updated 6/13/2005 1:52:42 PM ET 2005-06-13T17:52:42

Guest: Anita Van Der Sloot, Mike Knesevitch, Richard Caruso, Susan Filan, Jay Lavely, Neil Steiner

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, new details about the night missing high school student Natalee Holloway disappeared in Aruba.  This as the search for her expands to nearby islands. 


ABRAMS (voice-over):  Two suspects reportedly tell police they drove with Natalee to a beach, along with a Dutch teenager, and that he had sexual contact with her in the car.  Now they‘re all under arrest.  We‘ll talk with the Dutch teen‘s mother. 

And day six here in Santa Maria, and still no verdict, but financial traders increasingly believe Jackson will be convicted of something.  We‘ll explore and talk to a former guard at the prison where Jackson could end up if they‘re right. 

Plus, it‘s not news that paparazzi stalk celebrities, but now the Los Angeles D.A. considers going after them with new charges—this after Lindsay Lohan‘s accident with a photographer.  Her lawyer joins us. 

The program about justice starts now. 


ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  I‘m live in Santa Maria, where the jury in the Michael Jackson trial has gone home for the weekend.  No verdict again.  They‘ll be back deliberating on Monday.  We‘ll have the latest from here in a few minutes. 

But first, new information in the disappearance of that missing Alabama high school student in Aruba, Natalee Holloway.  According to a lawyer who has seen their testimony, two of the suspects said that Natalee went to the beach with them and a Dutch teen on the night of her disappearance, and in the car on the way back they say she and the teen, Joran Van Der Sloot, had—quote—“sexual contact”, this from the testimony of two Surinamese brothers who along with the Dutch teen, were arrested yesterday morning.

Two other men, Mickey John and Abraham Jones were arrested last week and are still held on suspicion of the murder and kidnapping of Natalee.  Last seen in the early morning hours of May 30, and because so few clues have turned up on Aruba, authorities have now expanded the search to nearby islands.  We‘re going to speak to the mother, hopefully to the attorney of the Dutch teen in a few minutes, but first, let‘s get the latest from NBC‘s Martin Savidge who is in Aruba. 

Now Martin, is this—we‘re hearing from these two Surinamese men about this Dutch teen having quote—“sexual contact” with Natalee that night.  Is that a different story than one that they had provided earlier or we just didn‘t know anything before about what they had said? 

MARTIN SAVIDGE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  It‘s a more detailed story, essentially what it is.  We knew that these young people had gotten together on the night that Natalee Holloway disappeared.  They were at Carlos N‘ Charlie‘s.  They were partying.  They were having a good time and then they left.  They went off to a beach near the lighthouse here, it‘s a popular tourist destination even after darkness. 

And so we knew pretty much where everyone was going.  Do we know exactly what they were doing?  As you say, this report now of sexual relations, that hadn‘t come out as yet.  It‘s important to know where this comes from.  This is the testimony—this is the information that was put together in the prosecution‘s case that was presented to the defense attorneys that were defending the two former security guards. 

You may remember they had a hearing earlier in the week, so they were presented with a case.  This was the state‘s case.  Those are the statements describing what happened.  These were the ones coming from the three young men that were taken into custody yesterday because they had been interviewed several times by authorities, that‘s how authorities knew what was going on.  So it‘s important you know that these attorneys who want to get the security guards cleared—they say hey look, you know obviously it wasn‘t them at all now—they‘re the ones leaking this information, putting the information out there. 

ABRAMS:  Let‘s just be clear then so we understand this.  There were these two men—and we got the pictures of them—who were the first ones arrested.  They were arrested—they were security guards—there they are—security guards at a nearby hotel.  These...

SAVIDGE:  Correct.

ABRAMS:  ... three men who have most recently been arrested are—these three men, these were the three who apparently were with her the night that she went missing and they are basically saying, look, we dropped her off at the hotel.  We saw her stumbling or what exactly is it that they say that they saw with regard to security guards in front of the hotel? 

SAVIDGE:  What they say is that they—about 2:00 in the morning brought her back to the Holiday Inn, Natalee‘s hotel, and they drop her off.  And as she‘s getting out of the car, they notice that she appeared to perhaps be intoxicated.  That she stumbled, she fell, but then she got up and she said, I‘m OK.  I can walk on my own two feet and she made her way towards the front entrance of the hotel. 

And it was just at that moment—just as she was about to go in that these young men say that a security guard or a man dressed in what appeared to be security clothing, steps forward from somewhere, has a radio clipped to his side, and offers to give her a hand and appears to strike up a conversation.  And at that point, everything seems fine, so they leave.  And that...

ABRAMS:  Right.

SAVIDGE:  ... according to the story they have given police, is how they left Natalee, alive and well. 

ABRAMS:  All right, very quickly, let me have the—listen to the attorney general of Aruba. 


CAREN JANSSEN, ARUBA ATTORNEY GENERAL:  The other two suspects are still subject to further investigation.  And the new three ones are also interrogated and we are trying to investigate if there are relationships, if there are links together, and that is a part and an object of our investigation at this moment. 


ABRAMS:  All right.  That‘s the attorney general. 


ABRAMS:  Martin Savidge...

SAVIDGE:  ... can I point out one thing, Dan?

ABRAMS:  Real quick, yes.

SAVIDGE:  Yes, just wanted to point out that because they say security guards does not necessarily mean the attorneys say the two security guards that are being held.  They say that may be the connection authorities see, but there‘s no proof that that security guard seen by these young men was the same or one of the same that are in custody. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  I think it‘s an important clarification.  Thank you, Martin.  We appreciate it. 

All right, joining me now is Anita Van Der Sloot, who is Joran‘s mother.  This is the mother of that young Dutch teen who has been arrested.  Thank you so much for coming on the program.  We appreciate you taking the time, and she‘s going to be with us any moment.  Here she is.  OK.  So she joins us now. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to come on the program.  All right, so tell us first what it is that your son has told you about this night.

ANITA VAN DER SLOOT, DISAPPEARANCE SUSPECT‘S MOTHER:  Well I believe that my son told me exactly the same he told the police.  I believe in him.  I believe he‘s innocent.  He‘s a young teenager.  He would never harm somebody.  He‘s loved here.  He‘s a great child.  He‘s ready to go to college.  He‘s an honor student.  And we just believe that he was telling the truth. 

ABRAMS:  And is what he told you consistent with what we‘ve been discussing, that he and these two other men went with Natalee, they drove to the beach, that your son and Natalee had some sort of sexual contact.  That they then dropped Natalee off at the hotel and that‘s the last that they saw of her? 

VAN DER SLOOT:  I think that‘s still under investigation, so I cannot say any much—anymore about this than you already know or heard...


VAN DER SLOOT:  There are so many rumors going around and the media is so crazy for us too that it‘s only the police that knows the details. 

ABRAMS:  Well that‘s why—that‘s—and I think you‘re right and that‘s why I wanted to ask you to just tell us exactly what it is that your son said so we‘re not reporting rumors and we‘re not reporting allegations. 

VAN DER SLOOT:  You know...

ABRAMS:  So you can just tell us exactly what it is he said.

VAN DER SLOOT:  Yes.  Yes.  You must understand that my son has said nothing on Monday because he went to school.  He was studying for exam.  It‘s his finals.  And there was nothing to be worried about until the night that the police came forward to interrogate them as witnesses. 

ABRAMS:  Right. 

VAN DER SLOOT:  And after that we heard what happened, but this is something—of course, he told us certain details that he told the police too, because from the beginning he said to us that he was innocent.  And he only wanted to help, and he is very consistent in his story.  He‘s—he did—the whole week after the several interrogations he went back to school because this mostly happened at night.  We tried to keep him with us as much as possible. 

He went to his tennis coach.  He played his sports.  He‘s a fantastic

sporter.  He did all the things that normally he does, and until yesterday

morning when the police came at our house—because we really thought that

·         well, with the whole process going on that it would all be solved and still, of course, hoping and praying that the girl would appear alive. 

ABRAMS:  Let me ask you this—when did your son meet Natalee? 

VAN DER SLOOT:  I don‘t know about that.  You have to ask somebody else or the attorney about this later. 

ABRAMS:  OK.  And is there anything else about the details of what it is he says happened that night that you‘d like to share with us?

VAN DER SLOOT:  No, I would only like to share like and maybe I can be very open with this.  I think the media conference here in Aruba is getting totally crazy and there‘s so much pressure on everybody of us.  I believe fully and with me, my whole family, my husband, and my other children, my family, all over the world, believe that Joran is 200 percent innocent and of course...

ABRAMS:  Right.

VAN DER SLOOT:  ... as a mom you‘re very angry that they drive a kid to the hotel to—these are three boys that just like any other 17-year teenager, he wanted to do his best to bring somebody to the hotel safe and this happened.  And we don‘t know what happened after that.  So I‘m just standing behind my son.  I think he‘s a great kid.  He was ready to go to school.  He got accepted at six universities in the states. 

He‘s an international student who speaks languages.  He‘s an honor student.  He participated in Aruba in Model United Nations.  Why would a young boy like he, who is favored on the island, who everybody loves, he has a lot of friends.  He‘s known in the sports community.  He presents Aruba on several occasions, why would he do something evil? 

Why would he do something like this?  For us it‘s no question that he‘s innocent, and that there will be a conclusion in this.  And we just pray the best, and we feel for the parents and we just want to support them as much as possible too.  And it‘s just all a big, big nightmare, for all of us.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  We should point out that the laws—under the Dutch law that they‘re working under is different than here in the United States.  That there one could be held with suspicion—under suspicion without any evidence.  So the bottom line is...


ABRAMS:  ... that when they hold someone based on suspicion, it doesn‘t mean that they are saying that we believe this person did it.  It means that we have got some questions that we need answered, and as a result he‘s being held until they can resolve those question.  We hope you‘ll come back...

VAN DER SLOOT:  Exactly...

ABRAMS:  ... as they continue this investigation.  Thank you very much for taking the time.  We really appreciate it.

VAN DER SLOOT:  And thank you very much also. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, jurors have been deliberating here in Santa Maria for six days, nothing.  We‘re not the only ones waiting to know what they‘ll decide.  Get this, traders in the futures markets are putting money on it and they have been right before.  We‘ll tell what you the market says about Jackson‘s chances.  And if he‘s convicted, he could end up here in the Corcoran State Penitentiary.  We will talk with a correction‘s officer who worked there for years. 

Plus after a photographer crashes into Lindsay Lohan‘s car, the LADA considers filing conspiracy charges against the paparazzi.  Is that going too far just to make celebrities happy?  Coming up.



ABRAMS:  Jurors in the Michael Jackson case are heading home for the weekend after wrapping up a sixth day of deliberations in this case.  Now so far the jury has spent 28 hours here at the courthouse without reaching a verdict, which leaves Michael Jackson‘s future up in the air and lots of speculation on the final outcome. 

You know some of it‘s just idle here around the courthouse, but there is also serious speculation on the Jackson verdict with dollar signs attached from offshore betting sites to a Dublin based online trading exchange, Intrade.com.  They claim their traders called every state in the District of Columbia correctly in the 2004 election.  Here‘s how it works. 

Traders can choose from one of two sets of charges, the molestation charges or the administration of an intoxicating agent to a minor charge.  Then the question is guilty or not.  They decide to buy or sell depending on their prediction.  As the percentage chance of guilty goes up or down in the minds of traders, some people are losing, others are making money. 

For example, before Jackson attorney Tom Mesereau made his closing argument the smart money was on him to sway the jury.  Guilty contracts dropped down to 35, meaning, they generally believed there was about a 35 percent chance of a conviction.  But when the traders found his closing disappointment—disappointing, contracts for guilty on molestation went up from 35 to 45, meaning those who had bought at 35 were making some big money.

The he‘s-innocent crowd would had put money on an acquittal were suddenly losing money.  If they wanted out they‘d have to pay the difference.  And as the jury deliberations have continued, many are thinking a compromise verdict could mean he‘s only found guilty on the alcohol charges.  Right now a lewd act conviction for Jackson is trading around 50 percent, while the intoxicating liquor, over 72.  That means that the majority of them thinking there will be a conviction on something. 

Mike Knesevitch is a spokesman for Intrade.com and he joins us now. 

Thanks very much for coming on the program.  We appreciate it.


ABRAMS:  All right, so—just so we understand this, basically there are people who are watching the trial, right, and seeing how things are going, and they‘re constantly sort of buying and selling, pulling out, putting money in, and taking money out in an effort to sort of nail which way the sentiment is going to go? 

KNESEVITCH:  Yes, exactly.  You could think of it as whether you‘re trading on a stock like Microsoft or Google, in this case the underlying security is acquittal or guilty. 

ABRAMS:  And right now I‘m told that overnight your interest in the Jackson case doubled from 2,000 people being involved to 4,000? 

KNESEVITCH:  Yes, we‘ve got over 45,000 individuals trading at Intrade and the volume and activity in the Jackson trial has exploded since closing arguments. 

ABRAMS:  What kind of money are we talking about?  I mean of those 4,000 people who are effectively betting on the Jackson case, how much are we generally—are they generally putting up? 

KNESEVITCH:  As of today, approximately $200,000 has been traded on this particular event.  We allow anyone to open an account.  Some accounts are in the high six figures and others are $100. 

ABRAMS:  Now I‘m assuming that some of the general sentiment amongst the traders is coming from people like me, based on what we‘re seeing, what we‘re hearing at the courthouse, I‘ve got to believe that‘s having an affect.

KNESEVITCH:  Absolutely.  You know the traders are watching the news.  The traders are looking for any kind of tidbit that gives them an advantage over other traders.  Some of the information they‘ll be looking at over the next few days is, what questions the jury asks and what testimony is being read back to them.  That‘ll give them a clue whether the molestation contracts are going one way or the other.  What seems to be evident in traders‘ minds right now is a guilty conviction on administering an intoxicating agent. 

ABRAMS:  And that‘s simply because of the length of the deliberation? 

KNESEVITCH:  Well, traders certainly will be looking at how long it takes to deliberate this trial.  But they‘ll also be looking at what information the jury wants read back to them.  That‘ll give them a clue. 

ABRAMS:  Very quickly, I‘m just interested in why 72 or something, they‘re now to 72 percent belief that he‘ll be convicted on the alcohol charges but only 50 on the lewd act on a child.  What do you think that‘s based on? 

KNESEVITCH:  Prior to closing arguments, the markets were trading very close, 35 percent guilty on administering an alcoholic beverage, and 33 percent that he‘ll be guilty on molestation.  Once closing arguments were made and instructions given to the jury, it seemed pretty evident to the traders that the bar to convict on administering an alcoholic agent became easier than the bar to convict on molestation charges.  So the intoxicating agent contract rallied much more than the...

ABRAMS:  Right.

KNESEVITCH:  ... molestation contract. 

ABRAMS:  Wow, it‘s so interesting.  All right.  Mike Knesevitch thanks very much for taking the time.  Appreciate it.

KNESEVITCH:  Thank you for having me. 

ABRAMS:  So it‘s hard to imagine Jackson going from that magical place called Neverland, 3,000 acres of child-like fun, complete with amusement park rides and a petting zoo, to the confines of a drab 8-by-12-foot jail cell in the California Department of Correction.  But if convicted, after a stop at the Santa Barbara county jail, Jackson, if sentenced to a long sentence, would likely end up at Corcoran State Prison in a protective housing unit.

He‘d be there with the likes of Charles Manson, serial killer Juan Corona, Mikail Markhasev, who killed Bill Cosby‘s son.  So what‘s it like in that big house?  Would Jackson end up in the protective unit?  And if he does, how well would he and could he be protected? 

A man who knows that unit well joins us now.  Richard Caruso, former correctional officer who worked at Corcoran.  Thanks a lot for coming on the program.  We appreciate it.

All right.  So give us a sense of what it‘s like.  I mean, I think that people hear about Corcoran.  They hear about Charles Manson.  The bottom line is this protective unit is designed to protect the inmates from getting hurt as much as from the inmates hurting someone else, right? 

RICHARD CARUSO, FMR CA CORRECTIONAL OFFICER:  That‘s correct, Dan.  But you got to realize that if Michael is convicted, he‘s going from Neverland to the land of the lost.  He‘s going to be in there with some high-profile inmates like Charles Manson, Sirhan Sirhan, but every one of these individuals are master manipulators.  And you think Michael can‘t trust the inner circle that he‘s around right now, wait until he gets inside that environment and he has people like Charles Manson coming up and trying to be his friend. 

You got to realize that Charles Manson tried to affiliate himself back in the ‘60‘s and ‘70‘s with The Beach Boys and Dennis Wilson.  His big dream was to be a rock star, so I‘m sure he‘s just groveling at the chance to have Michael in the PHU to sit there and try to become friends with him and to get close to him. 

ABRAMS:  And these inmate do have contact with one another? 

CARUSO:  Yes, they do have contact with one another.  The staff at the prison itself, they‘re going to do everything they can do to their ability to keep Michael safe.  You have a lot of well-qualified staff there.  But there are blind spots inside the unit and when they go out to the yard area. 

It‘s basically—you can‘t watch one inmate 24 hours a day.  You just don‘t have the staff to do that.  And like I said, there‘s blind spots inside the prison and outside in the yard area and in the past there have...

ABRAMS:  All right.

CARUSO:  ... been inmates that have been assaulted. 

ABRAMS:  Now just to give you a sense of a day in the protective housing unit, they‘re awakened at about 6:00 a.m.  They‘re in their cells.  They then get to leave their cell about 6:30 to 7:00, have a hot breakfast in the dayroom, return to the cell.  Then 8:00 to 11:30 either in the dayroom or the yard, again, then back to the cell, 1:00 to 3:30 dayroom or the yard, 4:00 to 5:00, dinner in the dayroom and it goes on from there.  Do they have to go out?  I mean can some prisoners there just say look I want to just stay in my cell alone? 

CARUSO:  They can stay in their cell, but most likely they want to get out and get some fresh air, they‘ll walk around the track a little bit.  He‘ll probably get a job making 13 cents an hour, maybe as a clerk.  But what he‘s going to be uncomfortable doing is showering in front of everybody.  Having people around him that constantly want to get—gain for their own advantage.  And I know that he‘s having problems in his inner circle now.  But he hasn‘t seen anything until he comes to that PHU. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, and I should say—we should make it clear that not only would he have to be convicted to end up in a place like Corcoran but he‘d also have to be convicted of one of the more serious crimes.  That would mean a long-term sentence because if he‘s only getting something like a year or less in prison, he very well could serve the entirety of that at the Santa Barbara County jail.  Richard Caruso thanks very much for coming on the program. 

CARUSO:  That‘s correct.  That‘s correct, Dan.  It‘s like Helter Skelter coming full circle.  Charles Manson looking right into the man that owns Helter Skelter‘s eyes. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Well, we shall see.  Jurors are still making that decision. 

Coming up, the growing battle here at the courthouse—I‘m not talking about Tom Mesereau and Tom Sneddon.  It‘s between some of the fans and some members of the media. 

And then, the battle between celebrities and paparazzi heating up after a photographer crashes into Lindsay Lohan—prosecutors talking about using some creative ways to charge the photogs.  The question, are the celebs getting special justice or are the photogs just getting what they deserve?  Lindsay‘s lawyer joins us. 


ABRAMS:  Coming up live from Santa Maria at the Michael Jackson case, no verdict today but outside very tense as Jackson fans await the final outcome.  We take a look at the yelling, the screaming, the insults being hurled out at the courthouse.  First the headlines.  


ABRAMS:  No verdict in the Michael Jackson case.  But the fans were out in full force this morning, showing their support for Michael Jackson as they have throughout this case.  But that‘s not all they‘ve been up to lately. 

MSNBC‘s Jennifer London is here at the courthouse with me.  So, Jennifer, there have been some clashes as of late between the fans and the media. 

JENNIFER LONDON, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Dan, one wouldn‘t normally think that covering a celebrity trial could turn out to be a dangerous place.  But we are not talking about any celebrity, and the fans are growing anxious for a verdict, and now some are taking direct aim at the media. 



LONDON:  A chorus of collective voices cheering for Michael Jackson. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Michael is innocent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Michael is innocent.

LONDON:  And railing against the press. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think the press is trying to make this a freak show. 

LONDON:  As deliberations continue behind closed doors, the scene outside the courthouse is increasingly tense.  Without the daily arrival of their pop idol, the Jackson fans have turned their eye on the media. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  They are giving all these opinions.  They‘re crucifying the man. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is more of a circus atmosphere. 



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We have some problems with the Michael Jackson fans.  They certainly want to get in if they can, and sometimes they tend to harass the media.  Our job is to keep them from harassing them. 




LONDON:  This was the scene just outside our live shot location earlier this week.  A group of fans, led by a courthouse regular named B.J., crowded around the security gate, screaming protests at “Court TV”.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Stop the injustice. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Stop the injustice.

LONDON:  On Thursday, B.J. stormed away from the courthouse after being slapped with a restraining order to stay away from “Court TV” reporter Diane Dimond and these fans were not at all pleased to see our cameras. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Put that on there.  You can‘t put that on TV.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What‘s all the anger?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  There‘s an innocent man being tried out there. 

LONDON:  As the crowd swells, more and more police are arriving and the Sheriff‘s Department is keeping a close eye on who is allowed to enter what is affectionately known as the plaza. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  May I see your credentials, please?  OK, that looks good.  Have a good day. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Michael is innocent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Michael is innocent.

LONDON:  But the real challenge lies ahead, controlling the crowd and the media when the verdict is reached. 



LONDON:  The police just today have set up some additional barricades as they attempt to control access in and around the courthouse.  And, Dan, we are told they will take special precautions when it‘s announced, a verdict has been reached. 

ABRAMS:  Jennifer thanks very much.  And joining me now is a commentator frequently on this show, and also frequently on the receiving end of the fans‘ wrath, MSNBC legal analyst and former prosecutor, Susan Filan. 

All right, Susan, I was struck when I arrived here, now that you‘re here, seeing how the fans yell and scream and curse every time you walk into the courthouse. 

SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  Yes, Dan, that‘s right.  They‘re watching your show, and they understand that your show gives a full, fair, and frank airing to the issues that confront the public in this case.  They don‘t like it because they want it to be one-sided, but your show is fair. 

ABRAMS:  But, Susan, we blurred out the word that they used to describe you on that sign.  But I guess they‘re saying, oh, Susan is not fair.  Susan is a prosecutor, this and that.  Have they harassed you at all, I mean beyond sort of yelling at you from beyond the fences, that‘s been about it, right? 

FILAN:  Well, they yell and they scream and they kick up a big fuss when I walk by, but the security in the courthouse here is excellent.  I have to give the bailiffs here a nod because they‘re doing a very good job in keeping us safe and keeping order here.  So it is just verbal.  They do have a First Amendment right to express their views as we do on your show. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Put that on there...

ABRAMS:  I should say, look, yes, you can‘t put that on TV.  That‘s good.  Look, the bottom line is that, as you say, the fans have every right to be out there.  They have every right to express their opinions.  But I think Susan is real clear about where she‘s coming from.  She‘s a former prosecutor. 

She looks at this case through that prism, and as a result, you know I think that the fans should accept that and accept the fact that Daniel Horowitz and the rest of the gang who come on here as well to represent the defense position, so don‘t take it out on Susan, all right?  Susan, good to see you...

FILAN:  But Dan, I try to call it like I see it.  It‘s not just the prism of the prosecution.

ABRAMS:  I know.

FILAN:  I try to call it like I see it.  And some days were better for the defense than others and I said that, but they only want to hear, Michael‘s innocent. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Coming up, our California prosecutor is pushing the limits to enforce laws to protect celebrities from paparazzi. 

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


ABRAMS:  Coming up, prosecutors may help celebrities turn the tables on stalking paparazzi by charging photographers with new crimes for their aggressive tactics.  But are they really just bending over backwards for the celebs?  Coming up. 



ABRAMS:  Most celebrities have a love/hate relationship with the media.  Used to be that a celeb‘s recourse against aggressive photographers was to sue or maybe even buy back photos from the very person who invaded their privacy in the first place.  But now Los Angeles prosecutors want to take it a step further.  After a number of incidents seeming to show the paparazzi going to dangerous lengths to ambush celebrities, prosecutors are considering something a little creative, charging the photographers and their agencies with conspiracy, a felony. 

Two weeks ago actress Lindsay Lohan‘s Mercedes was rammed by a minivan while she was driving in Los Angeles.  The driver of that car that hit her worked for a photo agency.  Several other photographers were on the scene moments after the crash, taking pictures like these.  The driver of the car was arrested and is being investigated on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.  And prosecutors want to know if several other photographers were working together to plan the crash in order to sell the photos. 

Another actress Reese Witherspoon complained to police in April she was chased by at least five photographers who blocked her car in as she was trying to leave her gym.  Joining me to now discuss is attorney Neil Steiner who has represented the photographers in the past like the one who sued Alec Baldwin when he was attacked.  And Jay Lavely, who represents Lindsay Lohan in her current case, as well as Reese Witherspoon and several other celebrities who have fought back against the paparazzi.

Gentlemen, thank you very much for joining us.  Mr. Lavely, let me start with you.  There are plenty of laws on the books that if these photographers violate they can be charged with.  Is this new effort, do you think, just the LADA caving to the complaints of a handful of celebrities who want to dictate when and where their pictures could be taken? 

JAY LAVELY, REPRESENTS LINDSAY LOHAN:  Dan, I don‘t think so at all because you‘re right, there are the underlying criminal acts that can be prosecuted separately and independently, but then if those acts are done in concerted activity or by a conspiracy, where you have multiple individuals, entities planning and carrying out something that may violate one or more criminal laws and does so in the context of a conspiracy, then the laws treat that much more severely, so it‘s not trying to engraph (ph) something new on the law. 

It‘s merely using the law that exists.  For example, if you have a vehicle infraction of some type on the highway with a paparazzi pursuing a celebrity in a vehicle, but then if you have, on the other hand, several vehicles trying to box the celebrity‘s vehicle, and either move it, force it over, stop it for purposes of taking photos of the person through kind of a false imprisonment, or that‘s an example of then doing something through a conspiracy that would be entirely different if it was merely one individual. 

ABRAMS:  Neil Steiner, would you have any problem—let‘s assume for a moment that these photographers are agreeing to set up a situation whereby somebody causes some sort of accident, the rest of them can be on the scene to take pictures.  If, and I say if, if prosecutors can show that, do you have any problem with them being charged with conspiracy? 

NEIL STEINER, ATTORNEY WHO HAS REPRESENTED PAPARAZZI:  Well, the way you are framing the question it‘s sort of loaded.  If people are going to get together...

ABRAMS:  Sure it is...

STEINER:  ... and engage in a criminal activity then they‘re entitled to be and they should be prosecuted.  But I don‘t think that‘s the situation that we‘re having here.  And I think that this is more of a public relations move to stop the paparazzi from doing what they really are entitled to do, and which, in fact, benefits the public, and if truth be told, benefit the entertainment community.  The people...

ABRAMS:  Haven‘t they gotten more aggressive though?  Would you concede, Mr. Steiner, that with the increased number of these celebrity magazines, which are dominated in large part by photographs of celebrities that the paparazzi have gotten more aggressive in their tactics? 

STEINER:  I don‘t think so.  I think if anything it‘s the entertainment community trying to stop becoming more aggressive and trying to stop the paparazzi.  I think the paparazzi are doing something that is fulfilling the public need and fulfilling the need of the—and the desires of the entertainment community.  If the paparazzi weren‘t doing what they‘re doing, if they weren‘t taking photographs, if they weren‘t taking photographs, not just photographs on the red carpet, but taking more candid photographs of the entertainment community people, of the actors and actresses, then there wouldn‘t be actors and actresses and that would be so much in the public eye.  The public loves this...

ABRAMS:  What about that Mr. Lavely? 


ABRAMS:  What about that Mr. Lavely?  The idea that the celebrities—

I mean you‘re representing Cameron Diaz in one case.  You‘re representing Lindsay Lohan in another.  That the celebrities are feeling emboldened to fight back more. 

LAVELY:  Well I don‘t think it‘s as much as feeling emboldened as it is getting to the point where because of the degree of risk of death or injury, because of the degree of increased harassment, I think it‘s getting to the breaking point of people being subjected to such incredibly outrageous conduct that they literally have to do something or things will go downhill and there will be further accidents or deaths or injuries.  Whether it is a vehicle situation or someone breaking into private property, into an event with security there, with the potential for something getting out of hand on that score.

Whether it‘s the paparazzi trying to force a vehicle off the road or boxing the person in so they can‘t even physically get out of their car, so they‘re forced to stay there while paparazzi photograph them in the car.  This isn‘t about somebody having a bad hair day and not wanting to be photographed in public.  A distinction has to be made here that we‘re not talking about things like red carpet events or...

ABRAMS:  Right.  Right...

LAVELY:  ... public events or even someone in public where they‘re being photographed.  We‘re talking about pursuit...


LAVELY:  ... harassment, false imprisonment, and sometimes assault and battery...

ABRAMS:  I‘ve got to give Mr. Steiner the final word on this.  Go ahead Mr. Steiner, your response.

STEINER:  Let‘s just say it‘s the price of popularity, the price of success.  These people put themselves in these situations.  These people look for it, they die for it, it‘s their (UNINTELLIGIBLE) actually to be in front of the camera.  For them to complain about it is bizarre at best...

ABRAMS:  But very quickly, even those who don‘t want to be in front of it, you would concede that there are some celebrities who don‘t want to be in front of the camera and your response would be well, you know, unfortunately, that‘s not their choice to make, right?

STEINER:  Not only that, the ones who really don‘t want to be in front of the camera aren‘t in front of the camera.  They find ways to avoid it.  The ones who do, who want to be there, are there, and that‘s just the way they are...

ABRAMS:  I don‘t know.  I think...


ABRAMS:  I think for some of them it‘s pretty hard to avoid the cameras. 

STEINER:  Well how many of them are selling their own photographs?  How many are teaming up and conspiring with the paparazzi to get the photographs?  They want to be in front of the camera. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Some of them, some of them.  All right, anyway, Neil Steiner and Jay Lavely, thank you very much for coming on the program.

LAVELY:  Thank you Dan.

ABRAMS:  Appreciate it. 

LAVELY:  Thank you.

STEINER:  Thank you.  You bet.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, I know, I can sometimes ask tough questions of my guests, but some of you say I went too far last night.  I respond up next. 


ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  Now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  A former University of South Carolina—South Florida professor, Sami Al-Arian, on trial this week, accused of helping to raise money for Palestinian terrorists.  He says he is a peaceful activist.  One of my guests, criminal defense attorney Randy Hamud, kept referring back to the presumption of innocence rather than addressing the merits of the case or our discussion.  So finally after he kept repeating it, I cut him off. 

Joel Gardner, “I was offended at your rude behavior toward the defense representative.  When he was attempting to speak, you shut him up with sarcastic and cynical comments, saying yes, yes, yes, he‘ll get his fair trial.”

And Rob Bunney, “Accusations are just that, accusations.  To treat the lawyer with such disrespect shows you have no respect for individual rights or the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.”

Look, I invite guests on this program to have substantive discussions and debates.  If all I‘m going to get is if there‘s a presumption of innocence, I can have anyone come on and repeat that mantra.  I invite someone on so they can talk specifically about why they think this case is unfair.  For a guest to just restate the presumption of innocence suggests to me that he doesn‘t know enough about the substance of the case. 

James Davis thought that I should have done more.  He writes, “Dan, you really need to learn how to cut the microphone off when your guests start getting rude and obnoxious.”

And in our Michael Jackson coverage, some of the fans here want only pro-Jackson coverage.  Ed Cooper in San Jose, California, “I‘m a Michael Jackson fan.  I have been for the extent of my 34 years on earth.  I would just like to thank you for being a fair-minded reporter.  You have not chosen a side and seem to weigh everything evenly.  Whether he is convicted or not, I felt you did a great job.”  Thank you Ed.

Finally journalism student Sheri Newcomer, “I know that there is a strong likelihood that deliberations will be over by next Tuesday, June 14.  I am unfortunately obligated until then, but I would like to interview you for five minutes.” 

Sheri, lesson number one, don‘t tell someone you‘re trying to interview that you‘re obligated until next week.  Write us again.  We‘ll see if we can work it out. 

Coming up, we promised it to you last night but this time there will be enough time for our “OH PLEAs!”.  Car—kind of car you don‘t want to steal, up next.


ABRAMS:  “OH PLEAs!”—you‘ve heard police departments teach children to never get in a car with someone they don‘t know.  Well it seems maybe the L.A. County Sheriff‘s Department should have practiced that as well.  Twenty-year-old Steven Funderburk rode along with a deputy as what is called an Explorer, a program that allows people with a clean rap sheet to apply, to tag along with a cop in a cruiser. 

Funderburk spent the day with the deputy until his shift was over at 1:00 a.m., but it seems Funderburk wanted a little more action.  He allegedly returned to the cruiser claiming he—quote—“forgot his bag” and then proceeded to, well, steal it, and leading police on a chase through three cities, the duped deputy eventually radioed into his cruiser and convinced the man to surrender.  Funderburk was arrested for investigation of possessing a stolen vehicle, evading arrest.  I guess he just wanted to complete the cruiser experience by riding in the back seat. 

That does it for us.  I‘ll be back here next week continuing to wait for the verdict in the Michael Jackson trial.  See you then.



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