updated 3/4/2005 2:45:08 PM ET 2005-03-04T19:45:08

Guest: Ana Beatriz Cholo, Amy Dean, Robert Vance, David Novak, Diane Dimond, Michael Bachner, Jeanine Pirro, William Fallon

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, police put out sketches of two persons of interest in the investigation into who killed a federal judge‘s husband and mother. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS (voice-over):  Police searching for these two men seen outsider her home.  The question:  Are they white supremacists as many suspect?  And the judge is speaking out for the first time, saying she never thought her job would endanger her family.  We talk to two other judges who face similar situations. 

And Martha Stewart getting ready to walk of the slammer in a matter of hours—next stop, her compound for house arrest. 

Plus, Michael Jackson‘s accuser‘s sister takes the stand.  She talks about intimidation and about a private investigator hired to watch the family.  We have the first part of my exclusive interview with that investigator, Bradley Miller. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  When they started making threats, Michael realized this was not a family he needed around him.

ABRAMS:  The program about justice starts now. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  First up on the docket tonight, major developments in the investigation into the murders of a federal judge‘s mother and husband.  Police released sketches of these two—quote—

“persons of interest”.  Men seen sitting in a car parked down the street from Judge Joan Lefkow‘s home the day her husband, Michael Lefkow, and mother, Donna Humphrey, were shot execution style.  The men were apparently smoking cigarettes, drinking from cans before they were approached by a neighbor who asked them to leave. 

The question remains, were they followers of Matthew Hale, the white supremacist convicted in 2003 of soliciting the judge‘s murder.  He issued a statement today saying, “There is simply no way that any supporter of mine would commit such a heinous crime.  I totally condemn it and I want the perpetrator caught and prosecuted.  I only hope they sincerely wish to apprehend this animal instead of railroading the innocent.  Only an idiot would think that I would do this.  My sentencing date is April 6.”

Investigators have collected several key pieces of evidence at and around the Lefkow home.  Among them, a cigarette butt left in the kitchen sink as well as several left in the area where the unknown car was parked.  A beverage can from that same area, a shard of glass with a fingerprint believed to be from the broken basement window that might have served as a point of entry, the window frame and a piece of cloth or plastic found near the window, and a glove found near the home.  Two bullet casings found in the house.  A mop believed to have been used to clean up blood. 

And for the first time, Judge Lefkow is speaking out.  Joining me now, the “Chicago Tribune” writer who interviewed the judge.  Ana Beatriz Cholo joins us now.  Thank you very much for taking the time to come on the program.  We appreciate it.  All right.  You had a chance to speak with her.  First, let me just ask you, how is she holding up? 

ANA BEATRIZ CHOLO, “CHICAGO TRIBUNE”:  I guess as best you can in a situation like this.  I mean when your—when you find your husband shot, when you find your mother shot to death, you know, how can you answer that?  She was upset.  She was quite.  Her voice was soft.  And at some points she was crying.  I mean she is devastated.  She‘s grieving, but then again, she is a very, very strong woman and from my conversations with her, I realized that pretty quickly. 

ABRAMS:  And she used the word “unthinkable” in your interview, right? 

CHOLO:  Yes, several times.  She never thought that this would actually happen.  I mean even when there were death threats against her family or against her, rather, she never thought it would come to this. 

ABRAMS:  This story really, really gets me, and I can tell it affects you as well in terms of your conversation with her. 

CHOLO:  It does.

ABRAMS:  Well why don‘t you tell me what struck you in particular in terms of your conversation on a sort of personal level. 

CHOLO:  You know I was struck by how gracious she was actually.  Because I asked her a lot of tough questions that reporters sometimes have to answer and you know, sometimes we‘re, frankly known as vultures and you know, we have to ask some tough questions that people don‘t want to answer and she was very gracious with me.  She answered most of the questions that I asked.  And she was very kind and I was waiting for her to hang up on me...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

CHOLO:  ... and she didn‘t. 

ABRAMS:  Let me...

CHOLO:  She was—she kept calling me back too...

ABRAMS:  Let me read another quote from your article. 

I really—she said I really didn‘t see a need for security.  This is in the wake of the threats from Matthew Hale, et cetera.  We never had any intruders in the 23 years we lived there.  I‘m sorry to say no, we did not have a security system.  We were careful about our locks.

Did it sound to you like—did she give you any indication as to whether she‘s convinced that white supremacists were behind this? 

CHOLO:  No, no, she didn‘t give any indication.  She did not speculate on who may have done this. 

ABRAMS:  All right.

CHOLO:  She did not go there. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Ana Beatriz Cholo, thanks a lot for taking the time to come on the program.  We appreciate it. 

CHOLO:  Thank you Dan.

ABRAMS:  Joining me now Judge Robert Vance, Jefferson County, Alabama circuit court judge.  His father, a U.S. appellate court judge, was killed in 1989 by a mail bomb sent to his home in Birmingham, Alabama.  And Amy Dean is a retired Dade County Florida circuit judge who received death threats while she was on the bench. 

Oh, you know these stories—Judge Dean, tell me what was happening when you were getting threats and how you dealt with them.

AMY DEAN, FORMER DADE COUNTY, FL JUDGE:  Well my situation was I had a gentleman who threatened to bomb my house.  He was in jail for having explosives and I decided to contact law enforcement and have my home put under watch. 

ABRAMS:  And what happened?  Did they then monitor you 24/7? 

DEAN:  Well they monitored me in so far as when I got home from work, there was a police car in front of my home all night and when I left in the morning, frankly, I didn‘t follow to see if he went with me to work, but our home, when I wasn‘t at work was watched.  And I was in the criminal building so there was law enforcement there. 

ABRAMS:  Judge Vance, you‘re a judge now.  Your father, you know, killed by it seems someone who had a grudge—and I guess he, what, he sort of randomly chose your father amongst the judges? 

JUDGE ROBERT VANCE, JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL:  Yes, as best we can tell. 

There was really no connection.  He was never before my father as a judge.  He just had a general grudge against the court system and took it out almost by random chance against my father. 

ABRAMS:  All right, so with that in mind, Judge Vance, do you think that judges in this country need more protection? 

VANCE:  I don‘t see how it would be practical and to some extent, it would be unwanted.  You can‘t provide protection 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  In the aftermath of my father‘s death, we had U.S. marshals stationed at our house for some period of time, but that was a temporary measure.  There‘s no way that that can be done on an indefinite basis. 

And I‘m not sure that we would want that.  There‘s already a growing divide between people of this country and the judges.  And I don‘t think that providing security like that where people see judges as some privileged class getting special protection would do anything to help foster the relationship between the people and the judiciary in this country. 

ABRAMS:  Judge Vance, did what happen to your father make you think twice about becoming a judge? 

VANCE:  Oh, it did.  I thought about it long and hard.  I talked to my mom who‘s still alive, before I made the decision to seek an appointment.  So we did a little bit of soul searching and that was a consideration in our minds. 

ABRAMS:  Judge Dean, is this going to change the way judges are treated, this incident with Judge Lefkow?  Do you think this is going to change the way judges are protected, threats are taken, et cetera when it comes to judges? 

DEAN:  I think with regard to the judges themselves, it will be a heightened awareness and perhaps there might even be some visceral response to ask for protection where they might not have done it in the past.  And I‘d like to think that law enforcement might be now focusing on this again, though I‘m sure they have always been doing that even in the past. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Does it make it hard, Judge Dean, to view certain case objectively when there is the possibility that, you know, people threaten judges—I don‘t want to say on a regular basis, but it‘s not uncommon to hear about people threatening judges.  Does it make it harder to objectively preside over that kind of case? 

DEAN:  I think it places pressures.  I won‘t deny that in the case that I had, I disqualified myself because I obviously took this man seriously and didn‘t want to continue presiding on his case because I felt I couldn‘t be fair and impartial to him anymore. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Well Judge Vance and Judge Dean, you both deserve a lot of credit for overcoming this.  And I‘ve said this before, I view this kind of threat as one of the greatest dangers to our system of government, and we are going to continue to follow this case in the hope that this person can be captured.

Let me just put up the phone number.  If anyone has got any information on the murders, it‘s 312 -- this is number 14 -- 744-8445, 312-744-8445, if you have any information about these killings.

All right, Judge Vance and Judge Dean, thanks a lot. 

DEAN:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, Martha Stewart set to be released from prison tonight.  Getting ready to trade her prison khakis for her newest fashion accessory, an ankle bracelet.  How easy is that actually, that serve time at home under house arrest—or hard?  We‘re going to talk to someone who‘s been there.

And Michael Jackson‘s accuser‘s sister takes the stand, big witness in this case, tells jurors about being held with her family at Neverland.

Plus, part one of my exclusive interview with the investigator who was hired to watch the family at that time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I will tell you Dan that this family, every conversation I had with them, every meeting I had with them, every interaction with them centered around having money, fame, celebrity, and/or possessions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Your e-mails abramsreport@msnbc.com.  Please include your name and where you‘re writing from.  I respond at the end of the show.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, Martha Stewart gets out of prison just after midnight tonight.  We‘re back with a live report from Camp Cupcake after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  Early tomorrow morning, Martha Stewart trades in her prison garb for a new piece of jewelry.  After spending five months in a minimum-security federal prison, Stewart is going to be released.  She‘ll serve out the rest of her term at her home in New York under house arrest where her every move will be monitored by an ankle bracelet. 

NBC‘s Rehema Ellis is outside the Alderson Prison Camp in West Virginia.  Martha has called that home since October.  She joins me now.  So Rehema, what do we know about Martha‘s departure? 

REHEMA ELLIS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  What we know Dan is that Martha Stewart, as you know, wasted no time coming in here to serve her five-month prison sentence.  Looks like she‘s going to waste no time in getting out of here.  Her people have released a statement saying that expect Martha Stewart at the Greenbrier Valley Airport in West Virginia between 12:30 and 1:30 tomorrow morning, Friday morning.  That‘s about a 30-minute ride from here, which means Martha Stewart could leave this facility at about 12:01, right after midnight, making her way out of here.  That is when she becomes eligible. 

We‘re told that no comment will be made by Martha Stewart here or at the airport where she‘s going to leave from that airport and heading to her home in Westchester County in Bedford, New York.  But they say expect to hear from Martha via her Web site, marthastewart.com.  She‘ll make some sort of a statement there.

What has life been like for her here for these five months?  Some worried that she would get some sort of preferential treatment.  She did not have to live in a large dormitory like many of the other women in this 1,000-inmate facility.  Instead, she got to be in one of the smaller cottages and have a little privacy.  But after that, Martha Stewart, as you pointed out, still had to wear the same prison khakis like everybody else, the same prison sneakers, and she had to perform duties. 

She wanted to work in the kitchen facility, no surprise, but she was assigned to cleaning in the administration building several hours a day.  We‘re told she made about $5.25 a month.  A far cry from what she‘s expected to make once she gets out of here, and again, that could be as early as 5:01 a.m. on Friday—Dan. 

ABRAMS:  All right, Rehema Ellis, thanks a lot.  And I‘ll be back at around midnight to cover Martha Stewart being released from prison.  See if maybe she decides to say something. 

Anyway, my next guest a former federal prisoner who served time under house arrest.  He now runs a sentencing consulting business in Salt Lake City.  David Novak joins me now.  Mr. Novak, thanks a lot for coming on the program.

All right.  House arrest, I mean I think some people view that as not really being under arrest at all.  What is it? 

DAVID NOVAK, FORMER FEDERAL PRISONER:  Well, quite frankly, you are incarcerated in a gilded cage.  There are two forms of community custody within the federal system.  One is a halfway house.  The other is house arrest.  SO make no mistake about it, Ms. Stewart is still in the custody of the federal government, albeit in a more comfortable prison. 

ABRAMS:  A lot more comfortable.  I mean she gets to hang out in her Bedford home.  Right?  So the bottom line is if you have a huge house, you get more room to be in prison in, right? 

NOVAK:  Well, you are absolutely right.  My one-month of home confinement was spent in a very small walk-up apartment in the panhandle of Florida, so I certainly would have appreciated having an estate to go back to...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

NOVAK:  ... but I simply was not as fortunate as Ms. Stewart. 

ABRAMS:  But she will be allowed I think it‘s 48 hours to go to work during the week as well, right? 

NOVAK:  That is correct.  That is very standard.  While in community custody, which is a period of time allowed by the federal government for transition after a period of incarceration, individuals can work up to 48 or 50 hours a week, depending on what their supervising officer decides. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right.  David Novak thanks a lot. 

NOVAK:  My pleasure.

ABRAMS:  See you later.  Coming up, the sister of Michael Jackson‘s accuser takes the stand—big witness—tells jurors she saw Jackson on his bed with her brothers surrounded by empty bottles of alcohol.

And my exclusive interview with the investigator who was hired to keep

an eye on the family when prosecutors say Jackson and his team was holding

·         were holding them captive.  Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  Day four of Michael Jackson‘s trial took jurors on a virtual tour of Jackson‘s bedroom where he‘s alleged to have molested a 13-year-old boy and gave them the first look inside the accuser‘s family and the allegations when the accuser‘s sister took the stand. 

NBC News analyst and Court TV executive editor Diane Dimond was inside the courtroom today and joins us with the late breaking details.  Diane, this is really the first really big witness against Jackson (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

DIANE DIMOND, NBC NEWS ANALYST:  Well, yes because we‘ve had Martin Bashir and a P.R. lady, but the jury today got two firsts.  They first got to see this video, the police video of inside Michael Jackson.  They got inside the domain, so to speak, and they saw their first family member and this girl was really pretty good, Dan.  She had a lot to say. 

She had a lot to say about watching Michael Jackson and her brothers share a Diet Coke on a plane and whisper about it and then Jackson took off his, what he thought was an expensive wristwatch and gave it to the boy, saw him pouring liquor for her two brothers and two other children down in the wine cellar one night.  Then they all drank some.  She admitted she drank some, too, but she said it tasted funny.  She talked about the rebuttal video and how they were squeezed to do it and the one-time aide, unindicted co-conspirator Dieter Wiesner said that these are the things that you need to say once we sit you down in front of the camera and he gave them a piece of paper. 

I just spoke to Dieter Wiesner long distance in Germany, by the way, Dan, and he completely denies that, but there were lots of death threats she said, and late in the day, Dan, there was some testimony about the visas and the passports.  And Tom Sneddon, the D.A., put up a picture on the screen and he said is that you?  Is that your passport?  And she said, yes, we took those pictures at Walgreen‘s drugstore.  And he said, is that your handwriting?  And she said, no, that‘s not my handwriting.  That‘s not my signature.  I think that that‘s Vinny Amen‘s signature, and of course, he is another one of the unindicted co-conspirators...

ABRAMS:  And the point...

DIMOND:  ... was a riveting day.

ABRAMS:  Let‘s just—so our viewers understand, sharing the Diet Coke, the prosecutions are going to call witnesses who are going to say that they poured alcohol on a plane for Michael Jackson...

DIMOND:  The flight attendants...

ABRAMS:  Yes—into Diet Coke cans.  The theory being that Michael Jackson always drank liquor out of Diet Coke cans and that someone saw them exchanging a Diet Coke can, that could be incriminating.  And also this business about going away and this document all part the prosecutors say of the conspiracy to effectively imprison and extort this family. 

DIMOND:  Right.  That‘s exactly right.  And I‘ll tell you the jury really listened to this young woman today.  She‘s 18 years old, very demurely dressed in white and black.  She has beautiful long hair.  She looks like her mother, Dan, and you know we saw her in some pretrial hearings here.  She spoke very softly and they had to tell her to get up to the microphone.  And I‘ll tell you, I watched the jurors a lot today and they were taking copious notes on what this young girl said...

ABRAMS:  All right, so we‘re going to talk in a minute.  Diane is going to stick around.  We‘re going to talk about how important all of that is in terms of this case.  A big witness—I mean this is the accuser‘s sister.  She was there for a lot of it.

And coming up, part one of my exclusive interview with the investigator who was hired to—quote—“keep an eye” on the accuser‘s family.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Do you think a 13-year-old, 12-year-old boy suffering from cancer is thinking about the big payout from Michael Jackson? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  That was my question.  And Jay Leno is on the Jackson witness list.  That means the gag order applies to him.  Now he is asking a judge to free him from it so he can keep joking about the trial.  Come on.  He‘s really gagged? 

Your e-mails abramsreport@msnbc.com.  Please include your name and where you‘re writing from.  I respond at the end of the show. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, another ABRAMS REPORT exclusive.  If Michael Jackson walks out of the courtroom a free man, it could be in part thanks to one man and his tape recordings of the victim‘s family.  Who is he and what is on that tape?  First, the headlines. 

(NEWS BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back with another ABRAMS REPORT exclusive.  A crucial former defense investigator, his office was raided the same day Jackson‘s Neverland Ranch was searched.  Tapes of his interview with the accuser and his family seized.  An interview that could become key to Jackson‘s defense. 

He‘s on the defense witness list.  He‘s never spoken out before.  I

spoke with him before he was subpoenaed as a witness and now for the first

time in an exclusive interview, Bradley Miller will break his silence.  But

first, at the height of the alleged conspiracy, Miller was hired to keep a

·         quote—“loose watch” on the accuser‘s family. 

Miller says the Jackson team was concerned the family was going to create a story and go to the media if they weren‘t compensated for the accuser‘s appearance in the documentary that started this whole case.  The documentary in which Michael Jackson admits to sharing his bed with young boys.  They wanted to make a rebuttal video. 

Miller says the family‘s threats prompted him to get a statement from them on tape to refute any story they might try to sell to the tabloids.  The prosecutors offer a very different explanation.  We‘ll talk about that in a moment, but I asked Miller if it was possible that Jackson wanted to get this statement saying that nothing inappropriate had happened to effectively serve as a get out of jail free card in the event he came to need one. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

BRADLEY MILLER, JACKSON DEFENSE INVESTIGATOR:  It is my belief for what I was told at the time and what I observed, when they started making threats Michael realized this was not a family he need around him, and I think he would have done anything he could at that time to distance himself from them or to distance them from him.  The answer to the question would be no, though. 

ABRAMS:  So you‘re saying that Michael Jackson was already nervous that this family might make allegations against him?

MILLER:  I don‘t know that Michael was so nervous.  They were trying to do whatever they could to take care of what they saw as a potential problem, a loose cannon, someone who was very well knowledgeable of the ‘93 event or allegations and had threatened to do something similar.  And that‘s why it‘s so interesting that we have the same cast of characters. 

ABRAMS:  You think the boy was up to that or just his mother? 

MILLER:  From what I understand, the boy apparently is also or was very much aware of the 1993 case. 

ABRAMS:  So you think the 13-year-old, 12-year-old boy suffering from cancer is thinking about the big payout from Michael Jackson? 

MILLER:  I will tell you, Dan, that this family every conversation I had with them, every meeting I had with them, any interaction with them centered around either money, fame, celebrity, and/or possessions. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Joining me now, Westchester County New York D.A. and former judge, Jeanine Pirro, criminal defense attorney Michael Bachner, who represents Vinny Amen, one of the unindicted co-conspirators in the Jackson case, and back with us is Court TV‘s executive investigative editor Diane Dimond.  All right, let me just read very quickly what Tom Sneddon, the D.A., had to say about this tape that Brad Miller made where the family is on the tape saying nothing happened, great guy, et cetera. 

When that tape was sent out to be examined by experts, that tape has all kinds of blanks in it and that it was edited and that it was stopped and it was started, which is entirely consistent exactly with what the family will tell you.  When Brad Miller didn‘t like an answer, he would stop it, he would erase it, he would go back, he would tell them what to say.  Now, no question Miller would deny that, but Diane, that‘s exactly what we heard from the accuser‘s sister today in court, right? 

DIMOND:  Exactly.  She said that Bradley Miller came to their apartment, sat a tape recorder down in front of them and said let‘s all say nice things about Michael Jackson.  I‘m paraphrasing, of course, and when they said something that he didn‘t like, he would then take the tape recorder, shut it off, rewind it, and record over what they just said and he‘d say things like you don‘t need to talk about that.  Talk about this other thing.  So...

(CROSSTALK)

DIMOND:  ... I think they‘re going to have trouble getting that tape into court. 

ABRAMS:  You know, Michael, it seems to me, though, that this family, unfortunately for the prosecutors, has a lot of explanations and a lot of excuses for why they said so many good things about Michael Jackson at so many different points throughout time. 

MICHAEL BACHNER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  I completely agree with you.  They have a lot of explaining to do, and frankly the only way that they can explain away this—these types of tapes is to say, well, they were out of context.  Well, he told me to—they shut the tape recorder off, they turned the tape recorder on.  Frankly, I think that a professional tape editor can clearly discern whether or not that tape has been tampered with, whether it‘s turned on, turned off or not. 

ABRAMS:  And there‘s also be a question of whether that is the original tape.  You know, maybe they were using you know, sound bytes, et cetera for future use—we don‘t know exactly what the tape is that they got.  Because again, they raided the office of Brad Miller.  Jeanine Pirro, let‘s talk about in general the sister‘s testimony today.  Big deal for the prosecutors? 

JEANINE PIRRO, WESTCHESTER COUNTY NY D.A.:  I think so.  I think that she is another piece of the corroborating evidence.  And when the alleged victim takes the stand, I think that what he says will start to ring true.  She seems, from what Diane said, to be credible, to be intelligent.  And you know, it‘s interesting before we get to trial, Dan, we hear about these people as crazies and lunatics and then they take the stand and they seem like perfectly reasonable people, but I have to ask you a question, Dan, about Brad Miller.  If he‘s subpoenaed by the defense, isn‘t he gagged in this case? 

ABRAMS:  Sure. 

PIRRO:  Well, that‘s interesting. 

ABRAMS:  But as I said, we interviewed him before he was subpoenaed. 

PIRRO:  Oh, OK.  OK.

ABRAMS:  We‘ve been holding this interview for a while...

PIRRO:  But I think it‘s interesting that he used the words we kept a loose watch on the family.  Why do they need to keep a loose watch on the family?  What were they concerned about?  Making sure they got a video that essentially would be an insurance policy for Michael in the event there was a problem. 

ABRAMS:  Well—and Michael, that is what I asked him in the interview and you know, his response was they were concerned that this family was going to go to the story with the tabloids—sell the story to a tabloid.

BACHNER:  And frankly that makes imminent sense.  You have to realize

·         people forget—the charge about holding the family doesn‘t have anything to do with holding the family so there is no disclosure of molestation.  The molestation, according to the indictment, didn‘t occur until after the Bashir interview, so to the extent that there‘s—the Jackson camp is seeking to keep the family close it‘s not to cover up a molestation because nothing had occurred yet. 

PIRRO:  But then what was the point of keeping the family close?  If they were suspicious, Michael, if they thought it was all about money and fame and celebrity, why did they want to keep them close?  Why is it that they reach out the family after one year to get them back to Neverland, and why are they getting all of these passports and everything else?  They are worried about something. 

BACHNER:  Well it seems that they are worries that this family a group of drifters and that they‘re concerned that based upon comments they have made, that Michael Jackson based upon an interview that went bad is now the subject of potential...

ABRAMS:  We will continue to cover this.  Sorry to interrupt you there, Michael. 

BACHNER:  No problem.

ABRAMS:  Michael, I haven‘t seen you in a while.  Good to see you again.

BACHNER:  You too.

ABRAMS:  And Jeanine, Diane, great to see you guys.  Thanks a lot. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  You can see more of my exclusive interview with Bradley Miller on this show tomorrow night in its entirety on “Dateline,” Sunday at 7:00 Eastern time. 

Coming up, Jay Leno is subpoenaed in the Jackson case?  Wants the judge to lift the gag order so he can tell Jackson jokes.

And Yogi Berra is suing Turner Broadcasting for using his name in “Sex and the City” advertisements, but now we find out since Yogi isn‘t his real name, is it time for him to just drop the suit?  Coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Back now with our “Just A Minute” segment where I lay out the day‘s other legal stories.  My guest has a minute to discuss each issue with me.  Joining me now once again former Massachusetts‘ prosecutor Bill Fallon. 

All right, Bill, issue one:  Late night talk show host Jay Leno has been subpoenaed to appear as a defense witness in the Michael Jackson trial.  I don‘t think there‘s a chance they will actually call him, but he usually pokes fun at Jackson in his nightly monologues on “The Tonight Show”.  He‘s now asking the judge to clarify the gag order in the trial to allow him to continue to essentially you know, mock Jackson. 

Question:  Come on.  Leno can‘t really be prevented from telling Jackson jokes? 

WILLIAM FALLON, FORMER ESSEX COUNTY MA PROSECUTOR:  Dan, this isn‘t a gag order.  It‘s a choke order.  Quite frankly it is mental and I‘m going to say this—I don‘t care if the judge is listening—to think that you should even be able to gag all the witnesses, I have this question as a matter of law whether you can gag someone who‘s never been in front of you to say this is my position on this.

They can do it to the parties.  They can do it to the attorneys because they‘re all part of this case, but I think to—quote—“gag” people who have had no opportunity to come in here is ridiculous.  I‘ll tell you that there‘s going to be in a second and a half this judge has to say, whoa, I only meant even if it is enforceable at all about your testimony.  It couldn‘t possibly be about making fun of Michael Jackson. 

It seems to me that all of Hollywood—I mean let‘s say they got a news—Bashir, quite frankly did, what, a week ago he did another...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

FALLON:  ... follow-up here.  Nobody is saying he shouldn‘t have been able to do that...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

FALLON:  ... and he‘s a much closer call on this than...

ABRAMS:  I say—I know Jay watches the show, so Jay, we say let—come on, of course, we want to hear more of the jokes.

FALLON:  Chin up, Jay. 

ABRAMS:  We get to play them on the show then. 

FALLON:  Exactly. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Issue two:  Jurors could get the case tomorrow in the trial of ex-WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers.  He‘s on trial for instigating an $11 billion fraud.  He took the stand in his own defense, claims he didn‘t know enough about accounting and finance to pull it off, blamed the prosecution‘s chief witness, the former CFO Scott Sullivan for the crime.  The question—will the I‘m just the CEO defense work here? 

FALLON:  Well I think I‘m the poor little rich billionaire CEO and what you do is you start pointing wherever you can point.  Now I‘m going to tell you this.  One thing that was good is Ebbers took the stand.  I think that‘s an important...

ABRAMS:  And he did well...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  He did well apparently. 

FALLON:  And he very well.  Unlike lady Martha who—is she out today or tomorrow—I mean I think that jurors are not really saying we feel bad for the rich people, but when you get on the stand and you do well, there is a human connection.  And it‘s much easier to point to Sullivan saying, I‘m only—I don‘t like the idea I‘m only a basketball coach retired, what do I know?  He still is a billionaire.  It‘s going to totally be upon how he impressed this jury. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.

FALLON:  And I‘m going to tell you I think he had a shot.  He had no shot...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

FALLON:  ... before he took the stand. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.

FALLON:  I think he has a little shot now.

ABRAMS:  I think it‘s going to be tough to get a unanimous...

FALLON:  Exactly...

ABRAMS:  ... guilty verdict here.

FALLON:  ... I think hung jury for the poor little billionaire. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Issue three:  What‘s in a name?  In this case a $10 million lawsuit filed by former Yankee great Yogi Berra suing Turner Broadcasting System for advertising its “Sex and the City” reruns with a multiple choice question that gave sex with Yogi Berra as a possible answer to the question what‘s the meaning of yogasm.  TBS wants the suit thrown out, saying the ad is protected speech and they point out—and this is the new part about it—that Yogi isn‘t his real name.  Try Lawrence Peter Berra.  The question—does that really matter that his name isn‘t Yogi?

FALLON:  Well I don‘t really think it matters, Dan, because petering out could have the same problem here.  In fact, if I were Yogi, I would be so thrilled that I‘m put at his age in any “Sex and the City” kind of, you know...

ABRAMS:  It‘s a ridiculous...

FALLON:  ... advertisement...

ABRAMS:  It‘s a ridiculous lawsuit...

FALLON:  This is absurd. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.

FALLON:  It is why people hate lawyers.  It‘s why people—you know where I come from, yogasm is a good thing and it seems to me that all of a sudden this guy should just be thankful or just go off gracefully into the night.  And there‘s no way that this isn‘t going to just help the advertisement. 

ABRAMS:  Yogi...

FALLON:  If I were Turner, I‘d say...

ABRAMS:  It‘s a joke, Yogi. 

FALLON:  Exactly.

ABRAMS:  It‘s a joke. 

FALLON:  It‘s a joke...

ABRAMS:  Come on.

FALLON:  ... at least don‘t lose your sense of humor, never mind they are suggesting he‘s got a lot more than a sense of humor at his age and go with it.  You know what I mean?

ABRAMS:  Bill Fallon, good to see you again. 

FALLON:  OK.  Take care, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, why it‘s no surprise to me that Martha Stewart is leaving prison a bigger star than before she went in.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, why I wasn‘t surprised that Martha Stewart is now going to be a bigger star now that she‘s out of prison.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—why no one should be surprised that Martha Stewart seems to be emerging from prison as a more important figure and arguably with even more potential than when she went in.  Her company stock has shot up nearly 250 percent since she‘s been in the clink.  She has contracts for not one, but two new reality shows with NBC. 

These days where reality TV seems to be our reality, spending some time in a criminal courtroom or even better, behind bars, often becomes a sort of badge of honor rather than a stain.  Something to add to the resume rather than to hide.  Proving true the maxim that any publicity is good publicity.  Look at P. Diddy or Puffy as he was known at the time.  After his trial on weapons charges after a shooting at a New York club, he was just bigger and more influential than before the trial started.  He was found not guilty. 

Public relations princess Lizzie Grubman served time for running into some club goers with her Mercedes SUV.  The old timers asked, oh, is she done?  P.R. insiders knew it was just the beginning.  Next week she has a new reality show “PoweR Girls” to the budding empire. 

And of course in the rap music world, it seems spending time in the pen is a prerequisite.  P. Diddy‘s co-defendant, Jamal “Shyne” Barrow, fired a weapon that night and is serving time, but he‘s still one of the most sought after rap artists around.  And former gang member Calvin Broadus went to prison on drug charges in 1990, got out, recorded the album “Doggy Style” under the name Snoop Dogg.  It went platinum.  The rest is music history.

And those are just a few of the many examples of beating the rap, so to speak.  Of course, there‘s Robert Downey survived after dropping out of drug rehab four times and going to prison.  His movie career continues to thrive, just released his first album.  And it seems you have to do really something extra nasty, but not just criminal, but sort of gross to be considered a real outcast like former New York Judge Sol Wachtler, who was once mentioned as a possible candidate for New York governor. 

Hasn‘t been seen much after apparently sending a sexually explicit note with a condom enclosed to the 14-year-old daughter of a woman with whom he had an affair.  Seems he hasn‘t recovered.  So it‘s just a new reality.  Martha turns lemons into lemonade and will walk out of Camp Cupcake with a lot more cake in her cup than when she walked in. 

Coming up in 60 seconds, breast implants sold on eBay.  You‘re not going to be to believe how much used breast implants are going for.   

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Yesterday I spoke with former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore—remember, he was removed from office for defying a federal judge‘s order to move a Ten Commandments monument from the State Supreme Court building.  The issue we discussed, the Supreme Court‘s consideration of whether the commandments can be displayed in public buildings.

Now while we agreed on some of the issues, we ended up debating the depth of our first president, George Washington‘s religious beliefs.  I said he was—quote—“not a particularly religious man.”  Judge Moore disagreed.  Many of you e-mailing with history lessons on both sides. 

Tommy G. Smith, “I was disappointed tonight as I watched Mr. Abrams interview Judge Roy Moore.  He challenged the judge about whether George Washington was a Christian.  Without hesitation the judge fired a quote after quote from Washington to prove his position.  Never once did he offer any facts or evidence to disprove what the judge was saying.”

Tommy, I wasn‘t going to waste time throwing out other quotes that suggest just the opposite.  There are plenty of them.  You can find them.  Random quotes don‘t prove anything.  How about this?  We spoke to both historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Washington biographer Joe Ellis, neither believed he was very religious. 

Ellis, who is more knowledgeable about Washington in particular said Washington only attended church occasionally, didn‘t use the word God, and his religion essentially involved recognizing a greater force outside the human world.  If that means he was very religious, well then your definition of religious is different than mine. 

From Ithaca, Michigan, Brian Showers.  “Simply because this country‘s first president did not mention Jesus Christ or affirm to his audience his undying allegiance to our God in heaven in every recorded speech does not by any means relegate him as Atheist or somehow weak in his faith.”

Ryan Ramage in Cleveland, Ohio.  “Check your history, Dan.  George Washington was a Freemason.  The most basic requirement of being a Freemason is to subscribe to a religious creed.”

You know, Ryan, if you think Freemasons are synonymous with very religious people, you too have a different definition of religious than do I.  Freemasons, yes, they‘re required to believe in a God, but that‘s it.  Hardly proof that he was very religious.

Katie Weathers in Florence, Alabama on my side.  “I have to question Roy Moore‘s educational background.  He‘s obviously never taken a history class.  George Washington and many of the other founding fathers were not in the least bit religious and in fact were Freemasons and the like.  Groups which fundamentalist Christians like Mr. Moore decry as thoroughly un-Christian.  So which is it Mr. Moore?”

K.L. Jensen in Gainesville, Florida.  “What Roy Moore and so many other theists can‘t take is the fact the God that Washington and many others of our founding fathers believed in was not the God of Abraham and Moses.  Many of our founding fathers were Deists, not Christians.  Under Deism there is no bible and there is no Decalogue of Ten Commandments.”

And Jiggs Elphison in Butte, Montana changes the subject a little.  “Posting the Ten Commandments listing “Thou shall not commit adultery, thou shall not steal, thou shall not lie, et cetera in a public building such as a courthouse that contains politicians, lawyers and judges would be hypocritical and would probably create a hazardous work environment.”

Finally last night we reported that Bill Cosby spoke out for the first time in an exclusive interview with “The National Enquirer”, first time since allegations were made that he sexually assaulted two women. 

Jeff Hardy in Colonial Heights, Virginia.  “Now I‘ve seen everything.  Your show has lost a good bit of credibility in my mind, reporting a story in “The National Enquirer” as though it was “The New York Times”.  Are we to believe that Cosby chose this as his one and only media interview?  Unbelievable.”

A number of you said this, but Jeff, yes, that‘s exactly what Cosby did.  We confirmed that with his lawyers before the segment.  He felt apparently indebted to “The Enquirer” for their role in helping to find his son‘s killer.  He chose the venue.  Not us. 

Your e-mails abramsreport—one word -- @msnbc.com.  We go through them at the end of the show.

“OH PLEAs!”—a former dancer in Florida pays homage to her career and made profit from it.  Tawny Peaks, now a homemaker and mother of three living in Detroit, retired from her topless dancing days in Florida, but her legendary—quote—“crazy big breasts” are being revealed once again after watching a TV show about crazy items sold on eBay—could we put up a shot of her—Peaks came across an old box—there we go—in her closet containing her most prized possessions, her silicone double H implants. 

Peaks had the implants removed in 1999 after hanging up her dancing shoes, but kept the assets for memorabilia.  Now you, too, can own one of the legendary implants.  Peaks is auctioning her enhancement autographed and all, on eBay.  The highest bid so far, $16,766. 

But, don‘t be fooled, it‘s not a buy one you get the other one for free.  Tawny wants to keep one for—quote—“good measure”.  Maybe a warning should be included, in 1998 a patron of the Diamond Dolls nightclub sued Peaks and the club over a whiplash injury induced after the ‘69 double H implants were, he said, swung into his face.  The patron claimed they were like two cement blocks.  They are now on the auction block. 

That does it for us tonight.  Whether I like it or not, I‘ll be back at midnight.  Martha Stewart gets out of prison.  We‘ll bring you the first pictures of her outside of Camp Cupcake live.  We‘re going to talk about what is next for Martha Stewart. 

Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  See you later tonight.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

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