Guests: Dick DeGuerin, Jay Sekulow, Roger Pilon, John Council, Yale
Galanter, Carl Douglas, Fred Goldmam, Kim Goldman, Denise Brown, Glenn
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: The president‘s pick, White House counsel Harriet Miers. Why are some liberals expressing relief? Do they know something or is it just that no record is better than a conservative one?
And this little girl left on a New York City street with no shoes in the middle of the night - now a confession. Her mother‘s boyfriend says he killed her. Police now searching for her body.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We the jury, in the above-entitled action, find the defendant, Orenthal James Simpson, not guilty of the crime of murder.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: And on the ten-year anniversary of that verdict, O.J. signs autographs for $95 a pop. We look back at the case ten years later with the families of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman as well as with a member of the so-called “Dream Team.” The program about justice starts now.
Hi, everyone, and welcome to the program. First up on the docket tonight this breaking news that we have been reporting here on MSNBC that a Texas grand jury has indicted Rep. Tom DeLay on a new charge of money laundering.
Now remember, this is in addition to a charge he has already been indicted on, and that was conspiracy with regard to Texas election law. We are trying to figure out exactly what the allegation is.
We‘re joined now on the phone by Dick Deguerin, the attorney for Tom DeLay. Dick, thanks for coming back on the program.
All right, look, I haven‘t even had a chance to look at this indictment. Tell me what it‘s about.
DICK DEGUERIN, TOM DELAY‘S ATTORNEY: I don‘t know - I haven‘t seen it either, but I‘ll tell you what happened is earlier today I filed a motion that spells out for Ronnie Earle, in terms that even he could understand, that there is no such thing as a conspiracy to violate the Texas election codes, so the original indictment is not a - doesn‘t charge a crime.
And so I guess this is his reaction that he‘s rushed back to a grand jury and charged some other crime.
ABRAMS: So you think that literally, today, he went to a grand jury and got an indictment on money laundering that quickly?
DEGUERIN: Apparently after I filed the motion that spelled out that there‘s no conspiracy to violate the election code. It‘s just real clear there‘s no such crime.
And so he apparently in response to that then rushed before another grand jury.
ABRAMS: And, again, we‘ve about talked this before; you appreciate how severe the allegation that you‘re making against the district attorney is, right?
I mean the notion that this district attorney went to a grand jury in response to your filing a legal motion and as a result got a grand jury to indict your client is a very serious allegation.
DEGUERIN: I think that‘s exactly what happened, Dan, and I make no bones about it.
If you‘ll look at what we filed it‘s just clear as a bell. There‘s no conspiracy to violate the Texas election code. Ronnie Earle should have known that before they issued the first indictment but this is apparently like a Band-Aid - some kind of patchwork to make up for the fact that they‘ve issued an indictment for something that‘s not a crime first.
ABRAMS: All right, and just reading from the Associated Press and, again, this is breaking news, this is happening right now, and we‘re on the phone with the attorney for Tom DeLay both indictments - I mean, in the conspiracy charge that we‘ve been talking about and this money laundering charge - both indictments apparently accuse DeLay and two political associates of conspiring to get around a state ban on corporate campaign contributions by funneling the money through the DeLay-founded Texas for a Republican Majority political action committee.
And then through a Washington committee, the Republican National Committee. They say then sent it back to the Texas candidate. So we‘re really talking, Dick, about two allegations, two different grand juries but stemming from the same set of facts, correct?
DEGUERIN: I haven‘t seen the second indictment, Dan. But what I can say to you is this is obviously a reaction to him realizing - maybe he read my motion, maybe he didn‘t - but it‘s a reaction to him realizing that what he charged in the first indictment simply is not a crime.
ABRAMS: But is it possible that what he did is recognize that the public response to a conspiracy charge, people saying, oh, you know, conspiracy not the actual crime, etc., and then he said all right, you know what? If it - conspiracy is not going to be a sufficient crime for people to accept, let‘s see if the grand jury will indict on a more substantive charge and now it‘s indicting on money laundering.
DEGUERIN: No, I think what happened is last week he got a grand jury to indict at the last moment on a crime that doesn‘t exist. Now when he realizes that he screwed up, he‘s gone before a second grand jury.
ABRAMS: Dick, how do you expect to be able to defend two different charges? Are you going to attack both counts the same - in the same manner? Meaning to basically allege, as it sounds like you‘re doing now - that this is political?
DEGUERIN: I - no, what I said to you Dan is the first charge just won‘t hold water. It is not a crime and it‘s astounding to me that a district attorney who‘s been in office for 27 years can get a grand jury to return an indictment for something that‘s not a crime.
The - all he had to do was look at the books a little bit and he‘d learn that. And I suppose that when I po9inted it out to him today, earlier today, that his reaction was well, I‘ll just go get another indictment for something else.
ABRAMS: All right, well, Dick Deguerin, thank you once again for coming on the program, talking about this as it‘s happening.
We‘re going to see if we can get more information on this.
Let me publicly invite District Attorney Ronnie Earle to come on the program. You‘ve heard Dick Deguerin make some very serious allegations. He recognizes they are serious.
You are invited to come on the program to respond, to call in, in any manner. Come on tomorrow, whenever the case may be. Want to make sure we‘re being fair about this.
All right. Now onto the Supreme Court. President Bush passes over a corps of known conservative jurists and nominates his own lawyer, White House counsel Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The 60-year-old has never served as a judge and who has virtually no public paper trail, which is making some conservatives nervous. Former Bush speechwriter and conservative columnist David Frum wrote today on his blog, quote, I worked with Harriet Miers she‘s a lovely person, intelligent, honest, capable, loyal, discreet, dedicated.
I could pile on all the praise all morning. But nobody would describe her as one of the outstanding lawyers in the United States and there is no reason at all to believe either that she is a legal conservative or, and more importantly, that she has the spine and steel necessary to resist the pressures that constantly bend the American legal system toward the left.
Even the Democratic leaders in the Senate seemed at the least relieved.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: I have to say without any qualification that I‘m very happy that we have someone like her.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D) NY: It could have been a lot worse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: All right, joining us now to discuss this new nomination is Roger Pilon of the Cato Institute, and Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, and John Council reporter for “Texas Lawyer” magazine.
It is interesting to have Mr. Pilon and Mr. Sekulow, who don‘t always agree on issues, but often - often agree on issues, disagreeing on this one. Jay, why do you think so many conservatives are so nervous and why are you comfortable with this nomination?
JAY SEKULOW, AMERICAN CTR. FOR LAW AND JUSTICE: Well, I‘ve worked with Harriet Miers, I‘ve seen the kind of involvement she‘s had in the judicial process so far in this election. She‘s been very involved in the selection of judges.
I‘ve seen the kind of work she‘s done in that regard. I‘ll also tell you this. This is a situation where the president has known Harriet for a long time, over a decade.
He knows how she thinks, he knows what her views are, so some of the comparison that some of my colleagues, the conservative colleagues are making comparing this to the situation with Justice Souter and from the first President Bush is not even an accurate comparison because in this particular case President Bush right now knows Harriet Miers and the first President Bush did not know David Souter - he relied on staff.
So you‘ve got a different relationship there and it -
ABRAMS: Jay -
SEKULOW: Go ahead.
ABRAMS: Is she opposed to Roe v. Wade? As far as you know?
SEKULOW: I don‘t know what her stand on abortion is. I do know this, when the American Bar Association took the position that they were going to advocate in favor of abortion and the right that was recognized in Roe v. Wade, she led the charge against it.
She thought that the ABA should not be doing that. Now having said that, I haven‘t had a conversation with her on Roe v. Wade, but she said something very important today when she was talking to the press and after the president nominated her - she said I understand my role as judge, I understand that what the words of the constitution means and how to apply them.
That to me tells a lot about a nominee.
ABRAMS: That‘s interesting - let me play that piece of sound and then I want to ask Roger Pilon about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIET MIERS, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: If confirmed, I recognize that I will have a tremendous responsibility to keep our judicial system strong and to help ensure that the courts meet their obligations to strictly apply the laws and the constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Mr. Pilon, isn‘t that sort of code words for don‘t worry, I‘m going to be a conservative?
ROGER PILON, CATO INSTITUTE: Yes, it is, but of course it‘s only scratching the surface. The devil is in the details and that‘s what‘s so troubling to so many of us.
This is a woman who in 60 years has written almost nothing. We have been able to come up with a couple of thousand-word articles from the “Texas Bar Journal” on very innocuous subjects.
The role of a Supreme Court justice is one of examining the case before her, deciding the case on the law. But the law is extraordinarily complex in case after case.
After all, it‘s the difficult cases that make it to the Supreme Court
PILON: So - so it‘s a very intellectual job. There have been battles raging for years over constitutional jurisprudence. She has been utterly absent from those battles.
ABRAMS: Yeah and you know and I don‘t - and I don‘t get - and I don‘t quite get this comment from Harry Reid sort of suggesting that it‘s a plus that she hasn‘t been a judge before. Listen to this:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REID: I‘m very happy with the fact that we have someone who has been nominated by the president who is like approximately 39 other people who have served on the Court. People who have had no judicial experience.
I think that‘s a plus, not a minus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: You know, Jay, I‘ve heard a number of people say that. I don‘t get how it‘s a plus. I‘m not saying it should be a negative, and I‘m not saying it should be used against her because, you know, the senator is right and the president is right in saying it‘s happened many times before but how is it a plus?
SEKULOW: Well I think there is a plus to it. It brings a different
perspective. A little bit of a different perspective to the Court. Look,
most of these nominees in the past and of course the current Court, they‘ve
all served as judges before they were elevated -
ABRAMS: Is that bad?
SEKULOW: No, I don‘t think it‘s bad, but I think it‘s okay to have
someone outside that -
ABRAMS: No, I‘m not saying it‘s not okay; I‘m saying why is it a plus?
SEKULOW: I think because it brings a different perspective of someone that‘s not been sitting in the tower of the Court. There‘s something else about Harriet Miers, Dan, though, that people are overlooking.
I mean no one should sell her short for a moment as far as intellect
goes. This is a woman that even the “National Law Journal” recognized
twice as one of the hundred most influential lawyers in America; she‘s
PILON: I‘m not - look - I‘m not saying she‘s not - influential lawyers doesn‘t necessarily mean intellectual.
SEKULOW: Well, to get to the stature she has in life, to be the counsel to the President of the United States, to serve as the managing partner of their law firm, she‘s a smart woman and I think she‘s well credentialed and look, the late chief justice, William Rehnquist before he was on the Court as an associate justice was a lawyer in the Justice Department.
ABRAMS: All right John Council, I apologize for ignoring you up to
this point -
JOHN COUNCIL, “TEXAS LAWYER” REPORTER: That‘s okay.
ABRAMS: I wanted to get the politics out with them. Let me read you
this is from again from the blog of very conservative columnist who used to work with Harriet Miers: In the White House that hero worshipped the president, Miers was distinguished by the intensity of her zeal: she once told me that the president was the most brilliant man she had ever met.
She served Bush well, but she is not the person to lead the Court in new directions - or to stand up under the criticism that a conservative justice must expect.
What do we know about her intellectual background?
COUNCIL: Well, what I‘ve been doing all day long is talking to lawyers in Texas who know Harriet Miers and have worked with her and frankly I was sort of surprised by her nomination because I thought it was going to be Al Gonzales.
But when I talked to these lawyers they said, look, I mean this is a perfect pick for the Court. She‘s not an ideologue, she‘s highly intelligent and she‘s got the trust of the president so what else could you ask for?
And this is from Republicans and Democrats alike.
ABRAMS: Yeah, and what about, again, what about her intellectual prowess? Again, I think that‘s a term that‘s so - even when I ask I feel like its such a loaded sort of “intellectual prowess” as if there‘s some objective way to judge how intellectual someone is, but what do they say about that?
COUNCIL: Well, I mean you don‘t, become the president and managing partner of the fifth largest firm in Texas by being an idiot so I really think that when these lawyers say that she‘s smart and is well-researched and looks at all sides of an issue, I tend to believe them.
ABRAMS: It‘s silliness to suggest that someone is going to say she
shouldn‘t be on the Court because she‘s not smart enough. I mean -
ABRAMS: I mean, that‘s going to be a non-issue.
COUNCIL: Right, right.
ABRAMS: And final thought on this Roger Pilon, I mean if so many people are in agreement that she‘s a good nominee, are you just saying you‘re just not sure about her?
PILON: No. And nobody is saying she‘s an idiot. What we are saying is that we are concerned because for 30 and more years there have been battles raging in this country about the Constitution, it‘s meaning, the direction of this country, the doctrine of enumerated powers, enumerated rights on enumerated rights.
She has been absolutely absent from this. What makes us think that at the age of 60 she‘s going to start learning on the job? Is that what we want? Especially when there is such a pool of talent out there that the president could have drawn from.
Here we have a typical Bush move drawing from some - someone he knows.
How do you get to be White House counsel?
SEKULOW: If you wanted - you want him to nominate somebody he - Roger
you want him to nominate somebody he knows; somebody that he understands their judicial philosophy. Don‘t sell this woman short. I‘m -
PILON: No, I‘m selling the president short. I think that the president is the problem here. Let‘s be very clear about that.
ABRAMS: I got to wrap it up. The Tom DeLay stuff, I‘m sorry, took a little - took away some of our time. Roger Pilon, Jay Sekulow, John Council, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
PILON: You‘re welcome.
ABRAMS: Coming up, ten years ago today O.J. Simpson walked out of court a free man. This weekend he was back in L.A. signing autographs at a horror movie convention for $95 a pop.
Next we‘ll talk to a member of O.J.‘s legal dream team and to his current attorney. Is O.J. really doing this for free as he claims?
And then to the people who have had to live with the sights and sounds of O.J.‘s shenanigans for the past ten years - the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman join us as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We the jury in the above-entitled action find
the defendant, Orenthal James Simpson, not guilty of the crime of murder in
violation of penal code -
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: It is hard to believe that was ten years ago today. An estimated 150 million people were watching, as O.J. was found not guilty.
The murders of his wife, Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman.
Remember how confident the prosecution was heading into that case?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will find Mr. Simpson and we are going to bring him to justice.
MARCIA CLARK, PROSECUTED O.J. SIMPSON: The fact that the case has been filed means that we do have sufficient evidence to convict him and prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Well, two of O.J.‘s lawyers will join me in a moment, but first, while the families are dealing with the pain again on this anniversary of sorts, O.J. made a rare trip back to the Los Angeles area.
No, no, no, not to continue his exhaustive search for the real killer, but to sign sports memorabilia for money at a horror comics and movie convention.
The annual “Necrocomicon.” Any money O.J. earns is supposed to go to the Goldman and Brown families to pay the $33.5 million wrongful death judgment in the civil suit, but the promoter says O.J. is not getting paid, that O.J. hopes someday he can use court donations in these events to pay his daughter‘s college bills.
As for now:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS RICCIO, “NECROCOMICON” PROMOTER: He‘s doing a favor for a friend. I want to see how this goes and so far it‘s going really good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: There are plenty of O.J. supporters on hand, Al Cowlings, who drove the white Bronco during Simpson‘s famous slow-motion chase appeared Sunday and there were other fans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe that when an American jury says not guilty it should mean something.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He didn‘t stab me, or anything; he was a really cool guy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There he is free, you know, just like the - I just thought that it would be pretty cool to check it out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: God. Those guys. I guess the first guy didn‘t believe it matters what a civil jury ruled.
Before we talk to the families of Nicole and Ron, Carl Douglas is a well-known criminal defense attorney who served on the Simpson, quote, “Dream Team” and criminal defense attorney Yale Galanter represents O.J. today.
Gentlemen thanks very much for coming on the program. All right, before I look back with Carl for a moment; Yale, he‘s out there, he‘s signing autographs, you‘re telling us that he‘s doing it just for the heck of it, right? He‘s not making any money.
YALE GALANTER, O.J. SIMPSON‘S ATTORNEY: Well, actually, I didn‘t say that, somebody else said that. The promoter said it.
No, I mean I‘ve been on your show before and you and I have discussed it. He gets paid for his expenses and he gets these invitations.
He does these shows three or four times a year, but in terms of earning a paycheck or earning a salary he does not.
ABRAMS: But does he get money for each autograph that he signs? Because if he does, he‘s supposed to be giving that money to the Goldman and Brown families.
GALANTER: Well, no, we‘ve discussed that a lot before. There is nothing in any of the court orders, Dan, that says any wage or any money he receives is supposed to be turned over to the Goldman‘s or the Brown family. That‘s just an incorrect statement.
ABRAMS: Oh, am I wrong?
GALANTER: There are judgments -
GALANTER: Those judgments have not been executed on and there are no orders to garnish wages either in the state of California or in the state of Florida.
ABRAMS: Because in theory he‘s not making any money, so if he‘s
GALANTER: No, no that‘s -
ABRAMS: Let me just be clear - I want to understand what you‘re saying. You‘re saying that if O.J. Simpson is making money, at these events, which sounds like you‘re saying he is - he‘s not obligated to pay off the civil judgment that he owes?
GALANTER: No, what I‘m saying is there is no legal obligation when O.J. Simpson earns a wage that that money be turned over to either the Brown family or the Goldman family.
As you know, Florida is a right to work state because O.J. has two minor children he is the head of a household, he is entitled to earn money to put a roof over their head, food in their mouths, put the kids through school.
ABRAMS: Right. But doesn‘t he also have -
GALANTER: He‘s got no - Dan, hold on one second. He‘s got nothing else to sell other than his celebrity stature and the real issue is why would he get invited to these events and why would people pay his expenses to go unless people weren‘t lining up to get these autographs?
ABRAMS: Look, I‘m not - look -
GALANTER: Look, these shows -
ABRAMS: Look, I‘m not going to somehow explain; I‘m not going to
explain why these nut jobs line up to go get O.J.‘s autograph for money. I
mean I -
GALANTER: But Dan, that‘s your opinion.
ABRAMS: It‘s completely my opinion. Completely my opinion.
GALANTER: A lot of people love the fact that he‘s a Hall of Famer, he‘s one of the greatest football players to ever live. They‘re honored to take their picture with him, and they‘re honored to get his signature. Now whether you agree with it or you don‘t agree with it isn‘t the issue.
A lot of the American public want to pay for his autograph.
ABRAMS: Right, a very small minority and I would argue some of them probably mentally challenged are the ones who are still paying to get O.J.
Simpson‘s autograph but it‘s -
GALANTER: Dan tell us how you really feel.
ABRAMS: The Goldman family I‘m sure is going to be very interested to hear that the lawyer for O.J. Simpson is saying that the money that he may make at these events doesn‘t necessarily go to the family.
I‘m sure that their lawyer will be interested to hear that.
GALANTER: What I said was there is no legal requirement that it go to the family.
ABRAMS: All right. Let me look back - I‘m not going to drag Carl into this to yell when I have this discussion once every little bit. Let me take a look back with Carl Douglas.
Carl, all right, ten years ago the verdict today. Any regrets for you looking back on it?
CARL DOUGLAS, SIMPSON “DREAM TEAM” ATTORNEY: Oh, absolutely not, Dan.
I was a lawyer working on a staff hired to do a job.
I‘m proud that the job that I did, I‘m glad that it‘s over and I‘ve moved on with my life.
ABRAMS: As a - as a sort of moral matter, though, Carl, any - do you have any hesitance - and people ask this in cases all the time of criminal defense attorneys. Any reluctance about the fact that O.J. Simpson is walking free in part because of your work?
DOUGLAS: Not at all, Dan, I was simply assigned a task that I was duty-bound as a lawyer to follow through. It was my obligation to do my job as well as I could; it was the jurors‘ obligation to do their job as well as they could, and I can‘t be faulted one ounce for simply doing a job that I was assigned to do.
The results were something left for somebody else.
ABRAMS: Right. Do you talk to O.J. still Carl?
DOUGLAS: In fact, Dan, I spoke with him oh I think Friday and I spoke with him again maybe about a month ago but I had not spoken with him for several months before that.
ABRAMS: And are you still representing him in any context?
DOUGLAS: Well, I take the position that once you are my client you are always my client although we are not working on anything right now - that‘s ongoing - but certainly I feel an abiding belief in him and I still am very protective of him as well.
ABRAMS: Really? I mean can you - are you willing to say - do you believe in his innocence?
You‘re not willing to go that far?
DOUGLAS: I‘ve always said - no, no, no. I‘ve always said not only was he not guilty, but I am of the belief that he did not commit the crimes for which he was charged and I will probably go to my grave holding on to that belief.
ABRAMS: All right. Carl Douglas remains one of the few and the proud, apparently, on that belief but as Yale pointed out earlier it is - each is entitled to his own opinion and Carl Douglas is a good guy and a good lawyer.
So is Yale. As is Yale. Good to see you both. Thanks for coming back on the program.
GALANTER: Thanks, Dan.
DOUGLAS: Thank you, Dan.
ABRAMS: Coming up some people who may look at all this a little bit differently. Probably look at it more the way that I look at it. Denise Brown, Fred and Kim Goldman, the family of Ron and Nicole join us in a moment.
And this little girl left on the street in the middle of the night with no shoes. Her mother‘s boyfriend left her there allegedly. Now he reportedly has told the police that he killed the mother.
And our continuing series “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose,” our effort to find missing sex offenders before they strike again.
Our state-by-state search resumes this week in Arkansas. Please help authorities locate Terrance Bryant, convicted of lewd and lascivious act with a child. Thirty-six, 5‘11”, 175 hasn‘t registered with the authorities in Arkansas.
If you‘ve got any information on his whereabouts that‘s the number, 501-682-2222. We‘re back in a moment.
ABRAMS: Coming up on this, the 10th anniversary of the O.J. Simpson verdict, we will talk to the families of the victims.
COLETTE CASSIDY, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, everyone, I‘m Colette Cassidy. Here‘s what‘s happening:
A Texas grand jury has indicted former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on a new charge of money laundering. A different Texas grand jury indicted DeLay last week on a charge of conspiring to get around the state ban on corporate campaign contributions by funneling the money to state candidates. That forced DeLay to temporarily step down as majority leader.
And a tour boat that flipped over in Lake George in upstate New York has been brought back to the surface. It will be taken out of the water and examined now. Investigators say, it‘s unclear why the boat capsized yesterday, killing 20 of the 47 elderly passengers on board. The Ethan Allen sank in 70-feet of water. Authorities say, all the passengers were sitting on portable plastic seats that slid sharply to one side of the boat before if flipped over. Authorities said, the captain told them the boat was hit by waves from at least one other vessel, and turned over as he tried to steer out of those waves.
Those are your headlines. I‘m Colette Cassidy. Now, back to the ABRAMS REPORT.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRED GOLDMAN, RON GOLDMAN‘S FATHER: Last June 13, ‘94, was the worst nightmare of my life. This is the second.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Mr. Fred Goldman, Ron Goldman‘s dad, reacting to the Simpson criminal trial verdict, 10 years ago today—hard to believe.
There were better days ahead for the Goldmans and Nicole‘s family, the Browns. in February 1997, a jury in a civil proceeding found Simpson liable for Ron and Nicole‘s deaths. Simpson‘s income is supposed to go to pay a $33 million judgment in that suit.
As a practical matter, apparently what that did is help push Simpson out of Southern California to Florida. California law allows Simpson to keep his $4 million pension from his days as an NFL running back. Florida law prevents creditors from taking his home. O.J. remains a free man; the criminal trial cannot be repeated.
Joining me on what must always be a difficult day is Denise Brown, Nicole Brown Simpson‘s sister. She also chairs the Nicole Brown Charitable Foundation, which calls attention to issues surrounding family and partner violence. Fred Goldman joins us, Ron‘s father, as well as Kim Goldman, his sister.
Thanks to all of you for joining us—we appreciate it.
KIM GOLDMAN, RON GOLDMAN‘S SISTER: Thanks, Dan.
ABRAMS: All right, let me ask you first, Fred—before we talk about, you know, O.J. and this nonsense with the signing of the autographs. Let me just ask you—sort of 10 years have gone by—how has life been these last 10 years?
F. GOLDMAN: Well, I think the quickest and simplest answer is, life has been short having Ron with us. We haven‘t had the joy of having him share in everything that‘s happened. We haven‘t had him part of our daily life, and we haven‘t been able to hear his laughter and share in his dreams, and that‘s an ongoing issue.
ABRAMS: Kim, do you still get frustrated thinking about the verdict?
K. GOLDMAN: Absolutely, I get frustrated. I mean, seeing him, you know, walking the streets and waving his hands and basically snubbing the entire country in honoring the judgment against him, it‘s frustrating that he has those liberties that my brother obviously doesn‘t have, and Nicole doesn‘t have. So, of course, I get frustrated.
ABRAMS: Denise, because of the kids, do you and your family still have to deal with him.
DENISE BROWN, NICOLE BROWN SIMPSON‘S SISTER: My parents do. My mother deals with him, yes. Now that they‘re getting older, it‘s not that big of an issue anymore. But I think—oh, my God—I have to laugh when you just said that the majority of the people believe that he is not guilty. And you just had two of them on your show, and it made me laugh. It really did, because I cannot believe that an attorney or two attorneys that are supposed to be intelligent human beings would honestly believe that this guy was not guilty. I just can‘t even imagine it.
And I just want to say one more thing, that the civil suit—the monies would go to estate of Sydney and Justin, not to the Brown family.
ABRAMS: OK, that‘s a fair correction, and I thank you for that.
Let‘s talk about that for a moment. Fred, look, at this point, none of you are in it for the money. At this point, there‘s no way anyone, I should say, at this point, you don‘t expect to get it - the way I should have phrased it—any money from O.J. Simpson. But, listen, you even hear his lawyer there a few moments ago, suggesting kind of wiggle room when it comes to O.J. Simpson‘s income.
F. GOLDMAN: Well, you know what, it‘s outrageous. He has made it clear, for 10 years now, that he has no intention of honoring the judgment. He has stated it, unequivocally, over and over again. The one thing is that he continues to do is earn money, have it conveyed to him through others, and skirts the ability—or the requirement, if you would—to pay any portion of the judgment.
My problem is very simple: He‘s never ever been punished in any way, shape, or form, and the financial punishment is the only punishment that we have hope in.
ABRAMS: Yes. This is O.J. Simpson talking about the very issue that Fred is talking about:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O.J. SIMPSON, FORMER DEFENDANT: I‘ve said this so many times, I‘ve said it to Fred‘s face in hearings. If I have to work to pay them, I won‘t work. It‘s that simple. So I‘ll just play golf every day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Kim, were you surprised to see O.J. Simpson signing these autographs?
K. GOLDMAN: No, it happens often. I wasn‘t sure why this one was put
in the newspapers. Maybe it was because it was a horror comic book
convention, which I thought was appropriate. But it happens often. We get
you know, I was called to my office a couple months ago about an event that he was doing down in Florida that we successfully stopped from happening.
So what‘s frustrating for us is, you know, 10 years ago, he was set free, and he was so thankful for the system that was willing to give him his freedom back, but now he he‘s willing to walk around and not honor it, which I think is incredibly hypocritical. And you‘d think that you would be praising the system and bowing down to the justice system.
Instead, he‘s basically saying, “I don‘t care about it. I don‘t care what you have to say to me, I‘m not going to hold myself accountable to it, and everybody else can just watch me play golf.”
ABRAMS: Denise, are you afraid that, as time passes—you know, in that package, we saw a number of younger people who were there paying, again paying, for O.J. Simpson‘s autograph. Are you concerned that as time passes, some people who weren‘t around during the trial, didn‘t get to watch the trial, et cetera, are going to forget the details?
BROWN: Well, I think it‘s up to Fred, Kim, and myself and everyone else out there, especially the media, as well, that we have the opportunity to keep Ron and Nicole‘s memory alive; that we can keep saying, you know, he murdered two people, and that he is walking free. And I think that it‘s up to us to make people aware, to make these youngsters aware, these young people aware.
I think it‘s in the history books now. It‘s in the a lot of the forensic classes. It‘s all over the school. So I‘m just hoping that there‘s intelligent people out there, and we keep fighting for those two that lost their lives, yes. I just hope that they‘re never forgotten ever. And, I think, that has to do with a lot of the work that we‘re doing, as well, because Nicole‘s houses are going to be popping up all over the place, and Nicole‘s name will be remembered.
Kim is doing great work on behalf of Ron and children, and his name will be remembered, and that‘s our job, our duty for them.
ABRAMS: And I know, Kim, one of the hardest parts for you, even 10 years later, is the idea that Ron is not here to see your own children.
K. GOLDMAN: I have a two-year-old, and it breaks my heart that the only way that Sammy (ph) knows his uncle is by visiting him at the gravesite or by a picture that I have on the wall - it‘s heartbreaking.
ABRAMS: All right. Fred and Kim and Denise, thank you all for taking the time. I know this is a tough day. It‘s quote—I hate to use the word “anniversary.” I couldn‘t think of another word. But anyway, the 10-year date from the O.J. Simpson verdict.
Thank you all for taking the time—good look to all of you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Thank you.
ABRAMS: Let me also make something clear before we go on to this story, real quick. I have people writing in already or suggesting that I said that you‘re mentally challenged if you think O.J. Simpson didn‘t do It. I‘m convinced of it—I was saying that the people who are lining up to get his autographs and pay for it. That‘s what I was talking about.
Coming up, a you 4-year-old girl found wandering the streets of New York in the middle of the night, apparently dropped off by her mother‘s boyfriend. Tonight, that man is under arrest, reportedly confessing to murder.
And later, the O.J. Simpson case and why I say it should not define our legal system. Write ABRAMSREPORT@MSNBC.COM, please include your name and where you‘re writing from. I‘ll respond at the end of the show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does your mommy look like?
VALERIE LOZADA, ABANDONED CHILD: She looks like a princess.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Valerie Lozada, abandoned on the streets of New York, won over the hearts of just about everybody listening, telling us about her family, focusing mostly on her mother, Monica Lozada-Rivaineira.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does mommy work?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Do you know what mommy does when she goes to work?
LOZADA: She packs all her stuff in her pink (ph), in her book bag.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know what kind of job she does? Do you know what kind of work mommy does?
LOZADA: She cooks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Now, NYPD detectives are searching a Pennsylvania landfill for her mother‘s body, after the woman‘s boyfriend, Cesar Ascarrunz, allegedly confessed to killing her, strangling her and slitting her throat, stuffing her body into a trash bag, leaving it in the house for two days, and dumping the bagged corpse in a pile of garbage on a street corner in Queens. He was arraigned this weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOUIS CROCE, CHIEF OF QUEENS DETECTIVES, NYPD: Cesar Ascarrunz has been arrested and charged with murder in the second degree, tampering with evidence, reckless endangerment, endangering the welfare of a minor, and abandonment of a child in the death of Monica Lozada.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Ascarrunz is being held without bail and faces 25 years to life, if convicted.
Joining me now is Glenn Schuck, the news director for Metro Network‘s Radio City in New York City.
Thanks a lot for taking the time. All right, so what is the status here? This guy, according to the police, has confessed, and now, they‘re searching the area where he says he left the body, or where they would have taken the body from a particular area?
GLENN SCHUCK, METRO NETWORK NEWS : Well, Dan, they‘re searching the area where they say, the suspect, Mr. Ascarrunz, made cell phone calls from, which is the area of Forest Park and Queens, not far from the area along Shea Stadium and the Grand Central Parkway. This is a 530-acre park. Some of it is very heavily wooded. Cops have been in is there for three days now, dozens of police officers by air, on horseback. A very a tough situation in there, though. There‘s some parts of that park that are very difficult to get around, but they went there first because, according to Police Commissioner Kelly, Mr. Ascarrunz, the suspect, made some cell phone calls within the time that he says that he disposed of Monica Lozada‘s body.
ABRAMS: Do you know how little Valerie is doing?
SCHUCK: She is doing well, according to city officials. What‘s happening now, though, is that she still has not been told of her mother‘s death. There are officials with the city Administrative Services who are talking with her; they are bringing in counselors for her, as well. And they still haven‘t told her. They haven‘t said exactly when they are going to tell her that her mother is gone—they‘re saying, probably later this week. But, again, the precious 4-year-old that you‘re probably seeing on television in the last couple of days, she is still completely unaware, at this point, Dan, that her mother is gone.
ABRAMS: And here‘s how she described what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOZADA: I called out (ph), when I was sleeping, he took me in the car, and he took me outside with no shoes. So I was crying. And some people find me, and they give me sweater and everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: And, Glenn, she‘s in a foster home, right?
SCHUCK: Yes, in protective services, right, Dan, she is. She‘s doing well, again, supposedly. If I could touch briefly on something, in terms of what you said with the police presence, Police Commissioner Kelly - I‘m sure many people know about Ray Kelly—he‘s an ex-Marine, he has seen a lot in his life. And I talked to him this morning, and he said, you know, even the hardest officers who have seen everything in New York City, including himself, are really touched by this story, and they are having a hard time with the search, and it‘s affected them personally.
ABRAMS: Every time I hear her speaking, it just, literally, I get chills up my spine.
ABRAMS: All right, Glenn, thanks a lot—appreciate it.
Coming up, the O.J. Simpson trial, and why too many still believe it represents American justice, this on the 10-year anniversary of the verdict. My closing argument.
And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose.” Our effort to find missing sex offenders before they strike again. This week, search Arkansas: Mitchell Williams -- 50, 5‘8”, 150 --hasn‘t registered with authorities. Level-three sex offender, convicted of fondling a child. If you have any information on his whereabouts, please call the number, 501-682-2222.
ABRAMS: My “Closing Argument:” It is hard to believe that 10 years ago today, a jury found O.J. not guilty. It is even harder to believe, or for that matter, to accept that 10 years later, the stain from that case is still clearly visible in courtrooms around America, as judges and lawyers still try with little success to wash it out by rubbing.
For too many, that case still defines our legal system. That‘s too bad. It was the legal equivalent of a perfect storm. The conditions pristine, ideal for the storm. An enormously popular and well-known African American athlete, seen by almost 100 million on a slow-speed chase; eventually accused of killing his gorgeous wife, ex-wife; blood evidence everywhere, even a bloody glove found in his home. Police officers accused of racism and corruption, of planting evidence, at a time when many African Americans had lost faith in the police. A flamboyant defense team fueled the storm with, what I believe was, rhetoric, invective, and, on Johnnie Cochran‘s part, legal acumen that sent the prosecution, and even the judge, running for cover.
But the eye would not have hit without the live television coverage. I was in the courtroom, but most remember where they watched it. In the end, I believe, the jury got snookered, and the system, the prosecution, and the media got unfairly blamed. Sure, the defense exposed weaknesses in the system; the prosecutors were outgunned; and the media coverage, frighteningly voracious.
But it was a legal storm that has not, and I believe, will not be repeated.
The vast majority of guilty defendants, even celebrities, get convicted. In just about every other case, I found a camera has no effect on the trial. And yet, unfortunately, many seem to equate the case with American justice. While many in the legal community equate a camera in the courtroom with a Simpson like circus.
It is time to get past it, to realize the case was an aberration. It does not reflect the legal system, prosecutors, or media coverage of trials. Kato Kaelin can move on to host a reality show about the law; the rest of us should think about a reality check when it comes to the legal system.
ABRAMS: I‘ve had my say, now it is time for your rebuttal:
On Friday, “New York Times” reporter Judy Miller was finally released from jail after spending 85 days behind bars for contempt of court. She wouldn‘t give up her source in the investigation of who outed CIA operative Valerie Plame. She finally testified to a grand jury after saying that her source, Vice President Cheney‘s chief of staff, Louis “Scooter” Libby, called to tell her it was OK. I interviewed Judy Miller‘s attorney, my father, Floyd Abrams, about what happened to lead her to testify now.
Terry Hart, from Glen Burnie, Maryland: “It‘s obvious why Ms. Miller didn‘t go back to Mr. Libby to ask such a simple question regarding her promise to keep a secret. She wanted to go to jail. She wanted to keep herself in the news. She wanted to make herself look brave and principled to revive a career and plant the seeds for a book deal.”
David Wolfe from Tempe, Arizona: “Miller just wants to publish a book. That‘s why she went to jail in the first place. Sorry, your dad can‘t see through the forest for the trees.”
Leo Coughlin in Largo, Florida writes: “Judy Miller, an experienced newspaperwoman, is steadfast in her ethics, recognizing that only her source can release her without any pressure, coercion, or importuning. Your father clearly understands that principle.”
And many of you wrote in about a passing comment made by Lucy Dalglish, the executive director of the Reporters‘ Committee for Freedom of the Press.
Kathryn Jennings: “Lucy Dalglish - quote—‘I am not an ethics expert;
I‘m a lawyer.‘ Priceless.”
Lydia Peirce-Dougherty in Tucson: “‘I‘m not an expert on ethics, I‘m a lawyer.‘ Which pretty much sums up what the public already thinks of the legal profession. Did one of us actually have to come out and say it on national television?”
Finally, J. Edling in Las Vegas on bounty hunter Dwayne “Dog” Chapman repeatedly calling me “brother,” and then joking about it with my father:
“Dog Chapman kept calling you brother, which is common in Hawaii. They call everyone brother. Your father got it.”
Well, Mr. Edling, you mean you didn‘t really think he was my brother? Thank you for the clarification. I‘ve been wondering about that all weekend.
Your E-mails: ABRAMSREPORT - one word -- @MSNBC.COM. We go through them at the end of the show.
All right, time for the first ever “Abrams Auction:” Auctioning off my press pass from the Scott Peterson trial, and from Santa Maria, my pass to the Michael Jackson case. I‘ll autograph both of them. All the money going to two very worthy charities. The money we raised from the Peterson pass will go to Habitat for Humanity, busy building houses for Katrina victims. The proceeds from the Jackson pass will go to CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocate. It is a group that makes sure abused and neglected children get representation in court. The auction is taking place on eBay. The bidding is now open. To get there, go our Web site, ABRAMSREPORT.MSNBC. com. Bid high, bid often - it‘s for a good cause. The auction ends at the end of the week.
That does it for us tonight. Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews. Thanks for watching. See you tomorrow.
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