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'The Abrams Report' for April 4

Read the transcript to the Monday show

Guest: Dan Thompson, David Hanners, Jim Moret, Jami Floyd, William Fallon, Jim Thomas

LISA DANIELS, GUEST HOST:  Coming up, emotional testimony in the Michael Jackson trial. 


DANIELS (voice-over):  Another boy takes the stand, starts crying as he recounts how Jackson molested him and gave him 100 bucks to keep quiet. 

Authorities investigating the worst school shooting since Columbine now say not just one but as many as 20 students could have known about the rampage before a single shot was fired.

And volunteers gather at the Arizona-Mexico border, assisting in the capture and arrest of illegal immigrants trying to cross it.  Is this vigilante justice? 

The program about justice starts right now. 


DANIELS:  Hi everyone.  I‘m Lisa Daniels.  Dan is off tonight. 

We‘ll get to those stories in just a few minutes, but first, Pope John Paul II.  The pontiff now lies in St. Peter‘s Basilica open for the public to pay their respects. 

MSNBC‘s Chris Jansing is in Vatican City with more and Chris, the images we saw were simply moving. 

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  It‘s been an extraordinary day, emotional, historic.  It is midnight now here in Rome.  Still tens of thousands of people lined up outside St. Peter‘s Basilica waiting to pay their final respects to Pope John Paul II.  Already so many have gone through.  It started earlier today with something we have never seen before here at the Vatican, never in the history of the papacy. 

Pope John Paul made one final journey out of the apostolic palace where he had been lying in state.  The cardinals spent about an hour with him, 65 cardinals who had arrived here, and then he was brought out through St. Peter‘s Square, through the very same procession that he had done so many times before in the pope mobile, so close to the people. 

First there was a bit of a gasp as people caught sight of the body of Pope John Paul II, then some applause.  And it was remarkable the estimate of over 100,000, maybe close to 200,000 people, and it got absolutely quiet.  As you see him carried by 12 pallbearers and surrounded by the Swiss guards.  We also learned earlier today after the first meeting of the College of Cardinals that the pope will be buried right below where he is now. 

There is an area where all the 20th century popes are buried in the grotto along with many popes from previous centuries.  It is a smaller space.  He will probably be buried at the place where John XXIII was buried before being moved up to the main section of the basilica.  We continue to hear all these calls for John Paul the Great.  That is an appellation, has only been given to two previous popes. 

Should that happen, it is very likely that he, too, at some future date would be moved up to the main part of the basilica.  Extraordinary tributes to him all along the Viadello Contriliapta Ona (ph), people leaving flowers, people leaving messages.  We saw a lot of tears today.  People in silent prayer who were fingering their rosary beads and also just the quiet admiration of people who have been going through these lines, some of them extraordinary heat today. 

We know that 40 people had to be treated because they passed out in the heat of midday.  But when one person was asked how long would you be willing to wait to be able to see the pope, to pay your respects to John Paul, the simple answer was “forever”—Lisa.

DANIELS:  All right.  MSNBC‘s Chris Jansing.  Chris, thanks for your great coverage.  We appreciate it. 

Just how and when will the next pope be chosen?  Well, centuries old church doctrine specifies that the rules surrounding the selection process with just a few modern modifications. 

NBC‘s Keith Miller has those details. 


KEITH MILLER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  The College of Cardinals, the so-called princes of the church are now running the Vatican, and perhaps more important will elect the next supreme pontiff. 


MILLER:  In a tradition dating to the 13th century, the cardinal wills go into conclave.  Modern church rules dictate the conclave can begin not fewer than 15 days and no more than 20 days after the passing of the pope. 

(on camera):  Conclave is a Latin word meaning locked up, but that is exactly what will happen here at the Vatican.  The cardinals will be locked up.  No television, no radio, no newspapers, no contact with the outside world that could in any way influence their vote for the next pope. 

(voice-over):  The original idea was not to keep the public out, but to force the cardinals to make a decision. 

MICHAEL WALSH, PAPAL BIOGRAPHER:  The notion of conclave came about actually because they were taking too long about it and somebody eventually locked them in a palace and told them to get on with it. 

MILLER:  Today it‘s not a palace, the Sistine Chapel that eath (ph)

Michelangelo‘s creation, the cardinals will gather to cast their ballots.  Each day there will be a security sweep, the chapel checked for electronic bugs.  In some ways this conclave will be like no other. 

GEORGE WEIGEL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  This will be the largest number of electors ever, the most diverse group of electors ever, the widest number of languages being spoken ever.

MILLER:  The cardinals will stay at Casa Santa Marta inside the Vatican.  They are forbidden from leaving until a new pope is elected.  There are 183 cardinals but only 117 are eligible to vote.  Sixty-six cardinals are over the age of 80 and are excluded. 

The vote is by secret ballot and a two-thirds majority is needed to elect the next pope, but in the unlikely case of a deadlock, the cardinals can elect by an absolute majority plus one.  The world will learn that a new pope has been elected by a smoke signal from the chapel. 

All inconclusive ballots are burned with a chemical to produce black smoke.  It‘s when white smoke comes out that the crowds then realize the election has taken place.  Each conclave signals a new beginning for the church.  In its 2,000-year history, there have been 264 successors to St.  Peter.  Tonight the throne of the Holy Seas (ph), it‘s empty, awaiting the 265th supreme pontiff. 

Keith Miller, NBC News, The Vatican. 


DANIELS:  And joining me now associate chair of the Department of Theology and director of religious studies at Fordham University, Dan Thompson.  And Dan, I got to tell you, I find this process so fascinating.  It‘s so secretive, so mystical.  Can you set the scene for us?  We know it‘s in the Sistine Chapel underneath all those frescoes. 


·         one of the things in John Paul II‘s document, which actually described the process of the election was a reminder that the cardinals were suppose to take this very seriously and being in the Sistine Chapel with that gigantic fresco of the last judgment there was to remind them of the seriousness of the decision that they were going to make. 

DANIELS:  To what extent did this pope actually have his imprints on this plan? 

THOMPSON:  On this particular plan, well he issued a document in 1996, which modified the papal election process.  He actually got rid of two old methods, one of which was called acclamation, where the cardinals could simply acclaim someone and also a method called compromise where they would have national bodies get together and German, Italian, French, and so forth if they couldn‘t reach a compromise and then choose the new pope from the representatives of national group. 

So he has actually shaped this new election in several ways.  He also added the provision if—that if the cardinals could not elect in a certain period of time, that then they could go to another method, which would be an absolute majority plus one, not the two-thirds that‘s normally required.

DANIELS:  So, how do these discussions work?  I‘m trying to get a sense of how they work, but at the same time, I know it‘s a secret so we don‘t know too many details, but do the cardinals have an open debate?  Does one cardinal speak?  How does it work? 

THOMPSON:  Well during the conclave itself actually it‘s fairly straightforward.  When they are in the Sistine Chapel and after everyone else has left the room, as we understand it, the process is not a process of debate or discussion.  That is they actually go through a procedure whereby they vote.  The votes are counted.  They‘re checked and so forth and announced. 

And then if there is a pope, then of course then it‘s announced—that as well.  But the discussions and the politicking, if I may put it that way, takes place outside before the votes, after the votes, in the evenings, you know whenever the cardinals can get together to converse.  The—Pope John Paul II‘s constitution said explicitly you shouldn‘t make a pact to agree before the conclave itself, but you certainly are there to discuss this, so that‘s when it happens. 

DANIELS:  Well it‘s interesting that there is no contact with the outside world.  And originally it wasn‘t to—so that they can‘t check their e-mails and the newspapers, but I suspect that nowadays that actually is a pretty important thing that the decision is actually coming straight from the cardinals and they are isolated from all that public opinion.

THOMPSON:  Yes.  Well in the past that was the same thing.  That is the reason why you had the seclusion was, as your report said, to get the cardinals to make an election, but also to prevent outside influence, but in the medieval past it was from monarchies and people trying to force the election toward a particular national candidate.  Nowadays with modern media and modern technology, you have this strange marriage of an ancient ceremony, but then you also have people sweeping the room with metal detectors to find out whether there are little hidden cameras or making sure the cardinals don‘t have cell phones, so it‘s a strange joining of these two things. 

DANIELS:  This might seem like a weird question, but how much do we suspect the cardinals actually talk?  I‘m trying to think of an analogy.  I guess the only thing I can think of is almost a jury that‘s been sequestered where you‘re allowed to talk at certain times.  You‘re not allowed to talk outside the courtroom.  Do we know how much they‘re allowed to talk or encouraged to talk?

THOMPSON:  Well they‘re encouraged to talk to each other.  That is but they‘re not encouraged—in fact, they are forbidden from talking to people who are, let‘s say, the staff, even in the outside areas.  For example, inside the Sistine Chapel they can talk to each other. 

DANIELS:  But even to themselves, I‘m just wondering when they eat, for example...


DANIELS:  ... are they still allowed to discuss it or is it just reserved for certain times of the day? 

THOMPSON:  Any time during the conclave they can talk to each other except during these voting periods, which are much more solemn, so I—you can imagine a conversation with several important cardinals sitting over, you know sitting over a nice Roman breakfast over their coffee, discussing what happened in the previous day‘s vote and what‘s the possibility for today. 

DANIELS:  I think that‘s what makes so it interesting.  We can all picture this happening in a dark, beautiful room.  But talk about the smoke.  When we see the white smoke, am I correct that a decision has been made?  Is that correct? 

THOMPSON:  That is correct.  Not—it means two things.  That is that a candidate has been elected and a candidate has accepted the election.  And that is a candidate doesn‘t necessarily need to accept being made the pope.  John Paul II in his constitution on this matter encouraged the candidate to take on this role.  That‘s a very heavy burden, so when the candidate is elected and the candidate accepts, then he becomes the pope and then it is announced and the white smoke comes forth. 

DANIELS:  So it sounds like there is at least one telephone there. 

Dan Thompson, thank you so much, Dan, for coming on. 

THOMPSON:  You‘re very welcome.

DANIELS:  And coming up, authorities have already arrested one student for his alleged role in the deadliest school shooting since Columbine.  Now they say as many as 20 may have heard about the plot before the shooting began. 

And they call themselves the “Minutemen” watching the Mexican border because they say the Border Patrol isn‘t stopping enough illegal immigrants from crossing the border, but could this vigilante justice actually make our borders more dangerous? 

Plus, emotional testimony in the Michael Jackson trial as another boy takes the stand, recounting how he says Jackson molested him.

And of course your e-mails, send them to  Remember to include your name and where you‘re actually writing from.  I‘ll respond at the end of the show.


DANIELS:  Coming up, authorities now think as many as 20 students may have known when the worst school shooting since Columbine was going to take place before any shots were fired. 



DANIELS:  Today the teachers of Minnesota‘s Red Lake High were back in the school building that just two weeks ago was the scene of a deadly shooting massacre that left 10 dead including the gunman.  The rampage when 16-year-old Jeff Weise killed his grandfather and his grandfather‘s companion at their home.  He then headed to the high school and fatally shot a security guard, a teacher, five students, and then finally himself.  It was the country‘s deadliest school shooting since Columbine back in 1999 and now police are saying that Weise may not have acted alone, in fact as many as 20 students may have known about his deadly plans.  One of them Louis Jourdain, the son of Red Lake‘s tribal chairman was arrested last week.

Joining me now to talk about, “Pioneer Press” reporter David Hanners. 

David, thanks for joining us today. 


DANIELS:  So David, where are we getting this idea that 20 people allegedly knew about the plot?  Where is that coming from? 

HANNERS:  Well it came from a member of the Red Lake Tribal Police speaking at a school board meeting on Friday evening.  Captain Dewayne Dow was talking to the board and...

DANIELS:  And what does he say?  What are the words that he used?

HANNERS:  That as many as 20 others may have known about the shooting in advance.  That isn‘t an exact quote, but that‘s the gist of what he said.  He didn‘t elaborate on that.  He didn‘t cite a source where that information came from nor did anyone on the school board ask him to elaborate...

DANIELS:  I mean that just seems very surprising.  Here you have this police officer saying—this really amounts to a bombshell and nobody even questions him, nobody asked a question, David? 

HANNERS:  Well, he wouldn‘t to speak to reporters afterwards.  And yes, no one on the school board asked him about it, and I agree, it is something I would like to know more about and have been trying to find out more about. 

DANIELS:  And what about this Louis Jourdain, the son of the tribal chief, what do we know about his alleged involvement?

HANNERS:  Well not a lot.  The information that we have been able to find out from the—from various sources who have knowledge of the investigation is that he has been alleged charged with conspiracy to commit murder and that the alleged evidence that led to that charge was contained in e-mail or instant messaging messages sent between Jourdain and Weise. 

DANIELS:  Aside from the police officer, just to be clear, the 20 people involved statement is just from a police officer, that‘s it.  Nothing else.

HANNERS:  Right.  Right.  We‘ve heard since about the second or third day after the shooting that others may have been involved in the planning or may have known about it.  Given that it‘s a small high school, frankly, I don‘t find that surprising.  I went to a small high school and everybody knew everything else that everybody was doing...

DANIELS:  Well there‘s an old Benjamin Franklin statement that three can keep a secret if two are dead.  I just find it surprising 20 knew, but David Hanners...


DANIELS:  ... thanks for the update.  We appreciate it.

HANNERS:  Thank you. 

DANIELS:  Coming up, volunteers head to the Mexican border to do what they say the Border Patrol isn‘t doing, stopping illegal immigrants.  But are they just getting in the way of professionals trying to do their job? 

And Michael Jackson faces another person accusing him of abuse, testimony that could make or break the prosecutor‘s case against Jackson.


DANIELS:  The original “Minutemen” got their name because they arrived on battlefield so quickly during the American Revolution.  Well now another group calling itself “Minutemen” is ready to do battle of a very different sort.  Fed up with what they say are lax controls along the Mexican border, these “Minutemen” are taking matters into their own hands. 

NBC‘s Mark Mullen joins us now from Bisbee, Arizona on the Mexican border with more on the controversial project.  Mark, fill us in if you would. 

MARK MULLEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Lisa, well this was the first full day after a bunch of rallying and organizing and signing up volunteers that the “Minutemen” actually came out in force and started patrolling.  This group, which is not necessarily welcomed by the U.S. government, was out today, claiming to help in the arrest of some 146 illegal immigrants. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Your state flag...

MULLEN (voice-over):  About 400 volunteers this month are expected to join the so-called “Minutemen”, citizens frustrated with what they claim is a failure to protect and control U.S. borders.

MRS. MORALES, “MINUTEMAN”:  It is not a matter of just Mexicans crossing the border, pretty much anybody who can get into Mexico can get into the United States.

MULLEN:  “Minutemen” volunteers will fan out in groups about 100 yards from each other and across 23 miles of Arizona San Pedro Valley, a favorite crossing point by illegal immigrants and smugglers. 

JOSE GARZA, BORDER PATROL:  Everybody listen.  You guys want to go out to the border, I know, right, you‘re anxious. 

MULLEN:  Although the “Minutemen” say they will simply observe and report illegal immigrants, some human rights organizations and residents fear the “Minutemen”, some of whom will be armed, could lead to vigilante violence. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We rather that they leave the job of patrolling our borders to the—in the hands of the Border Patrol agents. 

MULLEN:  This month may be the busiest yet for Arizona border agents keeping a close watch on the “Minutemen” as well as the border. 


MULLEN:  Lisa, the big thing that a lot of the customs agents worry about is that the “Minutemen”, although some of them have law enforcement training, a lot of retired sheriffs and police officers they claim.  They‘re worried about them getting in over their head because some of the people who come over this fence are not only migrants who are looking for work, but also drug dealers and also some real bad guys, people with criminal records, including folks wanted in the U.S. for murder. 

DANIELS:  Mark, who are these people?  I know that they come from all over, but they seem so gung ho from your report.  What is driving them to do this? 

MULLEN:  One common denominator among all of them, which we are told come from different professions and from different states and that is that they say they are absolutely fed up with the lack of a U.S. policy to control and to protect the borders.  That‘s what has driven them to come here and volunteer up to a month of their time to observe and report any sort of illegal immigrants.  But they just basically say they like George Bush because they say he has a good, firm policy in Iraq, but they say he has loused up the job sealing our own border. 

DANIELS:  But why now, Mark?  Why this month? 

MULLEN:  It‘s a good question.  This—you can see the wind coming on right now, but it‘s still relatively mild.  A lot of times in the heat of the desert here, you have up to 140, 150 people, illegal immigrants, who die trying to cross the border.  So the particular month of April happens to be the most busy month because it seems to be a time because this is high desert.  This is over 4,000 feet. 

It‘s a time of year when it‘s not too cold at night and not too warm during the day.  That‘s the most favorite time for illegal immigrants to try and cross.  That is a reason that the “Minutemen” are here as well. 

DANIELS:  Oh, we‘re going to have wait and see what happens this month.  Mark Mullen, great report.  Thanks. 

Coming up, another boy takes the stand crying as he tells how Michael Jackson molested him and gave him 100 bucks allegedly to not tell anybody what he was doing. 

And of course your e-mails, send them to  Remember to include your name and where you‘re writing from and I‘ll be sure to respond at the end of the show.


DANIELS:  Coming up, a second boy takes the stand in the Michael Jackson trial, starts crying as he recounts how he says Jackson molested him and gave him money to keep quiet.  A live report from the courthouse next, but first the headlines.


DANIELS:  A major witness on the stand in the Michael Jackson case today whose testimony could be crucial in painting Jackson as a man with a habit of grooming boys to later molest them.  Now remember that last week the defense was dealt a major blow when Judge Melville ruled that jurors could hear about prior allegations of abuse by Michael Jackson. 

Now that means testimony about five other alleged incidents fair game.  It will come from nine witnesses, including several former Neverland employees and also one of the prior accusers who was paid millions of dollars for his silence back in the 1990‘s.  He‘s actually the son of a housekeeper who worked for Jackson, and he is the one who took the stand today. 

Jim Moret is an attorney and senior correspondent for “Inside Edition”.  He was in the courtroom and joins me now.  Jim, good to see you.  Can you give us a quick summary on what the 24-year-old accuser said?  I heard it was very emotional. 

JIM MORET, “INSIDE EDITION”:  It—this was possibly the most powerful witness yet for the prosecution.  This is a 24-year-old who is a former youth pastor and currently mentors kids who are at risk.  And he said that when he was 7 and 8 and 10 on three separate incidents, Michael Jackson inappropriately touched him.  The third time all flat-out molested him and that his mother settled a—threatened lawsuit. 

However, the amount was not disclosed.  But this was very powerful testimony because this witness broke down on the stand, needed some time to recover.  He started crying.  He needed to take a drink.  He clearly didn‘t want to be there.  And I think he was a very sympathetic, very believable, very credible witness. 

DANIELS:  All right.  So he is breaking down on the stand, he has a lot to say, what was Michael Jackson‘s reaction as all this is going on, Jim? 

MORET:  Michael Jackson sat through most of the day simply staring straight ahead.  At one point he stared at the prosecutor, one of the prosecutors, but basically sat emotionless for much of the day even though this was perhaps the most damaging testimony of all because this will in effect buttress the accuser in this case and his testimony.  And this could very well be the case for the prosecution. 

DANIELS:  All right.  Jim Moret, I‘m going to ask you to hang on there for a second.  I want to bring in the rest of my panel now.  Former Massachusetts‘ prosecutor Bill Fallon, defense attorney and Court TV anchor Jami Floyd, and former Santa Barbara County sheriff and NBC News analyst Jim Thomas.  Good to see all of you today.


DANIELS:  So Jami, I want to begin with you. 


DANIELS:  As a defense attorney, how do you explain to the jury why this 24-year-old is testifying in the first place?  It is confusing enough between lawyers to explain.  The last thing you want is for Michael Jackson to be on trial for these alleged incidents. 

JAMI FLOYD, COURT TV ANCHOR:  Well, there will be an instruction to the jury at the end, and you argue your case with instructions in mind that this is not coming in to prove the fact in the current case.  And they are supposed to weigh this according to the standard that the judge will give them, which is one far less than beyond a reasonable doubt.  It is very problematic, and I have to tell you, Lisa, you know as a defense attorney, I go into any criminal case with a very open mind and unlike many of my colleagues on the air, I have maintained an open mind throughout, but this was a devastating day for the defense. 

I mean surely the big decision when Melville made it was last week, but for the jury, today was the first devastating day.  And I‘m not sure how Mesereau gets out from under this.  He will do his darndest and he will bring up the money motive, but this young man already settled, so what is the motive to come in and lie now?  I‘m not sure what they do... 

DANIELS:  Let‘s bring in Bill.  You know I can see why the prosecutor wants to bring in the testimony to show a pattern, but does it also highlight, Bill, how weak the current case is, the one that‘s actually taking place? 

WILLIAM FALLON, FORMER ESSEX COUNTY MA PROSECUTOR:   Well Lisa, you could argue that that‘s what Mesereau is going to have to do, but if I am a prosecutor, I am more than ecstatic that we actually have the bolstering argument actually better than the victim on the stand. 

DANIELS:  Why, why, why? 

FALLON:  Well because I mean somehow it‘s going to de-emphasize the negatives of the victim.  Mind you I would love a victim who is fabulous on the stand, don‘t get me wrong, but we‘ve got the victim here who is somehow in the middle of his teen years.  The kid today who is, in fact, a victim has been a youth minister, a youth pastor, works with troubled youth, says what everybody wants to know, what actually experts try to tell you. 

Many kids deny before they acknowledge abuse.  This is going to be so important because a jury is now saying, oh really?  I guess it is not unusual for people to go through that process of not being able to come forward quickly.  That really bolsters.  Now, the problem is Mesereau has to deal with this kid.  Again, I always refer to the grifter versus the groper. 

Is this guy being a big grifter?  It did not come off like that from what I hear so far. 

DANIELS:  Well...

FALLON:  The question is going to be when the other ‘93 kid who got the $20 million, if he shows—and I know he is not planning to—I‘m going to tell you there will be a conviction.  Without him showing, I don‘t know. 


FLOYD:  ... verdict in the case, if we get to a verdict in the case, there will be a conviction.  My guess is we‘re never going to get to a verdict in this case because it‘s too intense.  Everyone is too high strung.  I don‘t even know that Michael Jackson can make it that far... 

DANIELS:  Yes, but after all these witnesses we are always saying oh the prosecutor won this, the defense won that.  I think we should all hold on and see.  These are two very talented attorneys. 

FLOYD:  Exactly.

DANIELS:  Jim Thomas, I want to bring you in for a second.  You know, in the last few weeks when I was anchoring on daytime, you kept on saying wait until the past testimony comes in, if it comes in.  Now it‘s in, Jim.  Is this what you expected?  Is this the big moment? 

JIM THOMAS, FORMER SANTA BARBARA COUNTY SHERIFF:    Actually, it was even more than I expected.  I was involved in that investigation in 1993, but I never met that young boy.  So the first time I ever saw him was on the stand today and I tell you, it got me.  I was in the overflow room and there wasn‘t anybody saying anything while he gave his testimony. 

What he will also do is he will buttress the people that will follow over the next few days of the other people who say that they saw Michael Jackson inappropriately touch other boys.  I think this boy will give credibility to that and will put the weight on the side of the prosecution at this point. 

DANIELS:  Wow, I can‘t believe everyone is agreeing about how powerful that is. 


FLOYD:  Well Lisa, I‘m happy to disagree on one point.  I think this conversation underscores why there is a problem with this kind of evidence. 

The emotions that I am hearing from my colleagues about this shows you what

the jury‘s reaction must be.  I mean we‘re not in there and I wish we were

·         I agree with you on that point—but the question of whether this is more prejudicial than probative, whether this distracts the jury from the current fact pattern and whether it really is a back door around the burden of proof that the prosecution should have in this case with this accuser on these facts, those are the problems with this kind of testimony under Section 1108 and that‘s why I oppose in it general. 


FALLON:  But Jami, you know—can I just say...

DANIELS:  Yes, do ahead.

FALLON:  This is—the reason this comes in, and I agree...

FLOYD:  I know why it comes in. 


FLOYD:  ... in California...


FALLON:  No, it‘s unusual to go back 10 years.  I‘m not suggesting that, but I think more often than not we cut off M.O., modus operandi, intent, things that usually come in because we always err on the side of the defendant‘s rights.  This is trying to balance victim‘s rights.  I am not disagreeing with you.  I think it can...

FLOYD:  Victim‘s rights are not in the U.S. Constitution...

FALLON:  Well and you know what...

FLOYD:  The U.S. Constitution is about the defendant versus the all-powerful state...

FALLON:  Jami, but as you know...

FLOYD:  ... and the prosecutor.

FALLON:  ... Jamie...


FALLON:  ... Constitution that says you can‘t have this.

DANIELS:  Let‘s take a quick break and let‘s continue to argue, no.  More on the Jackson trial after the break.  We‘re going to actually show you what some of the testimony was, so we don‘t just have to talk around it. 

Also the long-lasting effects of the Terri Schiavo case.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.  It‘s coming up.



DANIELS:  About 100 fans of Michael Jackson gathered in front of the Santa Maria courthouse today carrying signs and wearing gold armbands in support of Jackson.  Perhaps they knew he would need a little extra support today as he faced another accuser in court.  This afternoon the son of one of Jackson‘s maids broke down on the stand as he told jurors about how Jackson molested him three times more than 10 years ago. 

I‘m back with my panel now.  You know you all agree and I find it fascinating that this was powerful testimony.  Let‘s look at some of them because you know it really raises the question how does the defense counter this?  This guy seems reasonable. 

So, this is from the first incident—accuser—and remember that some of this is graphic.  I do want to mention that. 

Accuser:  I was sitting on his lap.  We were facing the TV.  He was behind me, bouncing me up and down on his lap.  He began to tickle me as we were watching cartoons.  His hands began moving down my sides towards my little private region.  I‘m 7 years old at the time.  I‘m laughing, but I am feeling strange.

Question:  Did his hands come in contact with your genitals?

Answer:  Yes.  Yes.

Question:  How long did it last?

Answer:  More than three minutes, less than 20 minutes.  I really can‘t remember.

Now a year and a half later comes the second incident allegedly. 

Let‘s hear what that testimony was.

Quote—“We were watching cartoons again.  We were laying in a sleeping bag.  Jackson was behind me, spooning me.  Again, he started with the tickling.  It was longer tickling.  I wasn‘t laughing as much this time.”

Jim Moret, this sounds like a very reasonable witness.  He doesn‘t remember everything.  It was a long time ago.  He‘s sort of taking us back as he was a boy not quite understanding what he did, plus combine that with his breakdown on the stand, plus the fact that he has such a wonderful, strong background as a youth leader.  This guy sounds very credible. 

MORET:  And Lisa there is another point because as each of these inappropriate touchings escalated, so too did his emotional outburst.  When he got to the third incident, that is when he broke down.  That‘s when he needed Kleenex.  That‘s when he needed to take a drink of water and actually ask the judge for a timeout so to speak.  You know, his memory wasn‘t perfect and he said something very powerful. 

He said, I don‘t think I have ever told my mother everything that‘s actually happened to this day.  And when you couple all of that with his demeanor, the story that was very graphic, the emotion, you‘re absolutely right.  This was extremely powerful.  It‘s interesting that this witness was in a way more sympathetic than the accuser in this case who survived cancer.  But that‘s just how strong this witness was...

DANIELS:  And see, your last one I think is a good one because, again, Mesereau is no fool.  He knows at the end at closing arguments you take that last card out of your pocket and you say, this was not the accuser that you should be judging by. 

Jim Thomas, how do you respond to this?  How do you counter it?  I know you are a prosecutor by nature, but as a defense attorney, put yourself there.  How do you counter this very powerful witness? 

THOMAS:  You know you almost have to say I can‘t speak for everything that happened in the past, but this current family, this boy was not molested, and based on the facts that we have represented to the jury, this is a grifter who is out to get money.  So you almost have to excuse the past and put it on the present because if they allow the past to really make an impact on this case, then I think Michael Jackson will be found guilty. 

DANIELS:  Bill Fallon, jump right in there...


DANIELS:  I hear you in the background.

FALLON:  I think this is really important here because Mesereau, if he‘s going to be the great attorney that I know he can be is going to give a little here.  I think the biggest mistake everybody does all or nothing.  As Jim just said, if I‘m the defense attorney here, I say you know ladies and gentlemen, we may never know what happened, but what we know is this case was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt. 

And you might have been impacted by that kid in ‘93 and maybe he is a good person and maybe that‘s what he even has to remember given that his mother settled for millions of dollars, but you know that when you heard from that kid in the present case, you cannot be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that this happened.  All you know is if anything happened, it really hasn‘t been proven. 

And if it hasn‘t been proven, that means nothing happened under the law, and my client is innocent.  Now mind you, I don‘t want to be in there arguing that, but up until this kid testified and if there is anyone else that testifies, that‘s what I say.  That makes it all the stronger.  This kid was sympathetic.  He was what I have interviewed and investigated thousands of these cases and this kid matches exactly what victims of pedophilia go through.

DANIELS:  All right...

FALLON:  And that‘s what‘s interesting.

FLOYD:  And Lisa...

DANIELS:  Yes, go ahead.

FLOYD:  Lisa, let‘s remember also that in his opening statement, Mr.  Mesereau said he was not only going to raise reasonable doubt, a defense attorney‘s favorite, but that he was going to prove that the allegations could not have happened.  Now we‘ve seen as in Scott Peterson, that defense attorneys sometimes promise things they can‘t prove up, but I think Mesereau is too smart for that.  I think he is...


FLOYD:  ... going to separate out...

DANIELS:  Why does he do that...

FLOYD:  ... this young man from—because I think he may be able to show that Michael Jackson wasn‘t where they say he was on certain dates.  I think he may have bank records or some other evidence about Michael Jackson‘s whereabouts.  I don‘t think he would have especially in the wake of Peterson made promises he can‘t keep...


DANIELS:  I want to go back to...


FLOYD:  Let me just finish my point.  I think...


DANIELS:  Hold on a second because Jami, I want to ask you something else. 

FLOYD:  Yes.

DANIELS:  Because you said, when I asked you how does the defense counter this and you said well in closing arguments they come back and they say remember, it‘s not this accuser.  It‘s this accuser.  But you know as well as I do as two attorneys that people don‘t always follow instructions.  It‘s an instruction.  It comes at the end of the trial.  All day long they have been listening to the ‘93 accuser, the ‘90 accuser.  How did they separate it? 

FLOYD:  Well that...

DANIELS:  How do you do that as a defense attorney? 

FLOYD:  That‘s exactly right and that‘s exactly the problem with 1108

because they probably will have tremendous difficult separating, but what

you need, Lisa, as we both know, is one juror who can distinguish the facts

in this case from the very compelling testimony of this young man today,

and he is not a boy, he‘s a man, which makes it even more compelling that

he breaks down on the stand.  The question is whether or not the

prosecution proves up this case.  And if you can get one jury to go there -

·         juror to go there with you, you‘re OK.  And remember...

FALLON:  You don‘t want a hung jury...


DANIELS:  ... got to cut it off right there. 

FLOYD:  Let‘s say you‘re going to...

DANIELS:  Jim Moret, Bill Fallon, Jami Floyd, Jim Thomas, so good of all of you to come on and thanks so much for your insight.  Appreciate it.

FLOYD:  Thank you Lisa.


DANIELS:  And we‘ll be right back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You‘re welcome Lisa.


DANIELS:  Now to my “Closing Argument” and I feel passionate about this.  Terri Schiavo‘s family, Bob and Mary Schindler, have retreated from the public eye after the death of their daughter.  But the effects of their very public battle with Michael Schiavo will linger with us long after the Schiavo case.  Why do I say that?  Because the family allowed the religious right to hijack its private tragedy. 

There is no question in my mind that both legally and public relations wise, the Schindlers were facing an up-hill battle.  Think of it state courts and federal courts ruled against them over and over again, repeatedly.  And don‘t forget, the vast majority of the American public supported removing Terri Schiavo‘s feeding tube.  So, when the extreme, and I‘m just highlighting, the extreme elements of the religious right joined the Schindlers‘ battle in recent years, of course they agreed to it. 

Who can blame them?  They needed the publicity.  They needed the emotional support; they certainly needed the money for legal fees.  I don‘t think the Schindlers should be criticized for signing fundraising letters written by conservative groups.  That was what they felt they needed to do to save their daughter.  But, and it is a big but, the extreme right, the extreme right wing activists who became voices for the Schindler family may have in the long run done more harm than good. 

I believe they alienated the American public more than helping them sympathize with the Schindlers‘ cause.  This was more than anything else, a family tragedy.  But Randall Terry along with some of the other family spokespeople, escalated the language to a point that I think scared even those who sided with the Schindlers.  After Florida Governor Jeb Bush failed to intervene and take custody of Terri Schiavo, Randall Terry compared him to those found guilty at Nuremberg. 

Father Frank Pavone, Schindler spiritual advisor, accused Michael

Schiavo and the judges who heard the case of committing murder, murder, and

even Tom DeLay, House majority leader in the U.S. Congress, threatened that

judges who refused to reinsert Terri‘s feeding tube would someday—quote

·         “have to answer for their behavior.”  Would the case of Terri Schiavo have led the network news and covered the front pages of national newspapers if the conservative movement had not stepped in?  Probably not.  Probably not. 

But it hurt the Schindlers‘ cause, not to mention religious conservatives who seemed to be represented by a few, maybe three polarizing figures.  I got to tell you, as I stood in front of the hospice for a week with the rest of the media, I struggled to keep the story on Terri Schiavo and I know that you know a lot of reporters there did as well, but it was very difficult.  My point, is I just hope that when we look back at the Terri Schiavo story and start a debate about whether the law should be changed, we have an honest discussion about the case itself, about the living wills, about the right to life, or the right to die with dignity. 

Let‘s hope we don‘t debate the issues that the religious extremists want to us to debate and instead just have a very honest discussion between ourselves.  That‘s my point. 

Coming up in 60 seconds, your e-mails on the Terri Schiavo case. 

We‘ll be right back.


DANIELS:  OK, I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”. 

We‘re still getting a lot of e-mails on the Terri Schiavo case. 

M. Russell writes, “The terrible tragedy in the Schiavo matter is that the family couldn‘t come together at this terrible time.  While I understand the pain that the Schindlers have gone through, I do not agree with how they handled this case.”

You know I think everyone agrees, it was so sad that it came down to a battle between the Schindlers and the Schiavos.  But I guess that the family felt it was their only chance to wage a very public fight.  Remember they didn‘t get anywhere in the court system, as I said.  Their last hope was to get the public on its side so that Congress or somebody would do something. 

Pat Barbour from Connecticut writes, “It is very sad the way Terri had to die and her husband not letting her family be at her side when death came.”

Pat, I think we‘ll never understand what actually happened in the final moments of Terri Schiavo‘s death.  The family has their version.  Michael Schiavo had his.  Who is to say what really happened?  I don‘t think we‘ll know.

Moving on, Cornelia Drake from Colorado, -- quote—“If the autopsy of Terri Schiavo shows sign of abuse, such as broken bones, can Michael Schiavo be charged criminally?”

Good question, but I doubt it Cornelia.  Last week I know that Dan spoke to a forensic scientist on the show, and he said, I remember, that there would be no way to tell from the autopsy when the date that the bones were broken.  And besides, when you think of it legally, how would you prove at this late stage that Michael Schiavo, that he was the one who abused Terri Schiavo.  I don‘t think you can do it. 

Frances Himes from Indiana writes, “I am 63 years old, a cancer survivor, and have an inoperable brain tumor, non malignant.  I have to say I don‘t think government should interfere by making a law that unless you have it written, you stay alive.”

Also K. Berecek writes, “The very last people on the face of the earth I would want to decide when my life ends are the president, the Congress or the Senate.  I also thought the progression would be from God to me and maybe to the judges who are willing to look at my case based upon the laws of the land alone.”

Jeannie Clark from New York has praise for Dan‘s coverage of the story.  Quote—“Thank you for the heartwarming final look you gave us at the person Terri was, not the pictures we have had to look at day after day.  She would have been so saddened if she knew that was what the public was seeing.  All along you were the only one who spoke of her as a real person, not a brain-damaged woman.”

I also thought the coverage was very good Jeannie.  And there are a lot of questions surrounding what Terri Schiavo really wanted, but I agree with you.  I guarantee she would not have liked the attention her case got and it‘s so sad—she would be so sad that her parents and her husband were fighting.  I know it. 

Send your e-mails to the abramsreport—one word --  Dan goes through them and reads them at the end of the show. 

That does it for us tonight.  Thanks so much for joining me.  Dan is back tomorrow.  And up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews live from the Vatican. 

Have a great night.


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