as a sort of feeling matter, did he ever feel that you saw, did he ever say you know what, she stole my innocence.  She stole my youth.

SORIANO:  I think she freed him.  She freed him.  She freed him to this life that they shared together and he just wants that back.  He just wants that back.  That‘s all. 

(CROSSTALK)

SORIANO:  He‘s never felt like a victim, ever. 

ABRAMS:  As a friend to him, do you see this as a relationship that can actually work?  I mean you‘ve got to look at it sort of as an objective person looks at it and says how could this relationship possibly work? 

SORIANO:  Well, for a person that has loved before, they can understand it because they have loved before.  Persons that are in love they can understand it also.  They can relate to it.  And Vili is very much in love with her...

(CROSSTALK)

SORIANO:  ... yes, to this day and I have a feeling it will work.  I don‘t see why not.  I mean they were separated for seven years, but throughout those seven years, he has been, like I said, incomplete without her.  And it‘s time to make him complete again. 

ABRAMS:  And the children?  Do you get to see them with Vili, with the kids?  

SORIANO:  Yes...

ABRAMS:  Tell me about it.

SORIANO:  Oh, the kids are beautiful.  Full of energy.  Full of energy, very healthy, well-mannered kids and I love spending time with them.  Alexis Georgia is—Georgia Alexis is my goddaughter and I‘m very happy to be in their life and I‘ve very proud to be her godfather.  And like I said, I‘m just glad to be part of their lives and be around them and share the time with them. 

ABRAMS:  Tell me a little bit more about what high school was like for Vili, junior high and some of the other times when he was in school and he was known as the guy who had sex with his teacher, right, everyone knew? 

SORIANO:  Everyone knew. 

ABRAMS:  How was that for him? 

SORIANO:  Well it was hard.  I think he only finished—he didn‘t even finish high school.  He had to drop out.  The pressure was tremendous.  It was overwhelming to him.  You know he would constantly get in trouble because everybody would just want to hang out with him, be his—befriend him because of who he is.  You know they thought of it cool that he had an affair with his teacher. 

ABRAMS:  And did he ever react that way?  I mean did he ever say—was he, you know, ever the kind of person who would say yes, you know, yes, I had sex with my teacher, it was really cool.  It sounds like this was something very different. 

SORIANO:  Anybody that knows Vili, he never did that.  If you know Vili, he was very restrained, very held back, very quiet.  He even said so himself in his other interviews, he‘s very—he keeps to himself.  He is not very social.  He‘s an artist you know and basically if his mind is always going with his hands and I guess you can—anything can be a canvas to him, whether it‘s a piece of napkin, the sand, a piece of paper.  You know he keeps to himself and he was never—he never boasted about his affair with Mary.  I never heard him.  And when people would ask him, he would just say oh nothing, keep to himself and walk away.  He just keeps to himself.

ABRAMS:  You were telling me before that you have been the best man in a number of weddings, do you expect this is going to be another one? 

SORIANO:  Well I‘ll be proud and I will accept it if it...

ABRAMS:  Do you think this is a wedding that‘s going to happen?  Mary Kay Letourneau is going to get married to Vili Fualaau.

SORIANO:  Could happen.  It could happen.  Only time will tell.  And there is a good chance it will. 

ABRAMS:  Wow. 

SORIANO:  Yes.  It‘s a beautiful story. 

ABRAMS:  It‘s an interesting story...

SORIANO:  It is.  It is.

ABRAMS:  It‘s really—it‘s amazing.  Noel Soriano, thanks so much for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

SORIANO:  Thank you, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, your e-mails on last nights‘ exclusive interview with the alleged victim‘s lawyer in the Kobe Bryant case.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, your e-mails on the Kobe Bryant case and about my interview with the accuser‘s lawyers.  Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Last night on the program, part one of my exclusive interview with John Clune and Lin Wood, the attorneys for the alleged victim in the Kobe Bryant case, speaking out after explosive information was released by the court on Monday that suggests that the alleged victim may have had sex after Bryant, but before her rape exam.  Now she denies it, but now is reconsidering her role in the case.  And yet it seems clear she‘ll likely sue Bryant in a civil court regardless.

From Los Angeles, Gilda Twardak.  “She says her rights and privacy have been affected.  If she goes forward with a civil case, her whole life is going to be plastered everywhere, names, sex life, parents, et cetera.  So it‘s not really about privacy.”

As a legal matter Gilda is right there.  You know in a civil case there are less protections of both for the defendant and for the privacy of the alleged victim in this type of case. 

Andy Weaver in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  “If she wants to punish him, send him to jail, don‘t look at his bank account.  Who cares if her name is out there?  They have never held back from making Kobe‘s name known.”

From Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Shana Pugh.  “Lin Wood referring to Kobe‘s attorneys said they were very well paid as if that was a bad thing.  Does Lin Wood fall into the well-paid attorney category?  Did he take this case pro bono?”

It‘s a good question.  He is well paid.  But these kinds of cases generally taken on a contingency fee basis.  You get a percentage of whatever you win. 

Roosevelt Jackson from Santa Clarita, California.  “Give me a break.  Asking the accuser‘s civil attorneys if they believe she had sex with someone else other than Kobe Bryant before the rape exam is like asking O.J. did he own Bruno Magli shoes.”

Finally, last night a viewer e-mailed that she didn‘t like that I state my opinion on the program.  And I said that rather than being a faker who pretends to be objective and then covertly inserts my opinion into a segment, I want to be straight with you, giving you my opinion, so you know where I‘m coming from and then you can decide about the issue and about me. 

From Soldotna, Alaska, Dani Kebschull.  “I couldn‘t agree with—I couldn‘t agree more with you and what‘s more that is exactly why I watch your show each and every day.  I for one appreciate honesty and authenticity.  I do not appreciate being subliminally told what to think.  I don‘t often agree with you, but I appreciate the sincerity and the honesty all the same.”

You know, that‘s about as good a compliment as I can get.  I mean look, I wished you agreed with me on everything.  But the fact that you don‘t agree with me a lot, what did you say most of the time, and you still watch the show. 

Your e-mails abramsreport—one word -- @msnbc.com.  We go through them at the end of the show.  Tune in tomorrow for another ABRAMS REPORT exclusive.  We talk with Clinton Attorney General Janet Reno, her first network interview in nearly two years.  We‘re going to talk about the 9/11 Commission and she‘ll talk about these terror warnings. 

Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  Thanks for watching. 

I‘ll see you tomorrow.

END   

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