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'The Abrams Report' for Nov. 18th

Read the transcript to the Friday show

Guests: Demaurice Smith, Doug Burns, Governor George Pataki, Jonna Spilbor, Jean Casarez, Eric Dubin

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, the CIA leak investigation could be just beginning.  The special counsel saying in court papers he wants to present evidence to a new grand jury. 


ABRAMS (voice-over):  That has got to have other potential targets like Karl Rove very nervous.  Could it be related to Bob Woodward‘s disclosure that he was leaked CIA agent Valerie Plame‘s name as well.

And a jury finds actor Robert Blake liable for the death of his wife Bonny Lee Bakley, ordering him to pay 30 million to her family, even though a criminal jury found him not guilty.  Can you say O.J.?

Plus, “Dateline NBC” gets exclusive access to prison tapes of Mark Chapman talking about why he killed John Lennon. 

The program about justice starts now. 


ABRAMS:  Hi, everyone.  First up on the docket tonight, in the words of Yankee great, Yogi Berra, it ain‘t over until it‘s over.  And we know that special counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald‘s CIA leak investigation ain‘t over.  The grand jury that that indicted Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Cheney‘s former chief of staff, is done, but in court papers filed last night, Fitzgerald said that—quote—“The investigation is continuing and will involve proceedings before a different grand jury than the grand jury which returned the indictment.”

All this following Bob Woodward‘s bombshell in “The Washington Post” that he had been deposed by Fitzgerald Monday and admitted that an administration source told him in June of 2003, that White House critic, Joe Wilson‘s wife, Valerie Plame worked for the CIA.  Woodward has now told “TIME” magazine he contacted his source last month after he realized that he was the probably the first one to learn about Plame. 

So, who is Woodward‘s source and who is Fitzgerald going after in the investigation?  The denials are coming from all over the place, from anonymous sources.  They cover who‘s who in the Bush administration.  Vice President Dick Cheney wasn‘t the source, according to a—quote—“person familiar with the investigation.”

Neither was the president, according to—quote—“current and former officials and their lawyers” or national security advisor Stephen Hadley, White House political advisor Karl Rover, chief of staff Andrew Card, Colin Powell, George Tenet.  The list goes on and on and on and on of who it wasn‘t. 

I want to know though what this means legally.  Who‘s really shaking in his boots?  Joining us now MSNBC “HARDBALL” correspondent David Shuster, who‘s followed this case from the beginning, former federal prosecutor Demaurice Smith, and white collar defense attorney Doug Burns. 

All right, Demaurice, let me start with you.  Bottom line, whose attorney would you have to be to be the most nervous as a result of learning this? 

DEMAURICE SMITH, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  Well right now, anybody who is representing an individual who has already gone to the grand jury told their story under oath.  Right now, there are probably some people sitting back there, saying to themselves, wait a minute.  Has Woodward‘s revelation or disclosure changed or somehow made things worse for that person who‘s testified in front of the grand jury. 


SMITH:  If another grand jury gets empanelled, that starts to send a signal, pretty strong signal that this prosecutor thinks that maybe there was other obstruction or maybe even more false statements or perhaps even perjury in front of the grand jury.

ABRAMS:  Well because Fitzgerald specifically said don‘t read the tealeaves.  Don‘t read into what I‘m saying but of course all of us did that.  Here‘s what he said on October the 28th, talking about where everything stood. 


PATRICK FITZGERALD, SPECIAL COUNSEL:  I‘ll tell you this.  Very rarely do you bring a charge in a case that‘s going to be tried and would you ever end a grand jury investigation.  I can tell you the substantial bulk of the work of this investigation is concluded. 


ABRAMS:  Doug, the substantial work in the investigation is over.  That‘s not what you say when you‘re going to empanel another grand jury, is it? 

DOUG BURNS, WHITE COLLAR DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  I‘ll tell you what, it‘s a very, very interesting legal issue for the simple reason that the issue is, is he looking to make a new case or—and this is the key—is he going to utilize the grand jury for the purpose of doing service for trial preparation and the key there is that...

ABRAMS:  Well, you‘ve got to explain to us what that means. 


ABRAMS:  That‘s a lot of legal talk.  What does that mean?

BURNS:  I‘m sorry.  Grand jury secrecy is such that you‘re not going to be able to—the media is not going to be able to find out any of the information...

ABRAMS:  Right.

BURNS:  ... in the new grand jury inquiry.  He may be utilizing it to dot I‘s and cross T‘s in the ongoing case.  That is done inadvertently, not necessarily on purpose, and I think that could be a problematic issue.  However at first blush, yes, people are nervous and they think that he‘s possibly going after Karl Rove.  That‘s the common sense angle.

ABRAMS:  Demaurice, I don‘t know.  I‘ve got to believe that he knows he‘s being watched by the world.  Do you think he‘s really empanel a new grand jury to dot I‘s here? 

SMITH:  Absolutely not.  As he said, his investigation is continuing.  There‘s no prosecutor who‘s brought a case, especially the breadth of a case like this, who probably doesn‘t have further leads to go.  And when he gave the statement that his investigation is continuing, the one tea leave that we can read, he‘s right.  His investigation is continuing.  He‘s empanelled a new grand jury.  He‘s going to go forward, follow up on those facts, look at that conduct and look for those individual who might have violated the law. 

ABRAMS:  You know David Shuster, it is really almost impossible to have this discussion without thinking it had something on do with Bob Woodward.  I mean...


ABRAMS:  ... it would be awfully coincidental, would it not, if Bob Woodward disclosed that he‘s testifying in front of a grand jury and it has nothing to do with the fact that Fitzgerald is asking for a new one.

DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC “HARDBALL” CORRESPONDENT:  Well that‘s right, Dan.  And look back.  I mean we know that this conversation that Woodward had with prosecutor Fitzgerald, his deposition came just this past Monday and we also know that the information from Woodward‘s original source was disclosed after the Libby indictment.  So I think the key question is was that source, whoever it was, did that source just—did they forget to disclose it to prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in front of a grand jury, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) FBI investigation.

Were they not asked?  Is there a reasonable explanation for why the source didn‘t disclose that he had this conversation with Woodward?  And the other thing I would point to, Dan, is I hate to exonerate Karl Rove or anybody else, but look at the date for when Woodward says this conversation happened.

It happened in mid June 2003 and at the time, according to Fitzgerald‘s own indictment, it was a very small circle of people who knew the information about the Wilsons.  There were a couple at the CIA.  There were a couple of people at the State Department who were providing information to the office of the vice president.  But as far as others like Hadley or Rove or conversations between Libby and them, that didn‘t happen until much later in the month. 

ABRAMS:  You know and my colleague and the man you work with all the time, Chris Matthews, each days seems to be bringing up Vice President Cheney‘s name. 

SHUSTER:  Right.

ABRAMS:  Is that—I mean it sure sounds like Chris thinks that‘s the direction it‘s going on in.  But does that make sense to you? 

SHUSTER:  It does in a sense that—and without knowing whether it‘s Vice President Cheney or not, but we do know that Vice President Cheney was a crucial source for Bob Woodward‘s book, “Plan of Attack”, which Woodward was working on at the time.  That‘s the reason Woodward was trying to have these conversations with Andy Card and Karl Rove and “Scooter” Libby.

He wasn‘t pursuing the investigation.  He didn‘t care so much about Wilson.  That‘s clear from what Woodward has said.  But he was trying to write this book and he was talking to the vice president in an off the record basis and then submitting questions through Andy Card and “Scooter” Libby, follow-up questions he wanted to ask.  So clearly there were conversations between Bob Woodward and a number of White House officials during this time period. 

ABRAMS:  All right, here - make—let‘s go through the timeline here.  According to Woodward, here‘s what he says happened.  All right.  That he contacted the source after the indictment and really, effectively, Fitzgerald said that Libby had disclosed the information to Judith Miller first.  The source then said well that he or she had no alternative but to go to Fitzgerald, the source then testified. 

Woodward was then contacted by Fitzgerald on November the 3rd.  Woodward testified under oath for more than two hours on Monday, discusses small portions of the interview conducted with three current or former Bush administration officials. 

All right.  Doug, explain this to me.  If Woodward testified on November the 3rd in front of a grand jury, that has—is that the new grand jury or is that the old grand jury? 

BURNS:  That sounds like it‘s the new one.  Because it‘s after the indictment was returned.  But what I‘m saying to you is after 18 months of a case where they don‘t indict anybody on a substantive charge of violating the law that outs a CIA operative and they come up only with, you know, lying in the grand jury, that they need to empanel a new one.  I mean I just think that this case is overblown...


ABRAMS:  Wait.  Wait.

SHUSTER:  Dan, just to clarify, the information is being presented to a new grand jury, but Woodward himself, it was a deposition with Fitzgerald and that‘s it. 

ABRAMS:  OK.  So, yes—so—but the—but what about the source. 

The source testified to the old grand jury, David? 

SHUSTER:  Well no, we believe if the source testified in front of a grand jury, it would have had to have been the new one because the old grand jury expired the day “Scooter” Libby was indicted. 

ABRAMS:  Right.  Right.  So, but then why did he only request it last night?  Did we only learn about it last night or only requested a new grand jury last night. 

SHUSTER:  Well he only made the reference to it last night because he had this hearing today in a fight over what the media can get as far as pretrial documents related to “Scooter” Libby.  Fitzgerald wants to keep a lot of it secret, pointing out that some of the information is related to an ongoing investigation. 


SHUSTER:  So he makes this point, saying look, some of this is still going to be (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  It‘s still going to be grand jury secret material.  We can‘t release it because there is an ongoing investigation and because we are going to be—this ongoing investigation is going to—quote—“involve...

ABRAMS:  Right.

SHUSTER:  ... proceedings before a different grand jury.”

ABRAMS:  Here‘s Pat Fitzgerald talking about the possibility of a new grand jury.

OK, that‘s obviously not the—let me know when we get that.

All right.  Demaurice look, you heard Doug Burns make a comment before, which suggests on you know they‘re empanelling a new grand jury and it must be overblown—I mean I don‘t see how the fact that they‘re empanelling a second grand jury necessarily supports the argument that all the charges here are overblown, Demaurice.

SMITH:  Well absolutely right.  I have prosecuted these cases.  I‘ve defended these cases.  The one thing that becomes clear is if there is a crime where it is alleged that someone has done something to corrupt the process of justice, that‘s a hard case to make for anything being overblown.  And the thing that is going to be motivating this prosecutor right now is he‘s charged with conducting an investigation and he believes that during the course of that investigation, someone, not only did one act to obstruct or delay or to hinder that investigation, but he‘s going to allege and put forth an indictment...


SMITH:  ... that said a person engaged in repeated acts of obstruction, that‘s a serious charge...

ABRAMS:  Here‘s...

SMITH:  ... and many prosecutors—many defense lawyers are going to think that that‘s probably one of the most serious charges ever to be brought. 

ABRAMS:  Here‘s Pat Fitzgerald (UNINTELLIGIBLE) what I was talking about before.


FITZGERALD:  It‘s routine in long investigations that you would have available a new grand jury if you needed to go back to them and that‘s nothing unusual.  I don‘t want to raise any expectations by that.  That‘s an ordinary practice. 


ABRAMS:  So, Doug, I mean that comment there would seem to support your theory that it‘s all part of the same thing. 

BURNS:  Yes, look, I was a federal prosecutor nine years.  I‘ve been on this side eight years, OK.  Just like Demaurice I‘ve been on both sides.  The reality is, is that I think there‘s a significant issue that they want to keep the stuff secret under grand jury secrecy and not available to anybody.  I‘m not imputing a negative or horrible motivation.  I‘m just telling you that the reality of ongoing investigations are often just that, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  So you don‘t think—bottom line, Doug, you don‘t think that anyone else is in jeopardy at this point. 

BURNS:  I didn‘t say that.  But I say that the first blush notion that it‘s Karl Rove you know looking down the barrel is not necessarily...


BURNS:  ... the accurate analysis...

ABRAMS:  Forget about Karl Rove for a minute.

BURNS:  Right.

ABRAMS:  Even David Shuster is saying...

BURNS:  Right.

ABRAMS:  ... look, based on the timeline, it sure doesn‘t look like Rove is the one who has to be particularly concerned.

BURNS:  Right.

ABRAMS:  But should anyone be concerned about the fact that there‘s a new grand jury? 

BURNS:  Well I think people are concerned, absolutely.  But I can‘t really tell you what‘s going on behind closed doors and it‘s hard to predict.  But I think there are other ancillary issues.  That‘s what I‘m trying to tell you. 

ABRAMS:  David Shuster, Demaurice Smith, Doug Burns, thanks a lot. 

Appreciate it. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You‘re welcome.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, they‘ve been dubbed the “dirty dozen”.  Twelve violent sex offenders who New York Governor George Pataki is trying to keep off the streets and in a mental hospital, even though they‘ve served their time.  A state judge told the governor he can‘t do it that way.  All 12 could be back on the street within days.  We talk to the governor next. 

And a jury decides actor Robert Blake is to blame for his wife‘s death, even though a criminal jury found him not guilty of murder. 

Plus, nearly 25 years after Mark Chapman shot and killed John Lennon, “Dateline NBC” gets exclusive access to jailhouse tapes of Chapman talking about why he killed the Beatle. 

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


ABRAMS:  Twelve of New York‘s most violent sex offenders, crimes include rape and sodomy of boys and girls, may be back out on the streets of New York State within days.  The only way too keep them confined if two court-appointed psychiatrists determine they are mentally ill and a danger to themselves or society.  The offenders labeled the “dirty dozen” this week by a New York newspaper have already served their prison sentences.  New York State Governor George Pataki placed them in a mental hospital on Wards Island.  This week a New York Supreme Court judge ruled the governor can‘t do it unless he can show that they‘re mentally ill. 

Quote  -- “There can be no doubt that the governor and the state officials have a very valid concern about the risks posed to the public by repeat sex offenders.  Nevertheless, that some of the petitioners may involuntarily have been placed in the mental health system by executive fiat is a possibility, which this court cannot ignore.  The court takes no issue with the state‘s belief that each of these men poses a danger to society.  However, a showing of mental illness is also required.  This court finds the petitioners are being illegally detained.”

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia passed legislation allowing for sex offenders to be committed after they‘ve served their sentences and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the laws in 1999.  But despite Pataki‘s support, the New York State legislature hasn‘t passed that type of law. 

I‘m joined now by the governor of New York, George Pataki.  Governor, thanks for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

GOV. GEORGE PATAKI ®, NEW YORK:  Nice being on with you, Dan.

ABRAMS:  All right, so let me ask you, Governor.  Look, as a practical and moral matter it seeps like this is a no-brainer.  You‘re not going to get any opposition from many people on it from that perspective.  But as a legal matter, isn‘t it clear, you‘re talking to your lawyers, you‘re talking with the people who are working with you, that you just don‘t have the authority to do this? 

PATAKI:  No, I wouldn‘t have done it if I didn‘t think I had the legal authority and the clear legal authority.  What we‘re doing is applying the mental hygiene law of the state of New York and that says that when there are three factors, someone is found mentally ill, someone has found to pose a threat to themselves or to others and that person needs to have imposed treatment that we have the ability to civilly confine them.

And clearly, with the procedures we‘ve set up, we have to have those findings.  And with the case of these sexual predators, these violent predators, not only are we right morally, we‘re also right from the standpoint of what the law allows us to do and I‘m confident to the extent you can be in a legal proceeding that we will win this appeal. 

ABRAMS:  But what the court is saying is look, you‘ve got to—the court has to order a psychiatric evaluation and if and only if that psychiatric evaluation determines that they—the involuntarily commitment is necessary, that only then can they be committed.  And it seems that you‘re kind of circumventing that. 

PATAKI:  Not at all, Dan.  The process that we‘re following now, first of all requires that two doctors do an independent evaluation of this violent sexual predator and they have to agree, both of them, that this person is mentally ill and poses a threat of doing it again.

ABRAMS:  And who appoints the doctors? 

PATAKI:  The doctors are from our correctional system.  They then—that person is then referred to the mental health facility, the secure mental health facility, where a third medical professional doctor examines that patient and has to come to that same independent conclusion.  And Dan, I know of your commitment to civil liberties and I applaud that. 

But in addition to these steps, there is then a hearing process where anyone who is determined to be subject to civil confinement has the ability to get their own lawyer, paid for by the taxpayers, to have an independent medical evaluation and have a hearing to determine if in fact that preliminary determination of confinement is correct. 


PATAKI:  So these are very, very clear procedures, aimed at protecting the civil rights of people who I believe should be civilly confined, but it‘s not a question of what I believe.  It‘s a question of what the law allows and I think the law does allow it.

ABRAMS:  Yes, I‘m not that concerned about the civil liberties here.  You know, I—we do on my program every day, we look—we put pictures of wanted sex offenders on the program who haven‘t registered with various states.  It‘s not a violation of their civil liberties...

PATAKI:  Right.

ABRAMS:  ... but you know I think that there‘s really no constituency out there who‘s going to defend these people.  The question that I keep wondering about though, is the power of the courts.  I mean what the court has come back here and said is that you simply don‘t have the power to do it.  And the argument has been made that you‘ve been trying to get this legislation passed for the civil commitment of these people in order to basically say, even after you‘ve served your time, we still ought to be able to hold you. 

PATAKI:  Right.

ABRAMS:  You haven‘t been able to get that passed...

PATAKI:  Right.

ABRAMS:  ... in the legislature and out of your frustration, you‘re basically calling them on it and saying fine.  You guys don‘t want to play.  You don‘t want to pass this legislation, I‘m going to go ahead and just do this on my own and force the issue. 

PATAKI:  Dan, I am doing what I have the executive power to do and I wish we had the legislation and let me tell you why.  Under the legislation, we would not have to have that determination of mental illness.  And I think that‘s a very important distinction because there are a lot of doctors, lot of medical professionals who say that mental illness means that you can‘t function on a day-to-day level. 

Many of these violent sexual predators can sit down and have lunch with you and you‘d think they were normal.  They just have this violent urge that they cannot control.  And under the legislation we think we could keep many more of these violent sexual predators behind bars. 


PATAKI:  As of now, Dan, we‘ve evaluated 120. 

ABRAMS:  Well that‘s what I was going to ask you about.

PATAKI:  And we‘ve only been able to keep 27. 

ABRAMS:  That‘s what I was going to ask you about...

PATAKI:  More than three out of four...

ABRAMS:  Yes, I was going to say...

PATAKI:  ... are released. 

ABRAMS:  ... in your defense that you‘ve chosen a select group, correct?  I mean people always—the argument that‘s often used in the context of this kind of act is people say, well, a lot of the time you‘re talking about people—a 19-year-old who was convicted of having sex with a 15-year-old.  You‘re not talking about that here. 

PATAKI:  We‘re not talking about that.  These are convicted violent sexual predators.  Half of them at least have been convicted of molesting or sexually abusing a child 10 or under.  More than half of them have refused treatment, mental health treatment or failed mental health treatment when it was offered in prison. 

These are the worst of the worst and even among those who go through this screening process, out of the 120 we‘ve screened so far, we‘ve only been able to have that medical conclusion by those three physicians in 27 cases.  I‘m pleased those 27 are not going to be out on our streets, not going to be hanging around the playgrounds of the schools, attacking women or children in New York State.  But I wish we could keep more of them away from the most vulnerable citizens of New York.

ABRAMS:  Governor George Pataki, thanks for taking the time.

PATAKI:  Thank you, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  For the other side, joining us now criminal defense attorney Jonna Spilbor.  Jonna, your reaction. 

JONNA SPILBOR, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  I think the governor is all wrong.  First of all, there is no law that allows sex offenders to be civilly committed.  There‘s no law and a judge has now said you can‘t do it, so...

ABRAMS:  Right, but he‘s...

SPILBOR:   ... he‘s not within his rights.

ABRAMS:  ... right, but he‘s saying the judge has got if wrong and that‘s why we‘re going to appeal it and they‘re saying that he‘s got the executive power to do that and to order that they‘re committed.  Even the judge, in the ruling seem to be suggesting yes, there is some executive power here, but the judge was saying you need to do it with court-ordered evaluation. 

SPILBOR:   Right and he‘s—now, he‘s just thumbing his nose at this particular judge and...

ABRAMS:  No he‘s not.  He‘s just appealing. 

SPILBOR:   Yes he is.

ABRAMS:  He‘s (UNINTELLIGIBLE) new appeal.  He‘s not thumbing his nose...

SPILBOR:   Well the criteria—he‘s trying to bootstrap these criminals into a non-criminal law.  The three criteria that he set forth for the civil commitment that applies only to non-criminals, not to criminals.  When you‘re a criminal and you get sentenced, you are sentenced.  When you‘re done, when you have served your time, that‘s it.  Now what he should be trying to do though, Dan, is if you want keep these guys in prison longer because they‘re dirt bags and they are, well then let‘s make legislation that increases the sentences.  Let‘s make legislation that allows for their parole or probation...


ABRAMS:  But he can‘t—it‘s not his—he‘s saying, I can‘t get the New York State legislature to do it. 

SPILBOR:   No, he can‘t get the legislature to get this law through, but why don‘t we just change the sentencing structure for these violent sexual predators.

ABRAMS:  All right.  But the question—I think that it would be fair to say he‘d say all right, fine.  But what do we do today?  Because you‘re talking about the sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl, the abuse of a 7-year-old daughter, the repeated sodomy of a 10-year-old boy, and the sexual abuse of a 13-year-old and an 8-year-old boy.  I mean his point would be look, I picked and chosen pretty carefully here which ones to go after and this group in particular, we didn‘t feel, based on doctors from the correctional institute who evaluated them are safe to send out into society. 

SPILBOR:   Here‘s what I don‘t understand, though.  First of all, the correctional doctors are always going to side with the state.  That‘s who writes their paychecks.  But look, if we have lengthy commitments by these sex offenders, when you go to prison you have to go for at least one year and let‘s assume that the worst of the worst have been in there are for five, 10, or 15 years. 

If they‘re mentally ill coming out, what are we doing wrong?  How come we can‘t take 15 years with dirt bags who have nothing but time and study them and counsel them and at least try to fix them.  We should be studying the behavior of sex offenders like we study cancer, Dan, for a cure.  Not just let them languish for 15 years and then at the end of 15 years say, they‘re mentally ill.  Now they‘re going to go next door to the hospital.

We‘re not solving the problem that way.  And maybe he can‘t solve it today and if he wants to focus on that, he needs to approach it differently. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Jonna Spilbor, thanks a lot. 

SPILBOR:   Thanks, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, one jury may have found Robert Blake not guilty of murdering his wife, but today, another says oh, Robert, thou aren‘t to blame. 

Plus, Mark Chapman, the man who killed John Lennon, talks on tape about why he did it. 

And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to help find missing sex offenders before they strike again. Our search today continues to Georgia. 

Authorities are looking for Keeling Clark, 24, 6‘4”, 175, convicted of statutory rape, has not registered with the authorities.  If you‘ve got any information on his whereabouts, please contact the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, 1-800-597-TIPS.

Be right back.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, a California jury finds Robert Blake liable for his wife Bonny Lee Bakley‘s death.  Coming up. 


ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  Robert Blake intentionally caused the death of his wife and he did it alone and now he has to pay Bonny Lee Bakley‘s family $30 million.  At least that‘s what a jury ruled.  It took jurors about 28 hours to reach that verdict in the wrongful death suit against the actor. 


BOB HORN, BLAKE JURY FOREMAN:  In the end, the evidence that was presented really convinced the jury to the standard that we were set to, which was more likely to have happened than not happened, we feel that our decisions are supported by that.  And that‘s really what we have to say. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and how you arrived at that?

HORN:  I‘m sorry?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The $30 million (UNINTELLIGIBLE) how you arrived at that number?

HORN:  What do you think somebody‘s life is worth and a deterrent for future action if in fact you believe somebody did something? 


ABRAMS:  Joining me now from the courthouse Court TV news correspondent Jean Casarez, Bakley family attorney Eric Dubin.  Thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

All right.  Jean, bottom line, difference between this case and the criminal case, apart from the legal standard is that Robert Blake testified but a lot of people who saw him testify thought he didn‘t do so badly. 

JEAN CASAREZ, COURT TV NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Well that‘s right.  But this jury and this is the most interesting thing I think to come out of today, they didn‘t like Robert Blake.  That‘s what they said.  They didn‘t like him; they didn‘t like him on the stand.  They didn‘t think he was respectful to them as jurors and respectful to the court and it went on from there to find this judgment. 

ABRAMS:  And Eric Dubin, is this the victory the family needed? 

ERIC DUBIN, BAKLEY FAMILY ATTORNEY:  Oh, yes, Dan.  I mean we‘re thrilled.  The kids are crying.  It‘s redemption.  It‘s justice in a word. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Here‘s Robert Blake deposition, the guy was—number five here.  Robert Blake was asked a lot of questions before the trial, a lot of question and answer, and he had a lot of the same sort of battling back and forth with the attorneys in the deposition and during the trial itself. 



Now I‘m not going to tell you again.  Now, let‘s stick with the facts. 


BLAKE:  This is not three hours between each question.  You just heard me say that.  I don‘t care if you made a mistake.  I‘m not allowed to make mistakes and neither is he.  Did you hear that? 


BLAKE:  OK.  Thank you.  I beg your pardon.  Are you unhappy about something?  That‘s a filthy stinking lie.  What is it based on?  Nothing but your own personality nonsense. 


ABRAMS:  This guy is a piece of work.  What a piece of work this guy is.  Here‘s what the jurors said about Robert Blake right after the verdict today. 


HORN:  In going past the evidence as a group, we believe that Mr.

Blake was probably his worst enemy on the stand. 

TONY ALDANA, JUROR BLAKE CIVIL TRIAL:  It was just the way he was acting.  I mean you know he could have been a lot better, a lot nicer to people, not doing (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and just the way he presented himself.  You know he could have been more, how can I say, professional.


ABRAMS:  Jean, so does this mean that the jurors are convinced that Robert Blake actually pulled the trigger? 

CASAREZ:  Well they said they‘re not sure if he actually pulled the trigger, but they don‘t believe that he went back in the restaurant to get his gun, like he said he did on the stand, and they‘re just concerned about that moments right before and after Bonny Lee Bakley was shot.  That‘s what they said.

ABRAMS:  Here‘s Robert Blake, of course, after the criminal case, he -

or during the criminal case he decided to share a little ditty with everyone outside of court.  Here is more from Robert Blake‘s deposition. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do you recall telling the police on the night of the murder that they were not talking to a man who was in love with a woman, just the opposite?

BLAKE:  I could have said that. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What would you have meant by that? 

BLAKE:  That we were getting married to get to know each other. 


ABRAMS:  Eric, what‘s your explanation as to why the criminal jury found him not guilty and the civil jury found him responsible.  Is it the fact that there‘s a lower legal standard?  Is it the fact that he testified?  What‘s your explanation?

DUBIN:  I think testifying.  I think the fact that I got to question Robert Blake in both the deposition you‘ve been showing and on the stand for seven days, if Detective Ito (ph) or Shelly Samuels (ph) had that opportunity he‘d probably be the penitentiary right now. 

ABRAMS:  Because I got to tell you, look, I got this one wrong.  I wasn‘t there.  I was basing it on reports and accounts that I had read about the case and Eric you know the betting was that you were going to lose this one. 

DUBIN:  Well, that‘s good.  You know.  But you mentioned earlier there were a lot of people who said that Robert Blake did well on the stand, but I saw some of that on TV and none of those people were ever in the courtroom. 

ABRAMS:  Well Jean was. 

DUBIN:  Robert Blake did not do—well Jean was and you didn‘t ask Jean‘s opinion.  You asked...

ABRAMS:  Hey Jean, how did he do on the stand?


ABRAMS:  I thought—Jean...

CASAREZ:  You know what...

ABRAMS:  ... you told us you thought he did pretty well...

CASAREZ:  I did.

ABRAMS:  ... and that he came off as kind of a smart aleck, but...

CASAREZ:  I thought he did do well on the stand.  That is my opinion. 

Obviously, the jury...


CASAREZ:  ... didn‘t agree with me, but I think...

ABRAMS:  All right.

CASAREZ:  ... that he was so opinionated on the stand, you either liked him or you hated him. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  I‘m sorry. 


ABRAMS:  Now Eric, continue.  Go ahead. 

DUBIN:  No.  I mean it‘s—he was very hot headed up there.  He thought—he told the jury that he‘d make up lies about me.  I mean when a witness goes on the stand (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and says I‘m willing to lie, that definitely has to cash out on everything else he said and I really thought he was out of control up there, just a lot like the deposition. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Here‘s what Robert Blake had to say after—this is number one—after the criminal verdict.  We haven‘t heard from him after the civil case.  Now remember, he said that he had offered $250,000 as a settlement here.  Before I place this piece of sound from after the criminal verdict, Eric, is that true according to you?  Did he offer 250,000 to settle the case? 

DUBIN:  Oh, absolutely.  He offered a quarter of a million and him and I had a heart to heart at one point where I offered to drop the case for a certain amount.  I told him I would never go on TV again and I would waive all my fees for Rosie and he didn‘t accept it and we went all the way with it and you know proving that he did this, means so much to these kids, Dan.  I really can‘t emphasize that enough. 

ABRAMS:  Does he have any money, Eric? 

DUBIN:  He does.  You know the real question is can he go and hide it like O.J. did and I really don‘t think that‘s going to be the case.  I think you know and I‘m willing to shave off a couple of million if it helps.  I‘ll even go down to like 27...

ABRAMS:  How much does he have? 


ABRAMS:  Yes, that‘s very kind of you go down to—how much does he actually have? 

DUBIN:  A lot.  You know the bigger question...

ABRAMS:  What, like...

DUBIN:  ... is how much...

ABRAMS:  ... like four million, 10 million, 400,000.  What has he got?

DUBIN:  I‘ve seen records of over 20 million. 

ABRAMS:  Whoa.  Robert Blake has over $20 million.

DUBIN:  Yes, he seemed to live very frugal and save and invest his money wisely and he said that on the stand a bunch of times, though.  People made him rich. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  We shall see.

DUBIN:  So...

ABRAMS:  Eric Dubin, you won a big victory today.  Thanks for coming on the program. 


ABRAMS:  Jean Casarez, as always, you‘re great.  Thanks. 

CASAREZ:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, exclusive audiotapes from the man who gunned down John Lennon.

And later taking the fun out of tailgating, colleges and universities cracking down, but on what?  Well in some places, no Winnebago‘s or beer funnels, as if that‘s going to solve the problem.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.

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


ABRAMS:  Coming up, the man who killed John Lennon talks about it on tape about that night and why he did it, after the break.


ABRAMS:  It‘s hard to believe that next month marks the 25th anniversary of John Lennon‘s assassination, the night Mark Chapman waited for Lennon to return to his New York apartment after a recording session with his wife Yoko Ono.  Chapman became obsessed with murdering the singer and seemed so unfazed by it in the moments following the shooting.  After his gun was taken from him and he was asked what did you do?  Chapman answered killed John Lennon, took off his coat, and started reading “Catcher in the Rye”.

Tonight “Dateline NBC” has gotten exclusive access to tapes of Chapman describing the murder and interviews with people who were with Chapman that night. 

Joining me now is “Dateline NBC‘s” Hoda Kotb.  Hey, Hoda.

HODA KOTB, “DATELINE NBC”:  Hey, Dan.  How are you doing?

What we‘re learning here is you actually hear Mark Chapman‘s voice in great detail.  It‘s 100 hours of audiotape, so it‘s almost like an audio diary.  He is so meticulous.  He‘s so calm.  He‘s so measured; all the while he is plotting out one of the most heinous crimes of the century.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Nothing could have stopped me from doing what I did. 

KOTB (voice-over):  The voice of a cold-blooded killer.  Mark Chapman who shot John Lennon to death in the street, 25 years ago. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I want to kill him.  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I want so bad.

KOTB:  In rare prison tapes obtained by “Dateline NBC”, Chapman reveals His powerful obsession with killing the pop icon. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I had obsessions, trying to invoke the devil‘s assistance, give me the opportunity to kill John Lennon.

KOTB:  But what drove this former Beatle‘s fan, a shy, religious loner to commit murder.  “Dateline” tracked down one of the last people to talk to him before he pulled the trigger. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He was a man, but he had a boyishness (ph) about him.

KOTB:  Judy Stein (ph) met Mark Chapman camped outside Lennon‘s apartment building in New York.  She was a groupie, waiting for a glimpse of her idol.  Mark Chapman was waiting to kill him. 

(on camera):  Did he seem edgy, nervous, out of sorts? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Absolutely calm, controlled, friendly, polite. 

Did I know that he had a gun in his pocket?  Not in a million years. 

KOTB (voice-over):  A gun that Chapman had loaded just that morning in his hotel room. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I somehow knew that this was it.  This was the day. 

KOTB:  Practicing his aim in the bathroom mirror.  By late afternoon with no sign of Lennon, Stein (ph) said she called it quits, but she says she will never forget Chapman‘s last words to her. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He said to me, I plan to stay as long as it takes.  We thought you know he was referring to getting his autograph, not referring to what he was down there intending to do. 

KOTB:  10:50 p.m., Chapman‘s been waiting for hours, tormented. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) disheveled, shaking, trembling inside adult wants to go home.  Just go home.  And the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) no, no, no.  No, I want to kill him.  I want to kill him.

KOTB:  Then John Lennon‘s limo pulls up to the building.  Chapman is ready. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I heard a voice in my head saying do it, do it, do it, do it and as he passed me, I walked out and turned, and pulled out the gun, aimed at his back and pulled the trigger five times. 


KOTB:  And what make this even worse is just hours before the killing, Mark Chapman stood outside of John Lennon‘s house at The Dakota with an album in his hand and a pen and the gun was in his other pocket.  He walked up to John Lennon and said, here‘s my album.  Will you sign it?

John Lennon said sure, signed the album, said, is there anything else.  And Chapman said no.  Lennon goes into his house.  Several hours later, Chapman is still standing there.  He waits and shoots John Lennon five times in the back.

Dan, back to you.

ABRAMS:  Hoda, look, you got—you listened to the hours and hours of these tapes.  What struck you most listening to these tapes? 

KOTB:  Well first of all, he was so measured and calm, but mainly that he seemed to be such a narcissistic person.  It was all about him.  He talked about all of his life he was a nobody and that he always wanted to be a somebody and that may have been a motivation for murder. 


VOICE OF MARK CHAPMAN, MURDERED JOHN LENNON:  I remember opening up the Sergeant Pepper album and there‘s Lennon with his glasses and his little goatee and I remember thinking that I was going to kill him.  I felt that perhaps my identity would be found in the killing of John Lennon. 


KOTB:  And I think that obviously angers a lot of John Lennon fans.  They don‘t want to hear about Mark Chapman and it angers them for him to be getting any kind of publicity...

ABRAMS:  And that‘s what I was going to ask you about, Hoda, because I know that Yoko Ono has been up upset about this and as you point out, many of the people who cared about John Lennon upset about this.  What do you make of those concerns saying that you know we, by putting this on, “Dateline” by airing this, is sort of feeding into exactly what Mark David Chapman would want. 

KOTB:  I think it‘s one ever those unanswered questions, Dan, after 25 years, the question of why he did it.  Why did Mark Chapman kill John Lennon and sure I think a lot of John Lennon fans would say you know what, I don‘t care.  I don‘t want to hear about it.  I don‘t want to know why he did it. 

But he—these tapes are pretty extraordinary.  I mean you see two sides of this guy.  This sort of whiney guy and you also see a guy who is very deliberate.  You see two different people.  And I think it—finally he sort of tells his story and whether or not fans want to hear his story, that‘s kind of their choice. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  And it‘s also important to learn about these guys in order to stop them.  Hoda Kotb, thanks a lot.  Good seeing you. 

KOTB:  Thanks, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Be sure to turn into “Dateline” tonight at 8:00 Eastern, 7:00 Central on NBC for more on these never-before-heard interviews with Mark Chapman. 

Coming up, it‘s a time-honored tradition, tailgating before the big game.  But now some universities want to crack down in ways that don‘t make a lot of sense to me.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.


ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—tailgaters beware.  Many universities now trying to clean up their parking lots by imposing new restrictions on that time-honored tradition of serving up barbecued ribs, fried chicken and beer out of the back of a car before and during the big football games.  It‘s not just the big-time football schools.  It‘s happening from number one rank USC to the Ivy League. 

The problem, there‘s little rhyme or reason to many of the new rules.  Some schools are banning kegs, but still allowing bottled beers to be served.  Others like Yale eliminating—quote—“drinking paraphernalia.”  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) keeping those plastic beer funnels known as beer bongs out of parking lots.  That‘s going to address the problem. 

Others targeting the vehicles, keeping out U-hauls or Winnebagos and still others demanding that tailgates be shut down by halftime.  Talk about feel good measures, one university official is quoted saying—quote—

“tailgate should not be for the sole purpose of getting drunk.”  OK, the next thing we know they‘re going to demand that for every beer consumed, that individual must concurrently devour at least two pieces of cooked meat. 

Come on, you can‘t dictate what people will do at tailgates.  If you want to target underage drinkers, go for it.  If the alumni want to see all alcohol banned from games, that‘s their choice.  But these sound like egg headed administrative measures, you know most often just that.  One Harvard student told a college newspaper that after the school banned kegs at last year‘s tailgates, the students brought grain alcohol instead, which needless to say, does more damage to a 21-year-old college student than beer.  Some students might just say chill out and have a frosty. 

I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Yesterday, Dr.  Phil laid out some of the evidence he claims proves that Natalee Holloway is alive, possibly as a sex slave, even talking about a voice mail message that has since been discredited.  I said there‘s just no evidence of it. 

M.J. Mockler writes, “It was clear to me that this was just one more possibility they could look at.  At no time did they claim there was evidence to suggest she had been a victim of human trafficking.  I think you did a disservice to you, your show, and Dr. Phil.  You had an opportunity to promote the facts on human trafficking and you failed to play your good hand.”

Oh, M.J., you mean I had an opportunity to talk about an issue that there‘s nothing to suggest is relevant to the case.  Why not talk about being people being deserted on remote islands?

From Tacoma, Washington, Sue Evans.  “I was quite happy with the way you questioned this evidence.  I almost came off the sofa watching your show last night.”

Psychologist Patricia Hodge, “I just watched his show and thought he was massively overreaching—referring to Dr. Phil—his area of expertise.  While he‘s a good psychologist, he‘s way out of his area with purporting to investigative legal/criminal investigations.”

Finally, in my “Closing Argument” I said we should be able to expect more from famed journalist Bob Woodward who only recently disclosed that an administration official had told him the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame—I‘m sorry.  Do I have time? 

OK, I‘ve got to go.  You know, this is one of those times where you don‘t know what to do.  What should I do?  OK.

Talking about Bob Woodward—Valerie Plame, June ‘93, I said I was not that troubled that he had criticized the investigation in the past without disclosing to anyone the information he possessed.  I said say it ain‘t so, Bob. 

Michael Carlin in Arlington, Texas.  “He let the world believe that his opinion was that of an independent outside observer.  Now we learn that he resides at ground zero of the investigation.  If that isn‘t a breach of journalistic ethics, I don‘t know what is.  Say it ain‘t so, Dan.”

Fair point, Michael, but that does not change the fact that we knew he had a bias from the beginning.  He was a journalist.  His paper had publicly taken the position that Fitzgerald should not be targeting journalists to testify, but I understand your point.

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

Now we‘re out of time.  Time for “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  Time for a great weekend.  See you next week.


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