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Public Outrage Over Trayvon Martin Shooting Continues to Grow; GOP Presidential Candidates Head to Louisiana Primary; Supreme Court to Hear Arguments on Constitutionality of Health Care Reform Law
Aired March 24, 2012 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITEFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Of course, there is a lot of public outrage over the Trayvon Martin shooting, and that continues to grow. Protesters are rallying around the country this weekend demanding justice for the death of the unarmed Florida teen.
CNN's Holly Firfer is live in Sanford, Florida where George Zimmerman shot Martin in self-defense. You saw pictures there of the Reverend Al Sharpton and a number of the protests -- that one in New York; there are other across the country.
So, Holly, what's taking place there in Sanford?
HOLLY FIRFER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically, Fredericka, the latest we've heard is from former Governor, Florida Governor Jeb Bush. He was governor in 2005 when this Stand Your Ground Bill was written into law. And that's the law that allows somebody, a civilian, to use deadly force if they feel that their life is threatened.
Now in this case where George Zimmerman has been claiming Stand Your Law -- Stand Your Ground -- he says, this is not exactly the case. This was not the intent. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH, FORMER GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: It appears to me that this law does not apply to this particular circumstance. "Stand Your Ground" means stand your ground. It doesn't mean chase after somebody who's turned their back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FIRFER: Now in response, Police Chief Bill Lee who has temporarily stepped down released a written statement on the City's website. And he gave the reason that they were using Stand Your Ground in this situation. Here's what he said. He said, quote, "Zimmerman's statement was that he had lost sight of Trayvan and was returning to his truck to meet the police officer when he says he was attacked by Trayvan." So, Fredericka, at this point, it's going to be up to investigators. They're looking into it. And also Attorney General Eric Holder is at the FBI and the Justice Department to take a look at this incident to see if this might have been racially motivated and if there could be federal charges brought against the shooter, George Zimmerman.
WHITFIELD: And, Holly, Zimmerman's attorney now is speaking out for the first time on CNN. What is he saying?
FIRFER: Yes, his attorney, Craig Sonner, told us basically that George Zimmerman is in hiding. He's told him to lay low. He's received death threats. And he says that he is concerned for the safety of him. But we asked him point blank, was this racially motivated? Was this client a racist? And he said, absolutely not. But he is concerned that should there be charges, he may not get a fair trial. Here's what he told us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRAIG SONNER, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: I hope there's a way to, to rein things in so that it doesn't become a, an issue of a racial battle. I hope, I hope that things come back so that there can be a time for justice and for healing and not for just skipping the whole judicial process and going straight to sentencing. And I'm hoping that we can all -- that, that can work together in that way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FIRFER: Now we haven't heard a lot about George Zimmerman, where he is. Even his attorney, Craig Sonner, says he doesn't know where he is. He hasn't met with him in person. They've spoken on the phone. And he says he doesn't have a lot of details right now about the case, so he couldn't really speak to that, he said. But if charges are brought, then he will look into the investigation, Fredericka, that's ongoing right now.
WHITFIELD: OK. And then earlier, just before we came to you, we saw Reverend Al Sharpton at a rally in New York. There are a number of rallies taking place across the country. What's your understanding as to how it is being organized, how it's unfolding?
FIRFER: Yes, actually, there's a rally planned here this afternoon by the New Black Panther Party down at police headquarters. We know that there's rallies happening this afternoon in Washington, D.C., Norfolk, Virginia, Charlotte, North Carolina. And Trayvon Martin's parents and family are asking everybody to get involved, to keep this in the news, to keep people talking about this until -- they want charges brought against George Zimmerman. And meanwhile, people are getting heated about this. We just found out, not too long ago, that someone has been arrested for threatening Police Chief, Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee, threatening him and his family because of this case, Fredericka. So this will be ongoing for quite some time.
WHITFIELD: All right, Holly Firfer, thanks so much, in Sanford.
Of course, it's elicited a lot of conversations, and a lot of people are speaking out and trying to do what they can to help draw attention to this investigation. Celebrities too are reacting to the Trayvon Martin controversy.
Actor Will Ferrell actually just tweeted this, saying, "Rest in peace, Trayvon Martin. For every retweet this tweet gets, $1 will be donated to the Trayvon Martin Foundation which helps counteract racism." So it has elicited a lot of conversations and comments. The Republican presidential candidates too, they're weighing in. Some are blasting President Obama for his comments on the Trayvon Martin shooting. In his first public statement on the controversy explained -- the President rather explained why the shooting hit home with him personally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon. And, you know, I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Newt Gingrich called the President's comments, quote, "disgraceful," and accused the President of dividing the country by turning the tragedy into a racial issue. Rick Santorum also weighed in on the incident during a radio interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- and then is, is again, politicizing it. This is, again, not what presidents of United States do. What the President of the United States should do is try to bring people together, not use these types of horrible and tragic individual cases to try to drive a wedge in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Santorum is the frontrunner in today's primary in Louisiana. The latest polls show him with a double-digit lead over Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Twenty delegates are up for grabs. We'll have a live report from New Orleans straight ahead.
All right, often it's the unscripted moment that gets a lot of attention on the campaign trail. You're about to see video of Senator Santorum shooting a rifle -- shooting at a rifle range as part of his campaign stop. Well, listen carefully with me to what someone in the background is saying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FEMALE VOICE: Pretend it's Obama.
MALE VOICE: Bull's eye.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So, it's not entirely clear, but you do hear a woman say, "Pretend it's Obama." Well, Santorum was quick to slam that comment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANTORUM: No, we're not pretending it's anybody. We're shooting, we're shooting pistols and, uh, you know, it's a very deplorable and terrible remark, so I'm glad I didn't hear it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: The Secret Service has confirmed it and is investigating that incident.
All right, stories making headlines around the world now.
Pope Benedict XVI is on the second day of his first official visit to Mexico. He celebrated a private mass this morning, and is scheduled to meet with Mexico's president tonight. Responding to reporters' questions about the role the church has in fighting Mexico's drug violence, the Pope said, it's the church's responsibility to unmask the evil of drug trafficking.
And we're getting a look inside the bullet-riddled apartment of a man accused of killing seven people in three separate attacks in France. Now you can see the bullet holes in Mohammed Merah's apartment. Merah was killed in a police shootout at the end of a 32-hour siege in Toulouse Thursday. Prosecutors in Paris say, he had more than 20 bullet wounds. Police have been questioning Merah's mother, brother and his brother's wife to determine whether he acted alone in the attacks, which killed three paratroopers, a rabbi and three children.
More than a year after a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Asia, an astounding discovery. A Japanese fishing boat washed away by a wall of water has been spotted off the Canadian coast. Officials say the trawler has been adrift with no one on board since last March. They say the boat appears sound, and apparently has no leaks. Canadian authorities have identified the owner, and are monitoring for possible marine pollution.
And tragedy today back in this country in Charleston, West Virginia. That's where eight people have died in a house fire. We're told that six of the victims are children. They were reportedly sleeping over after a birthday party. The fire chief says, this is the most tragic event he has seen in 26 years with the Department. No word yet on how that fire started.
All right, in Louisiana a must-win for Rick Santorum and a last stand for Newt Gingrich. We're going to take you there live for the latest on today's primary, two minutes away.
WHITFIELD: All right. Folks in Louisiana are casting their votes as we speak. But Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum is away campaigning in Pennsylvania. He's expected to win big in today's primary in Louisiana, but that still won't help him catch up to Mitt Romney in the delegate count. But could this be Santorum's last stand?
Joe Johns' joining us now from Metairie, Louisiana, outside New Orleans. So, Joe, what is the latest there? Who is spending time in that state today? JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well -- Yes. Well, I've got to tell you, Fred, when you look at the state of Louisiana, it certainly appears that Rick Santorum is going to do pretty well here. Voters going to the poll and the primary -- The latest ARG -- that's American Research Group -- poll shows Santorum with a double-digit lead in this state. It really started looking like a good fit for him I think with the conservative voters, the evangelical voters -- strong showings by those folks here in the state of Louisiana.
Newt Gingrich, the other very conservative in the race, kind of falling off a bit here in the state of Louisiana, even though it's a southern state. And Mitt Romney, really just not much traction here in the state of Louisiana even though, in fact, he's leading in the latest national poll by double digits -- actually reached the 40 percent mark, which is something of a threshold for him. But just not catching on in Louisiana, at least according to the polls we're seeing, Fred.
WHITFIELD: And so you, you had mentioned that voter turnout is kind of low, thin. I mean, is that typical for a primary season in Louisiana? Or is this an unusual year --
WHITFIELD: -- that turnout would be so low?
JOHNS: No. I -- Fully expected, by the people I've been talking with here in the state of Louisiana -- they really did not expect many surprises, and a lot of people thought Rick Santorum, frankly, was just going to do very well here. No surprises, at least so far. Plus, the weather's pretty good, so people can come out on this Saturday if they want to. We haven't seen a lot of them here. You know, could change of course by the end of the day. Don't want to predict too much.
WHITFIELD: Right. You know, it's tough to predict in these circumstances. But that's a good part of what politics is too, predicting.
JOHNS: That's right.
WHITFIELD: All right. So earlier we heard, you know, Gingrich said that he thought it was disgusting that, you know -- the -- and very divisive that the President would weigh in on the Trayvon Martin case. And then Rick Santorum said that the President is supposed to be a healer and make people come together. Why do these candidates feel like it's appropriate or why do they feel compelled to comment on the Trayvon Martin case in this way?
JOHNS: Well, yes. First I think I'd have to be remiss if I didn't say there are sort of two sets of comments.
JOHNS: There's one set of comments about the Trayvon Martin case in itself. And I think Mitt Romney sort of spoke for all of the candidates when he said it was inexplicable, can't understand it; the authorities are doing the right thing trying to get the bottom of it. And so you have that set of comments about the case itself. But things sort of shifted when the President of the United States weighed in and started talking about it. That's when you started hearing reactions from Santorum and Newt Gingrich, essentially suggesting that the President was politicizing the case.
Now, if you sort of take that notion and overlay it here in the State of Louisiana, well, the politics of Louisiana, which is where the primary is right now, are such that the people you talk to -- conservatives and evangelicals -- will tell you the one mantra they have -- in fact, I heard a voter say it just a few minutes ago, is "Anybody but Obama."
So, if a candidate is talking about the President -- he's a Republican trying to get elected in this state -- if he's going to be complimentary of the President, it might not get him too much. So it's not that surprising to see them being critical of the President in a political year.
WHITFIELD: Well, well, that's interesting. Yes, and you talk about complimenting the President, but is anyone even saying on this day, there in Louisiana about, you know, Rick Santorum's comments where he talked about not wanting to vote for Mitt Romney if he were the nominee, instead being more inclined to side with -- what some people interpret it as saying -- Obama?
JOHNS: Yes, yes, that's gotten a lot of traction here in the state of Louisiana and elsewhere. Conservative bloggers writing about it. Rick Santorum really got so much criticism because, again, people here -- if you look at the exit polls from so many primaries, again and again, and you see one thing -- that is, that people want to elect someone -- the conservatives do --
JOHNS: -- who can beat the President in an election.
JOHNS: So, yes, so he really got a lot of criticism over that.
JOHNS: And he actually had to step back those remarks as you know --
JOHNS: -- to try to make it clear, you know --
WHITFIELD: To try to clean that up a little bit.
JOHNS: -- he's a guy who's going to vote against President Obama --
WHITFIELD: OK, Joe.
JOHNS: -- (INAUDIBLE) general elections.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, from Metairie.
JOHNS: You bet.
WHITFIELD: Of course we'll be seeing you throughout the afternoon, into the evening, because we'll of course be looking for those results from today's primary in Louisiana.
JOHNS: You bet.
WHITFIELD: And of course we'll look at politics all the way around tomorrow at 4:00 o'clock, Eastern Time. We're going to dedicate an entire hour to it. All right. So on this two-year anniversary of President Obama's health care overhaul, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether the sweeping changes are constitutional. A preview on that in three minutes.
WHITFIELD: All right. On the two-year anniversary of President Obama signing his Affordable Health Care Act into law, the measure will be challenged before the U.S. Supreme Court. On Monday, the justices will hear arguments on whether parts of the law are unconstitutional. Kate Bolduan has a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: March 23rd, 2010, President Obama signs into law this signature achievement of his presidency, the Affordable Care Act -- the landmark and controversial health care overhaul.
OBAMA: After all the votes have been tallied, health insurance reform becomes law in the United States of America.
BOLDUAN: Within hours, states across the country filed lawsuits challenging the law.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is about liberty. It's not just bout health care.
BOLDUAN: Led by Florida, 26 states argue the law's central provision is unconstitutional. The-so-called individual mandate -- it requires almost every American to purchase health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty. Opponents say the Constitution's Commerce Clause does not give Congress the power to force individuals to purchase a commercial product like health insurance they may not need or want. Paul Clement is arguing on behalf of the states before the Supreme Court.
PAUL CLEMENT, FORMER BUSH SOLICITOR GENERAL: These issues are really central to whether the federal government can really regulate anything it wants to.
BOLDUAN: The government defends the sweeping reforms, arguing medical care is not a choice; that every American will need health care at some point in their lives. They also say that tens of millions of uninsured Americans are costing everyone else more -- $43 billion in uncompensated costs in 2008 alone, according to government figures.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No one is saying that there's a right to freeload off one's neighbor when you decide not to choose health insurance.
BOLDUAN: The stakes only grow larger with the Supreme Court taking the case just months before an election.
MITT ROMNEY, CANDIDATE FOR REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION: If I'm President, we're getting rid of Obama Care and returning to freedom.
BOLDUAN: And the election year blockbuster has again turned the spotlight on the justices themselves. As with the Bush v. Gore case in 2000, will the justices be criticized for letting politics creep into the courtroom?
MALE VOICE: While the health care cases have huge political overtones obviously, I think the justices are probably going to put them to the side. The legal stakes are so high that I don't think they'll pay attention that much, if at all, to the fact that it's occurring in election cycle. They've just got to get the case right.
BOLDUAN: What we're talking about here is four separate issues being argued for six hours over three days. That rarely happens, and shows just how important this case is. But even after these marathon public sessions, we still won't know the final outcome for likely three months. Kate Bolduan, CNN, at the Supreme Court.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And our legal guides are standing by to help us go through the Supreme Court arguments, the timeline, starting Monday. As we go live to break, however, I want to show you some live pictures of a rally in Washington D.C., pretty sizeable, right there in the shadow of the Capitol building. There protesters are demanding the repeal of that health care reform law ahead of the U.S. Supreme Court argument. Much more after this.
WHITFIELD: All right. On a rainy day in the nation's capitol, perhaps a heated prelude to the legal arguments soon to be played out right behind that U.S. Capitol building at the U.S. Supreme Court. So before the break, we spelled out the parts of the Federal Health Care Law about to be challenged before the Supreme Court, come Monday.
Let's continue now with our legal guides, Avery Friedman, a civil rights attorney and law professor in Cleveland. Good to see you. And Richard Herman, a New York --
AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Hi, Fredericka.
WHITFIELD: -- criminal defense attorney and law professor joining us from Las Vegas. Good to see you as well. All right, gentlemen. RICHARD HERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Hi, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Avery, you first. You know, before, you know, arguments over the mandate, all that stuff even play out, first the justices have to actually decide whether they have the authority to decide this case. Explain.
FRIEDMAN: That's, that's exactly right. The first of the three days of argument will be whether or not an 18th century law bars courts from having jurisdiction in a claim like this. It's one of four arguments, Fredericka. But the real big deal in this -- and I'm so excited about these arguments --
WHITFIELD: 'Cause you're a constitutional law professor.
FRIEDMAN: -- on Tuesday we're going to get --
FRIEDMAN: Well, I mean, that's what I do, yes. But that's the big day on, that will deal with the big issue. And that is, whether or not this laundry list of powers given to the Congress by our founders under Article I, Section 8, the Commerce Clause, can properly hold this law which requires an individual mandate, individual responsibility, the power to hold the law constitutional. And that's where this case is really going to turn. The first question you asked, Fredericka, is very legitimate. But the focus will be on Tuesday.
WHITFIELD: OK. And that's where we talk about that individual mandate. And so, Richard, you know, you say, if it indeed becomes the case, or the argument is successful that this tax penalty comes with this individual mandate, then that really could mean the demise of the entire health care provision. Yes?
HERMAN: It could be, Fred. And you know, with a 5-4 Republican majority in the Supreme Court, you would think that this is a shoe-in for this Health Care reform to get blown away. But that's not going to be the case. And I would be shocked if the Supreme Court turns down this health care.
You know, with Roberts and Kennedy being the swing votes here -- and if we look at some of the earlier decisions that they've made, and we look recently to the D.C. Court of Appeals which upheld a Sixth Circuit case addressing health care -- now, these Supremes look very seriously at the D.C. Court of Appeals -- I believe they're going to uphold this legislation. I don't think they're going to believe it's an improper grant of Congressional power. And I don't think the Supremes -- they have not, since FDR, got themselves involved in cases like, like this one.
FRIEDMAN: That's the point.
HERMAN: I believe they're going to send it -- they're going to say, Congress, Congress should be the ones --
FRIEDMAN: That's the point.
HERMAN: -- to remedy this statute.
WHITFIELD: And so, Richard, what you're reminding us of is this D.C. Appellate Court Judge Silberman who stated, that quote, "The right to be free from federal regulation is not absolute and yields to the imperative that congress be free to forge national solutions to national problems." And if the national problem is not enough people have access to affordable care, isn't that at the root of what this Affordable Care Act was all about? And might that also not only be reargued but kind of substantiated too, that it's working?
HERMAN: Exactly, Fred. And let's, let's step back for a second. When President Obama ran for office, the bedrock of his entire campaign was, I'm going to put in a healthcare plan. And he won by a resounding victory.
FRIEDMAN: Well, he put in healthcare. Here it is. It's a good political --
HERMAN: Well, it's a good thing, Fred, it's a political argument.
WHITFIELD: All right, Avery.
FRIEDMAN: That's a political argument. I mean, to me, where the focus should be is we look at the origin, the genesis of the individual mandate and essentially universal healthcare, it actually originated with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.
And people like Newt Gingrich and others when it came out thought it was a great idea. All of a sudden now that Obamacare, as they call it, is the law, all of a sudden they're against it.
Those are political issues. But in terms of the constitutionality, this rises or falls, Fredricka, on the commerce clause and that's where the court is going to focus in, that's why Tuesday of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday is the real big day that we want to watch. We want to see what goes on.
WHITFIELD: Of course, we're going to see you again in 20 minutes, guys. We've got a lot of other cases including this pretty extraordinary case out of California.
We're talking about a woman who was raped by her husband. He actually was convicted, served time and now she's ordered to pay alimony because she was the breadwinner of the family. So you're all going to help us understand how the law supports that and how she is also trying to play a role in redrafting a new bill. All that straight ahead.
WHITFIELD: Now look at your top stories. Former Florida Governor Jeb Brush is speaking out about the death of Trayvon Martin. Neighborhood Watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot and killed the unarmed 17-year- old claiming self-defense. The incident has raised new questions about the state's self-defense law called Stand Your Ground. Well, Jeb Bush signed the measure into law back in 2005.
JEB BUSH: It appears to me that this law does not apply to this particular circumstance. Stand your ground means stand your ground, it doesn't mean chase after somebody who's turned their back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Sanford, Florida Police Chief Bill Lee has posted a statement on the city's website explaining his department not to arrest Zimmerman. He says, quote, Zimmerman's statement was that he had lost sight of Trayvon and was returning to his truck to meet the police officer when he says he was attacked by Trayvon, end quote.
Tragedy today in Charleston, West Virginia. That's where eight people have died in a house fire. We're told that six of the victims are children. They were reportedly sleeping over after a birthday party.
The fire chief says this is the most tragic event he has seen in 26 years at the department. No word yet on how that fire started.
The U.S. staff sergeant accused of going on a shooting rampage in Afghanistan could be sentenced to death. Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales how faces 17 counts of murder. He's accused of killing Afghan civilians in a remote village. Bales also faces six counts of attempted murder and two assault charge.
Actress Nicollette Sheridan sued Desperate Housewives created Mark Cherry but her wrongful termination lawsuit, well, didn't go the way that she had hoped. Our legal guys will be weighing in on that next.
But before we let you go to a break, in this shifting job market, here's some advice for baby boomers. Learn to reinvent yourself. Senior business correspondent Christine Romans has today's smart is the new rich.
CHRISTINE ROMANS: Green shoots, have you heard this phrase? Imagine the fourth floor after a wildfire. Eventually those little seeds start to sprout again. That's what's happening in the American economy.
And as the sprouts in the economy take foot, it's up to you to reinvent yourself for the new growth ahead. We're talking reinvention this morning with someone who many of you probably have started your mornings with, I certainly did.
Jane Pauley is an award-winning journalist who's anchored NBC Today Show for 13 years. She's now the host of AARP series, Your Life Calling.
You profile people, Jane, so nice to meet you, people who are reinventing themselves. Is there a common denominator, a personality trait that you need to hold onto to really try to reinvent?
JANE PAULEY: Well, the good news is is that there is, the bad news is, I have none of those traits. And the traits that I would look for are volunteering.
People with a history of volunteering find reinvention easier. People who are eager to learn new things, it may not be a degree, but learning new things. And people who have hobbies and outside interests tend to find reinvention more easy.
And as I said, I'm not one of those -- any of those categories.
ROMANS: So many people are afraid of reinvention, especially have been working towards something for 20 years and now you think here I'm at the peak and the world is changing around you.
PAULEY: Well, you know, whether it opportunity or necessity because for some people they've reached a point in their career where it just feels like, you know, get me out of here, you know, I've gone as far as I can go, I'm trapped now what? And/or if it's, you know, you've got a pink slip.
Either way, you're looking at a blank page. It's like the cursor with blink, blink, blink, with no ideas.
I subscribe to the test and learn philosophy. I have all the books, the five-point plans, the ten-point plants, but trial and error, exposing yourself to possibilities to ideas that you would never have had yet and frankly for some people what comes out the other side after a period of time, one, two, in my case it was really three years before I got something kind of going again and that's fairly typical.
That think on the other side that you hadn't thought of yet is the right one.
ROMANS: Thank you, Jane. For Smart is the New Rich, I'm Christine Romans.
WHITFIELD: All right. In California a man rapes his wife, goes to prison and then upon release will receive alimony from her. The ex- wife wants this law changed.
Our legal guys are back Avery Friedman in Cleveland, Richard Herman in Las Vegas. Okay, gentlemen. This is a pretty bizarre case is it not? It seems unusual.
Richard, you first. We're talking about this couple Sean and Crystal Harris. Now they were married, but she was able to win the backing of the court that her husband raped her and he served time. And because she was the breadwinner, however, and the way the law states she has to financially help support him once he's out. Is that about right?
RICHARD HERMAN: Well, that's about right. We have our UC Davis paralegals working on this one, Fred. Listen, he was entitled to receive alimony and the award of alimony because she as basically the breadwinner in the family and they were married for several.
So the alimony structure was supposed to be $3,000 a month in alimony, but because of the domestic abuse and the convictions, the judge reduced that to $1,000. Now that family court judge could have reduced it to zero.
They have the discretion to do that. But they reduced it from $3,000 to $1,000 and they directed her to pay $47,000 in legal fees for this husband who attacked her brutally --
WHITFIELD: Is it the law --
HERMAN: -- and got convicted.
WHITFIELD: -- that precludes that judge from reducing it to zero? Is it such the way it's stated that simply by virtue of the fact that she made most of the money she has to pay him something and a reduction is all he could do? Avery:
FRIEDMAN: Well, I mean I think that's the general rule, Fredricka. But in California and in many states, if one spouse is convicted of murdering another spouse then there's no alimony, which frankly I'm not even sure makes sense.
What needed to be done in California and what will happen is that Crystal will take her case. She has gone to the legislature in Sacramento and the law will be expanded to prohibit alimony if you're victim of sexual assault or rape. And that's justice, and that's what needs to be done in most states.
It does not exist that way. You've got to take that discretion away from the family court judges, Fredricka, in order to avoid this kind of terrible result.
WHITFIELD: And so the effort that this young lady is trying to make here, Richard, is that there would be a new drafting of the law, a new bill that she's trying to work on so that no one would be put in the same situation that she is being put in.
What are the chances of any success on that?
HERMAN: See, I disagree with Avery. I don't think this law is going to be passed. As crazy --
FRIEDMAN: What? --
HERMAN: -- as it sounds, and look, let's face it she was brutally attacked by this guy and now she's going to have to pay him alimony. I mean, it sounds ridiculous but I don't believe there are family court; there are matrimonial divisions in bar associations that do not believe this law should be in place.
I don't think it's going to get past.
WHITFIELD: All right, all right, let's move on to another case in California too, very different tone here. We're talking about Nicollette Sheridan case. She was suing the creator of the show, Desperate Housewives.
She said she was unjustly removed from that job. But now the jury in some part did kind of side with her argument but apparently they were split, they were deadlocked. So the judge said mistrial.
Avery, did the judge give up too soon? Should the jury have had a little bit more time to work it out?
FRIEDMAN: Judge Elizabeth White did it exactly right. From the beginning of deliberations, the deliberations, the jury kept going back saying we can't come to a result. You need nine jurors, and she got eight. Nicollette got eight.
So it's got to go back. And you know what, I think what was really intriguing here was Eva Longoria and Felicity Huffman were supposed to testify for he defense.
FRIEDMAN: They never appeared. And so the real question is are you going to see a little bit of star power the case time around if the case doesn't settle?
WHITFIELD: Oh, so do you believe, Richard, that there will be another attempt to get this back in court?
HERMAN: I think at this point because of the 8-4 polling of the jury, I think there's probably going to be a settlement here, Freda, a confidential settlement. But if it does go, let's face it, 8-4 in favor of Nicollette Sheridan, I mean, the jury did not buy the defense.
The jury did not like the defense witnesses, they didn't trust their testimony, there was nothing to corroborate it. They thought it was too scripted. And when jurors get a sense of that, this is the type of result you get.
WHITFIELD: Maybe not the settlement she that she had been hoping for. Remind me again, how much was she seeking?
FRIEDMAN: Like $6 million.
HERMAN: It just made no sense.
WHITFIELD: I remember there was a six in there and millions -- millions and millions.
FRIEDMAN: We'll never know.
HERMAN: Millions and millions.
WHITFIELD: Okay. All right. Thanks so much, Richard, Avery, appreciate it. Good to see you guys.
And, oh, you know, what remember, this is a case that we talked about last week actually, the polo tycoon who adopted his girlfriend allegedly to protect his fortune.
Well, of course, you guys know, the case closed. A jury found John Goodman guilty of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide. FREIDMAN: No surprise.
WHITFIELD: No surprise there. I know you all called it for a crash that killed 23-year-old Scott Wilson more than two years ago. What are you thinking?
FRIEDMAN: A real 20 yeas in prison this guy, a real 20 years he's facing.
WHITFIELD: So he could be given up to, yes, either 20 or maybe even the maximum of 30 years in prison when he is sentenced and that will be April 30th. I'm sure we'll be talking about that.
All right, thanks so much gentlemen, good to see you. See you next time.
All right. The tragic death of a Florida teen has sparked outrage over a state law. We'll tell you what that law was all about, how it came about, how it is expected to work and what kind of reaction or movement there might be for a possible repealing of that law after the break.
WHITFIELD: We've been talking about the tragic shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. Police have not arrested neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman because he said he was defending himself.
Florida's Stand Your Ground Law says a person can use deadly force if he's threatened and in public places. Former representative and Florida State Senator Dan Gelber joins us now from Miami. Good to see you.
So back in 2005, as a lawmaker, you voted against stand your ground. You said back then you were worried the law would have negative consequences. Is the death of Trayvon Martin exactly the kind of case you that you feared would happen?
DAN GELBER: Well, yeah. Prior to 2005, we had a perfectly good self- defense law. And there were no victims or people who claimed they had been treated unfairly by that law. So in 2005, Governor Bush signed into law a bill that essentially took out of the law any requirement that a person in broad daylight outside of their home, as this case suggests has to deescalate a situation or walk away if you can.
WHITFIELD: So what precipitated this law then if you said everything and to be fine and then this new law came into place, what was the impetus for it?
GELBER: Well, I think it was really the NRA who has really won every major battle in Florida wanted essentially -- does these fringe issues where they really don't have anything to do with a real victim.
And we asked every proponent of the law just give us that single person who was unfairly prosecuted, unfairly convicted or acquitted who shouldn't have been. And nobody could point to a single person in the state who fell into this category.
WHITFIELD: So is it your view this is a shoot first law? Because I heard those words from Urban League's Marc Morial who said this a shoot first law and ask questions later. And in this case he and others are exemplifying not enough questions are asked.
GELBER: Well, listen, I don't want to throw red meat into something that's not fair. I don't think people do stupid or malicious things because of this law. But people that do stupid and malicious things have a defense they should not be entitled to because of this law.
Mr. Zimmerman is going to have the ability to muddy up the waters in this because of this law and he shouldn't have. He clearly did something wrong, he clearly -- if that young man's life means anything it means that justice has to be done here. But he's going to be able to have a defense in this case, or at least start one, apparently the detectives initially believed he had one because of this law.
WHITFIELD: So now that former Governor Jeb bush has weighed in and said this was not the intent of the law. It didn't appear based on all the public accounts, eyewitness accounts that George Zimmerman was being pursued by Trayvon Martin, but instead it was the other way around and that this law may have been misused in this case, do you believe that is impetus enough for a real movement to try to repeal this law, and if so, what will it take?
GELBER: Well, I think the stand your ground part of the law has to be repealed. We didn't need that law, it was unnecessary. It was a solution in search of a problem. Obviously this case and others, by the way, it's been used 100 times in Florida since 2005.
I think the legislature, they're in session next week on a special session for a (inaudible) and they ought to just stay there an extra day and repeal it. It made no sense to pass it and it is giving defendants in cases a defense they should not be entitled to.
And it devalues life. Because the truth is, you ought to be able to -- you should be obliged to deescalate a dangerous situation. Deadly force shouldn't be your first resort and it is allowed to be under this law.
WHITFIELD: Dan Gelber, thank you so much for your time. Former Representative and former State Senator coming to us from Miami. I appreciate your time.
All right, perhaps you're looking for ways to save on your next car. The top deals that you don't want to miss coming up at 2:00 Eastern time.
WHITFIELD: All right. Well, hopefully it's feeling like a nice, sunny spring day where you are because there's some severe weather coming in. Other places meteorologist Reynolds Wolf is with us now.
REYNOLDS WOLF: How right you are. You know, it looks great here in Atlanta for the time being but parts of the state of Georgia, other parts of the southeast weather's going to be kind of rough.
Even along parts of the Eastern seaboard we're seeing some scattered showers. In parts of Eastern great lakes, back towards Philadelphia, even into Washington, D.C., but in parts of Georgia and southward into the Carolinas, even Florida, we see a couple of severe thunderstorm watches that are now in effect until the early evening hours.
Now what we're seeing to the west is something different. Rain in the valleys, up in the mountains and snowfall. But across the nation's midsection a beautiful day in Dallas up to Kansas City where highs are going to be in the 70 and 80s, 67 in Chicago, 74 your high in Atlanta and back to L.A. and San Francisco, 50s and 60s.
Fred, back to you.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much.
WOLF: You bet.
WHITFIELD: All right. Stay with CNN throughout the afternoon, 3:00 Eastern time, hot travel gadgets to help you plan your next vacation. And at 4:00 Eastern time making it your job to surf the web and then bring home big bucks. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. I'll be back in one hour. "YOUR MONEY" starts right now.