Guests: Lawrence Brennan, Theodore Simon, John Urquhart, John Barnett, Mary Carey, Omar Lagonis (ph), Harvey Levin, Geoffrey Fieger, Joe Tacopina, Lisa Bloom
ANNOUNCER: Now THE ABRAMS REPORT. Here is Dan Abrams.
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Hi, everyone. Disturbing video coming out of Iraq.
An American soldier apparently held hostage by insurgents. They say they will treat him well, according to Islamic law. What does that mean? And what about international law?
Plus, a serial child molester who confessed to molesting over 200 children is free on a technicality. We told you about this story last night, and since our show aired an arrest warrant has now been issued for Edward Stokes. But he‘s still out there. We‘ll talk to his lawyer.
And it sounds like a script from “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” that HBO show, Larry David saves a man from death row. But this is a true story. Larry David saves a man from death row. And he has the tape to prove it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Keith Matthew Maupin...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: An American soldier held hostage in Iraq, Private First Class Keith Matthew Maupin, an Army reservist from the 724th Transportation Company. Arab network Al Jazeera has released this tape. Maupin and another soldier were listed as missing after their fuel convoy came under attack April 9 outside Baghdad. The captors claim they will treat him well and according to Islamic law.
Before we discuss what law really should apply here, NBC‘s Jeannie Ohm is standing by at the Pentagon with the latest. And Jeannie, what are the captors saying and how did they get the tape out?
JEANNIE OHM, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi there Dan. Well, a group calling themselves Islamic militants is claiming responsibility for the capture of the American soldier who identifies himself on the tape as Private First Class Keith Matthew Maupin. Now on the tape the group calls the American soldier a prisoner of war and they say he‘s in good health and being treated according to Islamic religion. The group is demanding that the soldier be exchanged for Iraqi captives. But the U.S. military remains firm there is no negotiating with terrorists or these insurgents.
Now, how did this tape surface? According to U.S. officials, the Al Jazeera Arab satellite network dropped off a copy at the U.S. embassy in Doha, Qatar. They, in turn, turned it over to U.S. military officials at Central Command who had a chance to review the tape. In fact, they‘re still carefully doing analysis on it, and what they‘re unclear of at this point if this is the same group that is holding American Thomas Hamill, a contractor with Kellogg, Brown & Root. He also disappeared during that same fuel convoy attack, so it‘s unclear right now if the same group is holding these two Americans at this point—Dan.
ABRAMS: Jeannie Ohm, thanks a lot. U.S. officials are calling Pfc. Maupin a hostage. His captors specifically referencing him as a prisoner of war who will be treated well according to Islamic law. But what does that mean, and what international laws apply?
I‘m joined now by MSNBC terrorist analyst in a moment, Walid Phares, who‘s an associate professor. We‘re going to be joined right now, though, by Captain Lawrence Brennan, JAG, or judge advocate general with the United States Naval Reserves, and by international attorney Ted Simon. Thank you both for coming on the program.
Captain Brennan, first, let me ask you, they claim he is a prisoner of war. My understanding, though, was to be a prisoner of war you have to have been sent by your government and be fighting in that context. Can he be a prisoner of war in this context without a sort of true government behind those who have captured him?
CAPT. LAWRENCE BRENNAN, U.S. NAVAL RESERVES: Dan, you raise an interesting point and a point that has troubled lawyers for many years. President Lincoln had the same difficulty at the beginning of the Civil War and informally resolved it with Jefferson Davis after a number of threats to execute prisoners on each side. But I think we should look for a bright spot in what is said, recognizing, of course, the early reports are just that, early and incomplete. But if a party, which is not a legitimate government and is not recognized as a belligerent, voluntarily agrees to treat the man who they‘ve taken with the standards of a prisoner of war and treat him as if he were a prisoner of war, they‘ve afforded him certain rights and I think that is a benefit.
And if they truly mean what is attributed to them and treat him in accordance with treaty international law, the Geneva Convention and the Hague Convention governing prisoners of war, then this man should be fairly protected. But I—that‘s a semicolon, not a period because the history of hostage-taking and prisoners of war during the last 50 years has been unfortunately sad. I served with a number of men who were POWs in North Vietnam for seven, eight or nine years, and even though they were called prisoners of war they certainly weren‘t treated in accordance with what we expected the treaty would require and how we treat our prisoners of war.
ABRAMS: And Ted, that‘s my concern. I mean they can use the word prisoner of war, but you know the chances that they‘ve actually read the Geneva Convention and are going to abide by all of those requirements in the Geneva Convention, “A” are slim, and “B”, as I pointed out before, as a legal matter, this group, without a true government behind them, probably can‘t take prisoners of war.
THEODORE SIMON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, it presents a perplexing legal question. But I join with your—the other member of your show, and that Article 13 requires—and this is important—that prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated and that‘s what it says. And to go further with respect to publicizing his image, it says that those persons must be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity.
So I would suggest that it‘s inappropriate to put his visage or his face on camera, to cause worry for all people. And in the same way the U.S. must also respect these international documents, and it raises questions of how we have shown the images of those individuals in Guantanamo Bay. So I think what this tells us is we should have hope for institutional and international instruments and abide by them.
ABRAMS: But Captain Brennan, is this really comparable to the way that some of the prisoners from Guantanamo Bay—I mean, I don‘t remember seeing the prisoners in this kind of context being sort of shown off in this way. Is there a distinction under the law, based on the way this person—you can call him a hostage, you can call him a prisoner—our soldier is being portrayed, versus the way that some of the Guantanamo detainees have been shown?
BRENNAN: Well I don‘t take the absolutist view that you can never show an image of someone who is a prisoner of war. Quite the contrary. I think that there‘s a lot of positive in showing the pictures of the prisoner. We know that he‘s alive. We know that his condition appears fairly well. And we know from the history of POWs in Vietnam that this was important information not just for the military, but for the families of those who were captured. So I think that‘s a positive sign. The images we showed in Guantanamo I don‘t think are offensive, and I think that quite the contrary, were shown purposefully in an attempt by the U.S. government to show that it follows and carefully follows the requirements of law in its treatment of people who are taken. And the people in Guantanamo by and large are not treated as prisoners of war.
BRENNAN: They are not viewed as legal combatants. It‘s quite the contrary. They are unlawful combatants.
ABRAMS: Captain, let me just get something straight then. Do you think...
ABRAMS: Let me just get—one quick question. I‘ll let you follow up Ted. Very quickly Captain, do you think then it was inappropriate for them—you don‘t think it was inappropriate for them to show this video, then, correct?
BRENNAN: I think it would be much better if they had shown the video without the obvious signs of force and the images associated with terrorism around the world, the masked faces and the guns. But the mere fact that they‘ve shown his face I take as a positive sign, and also is a sign that now they are responsible for the man that they currently hold.
ABRAMS: Go ahead Ted.
SIMON: Yes, but it‘s the way in which they have shown this soldier‘s face. You know he‘s surrounded by masked men with guns drawn. They could have in other ways demonstrated that he was in good health by appealing to the international Red Cross or other bodies and communicated the same thing. This is not for the benefit of the individual. This is for the benefit of their unworthy cause. And that‘s why we have to look to international instruments that are designed to respect the rights of these individuals, whether they‘re American or otherwise.
BRENNAN: Ted, I don‘t disagree with you. I think this would be better served if there were just an announcement that he‘s alive, he‘s in our custody...
BRENNAN: ... and he‘s in good health. But unfortunately the law of war...
BRENNAN: ... is not as pristine as some places we litigated in the southern district of New York.
ABRAMS: Yes and I get the feeling we‘re not dealing here with you know true soldiers here. I mean, look, this is a group of—again, this goes back to the point that we‘re not dealing with an Iraqi government. For them to claim and say prisoner of war is good news, as the captain points out. That could mean they‘re going to treat him well. Let‘s just hope that that‘s the case and leave it at that for now.
Ted Simon, thanks a lot. I know you were busy. I appreciate you coming on the show. And Captain Brennan, thanks a lot as well.
BRENNAN: Thanks Dan. Good evening.
ABRAMS: Coming up, we told you about this man last night. He‘s admitted sexually molesting more than 200 children. Since our show last night, an arrest warrant has been issued. So how does his lawyer feel about the fact that he‘s now free? We‘ll talk to him.
Plus, production on virtually all adult films has stopped after two of its stars test positive for Aids. We‘ll get reaction from adult film star and former California gubernatorial candidate Mary Carey.
And who would have thought that Larry David in a tape of his program “Curb Your Enthusiasm” could clear a murder suspect? The creator of “Seinfeld” saved one man from a possible death sentence. It‘s coming up.
ABRAMS: Coming up, he admitted to molesting 200-plus children. Now he is walking free and he has said in the past he would likely do it again. What happened and how does his lawyer feel about the fact that he got him off on a technicality?
ABRAMS: Following up now on a story we first told you about last night. A convicted child rapist, who has admitted attacking more than 200 children, walking free today after a California appeals court threw out his conviction on what I think can fairly be described as a technicality. Edward Stokes sentenced to 19 years to life for assaulting a 16-year-old boy, the conviction thrown out because a police report containing some conflicting statements from the victim came to light after the victim committed suicide. The court agreed that the defendant was denied an opportunity to cross-examine the boy about the discrepancies. In a moment we‘ll talk to his attorney who won the appeal about how he feels about helping this pervert go free.
But first, the effort to keep Edward Stokes from striking again. In a letter to his therapist in the early 1990‘s Stokes admitted to having 212 victims -- 212 hands-on victims and he said - quote - “What do I see? A monster. If not a monster then almost 100 of reoffending with - 100 percent chance of reoffending without treatment.”
On the “Today” show this morning Stokes‘ own sister said she‘s sure he‘ll strike again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN STOKES, SISTER OF SERIAL CHILD RAPIST: There‘s not a doubt in my mind that he perhaps has not already done that since he‘s been released. I know he‘ll reoffend.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Unbelievable. Stokes is believed to be living in the Seattle area. I‘m joined now by Sergeant John Urquhart, spokesperson for the King County Sheriff‘s Office. Sergeant, thanks very much for coming on the program. Do you have any idea of where he is?
SGT. JOHN URQUHART, KING CO. SHERIFF SPOKESPERSON: Right now we don‘t know where he is. The last sighting that we had of him was in a suburb of Seattle on Tuesday the 13th.
ABRAMS: And why was he—he wasn‘t stopped at that point. Why?
Because there wasn‘t an arrest warrant out for him?
URQUHART: No, at that point there was no arrest warrant out for him. In fact, we didn‘t even know he was there. It was an alert employee that called us the next day after she saw his picture on TV. In this case we have to remember with the exception of the outstanding warrant that‘s now in the system, he hasn‘t committed any crimes. He‘s free to come and go, live wherever he wants to.
ABRAMS: And tell us about this arrest warrant that has come up since last night when we did the story.
URQUHART: Oh he was released from prison on the 7th of April. On the 10th of April on Saturday six days ago he was in Washington State and he applied for a driver‘s license. When he applied for that driver‘s license, he used a fake address, an address that he doesn‘t live at and in fact has never lived at and actually that‘s perjury and applying for a driver‘s license fraudulently, both of which are felonies in this state. So right now as of last night there‘s arrest warrants out for him for those violations.
ABRAMS: Who can they call if anyone has information about him?
URQUHART: It‘s real simple, 911. That warrant in is in the system nationwide and he‘ll get picked up.
ABRAMS: All right. Sergeant, thanks for taking the time to come on the program. Appreciate it.
Now to attorney John Barnett who defended Stokes, won his appeal last fall. Mr. Barnett, before we talk, thank you, first of all, for coming on the program. Appreciate it...
JOHN BARNETT, STOKES ATTORNEY: You‘re welcome...
ABRAMS: Good to see you again.
BARNETT: Good to see you Dan.
ABRAMS: Before we talk about the legalities surrounding his arrest and some of the reasons as to why he was released, any regrets? Any guilt about helping an admitted serial child molester go free?
BARNETT: Dan, really you know better than that. You know what the lawyer‘s job is. And I don‘t feel guilt for doing my job and asking the appellate courts and the Supreme Court to uphold the Constitution. That‘s a requirement of law and we‘re a country of laws. And a very careful and experienced lawyer like yourself knows...
ABRAMS: You don‘t have to take the case, though. I mean you know you can say—even though he may have a legal argument here, I just don‘t want to be involved with this case.
BARNETT: Well, but of course, his—the determination of guilt in his case was never adequately determined. And I think that one thing that‘s been missed in all of this is that he spent eight years in prison for not—and not being able to be confronted by his accuser. And the report that was withheld for two years was 85 pages and contained dramatic contradictions in his testimony. And 10 judges in California, the three appellate court judges who unanimously voted to reverse the case, and the seven Supreme Court justices who refused to even hear it all agreed...
ABRAMS: Well, just because the Supreme Court doesn‘t hear the case doesn‘t necessarily mean they agree. But...
BARNETT: Well, of course it does, because they did not reverse the lower court. And the way it stands now is that Mr. Stokes was denied a fundamental right, not a technical right, a fundamental right to confront and cross-examine his accuser. And the case was not dismissed by the court of appeals. It was returned for trial. And the District Attorney‘s Office in Orange County elected to dismiss the case...
ABRAMS: Well because the kid was dead. All right, let me read from the appeals court opinion that you won.
Because the entire case hinged primarily on the victim‘s testimony about the incidents, the evidence in question was undeniably material. Thus defendant never had an opportunity to cross-examine the victim about his inconsistent statements.
Let me tell you why I view it as a technicality. To me a legal technicality is when it doesn‘t go to the ultimate question of did it actually happen or not. And there was a lot of other evidence in this case. For example, they found handcuffs, leg irons, padlocks, chains in his home, similar to the allegations that this boy had made about being locked up in the desert. A defendant—a friend of the defendant‘s corroborated the story. A admitted sexual companion of the defendant quoted your client as having said he scared the—quote—“living hell” out of the kid by chaining him to a cactus, very consistent with what the boy had said happened to him.
And another boy testified about sodomy performed on him. Nothing that was in that police report went to the issue of did he actually get molested. And the court—the initial court said we‘re not going to convict on kidnapping charges probably in large part because of the inconsistencies.
BARNETT: Well, you see, as you well know, Dan, the United States Supreme Court said that the best way to determine truth, that is what happened, the best way to determine truth is through cross examination, full and informed and unfettered cross examination. In fact, what they said recently is that is the only way that truth may be determined. And that is that the defense attorney be given unfettered and be fully informed.
ABRAMS: Right. But that‘s...
ABRAMS: ... why I call it a technicality. I‘m not saying that you‘re analyzing the law incorrectly. Because you know look, the California court has ruled on this. I have some questions about it. But I understand why they did what they did. But “A”, I think that you have to accept the fact that this is a technicality that a very dangerous guy got off on.
BARNETT: It is not a technicality, Dan, it‘s a violation of a fundamental right to confront and cross-examine, and it has long been said that cross-examination, full and informed cross-examination—not cross-examination with...
BARNETT: ... with a portion of information, but with all of it. And none of the 10 judges who reviewed this disagreed with that position.
ABRAMS: Yes, well, still, it‘s a legal technicality in my book. Again, you know I understand your position as a legal matter. If you look at it strictly from the matter of the law and the rights with regard to cross—I tried—I read through the opinion hoping I was going to disagree with you as a matter of law. As a matter of law I understand it, but as a practical matter it‘s a legal technicality and it‘s very disturbing to me that this guy is walking free and I‘m going to stay on him. I‘m going to give people his number and try and make sure that they can find him, at least to check in on him. Do you have any problem with that, with us sort of keeping numbers up like the D.A.‘s office of Orange County where he came on yesterday and saying if they see this guy, they should call that number? Do you think that that‘s wrong for me to do that?
BARNETT: Well, Dan, I don‘t try to tell journalists how to do their job, and I think that you should do what you feel is appropriate, this being a free country...
ABRAMS: All right.
BARNETT: ... and a country of laws.
ABRAMS: John Barnett, good to see you again. Thanks for coming back on the program.
BARNETT: It‘s good to see you, Dan.
ABRAMS: Coming up, two porn stars test positive for HIV. Almost all production on adult films comes to a halt. Porn star Mary Carey, former porn star Mary Carey joins us with a reaction.
And if you‘re a fan of the HBO show “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” you might remember this episode. But what you didn‘t see on TV in this episode took center stage in court and now it is apparently responsible for clearing a man falsely accused of murder—unbelievable story. We‘ll (UNINTELLIGIBLE) next.
ABRAMS: I‘ve always wondered about diseases in the world of pornography with all that sex, with very little protection, how is it that more porn stars don‘t come down with debilitating sexually transmitted diseases? Well, this week one of the industry‘s biggest stars, Darin James (ph), tested positive for HIV, as did a woman with whom he‘d had sex in a film. It‘s caused the entire adult film industry to try to prevent an epidemic. The stars who appeared with James (ph) since he became infected have been quarantined and it has effectively shut down the industry for the time being.
Now, many sex scenes in these films are conducted with what seem to be no use of condoms. The actors are often shown having sex with multiple partners in each film. So, should this really come as a surprise, and what does the industry do to protect its actors? Let‘s talk to someone who would know.
Joining me now is adult film actress Mary Carey. She has not worked with the infected actor, but she has decided to cancel an upcoming film. She‘s also the former gubernatorial candidate in California. Mary Carey, thanks for coming on the program.
MARY CAREY, ADULT FILM ACTRESS: Thank you for having me.
ABRAMS: All right. So, first, let me ask you, you know how big a problem is this? I mean I would have assumed that this has long been a problem. What does the industry generally do to avoid this and prevent this from happening?
CAREY: Well generally, you know first of all, let me say that the last time there‘s ever been anyone who‘s tested positive was in 1999, and it was only the one performer. And they did happen to catch that one you know right away. And since then what we‘ve been doing is we have a policy of every 30 days we all get tested for HIV, using the PCR/DNA method along with Chlamydia and gonorrhea. And there‘s a foundation called AIM. It‘s a place where we all go, adult industry medical, and we get tested.
Now, when you show up on set, everyone shows their tests. The producers and directors make sure we get you know copies of the tests.
CAREY: And also for someone, you know maybe someone forgets it. Maybe you‘re looking at her test, you‘re like this just doesn‘t look right, you have the right to call up AIM and say you know did so and so test positive? When was their last test?
ABRAMS: Do you have sex...
ABRAMS: ... after you see that, you will then have sex without protection with other actors?
CAREY: You know, I tend to do—I do girl-girl movies only, so those are a lot safer. You know I think HIV is something that‘s prevalent around you know the country, and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) we‘ve had you know no cases in the last five years. Part of what stemmed this, you know this case now and this so-called epidemic was the fact that the performer went and did a scene in Brazil. Now, Brazil does not have AIM. They don‘t have the testing we have here. So I feel it‘s irresponsible of both the company that went down there and the performers, knowing that they were working with people who don‘t have the tests...
CAREY: ... and then coming back to the United States and working.
ABRAMS: But a lot can happen in 30 days, I mean between the time people get tests. Do you have a policy that says I will not have sex with anyone without—do you ever have sex with men in the movies that you‘ve done? Ever?
CAREY: I personally—you know, I‘ve been afraid of all this ever happening. You know I‘ve actually, you know I wrote back in June to Web sites saying maybe we should move this up to every you know 10 days. Maybe also instead of just doing one method of testing, PCR/DNA, doing you know (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of testing, do more than one test...
ABRAMS: But just testing is not going to be enough. And the bottom line is you can‘t tell what someone‘s doing at all times in all places.
ABRAMS: And people can contract the disease and it doesn‘t show up on a test. Just fine, I mean do you not want to answer the question as to whether you have a policy about this.
CAREY: I mean I personally (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...
CAREY: I personally—I did you know lesbian movies only because of the fact I feel it is safer, as well as I just prefer to do girl-girl on camera and keep you know boys for my personal life. Although I did do, you know, four boy-girl movies. And, you know, it was a risk that I right now I‘m not willing—you know I stopped taking that risk a year ago. I did those four movies and it‘s something that you know I wouldn‘t do again.
ABRAMS: How much are these people paid? I mean I‘m trying to think of—is it worth it? I mean what does a male—typical male star make? What does a typical female star make per movie?
CAREY: OK. Well, you know, it depends. Star is used liberally in the adult industry. I mean technically the girls who are affected wouldn‘t be you know stars. I mean as far as stars go I get, you know I get residuals off my movies now...
ABRAMS: Give me a sense of how much per movie.
CAREY: ... 75 percent of the sales.
ABRAMS: What do you make per movie...
CAREY: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you know per movie it could be about 20 --
25,000 I would be getting...
ABRAMS: And a man?
CAREY: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) girls. Now, that‘s just me...
CAREY: ... gets residuals, Tara Patrick (ph), but most of the other girls—I mean there‘s the contract girls who get a salary. Like right now girls under contract will be getting money even though there‘s no production. Some girls are going to be getting paid anywhere from five to 10,000 a month...
ABRAMS: And very quickly, someone...
ABRAMS: I‘m sorry to interrupt you. I‘m out of time, though. The guy who—Mr. James, how much do you think he makes per movie?
CAREY: OK. I would go with you know the average for males is 500. That can go up to 200 to $800 per sex scene depending on how well known they are. I would go with 500 for him based upon the companies he works for and everything. So...
CAREY: ... you know...
ABRAMS: All right.
CAREY: ... and right now there‘s a lot of people out of work. So it‘s kind of bad, but I have politics to fall back on...
ABRAMS: Yes, of course, of course. You can run for, you know, you can‘t win governor, you can certainly win I‘m sure in the city council somewhere or of course, become mayor. Mary Carey...
CAREY: Of course.
ABRAMS: ... thank you for joining us.
CAREY: Thank you very much.
ABRAMS: Coming up, it sounds like an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”. Larry David saves a man from death row, but this really happened. We‘ll show you the tape.
ABRAMS: Larry David, the creator of “Seinfeld” and star of the HBO series “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is often seen as the frustrated man‘s hero, the one who highlights all the quirks of our sometimes puzzling society, known for taking seemingly benign situations and creating outrageous or hilarious circumstances from them. Well, an amazing story that sounds more like an episode of his sitcom than reality, Larry David, believe it or not, turned out to be the one person able to save an apparently innocent man from death row by showing one of his tapes.
“Celebrity Justice‘s” Omar Lagonis (ph) has the story.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get in the car.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER, “CELEBRITY JUSTICE” (voice-over): It‘s arguably one of the funniest episodes of “Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s” fourth season, the one where Larry David picks up a prostitute just so he can use the carpool lane in a mad dash to make a Dodger game before the first pitch. David and his enthusiasm crew shot scenes from the episode on location at L.A.‘s Dodger Stadium in May of 2003.
That same night far from the roar of the ballpark, tragedy, a 16-year-old pregnant girl shot and killed as she walked along an L.A. sidewalk. Three months later police arrested this man, Juan Catalan. He was charged with murder.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My whole world turned upside down.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Why Juan? The victim was killed one week after testifying in a separate murder case involving Juan‘s brother. Police accused Juan of killing her as retribution for her testimony.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is not me and I did not do this (EXPLETIVE
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: “CJ” has obtained an audiotape from Juan‘s LAPD interrogation, in which he repeatedly maintains his innocence. But cops had a witness who placed him at the scene. Juan‘s attorney Todd Melnik.
TODD L. MELNIK, ATTORNEY: When they interrogated him, they didn‘t tell him the date that this murder happened.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And even when Juan realized the murder happened May 12, he couldn‘t remember exactly what he was doing that day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I called my girlfriend and she told me that—she was the one that reminded me that I was at the Dodgers‘ game that day with my daughter. So then that‘s when it all came back to me.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Juan remembered that was the day Larry David was filming “Curb Your Enthusiasm” at Dodger Stadium. The cameras were close to where Juan was sitting. His attorney immediately contacted Larry David‘s production company.
MELNIK: And they invited me to come down to their offices and I viewed the tape with Larry David.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: With David by his side, Todd Melnik tells “CJ” he will never forget the moment he found the proof he needed.
MELNIK: It was unbelievable that my client would be caught in the corner of an outtake that could spare him the death penalty.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Melnik says this outtake tape shown in court, along with cell phone records, cleared his client‘s name. Even Larry David couldn‘t have devised a better ending.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank God for Larry David.
ABRAMS: That was Omar Lagonis (ph) from “Celebrity Justice”. Joining me now is “Celebrity Justice” creator and executive producer, Harvey Levin. Harv, what a story (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
HARVEY LEVIN, “CELEBRITY JUSTICE”: Honest to God, Dan, it‘s one of the most amazing stories that I‘ve seen since we launched the show. I mean it is so beyond what you would believe in a movie, and it happened.
ABRAMS: And so he—at what point does he realize, wait a second, I remember Larry David being there. Does he say this to his lawyer and his lawyer says well maybe they have outtakes?
LEVIN: It was his girlfriend. He didn‘t really remember. But when the lawyer finally got the date from the police, his girlfriend is the one who remembered you were at Dodgers Stadium with your daughter. He told his lawyer that and his lawyer contacted Larry David. And you know he—Juan had remembered that, yes, they were shooting this thing. He didn‘t even know who Larry David was. He certainly does now.
ABRAMS: Wow and this tape was shown in court. I mean did they actually have to go to court to get him freed?
LEVIN: A judge actually dismissed it. You know Dan, I‘ve got to tell you, this guy spent five and a half months in jail. And the reason that this all went down is because there was one eyewitness at the murder scene who looked at Juan‘s picture in a lineup and said that‘s the guy. But Juan didn‘t really match the height, the weight or the skin color of the man that everybody else had identified there. So it was rather thin to begin with.
ABRAMS: And very quickly, Larry David apparently cheered when he found out about it?
LEVIN: Yes, I mean can you imagine? I mean you‘re innocently shooting a movie and then the scales of justice tip the right way because of what you did. It‘s really incredible.
ABRAMS: Harvey Levin, “Celebrity Justice”, thanks for coming on.
LEVIN: My pleasure Dan.
ABRAMS: Fireworks in the Scott Peterson trial. Mark Geragos calls one of the prosecutors a piece of crap. This, as he prepares to file another motion to try to change the way this case will be tried. Our legal team weighs in.
ABRAMS: Now to some fireworks in the Scott Peterson case. This as jury selection continues. Earlier this week defense attorney Mark Geragos lashed out at the San Mateo County District Attorney for refusing to bring charges against the woman who he claims tried to lie to get on the jury. Geragos called D.A. Jim Fox a—quote—“piece of crap” who masquerades as a D.A. The woman has since been dismissed by the judge who‘s accused of being a - quote - “stealth juror”, someone who hides your prejudice to get a seat on the jury. Geragos accused her of telling people she thought Peterson was guilty as hell and wanted to secure the job of foreperson to control the jury. On Tuesday Fox, the D.A., who‘s been in office for 21 years told reporters why he‘s not immediately considering charges.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM FOX, SAN MATEO COUNTY DISTRICT ATTY: There may be a basis to begin an investigation, but at this point it‘s too early to say. Perjury prosecution requires more than just one witness saying that he heard the jurors say something, and she denies it. There has to be corroborating evidence, and at this point I don‘t know whether there‘s a basis to actually begin a formal investigation or not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Geragos has since apologized for the comment. Also, yesterday in court the judge setting May 7 as the date the defense gets to try to move the trial a second time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK GERAGOS, SCOTT PETERSON‘S ATTORNEY: On April 30 we‘ll file a motion asking for some kind of remedy. Clearly something has to be done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: It was first moved out of Modesto in January because the defense argued Peterson couldn‘t get a fair trial. Let‘s bring in our legal team to get the take on Geragos‘ courtroom antics, as well as the possibility of another trial move—criminal defense attorneys Geoffrey Fieger and Joseph Tacopina, and civil rights attorney and Court TV anchor Lisa Bloom.
All right, Geoffrey, what do you think about this issue of going after prospective jurors—actually, this came up in the Martha Stewart case as well after the fact with a juror. It seems to me if there‘s any indication that jurors are lying in high-profile cases, I think the prosecutors should make a symbol out of them, should make a statement by saying it‘s not acceptable, it‘s not going to happen, we‘re going to charge them.
GEOFFREY FIEGER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Let me just first say it‘s good that Mark Geragos lives in America because here in Michigan, which is apparently not part of America, I‘ve been charged with doing a radio show and calling a judge a jackass on my radio show...
ABRAMS: What did you get charged with?
FIEGER: Unethical conduct. We actually had the hearing and it‘s the front page of “The Detroit News” today. We had a hearing yesterday on whether in Michigan it‘s unethical on a radio program, to call judges that tried another case jackasses, which is absurd. So at least Geragos at least lives in America.
But getting to your point, Dan, no. There‘s never, to my mind, in my lexicon ever been a prosecution of prospective jurors. I‘ll tell you why. Jurors commit more perjury than is ever committed in the trial itself. They always lie about their feelings. They always misstate their feelings, whether to get on or get off the jury. And a prosecutor, if he wanted to start charging perjury, could spend the rest of his life and there wouldn‘t be enough jail cells to house all the jurors who commit perjury. So in this case charging one as an example, gee, that would be totally unfair, because perjury has been committed in that case 1,000 times already, and the jury hasn‘t even been selected.
ABRAMS: Joe, I don‘t know. I think that they should. You know they pick high-profile cases in particular to make statements in the law. They don‘t admit it, but that‘s what they do. I say make a statement. If they think that prospective jurors are lying, go after them.
JOE TACOPINA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know, Dan, it‘s true. A stealth juror in a high-profile case—you always have to be on guard for them. They‘re in every high-profile case. They want to get their 15 minutes of fame. They want to get in there and do something and then write their book. And obviously it‘s a very small percentage of prospective jurors, because most want to do the right thing. They pervert the whole system and the whole process...
ABRAMS: So you think they should be going after them harder...
TACOPINA: But here‘s my problem and here‘s my concern about going after jurors. You know, it‘s hard enough getting normal people to be on the jury, you know, without pooling from Mars in the jury pool. When you start prosecuting jurors for lies and maybe omissions that become - may be intentional, maybe not, you know, we get into a position then where we‘re going to put a chilling effect on—I mean, no one wants to serve on a jury to begin with. If you throw in the collateral fact that perhaps they‘ll get indicted and convicted for perjury...
TACOPINA: ... you know we‘re going to get no jurors.
ABRAMS: But Lisa, small omissions are one thing. I agree. You know you tell little lies about your personal life, whatever, I‘m not saying that you prosecutor every person. But you start lying about whether you‘ve made statements about the guilt of the person who‘s on trial and then you lie about it, again assuming...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait a second. Dan...
LISA BLOOM, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Wait a second. Dan, you know I‘m surprised at you. You‘re falling right into Geragos‘ trap. You know his whole strategy is deflect, distract, create a side show. We‘ve got a he said/she said. This nice older woman said she never said such a thing. Some other guy on the bus said she did, some third person on the bus said she didn‘t. We‘re going to have a whole side trial now on that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why not...
BLOOM: Can we please focus on Scott Peterson? He‘s accused of murdering his wife...
ABRAMS: No. We focus on Scott Peterson every day on this program and I still think that as a matter of principle that they should be making a statement that says it‘s not OK...
BLOOM: You know what Dan...
ABRAMS: ... if they believe it.
BLOOM: There‘s not a prosecutor in this country on any case who would pursue charges without any evidence. There is no evidence here, except some guy who said she made this comment, and she denies it. He‘s never going to prove beyond...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lisa, that‘s evidence...
BLOOM: ... a reasonable doubt...
TACOPINA: Lisa, prosecutors...
TACOPINA: Lisa, prosecutor cases all the time on the word of one person saying I heard someone else say...
BLOOM: Not perjury charges...
TACOPINA: You know...
BLOOM: ... Joe, and you know that as well as I do.
TACOPINA: Oh, this is so serious.
BLOOM: It takes a videotape like Mark Fuhrman.
TACOPINA: Lisa, you can‘t say...
BLOOM: Even Martha Stewart wasn‘t accused of perjury.
TACOPINA: ... this is—Geragos is doing the exact right thing. He has to be diligent and militant.
BLOOM: He is not doing the right thing...
ABRAMS: All right.
BLOOM: You know what he‘s doing...
TACOPINA: Absolutely. He has to protect his client...
ABRAMS: Hang on...
BLOOM: I‘ll tell you exactly what he‘s doing...
TACOPINA: ... trial for his life...
BLOOM: ... first it was blame the victim. Now it‘s blame the prosecutor, now it‘s blame the juror.
TACOPINA: Well you know you have people...
ABRAMS: Wait a second, wait a second.
ABRAMS: Geoffrey, Geoffrey, why can‘t they just say do an investigation? That‘s at the least what they should be doing is conducting a thorough investigation.
FIEGER: Well you know, if they had enough investigators, they could. But do you know how many trials are going on? No, you‘re not entirely incorrect, Dan. This may be a basis for Geragos to get what he really wants, which is another change of venue to Los Angeles...
ABRAMS: See, that won‘t happen. That won‘t happen.
FIEGER: But - no...
FIEGER: ... I totally agree with you. You get one shot at the apple.
FIEGER: He got it and that‘s what‘s going to happen.
FIEGER: But I‘ll tell you this...
FIEGER: I‘ll just tell you this. It‘s virtually impossible to prove that she, at one point, said this, that or the other thing. You know, conduct is much easier to prove. But when you start basing a case of perjury based on whether you said on a bus that I think Scott Peterson...
BLOOM: You know what and there‘s another...
FIEGER: ... should be nailed to the wall...
ABRAMS: Hang on Geoffrey...
ABRAMS: Hang on Lisa. One second...
FIEGER: ... going to have a hard time...
BLOOM: And another important factor here...
ABRAMS: Lisa, hang on one second. Geoffrey, what about...
ABRAMS: Lisa, Lisa, hang on a second. Geoffrey, what about going back and saying, OK is this someone who talked to friends about the case? She claimed she hadn‘t developed an opinion. I would think you can go back and figure out how closely someone has followed a case pretty easily.
FIEGER: Yes, listen, if they could do it one time, it would send a chilling effect.
FIEGER: But it wouldn‘t prohibit them from getting jurors. In a sense, Lisa and...
FIEGER: ... everyone is correct, that at least you get everybody up there telling the truth if they used one as an example. The problem is he doesn‘t have the resources to do it.
ABRAMS: Lisa—go ahead Lisa.
BLOOM: Dan, another important distinction. Jurors are the only people left in our society who are conscripted into service. You know they‘re drafted. They‘re forced to be there. We‘re going to take this old woman, depose everybody on the senior citizen bus, did she...
BLOOM: ... say it? Did she not say it? It‘s absurd. Let her go.
ABRAMS: Even if...
BLOOM: ... murderer isn‘t a...
ABRAMS: Right. Even if she specifically was trying—let‘s assume for a moment it‘s true. Even if she was specifically trying to get on this jury to pervert justice, you still think...
ABRAMS: ... let the nice lady go home?
BLOOM: No. I‘m saying there is no proof of that. There‘s never going to be proof of that. It‘s a waste of time, and prosecutorial resources when we have violent criminals who aren‘t prosecuted...
ABRAMS: You know Joe...
BLOOM: ... nice old lady who was forced to be there.
ABRAMS: ... I think that if this juror in the Martha Stewart trial lied, Joe...
ABRAMS: ... I don‘t think Martha Stewart gets a new trial. But I think the prosecutor should go after him. If he told major, major lies again and again...
TACOPINA: Absolutely. And Martha Stewart won‘t get a new trial, because the standard is so high to...
TACOPINA: ... upset a jury verdict based on lies. They have to be material lies that would affect the verdict. We don‘t have that here. Obviously Morvillo is saying he would have knocked him off (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
Martha Stewart‘s lawyer. But that being said, you‘re 100 percent right. You have to go after jurors who are in fact lying. In something like the Martha Stewart juror who‘s now just been proven to be a liar you know and time and again, it‘s an oath. They take an oath. And if they‘re going to lie—if the jurors are going to lie...
TACOPINA: ... about their qualifications...
TACOPINA: ... then the system fails.
ABRAMS: ... Joe, I don‘t want to give you ammunition. That‘s the thing. I don‘t want to give you ammunition on appeal. That‘s why I want to make sure the jurors are being honest.
TACOPINA: That‘s a good point. You‘re right. You want to make sure you...
BLOOM: But there‘s a big difference...
TACOPINA: ... get a fair trial the first time.
BLOOM: ... from the Martha Stewart case...
ABRAMS: All right. I got to...
BLOOM: ... and the Scott Peterson case. The Martha Stewart case, it came afterwards...
ABRAMS: Right. No, it‘s fair enough. All right...
BLOOM: ... Geragos is raising this now, get her off before the case begins.
ABRAMS: Got to wrap it up. Geoffrey Fieger, Joe Tacopina, Lisa Bloom, thanks a lot.
Judge Roy Moore and his fight to keep the 10 Commandments in the rotunda of the Alabama Supreme Court is now costing the Alabama taxpayers almost half a million dollars. Why I say he should foot the bill. It‘s my “Closing Argument”.
ABRAMS: Coming up, why I‘m outraged that Alabama taxpayers are being forced to foot the bill for Judge Roy Moore‘s personal crusade to keep the 10 Commandments monument at the Alabama Supreme Court. It‘s my “Closing Argument”.
ABRAMS: My “Closing Argument”—remember the so-called 10 Commandments judge, former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, who whisked a huge 5,000-pound monument of the 10 Commandments into the rotunda of the Alabama Supreme Court building in the middle of the night? Well, he knew it was constitutionally suspect. He assured the citizens of Alabama again and again taxpayer dollars aren‘t being used. He said he paid for the monument long with a sculptor and private donations.
Despite repeated court orders to remove the monument, he refused, and after losing at every appellate court, including the U.S. Supreme Court, he continued to defy the courts until the authorities went in and removed it themselves. Moore himself was then removed from the bench by his colleagues. Judge Moore is entitled to his opinion, and if he wants to lose his job over his unwillingness to abide by court orders, so be it, but now that taxpayers of Alabama have been left to foot the bill for his shenanigans, the state reached a settlement Wednesday to pay $550,000 in attorney‘s fees to the groups who had to sue Moore to end his lawlessness.
This in a state facing a $300 million budget deficit. Now, Justice Moore paid for his own lawyers when fighting to get his job back. Why shouldn‘t he pay to fight his personal crusade as well? He should put his money where his mouth is and reimburse the state for its costs. Private donations covered the cost of the monument. He or they should cover the inevitable aftermath as well. The hard-working and tax-paying people of the state of Alabama should not have to pay for one rogue judge‘s malfeasance.
Hey, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”. Back to the 9/11 commission. I‘ve repeatedly said I will defend any unanimous decisions, reports, or requests from this bipartisan panel. Now, new questions about President Clinton‘s former deputy attorney general and 9/11 commissioner Jamie Gorelick. She wrote a now declassified 1995 memo that continued the - quote—“wall” between law enforcement and certain intelligence operations. It‘s been a good amount of discussion at the commission about the fact that the agencies weren‘t better sharing information. Republican Congressman James Sensenbrenner asked for her to step down. The commission reviewed the request and by unanimous vote of 10-0 decided against it.
Greg Gamble from Anchorage, Alaska. “Are you still maintaining that the commission is a worthwhile endeavor? Do you not think the appearance of impropriety by Gorelick is reason enough for her to resign?”
And from Mapleton, Utah Wayne Wilding. “She was in the Justice Department in the mid 1990‘s and is the person who figures prominently in setting up the wall that the CIA head talked about as being a major reason they were not able to finger the 9/11 terrorists.”
All right. Look, the five republican appointed commissioners all voted to keep her. That‘s good enough for me. Republican Chairman Tom Kean said - quote—“she‘s in my mind one of the finest members of the commission. People ought to stay out of our business.”
And remember, Jamie Gorelick has recused herself from everything related to her previous role as deputy attorney general. I think that former Governor Kean is right. Those of you who feel that strongly about getting rid of her should ask yourselves, why am I at odds with the five republicans on the panel? Maybe it‘s that it‘s you who is too partisan.
Finally, my “Closing Argument” last night that our military officials are getting a taste of what it‘s like for Israel to deal with the inaccurate instigators in the Arab media who falsely suggest our military is targeting civilians.
Ryan Reynolds writes, “You talk about Arab media lying to its viewers in order to pander to its audience. Isn‘t the U.S. media just as guilty? You and the U.S. media are equally guilty on many fronts.”
Ryan, that‘s absurd. You can fairly criticize the U.S. media for what we report or even how we report it, but our reports on this network at least are based on objective truths and facts, not so in the Arab media. It doesn‘t mean we never make mistakes, but there‘s no comparison. They often don‘t seem to care about facts as long as it incites their viewers. You may call what we do pandering when we cover stories of interest to our viewers, but that‘s different from the slandering that they do as a matter of course.
Your e-mails firstname.lastname@example.org. We go through them at the end of the show. Please include your name and where you are writing from.
Coming up next “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews. Chris talks to former Secretary of Defense William Cohen.
Thanks for watching. I‘ll see you tomorrow.
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