Guest: Jeff Jarvis, Pete Hammond, William Fallon, Jeralyn Merritt, Dr. John Hochman, Diane Dimond, David Wohl, Alfred Beardsley
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, this year‘s Oscar nominations are out.
But are these really the best of the best or the best money could buy?
ABRAMS (voice-over): Studios spend months lobbying Hollywood insiders to nominate their movies for an Academy Award. So how much are the Oscars really about talent or are they just another act?
And the trial of a defrocked Boston priest Paul Shanley began today. Prosecutors pinning their hopes on just one alleged victim who forgot about the abuse until he saw this story on TV. Many believe Shanley, who allegedly had more than a dozen victims, will walk free.
Plus, why is a memorabilia collector ignoring a court order to turn over a valuable O.J. Simpson-related item to the family of Ron Goldman? O.J. owes the family 33.5 million. The collector joins us to try to explain.
The program about justice starts now.
ABRAMS: The Oscar nominations are out today from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences -- 11 nominations for “The Aviator”, a big budget movie that is actually all about Hollywood. Seven nominations each for “Million Dollar Baby,” directed by Clint Eastwood and “Finding Neverland,” starring Johnny Depp, but also some unexpected snubs. A few of the most talked about pictures barely even recognized, “Passion of the Christ,” “Fahrenheit 9/11”, “Kenzie” (ph), “House of Flying Daggers”.
The question we want to talk about is does this reflect the best of the best? Are the Academy members really voting based on talent? Do they even watch the movies? If you are a member of the academy and you see a four-page spread in “Variety” magazine hyping “Ray”, are you going to then be more likely vote for that film? And if you are a Hollywood exec and you spend more money than the next guy to advertise your movie, does that mean you are more likely to be nominated?
“My Take”—I just really want to know how this works. I have always just assumed that the Academy members, the people who certainly know more than I do, pick the best actors, the best movies, but you know I‘m not so sure that‘s how it works.
Joining me now Jeff Jarvis, founder of “Entertainment Weekly” and the man behind BuzzMachine.com. He says the Oscar is not always a clean fight. And Pete Hammond, contributing writer for “Variety” who says really the Oscars are pretty legitimate.
All right, let me just—let me start with you, Jeff. Is it safe to say that the people who have voted have watched all the movies at issue?
JEFF JARVIS, BUZZMACHINE.COM: If this is a story about ethics of the Oscars, I think we can stop now. The Oscars are bought and sold and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) stipulated, your honor, guilty as charged. But the Oscars are very important to business, especially now. I mean I have two wonderful children as a result, I don‘t see all these movies until they come out on DVD. The Oscars help me decide what to go watch. That is really important for business.
And second, the Oscars create a show, a spectacle. Plus, shows on other shows and other networks. They create a huge...
JARVIS: ... business and to make excitement for movies and that‘s what it‘s really about.
ABRAMS: So let‘s be clear. You do not then believe that the people who are voting are saying, all right, I watched all the movies that are possibilities, and I got to tell you, I think that these five are the best movies out there. You‘re saying that‘s just not the way it works.
JARVIS: It is a mix. Some do, sure, I don‘t know if they all see it. But no, in the end, what you are trying to create is a great show. That‘s what it‘s about. It‘s a show of shows.
ABRAMS: Pete Hammond do, you agree?
PETE HAMMOND, “VARIETY” CONTRIBUTING WRITER: No, I think that most of them do try to watch. You know, years ago they had to go to theaters to see these, but they leveled the playing field when they brought in tapes and DVDs and you saw a lot of smaller movies and a lot of lower budget films suddenly get equal numbers of nominations as some of the bigger budgeted pictures did in the past. I think most Academy members that I know and that I talk to do try to watch them. It is very difficult to watch you know, some 250 pictures a year...
ABRAMS: You hear what you‘re saying, right? And I‘m not criticizing them, just so the public understands, what you‘re saying is most Academy members, most, try to watch as many as they can. It sure sounds like then that for people who don‘t understand at all how it works, that we should be clear this is not—this is more along the lines of voting for “American Idol” than sort of a pure objective vote.
HAMMOND: Well, look, it is an election. It is like any election. It
is a democratic process. And yes, it‘s not going to be the purist thing
artistically. Some people will vote for their friends. Some people will
vote for an actor just because they like that actor. Maybe they haven‘t
seen the film. You know, Sean Penn has gotten four nominations in the past
· won last year. People may just like Sean Penn and vote for him.
I—you know, I‘ll give you an example. This year in the music category, John Williams got his 43rd nomination and it‘s for a Harry Potter movie. I think if any other composer composed that Harry Potter score, he probably wouldn‘t have been nominated, but John Williams is an icon among the music branch members and they tend to nominate him every time he has something. So yes, you‘re right...
ABRAMS: Does that...
ABRAMS: Does it bother you and should it bother people out there who view the Oscars as the gold standard for the best of the best?
HAMMOND: Yes. I mean what is the best of the best? It‘s so subjective. You know, everybody has their own opinion. What they do, do in the system that the Oscars vote is the pure groups make these nominations. So actors nominate actors and writers nominate writers. And the reason the award means so much in Hollywood is because it‘s somebody that does what you do is saying, hey, you did a good job this year. And that means more I think to actors and writers, director, whatever, than critics awards. You know, just done by critic who they don‘t really know or maybe respect as much as their fellow, you know colleagues.
ABRAMS: Before I talk about the money behind this, Pete, lay out for us exactly how it works in each category. I don‘t mean go through category by category, but generally give us a sense of the process of what happens when.
HAMMOND: OK. Well, we‘ve just had the nominations today. And what you have is everybody in the Academy, about 6,00 people get to vote for best picture. They get to vote on five nominations for best picture. Their favorite movie they put in first place, their second favorite second place and so on.
Then you have all the—the Academy is divided into all these branches, acting branch, writing branch, directing, cinematographer, sound mixers. Each one of those branches nominates just their category. So all the actors will vote for the acting categories and best picture. All the writers will vote for the writing categories and best picture.
Now we‘ve got the nominations. Now it‘s wide open. So now you‘re going to have the sound people, the cinematographers, everybody voting for everything. Everybody gets to vote for best picture and all the other categories in the final Academy Awards now except for documentary and some short subjects and things where you have to actually prove...
HAMMOND: ... that you‘ve seen these films.
ABRAMS: All right, Jeff, let‘s talk about money, all right. For example, the movie “Ray”, you know, a lot of people saying that—nominated for best film and while, you know, the acting in terms of “Ray” has been getting a lot of compliments and saying you know, oh that‘s a best actor if I have ever seen it, but the movie itself, a lot are saying was really mediocre and yet it was nominated for best movie. Is this one of these things where the money told the story?
JARVIS: Well, Dan, to some extent yes. It‘s all about hype. It‘s all about buzz. Hollywood is the house that hype built, so of course the more hype there is, the more likely it‘s going to rise. It‘s not really about quality. It‘s not really about the voice of the people. That‘s the box office. We get to say what we like and don‘t like by the money we plunk down. But then again it‘s just opinions, so at some point there is no right or wrong here.
ABRAMS: But you know, opinions are one thing and look, I‘m OK if people say they, you know, that they disagree on what‘s good and what‘s not. What bothers me is the idea that money is buying these nominations.
JARVIS: Why? Dan, it‘s a business. There is no surprise there.
JARVIS: This is not—is it art?
JARVIS: ... but not often.
ABRAMS: What do you mean? They—you sit there and listen to these people at the Academy Awards and all they talk about is its art—is the art. This is...
ABRAMS: ... they call it the Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences...
JARVIS: Sure, hype.
ABRAMS: What science is involved here?
JARVIS: That‘s like saying...
HAMMOND: Doesn‘t money tend to buy everything, though? Doesn‘t money buy presidential elections and everything else you know in a democracy?
JARVIS: Isn‘t this election going to be better off...
ABRAMS: But look, you would hope that in a case like this, Jeff, that you would have people who are voting about their peers—I mean this is not like voting for president where you can only have limited information or you have to know, understand all the issues. Bottom line is you just got to watch the movies.
JARVIS: Every office I know of the peers don‘t necessarily get along so well.
JARVIS: I mean this election in some ways, to go to Pete‘s point, is that it‘s going to be better than what we‘re going to see in Iraq or Florida and certainly way better than the Golden Globes. It‘s all just a show and I think most people understand that. I don‘t think they do believe this is the gold standard...
ABRAMS: I don‘t know. I think—look, I view myself as you know, sort of knowledgeable, but it‘s not something I‘ve thought about a whole lot until today.
JARVIS: You are being charmingly optimistic about the state of Hollywood...
JARVIS: ... which I think is kind of cool...
JARVIS: ... but it‘s just the business.
ABRAMS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I don‘t know. I guess—I just thought
that they would really—and what about “Sideways”? Let me just quickly -
· very quickly, Pete, “Sideways”, you know, many people say best film.
Paul Giamatti not nominated for best actor. Is this again one of these things where it‘s kind of a smaller film and just couldn‘t compete when it came to the money?
HAMMOND: No, actually, they had a huge campaign. They‘ve poured money into the “Sideways” campaign. It is a smaller film. It got five nominations including best picture and writing, directing, and supporting performances. Paul Giamatti was in the toughest category this year, best actor. There are probably 15 performances that could have been nominated. He got edged out by Clint Eastwood, I think, and you know there‘s not room.
HAMMOND: There‘s only five nominations. There is not room for all these great performances. It happens every year. Somebody wins. Somebody loses.
ABRAMS: Very quickly, Jeff, have the winners already been selected and we just don‘t know yet?
JARVIS: Oh, it‘s a little less determined and conspiratorial than that...
JARVIS: ... a little more random than that.
ABRAMS: All right. So they‘re—I met that logistically, though.
There‘s still a vote to come, right, on who actually wins?
JARVIS: ... the nominations just came out today. So yes...
JARVIS: ... more lobbying to come.
ABRAMS: Right. My question was the nominations and the actual winner are two separate voting systems. All right. Jeff Jarvis, Pete Hammond, interesting discussion. Thanks to both of you for coming on the show. Appreciate it.
Coming up, the only witness in the church sex abuse case against former priest Paul Shanley says he repressed memories of being abused and only thought about them after other people went forward with their stories. Could that mean that one of the poster boys for the Catholic Church sex scandal will soon be a free man?
And detectives found a book filled with naked pictures of adolescent boys in a raid on Michael Jackson‘s home. Will Jackson‘s team argue it is art?
Plus the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson are supposed to get the profits of many of O.J. Simpson‘s assets, so why is one man refusing a judge‘s order to turn over memorabilia and instead he says he‘s going to give it to O.J. He joins us for his first TV interview.
Your e-mails firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and where you‘re writing from. I respond at the end of the show.
ABRAMS: Coming up, defrocked priest Paul Shanley‘s attorney says the alleged victim in his molestation case only remembered being abused after he realized he could sue for damages. Is that going to mean Shanley walks?
ABRAMS: We‘re back. The trial of one of the most notorious, alleged pedophile priests got underway in Cambridge, Massachusetts today. The former Reverend Paul Shanley was defrocked by the Vatican last year. He‘s been accused of molesting dozens of children in civil lawsuits. Some of them settled by the Catholic archdiocese of Boston, including one according to “The Boston Globe” for more than $1.4 million and a half million dollars to the key witness in this case.
Now Shanley is facing three counts criminally, child rape, two counts of assault and battery on a child. He could be sentenced to life. District Attorney Lynn Rooney pulled no punches when she told the court what the evidence will show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Week after week after week, that priest, this defendant, Paul Shanley, comes to that CCD (ph) class and sexually molests that little boy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: While four men had been prepared to testify, prosecutors dropped two last July. Another couldn‘t be found. The remaining accuser relying on memories of abuse in the ‘80‘s that he says he didn‘t remember, but then recovered after the priest abuse scandal made news three years ago. Here‘s Shanley‘s attorney Frank Mondano.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANK MONDANO, PAUL SHANLEY‘S ATTORNEY: Maybe his memory is that he has still forgotten. Maybe there was a period of remembering followed by another period of forgetting. It‘s unclear what the evidence will be in terms of how many times he remembered, forgot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: “My Take”—I fear this guy could very well go free if all they have is a repressed memory witness. Bill Fallon is the former Essex County Massachusetts district attorney. He was chief of the Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Unit and Jeralyn Merritt is a criminal defense attorney.
All right. Bill, you know they had—they seemingly had a lot of witness. Now they‘ve only got the one guy with the repressed memory. If you were the prosecutor in this case, you would be a little nervous, wouldn‘t you?
WILLIAM FALLON, FORMER ESSEX COUNTY MA PROSECUTOR: Yes, I think you are nervous, Dan, and you‘re particularly nervous with any case for any of us who have tried cases from 20 years ago, it‘s a very difficult challenge here. This is a brilliant prosecutor here, so if anybody can do it, she can but I think there‘s one horrible fact for the prosecution.
There is the question about the money. Follow the cash cow as they say. The one advantage the prosecution has here is this kid—and I think it will come out here—this kid in his 20‘s was given every opportunity not to testify. He‘s made the money. He could go home. So I think they have to hit home to this jury there‘s no advantage for this guy to go through this stinging examination and cross-examination when he can just go home.
He‘s already got the money. His civil settlement from the church has nothing to do with him testifying.
FALLON: If there‘s one hope here, it‘s going to be a jury saying why would anybody go through this unless it were true.
ABRAMS: Here‘s what Lynn Rooney, the assistant district attorney, said about how this young man remembered.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LYNN ROONEY, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: He is overcome with memories. He is overwhelmed. He is crying. He is sobbing. He hangs up the phone. He will tell you he started to remember being touched by the defendant. He remembered things in the bathroom, in the church.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: It‘s the kind of case, Jeralyn, where defense attorneys, kind of a defense attorney‘s dream, (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?
JERALYN MERRITT, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think so. You have got one witness. You don‘t have any corroboration, and let‘s face it, repressed memories have come under a lot of fire in recent years. Memory is not like a video recorder. It changes over time. And it‘s affected by things such as what other—what you hear other people discussing, what you read in the newspapers. And it may well be that he imagined these things happening and then he came to believe that they really happened to him. But it is going to be a tough road...
MERRITT: ... to prove it to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.
ABRAMS: Why did he get $500,000 already, Jeralyn?
MERRITT: Because he settled the civil case.
ABRAMS: No, I know...
FALLON: Hey Dan, because the church knows this guy is the poster boy for pedophilia. It‘s an embarrassment to the church. Of course he can keep his hands clean and say he has done nothing about this. I think all of these issues are in fact the issues that make these cases so difficult, but make no mistake that the difficulty here is going to be remembering back 20 years but Mondano is going to be hitting them over the head with and it‘s going to be a reasonable doubt case. Mondano is not going to say it didn‘t happen. He‘s just going to say how can you trust it?
MERRITT: No, I think he is going to say it didn‘t happen...
MERRITT: ... and I think he‘s going to say that his memory is foggy. He may believe it happened, but that doesn‘t mean it happened. But very critical here according to the opening statement that was given by the defense is that he didn‘t remember this or come forward with it until after or at the same time he called the personal injury law firm...
MERRITT: ... and asked about it. I think that is going to be more key than that he actually got the money.
FALLON: No, Jeralyn, I agree that is—that‘s one of the major facts and quite frankly, as I said, if he couldn‘t back out any day and didn‘t have to go forward, I think that the case would be dead.
ABRAMS: All right.
FALLON: I think, quite frankly, that what we have here is that‘s going to be his coming forward and why is he proceeding.
ABRAMS: Stick around for a minute. I want to keep talking about this. Because coming up, we‘re going to talk to an expert on repressed memory. I want to ask him, how legitimate is it? So much debate about these repressed memories.
And investigators find a so-called art book filled with photos of naked boys in a raid on Michael Jackson‘s home. Now they want jurors to see it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MONDANO: This case is, after all, about two things—old memories and really, really old memories. In fact, the theme for this entire case is going to be memories.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Talking about Paul Shanley, this guy became one of the poster boys for the priest abuse scandal. And let‘s be clear. Here‘s how the key witness in this case says he suddenly remembered about the abuse. His fiance calls him, says hey there‘s an article in “The Boston Globe” about one of your classmates having been molested by this priest. And according to the man, suddenly all these emotions overwhelm him. He has to come—the military has to come and take his gun away, et cetera.
Dr. John Hochman is a psychiatric consultant expert witness in court cases involving allegations of abuse. Thanks very much, Doctor, for coming on the program. What to make of this? I mean so many times we have heard about cases where this has been overstated, where the memories have been faulty. Can we rely in general on repressed memories?
DR. JOHN HOCHMAN, PSYCHIATRIST: I don‘t buy it. It‘s something that made sense years ago because there was no other game in town. Sigmund Freud was king. This came from Sigmund Freud. Sigmund Freud had all kinds of theories to explain everything he could. And he said, look, people have traumatic experiences and it‘s so traumatic the brain can‘t deal with it.
And the only thing you can do is (UNINTELLIGIBLE) press it under the rug. It‘s repressed. In other words, you never even knew it happened. But that doesn‘t solve the problem because the memory does bad things anyway when it is down there and causes people to become neurotic...
ABRAMS: Dr. Hochman...
ABRAMS: ... here‘s the...
ABRAMS: Here‘s the clinical definition known as clinically—as dissociative amnesia. It‘s characterized by an inability to recall important personal information, usually of a traumatic or stressful nature that is too extensive to be explained by ordinary forgetfulness. You are just saying it is a bunch of hooey.
HOCHMAN: Well, yes.
ABRAMS: Really? Just totally...
ABRAMS: You think that anyone who comes forward and says I didn‘t remember it until years later is just lying?
HOCHMAN: You have to look at the circumstances. Certainly people remember things because they forgot about them and then their memory is refreshed. So if you do have that happen you have to look at the situation. You have to say well, how accurate is the recollection? Can you really be sure that what they are recalling actually happened?
And the second thing is that when Freud came up with the repressed memory theory he was only talking about a single event or a few single events. And what‘s happened is this has been turned into something where allegedly dozens of things or hundreds of things happened over a course of years. And the person says, well, I couldn‘t remember any of it. So, this is even beyond the theories of Freud, which to me and most other people in the field are more or less discredited.
ABRAMS: Bill Fallon, what do you make of that?
FALLON: Dan, I think this is really an important issue to look into. Without commenting on this victim or any other victim, I can tell you I‘ve handled hundreds of cases and many cases of incest, which this is an incest type of abuse where actually people have pled guilty to abuse that the victim cannot remember. I can tell you in rape cases, any traumatic or kids who have to live daily with this type of abuse put it out of their mind.
Again, I am not talking about this victim. I‘m talking about general victims. I‘ve had people get on the stand make admissions about things they have done to children...
FALLON: ... there. And guess what? The kid said they had no memory of it. It‘s particularly true with certain kinds of anal and oral sex and that‘s just—I mean it‘s true. It doesn‘t mean if you‘re a prosecutor or defense or psychiatrist. We‘re the ones as prosecutors during the 70‘s and 80‘s had to bring to the psychiatrist, to the mental health community how these kids suffered.
If you have ever seen a film of a kid who was being abused and we‘ve had them filmed being raped by their parents, if you interviewed those kids two weeks later, they will tell you nothing happened. And I‘ll tell you only when they see the film, quite frankly, can they say, oh my God, that is me. So we know firsthand at least with some victims that they can put it out and I have prosecuted those cases and had guilty...
ABRAMS: I apologize.
ABRAMS: I got to wrap it up. But Dr. John Hochman, Bill Fallon, and Jeralyn Merritt, thanks a lot. Jeralyn, sorry I didn‘t...
ABRAMS: All right. Coming up, prosecutors say they found erotic material during a raid on Michael Jackson‘s home. Some of it seems to be pornography. You know, it‘s all right so he‘s an adult male, but the question of course the prosecutors will ask what was he doing with a book full of naked adolescent boys?
And why is one memorabilia collector refusing to turn over O.J. Simpson‘s valuable press pass to the 1984 Olympics? A judge told him, give the credentials to help pay off Simpson‘s $33.5 million judgment. I ask him why he won‘t obey the court order in his first TV interview.
ABRAMS: We‘re back. With jury selection starting Monday in the Michael Jackson case—did you hear what I just said—jury selection starting Monday in the Michael Jackson case. I don‘t know. It still hits me. Attorneys from both sides tying up loose ends. Prosecutors making a last-ditch effort to get some controversial evidence in front of the jurors who are going to decide if Jackson is guilty.
Prosecutors want to introduce—quote—“books, videos, and magazines seized in November 2003 from the master bedroom suit at Neverland Valley Ranch the video arcade, and from a room adjoining the defendant‘s private office in a security building along with three hard-cover books and two photographs seized from the defendant‘s bedroom at the ranch in August 1993.”
NBC analyst and Court TV correspondent Diane Dimond has exclusive details about one of the items taken from Jackson‘s home.
DIANE DIMOND, COURT TV CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Some might call this coffee table-sized book an art book with a captivating figure of a young prepubescent boy on the cover, but to this former pedophilia sex crimes detective, this book was published with a specific audience in mind.
DET. JOE GELFAND (RET.), NYPD CHILD SEX CRIMES UNIT: I have made many arrests in my day and many times we have seen photographs like this in the homes of the pedophilias.
DIMOND: This book was published back in 1964 and many of the photos look as though they were shot during the ‘40‘s and ‘50‘s.
(on camera): Other law enforcement sources tell Court TV it‘s important to know the context in which a book like this is found. If it was taken from a collection of photography books, books showing horses or bridges or trains, then the suspect may just be interested in photography. But these sources also tell us if a book like this is discovered along with a collection of pornography, then detectives would suspect they were dealing with a pedophile. A Court TV investigative unit has now confirmed this book confiscated at Neverland in 1993 was found among a collection of pornography.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Jackson has been repeatedly advised...
DIMOND (voice-over): When the issue of pornography first came up in open court, Michael Jackson‘s defense team made a point of saying it was heterosexual porn that was found, not uncommon for an adult male to have. And the defense will reportedly present testimony that the young accuser and his brother helped themselves to Jackson‘s collection without the entertainer‘s knowledge. But now we know there was child erotica found at Neverland, too.
When you look at this book, what do you think about the Michael Jackson case?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I would have to say it‘s troubling.
ABRAMS: That was Diane Diamond reporting. “My Take”—this will not in and of itself prove anything, but it sure does not help team Jackson. Joining me now criminal defense attorney David Wohl who has represented adults in child molestation cases and back again is former Essex County Massachusetts prosecutor Bill Fallon.
All right, Bill, let me read from the preface to this book, “The Boy, A Photographic Essay”. In a world grown increasingly complex where violence and confusion are commonplace, the human heart leaps at the recall of innocence. This book is a testament to the beauty of innocence and to the human capacity for recalling that beauty. Appears, then, that it is just a book about beauty, Bill.
FALLON: It‘s a beauty book. I mean I think it‘s a make-up book, Dan. I‘m telling you right now the NAMBLA, the National American Man/Boy Association used to say all of this if you go online to their materials. This is pedophilia 101. I am not saying that this comes in by the way, but every pedophile case, every child molestation case that I had, they showed these beauty books and quite interestingly, they also show adult pornography.
And what I presume these children are going to say is, hey, listen, they got me to get jacked up. They got me to get aroused...
FALLON: ... and that‘s the way he got to me.
ABRAMS: And that‘s...
FALLON: Now “The Boy” book is 1993...
FALLON: ... which I think that‘s the problem here. Because unless there‘s some reference to it, I am not sure that if I‘m a judge I‘m letting something in from what would be say 10 years prior or 11 years prior without a little (UNINTELLIGIBLE) without them saying I had other type pictures. But if they had other type pictures, I think the judge will go back to ‘93.
ABRAMS: Even though the law in California talks about, you know, pattern and practice.
FALLON: But Dan, the pattern and practice to me has to show that something happened in ‘93.
FALLON: In other words, we‘ve got to take something that takes it out of that faux art book and I‘m sure for some people it is an art book, but I‘m just telling you go online, see how you entice these people, talk about the beauty. For some people it‘s art. For some people it‘s pornography. For some people it‘s a pedophile‘s way to the heart of a child.
ABRAMS: All right. Let me go to David on this. David—if we can go to number five here—I want to read you this from the prosecution motion.
A plan or scheme need not be particularly distinctive to warrant admissibility of evidence of that scheme to show that the defendant acted pursuant to that plan in committing the charged offenses.
Bottom line is they‘re saying, look, you know, this is all part of this practice of Michael Jackson to molest children.
DAVID WOHL, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Absolutely, Dan. But remember one key element here, presumably it‘s not illegal to possess this book as child porn or Michael Jackson would have been...
WOHL: ... prosecuted back in ‘93.
ABRAMS: Not illegal. This book is not illegal.
FALLON: ... doesn‘t matter, David.
WOHL: You can see these kind of books in any Barnes & Noble. You go to the art section, you see books full of naked people. Now, these are teenage boys and the first thing...
ABRAMS: Yes, I‘m not so sure that...
WOHL: ... file a motion—hold on...
ABRAMS: I don‘t know that this book would be available at Barnes & Noble. I don‘t know that for a fact.
WOHL: ... I don‘t know if the book would be Dan, this book is, but you do see books simply of naked people frolicking...
ABRAMS: Naked boys?
WOHL: ... which is what this is. Naked boys? I don‘t know because I haven‘t looked. I don‘t look in that section. But let me say this...
ABRAMS: What section would that be, by the way? What section of the Barnes & Noble would this be in...
WOHL: The art section. It would be in the art section...
WOHL: ... you see the people naked...
FALLON: Oh, it‘s under “P” for pedophile section, Dan.
WOHL: That‘s right, but listen, Mesereau will have a 352 motion flying, believe me. This question is probative value isn‘t outweighed by the prejudicial effect and here‘s a key element. The prejudice versus the incriminating effect. Incriminating evidence is what all prosecutors use to get convictions. Bill knows that very well. The prejudicial...
WOHL: ... evidence also denies the defendant a right to a fair trial...
ABRAMS: David, what about...
WOHL: ... and I think a lot of this stuff seized...
ABRAMS: Right. What about the fact that it was—and Bill is even conceding that this is going to be a problem because it was seized in ‘93.
WOHL: I don‘t really say that as an issue, Dan. I mean the issue is it was Michael Jackson‘s presumably. It was seized at his home...
ABRAMS: What does it have to do with this crime, though?
ABRAMS: Wait. Hang on. David—hey David, what does that have to do with this crime, though? This is a crime allegedly that occurred in 2003. How can books that...
ABRAMS: ... that were found in ‘93...
WOHL: ... look, the other crime—the other allegations are coming in. The boy that was...
ABRAMS: Maybe, maybe.
WOHL: ... molested and received that $20 million settlement in ‘93, that will relate to that. He will probably, if I had to guess, will talk about that book, the contents of the book, and the prosecutor will try at least to get it in under that blanket...
FALLON: And Dan and David, that‘s how I think you get it in. I think that‘s the important part, Dan. This shows that the prosecution is willing, ready, and able to try to get the ‘93 case in. Once he gets the ‘93 molestation, which I presume is going to somehow be related to this book, then in all likelihood will come in. Without the ‘93 molestations getting in, it‘s going to be very hard to say 11 years later, unless there was some reference to this type of material, you would get it in.
WOHL: Dan, the other thing...
ABRAMS: I should say that one of the notes in my notes here on this, on the Web, at least one site is saying that all the pictures in the book were taken during the filming of “Lord of the Flies”. Another site, which appears to be a boy lover‘s site has a link to the pictures in the book but says the site refuses to publish pornography.
ABRAMS: Go ahead.
WOHL: ... here‘s another problem, too, the prosecutor has. There are no depictions of child molest. There are no sex acts in this book. Simply it is a book...
WOHL: ... of posed teenage boys. So again, Mesereau is going to fight that tooth and nail.
WOHL: He‘s going to say, look, OK, it‘s an art book.
WOHL: It‘s a strange art book, not an art book many of you would have in your home, but nonetheless, remember Michael Jackson lives...
FALLON: ... pedophiles have thousands of picture of clothed and unclothed boys. I think that that‘s really important. When we go to houses with search warrant, you think you‘re going to see a million naked pictures. Remember, you get somebody like Michael Jackson particularly, he‘s probably as aroused by anybody under 12-year-old naked or not naked. He‘s doing a prepubescent type of attraction here. It is not the...
FALLON: ... violence of all abuse...
ABRAMS: All right...
FALLON: ... and I think it‘s relevant.
ABRAMS: I think—the bottom line is the problem that they‘re going to have is the fact this was taken in ‘93. Even if they let in some of the ‘93 allegations, I think they‘re still going to have trouble getting in some of these books. But (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I mean really (UNINTELLIGIBLE). All right, David Wohl, Bill Fallon, thanks.
Coming up, a judge orders a man to turn over certain O.J. Simpson memorabilia to the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson who are still waiting to collect their $33.5 million verdict from Simpson, but the man says he‘s not going to do it. He wants to hand over the collectibles to O.J. himself. I ask him why he insists on violating the court order up next.
And yesterday, the U.N. commemorated the 60th anniversary of the Holocaust. The Germans managed to show up to participate, so what does it say about the Arab nations that almost all were noticeably absent?
ABRAMS: We‘re back. O.J. Simpson is back in the news, at least some of his memorabilia. At issue: The $33.5 million he still owes to the family of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson and his press pass to the 1984 Olympics. At a November hearing to determine whether Simpson was hiding assets from the Goldmans, memorabilia collector Alfred Beardsley was ordered to turn the press passes over to the Goldman family. Beardsley had until yesterday to do so. He‘s refused, saying he will instead return them to what he believes to be the rightful owner, O.J. himself.
My take—I don‘t get it. O.J. owes the Goldmans $33.5 million. A court has ordered Mr. Beardsley to turn the press pass over. Why is this an issue? Well joining me for the first TV issue is the man at the center of the controversy, memorabilia collector Alfred Beardsley. Thanks a lot for taking the time to come on the program. Appreciate it. All right...
ALFRED BEARDSLEY, HOLDING ON TO O.J.‘S PRESS PASS: Hey. How you doing, Dan?
ABRAMS: Good. So...
BEARDSLEY: Nice to meet you.
ABRAMS: ... explain it to us. Why are you defying a court order?
BEARDSLEY: Well because I think Mr. Simpson has a viable interest in his own property. We have found out recently that a former employee had been taking things that belonged to Simpson out of his storage unit for quite some time and these press credentials were part of some of the loot that he had taken out without Mr. Simpson‘s knowledge or consent.
ABRAMS: Well let‘s assume for a moment that‘s true. The bottom line...
BEARDSLEY: It is definitely true.
ABRAMS: OK. Fine. I‘ll assume it‘s true. That still belongs to the Goldmans now according to the court, so why not just give it to them?
BEARDSLEY: Well, I‘m not an attorney. I don‘t know who it belongs to. I believe it belongs to Mr. Simpson...
ABRAMS: But you know there is a court order, right?
BEARDSLEY: I do know there‘s a court order, but that would be for Mr. Simpson and Mr. Simpson‘s attorney, Mr. Galanter, who is a frequent guest on your show, it‘s up to those two as far as I‘m concerned to figure it out.
BEARDSLEY: I‘m just in the middle of something here that I‘m just—
I just want to do the right thing.
ABRAMS: But hasn‘t the court specifically said, Alfred Beardsley, you must turn this over to the Goldmans?
BEARDSLEY: They have, but the court doesn‘t know the specifics of what has been going on with the individual that sold me the press credentials and it has not been brought to their attention...
BEARDSLEY: I think...
ABRAMS: I‘m sorry...
BEARDSLEY: If the court were to know that, they would have a different opinion.
ABRAMS: But why? Why would it make a difference to the court where it came from if in the end—let‘s assume someone stole it from O.J. Simpson. That doesn‘t change the fact that anything like this is going to go to the Goldmans because he owes them all that money.
BEARDSLEY: Well, I—you know, I don‘t know the extent of the judgment. I know there is a judgment for $33.5 million. I don‘t know if that entails all of his personal effects, furnishings. I don‘t—I‘ve never seen...
ABRAMS: I promise you this is covered.
BEARDSLEY: I don‘t think so. I don‘t know. I‘m not an attorney. I haven‘t seen any of the paperwork nor do I want to see any of it. I just want to do the right thing and you know, let Mr. Simpson and his counsel and the Goldmans work it all out amongst them.
ABRAMS: Mr. Beardsley, you‘re a smart guy. I mean you know that the court has ordered something specific. I mean you‘re sort of saying well I don‘t know what the court has said. I don‘t know exactly know. I mean you know that the court has said you must turn this over to them. It seems pretty clear that your position is simply that this verdict against O.J. Simpson was illegitimate. Is that fair?
BEARDSLEY: That‘s the way I feel. And you know, I just don‘t feel good about the way the whole thing came down, Dan. You know, when I went to court for this judgment debtor hearing, I thought it was ironic during the Simpson civil case in Santa Monica, there were no cameras allowed in the courtroom.
BEARDSLEY: We couldn‘t hear what he had to say or any of the witnesses or anyone else...
ABRAMS: Believe me if you‘d seen it—I was there...
BEARDSLEY: But I go...
ABRAMS: I was there.
ABRAMS: You would have hated what you saw. I promise you that in the civil case.
BEARDSLEY: Well, I go in there for a simple judgment debtor hearing, there‘s a camera in the courtroom.
BEARDSLEY: I mean, come on. Why couldn‘t we hear and see the evidence the first time, but I go in for a simple judgment debtor hearing...
BEARDSLEY: ... there‘s a camera allowed in the courtroom.
ABRAMS: All right.
BEARDSLEY: And no one even asked me if I minded. I mean I didn‘t even have a choice.
ABRAMS: Yes. All right. Well Mr. Beardsley, look, I think you are opening up a can of worms here, but I think you know the issues involved and we shall see. We‘ll follow it and we‘ll get back in touch with you.
BEARDSLEY: Sounds good.
ABRAMS: Thanks very much for coming on.
Coming up, yesterday‘s Holocaust commemoration at the U.N. wasn‘t a celebration of the state of Israel. It wasn‘t about the Middle East conflict, so why did so many Arab nations choose to sit this one out?
ABRAMS: Coming up, last week I told you I don‘t expect to see justice in the Michael Shanley criminal trial for—Paul Shanley criminal trial for a number of reasons. But one of you thinks it‘s all the media‘s fault. I read your e-mails coming up.
ABRAMS: My “Closing Argument”—it seems many of the Arab nations showed their true colors at the United Nations when they refused to show up at a U.N. commemoration ceremony for the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps. Secretary-general Kofi Annan and author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, just two of the speakers, but the audience was sparse except for Jordan. The Arab countries refused to participate. Why?
This wasn‘t a celebration of the state of Israel. No one was asking Syria to stand and recognize the plight of the Jews in the West Bank. This is merely a recognition of the end of a genocide perpetrated primarily by Germans, who as it turns out, also showed up for the event. If the Arabs want their gripes about the Palestinians to be taken seriously, they have to at least concede the easy issues like this one.
But no, the U.N.‘s Arab group says it deserves credit for even allowing the event to happen. I guess compared to the revisionists who overtly deny the Holocaust occurred, they‘ve got a point. But this just shows you who the Israelis are up against. Not just nations who failed to recognize the state of Israel, but nations who failed to even appreciate the reasons behind why the U.N. decided that the nearly exterminated Jews needed a homeland.
By failing to simply show up and sit in their chairs for yesterday‘s ceremony, delegates from the Arab countries spoke volumes about what they really believe.
Up next, the length some cops will go to convict someone for eating an apple while driving. It‘s a good segment. Our “OH PLEAs!” is up...
ABRAMS: We‘re back. I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”. After hundreds of millions of dollars in payouts from the Catholic Church, Paul Shanley, the defrocked Catholic priest finally standing trial for the rape of a young altar boy in the ‘70‘s. I said I‘m not so certain justice will be served because legal technicalities, civil lawsuits, and traumatized witnesses could very well mean that Shanley walks out of the courtroom a free man.
Jim Tanski writes, “Aren‘t you a lawyer or at least a law school graduate? Maybe you should have mentioned the difference in the burden of proof in a civil case compared to that in a criminal case. You and the rest of the press created such a likelihood that any civil jury would find against Shanley and the church, it made sense for the church to shell out big bucks to make the civil cases go away.”
Oh, so Jim, it‘s the media‘s fault that the church moved Shanley from parish to parish after they got reports of his abuse? It‘s the media‘s fault that Shanley wrote about sex between men and boys? Look, it‘s the media‘s fault for not reporting more on this story a long time ago, and we all appreciate the lecture on the difference between the civil and criminal systems, doesn‘t change the fact, though, that this pervert could go free.
And finally last night we dedicated a segment to NBC entertainment legend Johnny Carson who passed away Sunday. Tom Harmon in Ann Arbor, Michigan asks, “What does Johnny Carson‘s death have to do with law and justice? Come on now.”
But Tom, Johnny Carson served as a judge of talent and in that way he was an honorary member of the bar. No, I‘m just kidding. It‘s a fair point though.
Your e-mails abramsreport—one word -- @msnbc.com. We go through them at the end of the show.
You saw—“OH PLEAs!”—an apple a day may keep the doctor away, but English nursery nurse Sarah McCaffery probably wishes she threw her apple away before it got her in traffic court. She stopped after police saw her holding what they thought was a cell phone in her hand while making a left turn. When the cell phone turned out to be an apple, McCaffery was charged under local laws that make it a crime to eat or drink at the wheel, even though she hadn‘t taken a bite.
McCaffrey fought the case and police fought back with a vengeance not seen since an apple that Eve stole from that forbidden tree. They used a camera-equipped helicopter, spotter plane, a patrol car to make a video to recreate actual road conditions on the day of the crime. Nine court hearings and a two-hour trial later, McCaffery was convicted for not having been in proper control of her car and fined 60 pounds sterling plus 100 pounds court costs, about $300.
For the police to produce evidence that convicted the nurse, how much for them? Another 425 pounds, 800 bucks. Not including the cost of the helicopter and the spotter plane. That is one golden apple.
That does it for us tonight. “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews up next.
Thanks for watching.
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