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Victim Treated as Criminal?
Aired April 17, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: Here we go.
Get this: raped by a predator then caged by the legal system. That`s how many see the jailing of a 17-year-old rape victim in California. How and why does this happen?
And you`ve heard the phrase sober as a judge, but witnesses say this judge is addicted to pills, buying them even from defendants and then having sex with them in his chambers.
Let`s get started.
PINSKY: Tonight, a teenage rape victim is treated like a criminal, herself. A judge ordered a 17-year-old girl to spend 24 days behind bars and made her appear in court, get this, in a cage -- all because she didn`t show up for two hearings regarding her own rape.
She didn`t show up, prosecutors were forced to drop the charges, which have now been re-filed. So, isn`t it normal for a victim to be afraid to face her rapist, her victimizer? Wouldn`t that be something that, you know, we hear all the time the rapes aren`t reported because people don`t want to come forward. If they knew they might be caged and thrown into jail, it would cause more people to stay at home and not report these things.
This young woman was allegedly abducted and attacked by this man who`s accused of raping another woman. And tonight, the 17-year-old victim is free but she herself has to wear a GPS monitor just to keep an eye on her, in case they need her again.
So, this is clearly re-traumatizing the victim. Or is this just something the judge needs to do to take desperate measures to get an alleged violent serial predator off the street?
Joining me to discuss this, host of "Last Shot with Judge Ann," Judge Mary Ann Gunn, and sex crime prosecutor Stacey Honowitz, HLN host Jane Velez Mitchell.
Jane, what do you think about this? Is this just more of the war on women?
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: Yes. This is an absolute outrage, Dr. Drew. And, obviously, these are decisions made by men who have never been raped. I`ve been in jail. Not myself, but to do interviews. I`ve been in prison.
It`s the most suffocating, alienating institution that there is and you can`t wait to get out after a couple of hours. This young lady was held in there for weeks. Why? Because she had the misfortune of being allegedly raped by this monster?
I understand her fear. What if he`s found not guilty? Who`s going to protect her?
This is a thug. He`s 220 pounds. He`s got a giant swastika tattooed on his chest. He`s a scary guy.
Is the government going to give her protection? And if so, how long?
There are plenty of reasons for women in this culture to be afraid of testifying and that has to be respected. There`s got to be a better way than sticking her in jail. How about putting her in a hotel with an armed guard? That I`d be willing to pay for as a taxpayer.
PINSKY: Yes. I think that`s interesting. It would probably cost less, frankly.
And I think those watching that footage while Jane was speaking see the cage we showed. That was not the prison. That was the cage she had to appear in court in.
Judge Gunn, this is a difficult issue. Doesn`t Jane raise some important points here?
JUDGE MARY ANN GUNN, HOST, "LAST SHOT WITH JUDGE GUNN": Sure she does. Sure she does. Everyone can`t -- I mean, everyone feels very sorry for this young girl including the judge, by the way, Jane.
But the fact of the matter is, this is not about men versus women. This is about a key witness appearing in court to testify against an alleged serial rapist. Remember, they had to drop the charges against him the first time. They can`t do it again.
And the judge ordered that she be incarcerated because there wasn`t any other way to get her to appear in court.
Now, she missed two court appearances. If no one else can take the step, no one else can take the step to force her to appear in court except the judge. Prosecutor can`t make her come. Defense attorney can`t make her come. The only person that can issue that order is the judge.
And he was faced with a decision of having a key witness in a horrible case that he could not get in the courtroom on the days of trial. And so he did -- he had no other choice to do, in my opinion.
PINSKY: Stacey Honowitz --
GUNN: -- when he was doing it.
PINSKY: OK. Fair enough.
Stacey Honowitz, you`re a supervisor in the sex crimes unit. How do we reconcile these conflicting interests? How do we do this?
STACEY HONOWITZ, PROSECUTOR: Well, they are conflicting interests. And I appreciate what everyone`s saying, but I think to make a blanket statement that, you know, women shouldn`t come forward and testify because they`re afraid of retaliation -- I mean, you really, really shut down the system if that`s the case and let all the rapists go free.
What happens, Dr. Drew, is quite often when we don`t have a witness, I`m on the air a couple nights later and people are asking me why did this rapist get such a great deal? It`s because I didn`t have a witness to go forward.
So there has to be a way to reconcile. Many times witnesses say to us we don`t want to come in. You have to weigh each case on its own merit.
You can`t make a blanket statement to all cases. But we do have reluctant women that do in the want to come in in rape cases and you do have to try to instill in them what`s the importance of coming in is. And so, there has to be an easier way than caging them.
PINSKY: Jane, I`m back around to you. You see how difficult this is. Where are you going to take it?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I never made a blanket statement that women shouldn`t testify against their alleged rapist. All I`m saying is there are more civilized ways of protecting them and encouraging them to testify and assuring them that they will be safe.
Again, there were plenty of alternatives. That`s why the young lady, the 17-year-old, has ultimately been released, with a GPS monitoring device, and is being held at an undisclosed location that we know is only not a jail.
What I find defensive is jailing her. If you want her to testify, by all means, do everything you can do encourage her. But keep her safe in an area where she doesn`t get re-traumatized, where she`s not sent a message that, oh, she did something wrong and this is the message our culture sends when a woman reports a rape, sometimes they`re disbelieved. Often they`re told subliminally or outright they somehow brought it on themselves.
And so, what horrible metaphor for all of that dysfunction is keeping a young woman who is a rape victim in jail?
PINSKY: Yes, Jane, you bring up a great point, which victims often have antecedent histories of trauma. They already expect people not to be trustworthy and they expect people to blame them for their own rape, which people -- obliged by doing very often, believe it or not, even people close to that person. All four of us are very aware that`s a common thing.
And the other issue here -- Judge Gunn, I`m going to go to you on this. Jane brings up an interesting point -- is that these women who have been traumatized earlier and are severely traumatized by the rape often have PTSD or often are very sensitive to what happens in their environment, these are exactly the population you don`t want to throw into prison, as Jane says.
So, my question to Judge Gunn is: are there other remedies? Now we hear of a GPS system. Is that what should be done? Is that going to work? Or is that not sufficiently predictive that you`re going to get the witness in court?
GUNN: Well, we hope, we hope, obviously, Dr. Drew, that that GPS system is going to work for this young teen. And she`s 17 years old, but she has to understand that a court order to appear as a witness in a trial has got to be obeyed.
Now, I understand the patients -- excuse me, the victim`s bill of rights is incredibly protective of the victim. And that she`d be treated fairly throughout the course of the judicial process. But she can`t be excluded from it.
And there are other things that we need to look to, like she could testify in a secluded area where only her voice was in the courtroom. There are other things that that judge may be able to do to calm her fears.
And, of course, it`s not going to be therapeutic for her, for this young girl at least, to be in the courtroom looking at that gentleman, remembering the swastika on his chest. How awful. But it`s a tragic situation.
PINSKY: Stacey, 30 seconds. Yes, it is. That`s why we`re trying to grapple with it.
Stacey, I have 30 seconds. I`m going to give you the last word.
HONOWITZ: Look, the bottom line is you have to weigh the rights of the victim versus letting a serial rapist on the street. And you have to figure out a proper way to get that person and you`re never going to alleviate their fears, but at least make them feel safe and feel protected. Being in the jail system for the young lady is not the way to go. And we have to find a better way, and then they won`t be fearful to come into court.
PINSKY: Coming up next, I`m going to talk to a brave young woman who was attacked, herself, in a parking lot, then she confronted the happen who tried to sexually assault her, confronted him in court face to face. I`m going to keep my panel here. And we`ll see what she has to say about this as well.
I`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am not a victim. I am the victor, the stronger and the winner. You picked the wrong woman on August 19th, 2009. I survived.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE LAWRENCE BROWN, SACRAMENTO COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT: I am truly sorry for all that you`ve been through.
AMINA MERRITT, TEENAGER`S ATTORNEY: I do believe it should not have happened in the first place. I do believe that there were less extreme measures to obtain her statement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: That was the attorney for a 17-year-old rape victim who was held in a juvenile detention center for 24 days and then ordered to appear in court in a cage. Again, it`s sort of an encaged area we showed you. This all because she didn`t show up to two of her attacker`s hearings.
It`s a tough situation. We`ve been going back and forth on how to balance these conflicting interests.
The man who attacked her, an alleged violent predator, repeatedly having to victimize people. And she was only credible witness who could possibly get him off the streets. Apparently, the other victims just were sort of not as credible as she.
This is the woman that would get this guy off the streets. That`s why they went to such lengths to retain her.
So, I`m back with my guests.
I`m also joined now by Heidi Damon, she was attacked in a parking lot and actually wanted to confront her attacker. She had the opposite impulse.
Heidi, you actually wanted to go into court, get this guy in there and go after him. In fact, we showed footage of you doing so.
How do you interpret this case? I`m just interested in hearing your point of view.
HEIDI DAMON, SEXUAL ASSAULT VICTIM: Well, first of all, being someone who`s been assaulted, the thing that I would say most of all is you don`t want to be anywhere other than in a safe place away from everybody else, and since she`s in the state`s custody, they should be the ones protecting her, not putting her behind bars.
She`s also a child. I think the judge had the choice of evaluating this a little differently, and he could have had her testify. I`m sure there`s some law in California that says that, no, she doesn`t have to be present in court. They could have probably gotten her to testify under some other circumstance.
And I agree with Jane, everything Jane said, I agree with. Put her in a hotel.
PINSKY: Jane --
DAMON: It doesn`t cost --
DAMON: -- money to do that. Protect her. Put her away where it`s safe and she feels protected. And someone pumps her up rather than deflates her.
PINSKY: Jane, have you ever worked with Heidi before? Have you met her? I want to introduce you to Heidi if you haven`t. Have you?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, but I can tell you right now, she`s already my hero.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: She`s my hero for speaking up because so many women feel shame, and she is really showing the way to so many women -- this is such an underreported crime, and hats off to you, Heidi, for speaking up and being a leader in this area.
DAMON: Thank you.
PINSKY: That`s exactly why I wanted to introduce you, Jane. She is a heroine. She`s one of my favorite guests. I`m inspired every time I hear her story.
So, Jane, let`s go back to this issue that -- and I thought of myself as having been molested, how difficult it is for men as opposed to women. And do we take it enough into account in situations like this? I want to hear from both Jane, you and Heidi, again, I brought this up earlier, but how this represents a subtle bias.
Reminds me of Trayvon Martin a little bit. There`s a subtle bias we have that we really -- against women. Trayvon, it was against African- Americans.
But we have to examine these things very carefully, don`t you agree?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I absolutely agree we treat genders differently. For example, when an underage boy has sex, for example, with an adult teacher, it`s often treated as a joke and oh, I wish I had that problem when I was in school. And yet that young man, that boy is horribly victimized. I`ve talked to men who say they had underage sex and it really devastated them throughout their lives in many different ways.
So, I think everybody is a victim when we come from a bad intention or we approach something where we are essentially exhibiting bias based on what this person is born as. And gender is the most basic way we identify ourselves.
So there is bias against men for some reasons. There`s bias against women for others, especially when it comes to rape.
PINSKY: And, Jane, what you`re anecdotally speaking about has been born out in the literature as well, which is the young males that have sex with their teachers, whatever, doctors, psychologists, whatever it might be, the outcomes for them are awful. Some of it clearly is whatever, predisposing circumstances, pathologies, set them up to engage in these kinds of acts.
But clearly the fact that the trust, again -- big people taking care of little people. I say it all the time on this show. When that is violated, it affects the young males profoundly.
Heidi, I want to get your perspective on what Jane was talking about.
DAMON: You know, I`m kind of all over with this topic, to be honest with you, because, you know, I think -- yes, men, women, boys, girls, there is a difference.
A lot of people always say, oh, even to me now that all this has happened, they`re like, oh, you`ll be in women`s groups, right? I`m like, no, I`m going to talk to men, too because rape is rape. Assault is assault. Trying to kill someone, whether it`s man or woman, you know, there`s still the assaulted.
So, you know, I think we need to change the language. I think we need to re-educate. These judges, we need to re-educate them, too.
I don`t care if they went to college and got a degree in law. It`s about people, not always about putting someone in a little box just, you know, to get a verdict.
PINSKY: Yes, Heidi, I`m going to interrupt you and go to my judge. Exactly that point.
Judge Gunn, how do you respond to that?
GUNN: She`s right about the issues that every judge faces, but you all, this was not about whether this little girl had been raped. This was about whether or not the trial could go forward against a man that may be a serial rapist, or whether he could walk the streets. It had nothing to do with her sex or her gender. It had everything to do with her testimony and her obeying the court order.
What you have to remember is, this would be a complete breakdown in our entire judicial system if we allow witnesses to decide when they will or if they will come to court to testify as a victim. And put this man away.
PINSKY: Thank you, guys. I appreciate it. Judge Gunn, thanks for joining me.
Heidi, you`re shaking your head a little bit. But I`m out of time. Thank you. Again you`re our hero. So, I`ll have you back.
Don`t worry, don`t worry. I`ll have you back. Hold your tongue.
DAMON: Thank you.
PINSKY: And, Jane, of course, thank you, thank you for earlier today. I appreciate it.
Coming up, a judge is reportedly strung out on pills. He buys the drugs from felons. He is sentenced, and then he`s even accused of having sex in his chambers with one of them. You will not believe how far addicts go.
But, first I`m on call, taking your questions and comments. And Mark Geragos joins me.
Stay with us.
What is that? New crystal light energy. Hey! [ gasps ] you will not believe how far addicts go
PINSKY: Criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos is with me answering your calls and questions. Now, that last story about the rape victim, caged in court and held in jail, sparked, of course, a strong online reaction from you guys, the viewers.
First let`s go to an e-mail. Tracy -- she says, "Putting a rape victim in jail, especially one under 18 victimizes them all over again. This type of, quote, `justice` is why more victims don`t come forward to report crimes."
Mark, do you agree with her?
MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I couldn`t agree more. Frankly, it`s outrageous. Even if you`re sitting there in the courtroom and you have -- I mean, you ask yourself, what is the prosecutor thinking? I mean, really, what is the prosecutor thinking?
Whose interest are you vindicating at that point to seek justice? It certainly is not the person who you`ve got in a cage.
PINSKY: So -- and not only is it not seeking her just, it`s causing her direct harm.
GERAGOS: Can you imagine a bigger indignity than wheeling somebody in in that fashion?
PINSKY: Well, it turns out this kid had been traumatized, of course - -
GERAGOS: What`s more trauma --
PINSKY: I`m just saying. A little more trauma for somebody like that becomes massive. It`s where PTSD comes from.
Let`s take a call. I`ve got a question on Trayvon Martin from Kathleen. She`s in Florida. Imagine that. She`s on the line.
Kathleen, what do you got for us?
KATHLEEN, CALLER FROM FLORIDA: Hi, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Hey, there.
KATHLEEN: When the 911 operator first asked Zimmerman if the suspect was black, white, black or Hispanic --
KATHLEEN: -- he said he did not know. He said later in the recording that Trayvon was black. This case is about race, it`s about the fear generated by crime in these neighborhoods.
PINSKY: OK. Hold on a second. Slow down. Slow down.
KATHLEEN: -- over 400 crimes in that neighborhood.
PINSKY: Shhh. Slow down. Slow down.
Have we talked about Trayvon together? We`ve talked about it, haven`t we?
PINSKY: It`s about race. It`s hard not to --
GERAGOS: Well, the perception and the reason it resonates is clearly it`s because it`s about race.
GERAGOS: It`s going to be about race all the way through this case.
PINSKY: That`s my question. Is it going to be about race in the courtroom?
In the court -- when you start off, you pick a jury, it`s all about race.
PINSKY: And you said, I think I remember now having this conversation with you, you said once the jury is seated the court is going --
GERAGOS: The case is over. It`s all in jury selection and jury selection is going to be all about race.
PINSKY: So, Kathleen, the reality is, the race is going to -- whether or not you sort of believe it was part of what led to the tragedy, it is clearly going to play a role both in the courtroom and in the public discourse. It just has to. Can you understand that?
KATHLEEN: Not really because in Florida, I don`t think it`s as racist as you guys are making it out to be.
PINSKY: Go ahead.
GERAGOS: I don`t think, Kathleen, I don`t think for a second that it`s racist, but I would bet you that you are not African-American, the prism through which you look at this case looks different than somebody who is African-American.
PINSKY: And that, if nothing else, is something we ought to really examine very, very carefully. I got to say, Mark, when anyone starts a phrase with, "Well, in Florida," I immediately have to stop and they -- OK. Kathleen, we`re only ribbing at you. I love the great state of Florida. You have a great attorney general down there.
Are you familiar with her?
GERAGOS: Yes, yes.
PINSKY: She`s terrific.
So, Kathleen, thanks for that call. We do appreciate it.
So, Mark, before I let that case go, the girl in the cage, how come -- I thought people didn`t have to testify if they didn`t want to.
GERAGOS: Well, you can always -- you have to -- you have to show up to court.
PINSKY: If somebody, if you`re a victim --
GERAGOS: If you get -- if you get subpoenaed, you must show up to court. Then the question is, do you have to testify? Well, they put you on the stand. You have to then testify unless you have some kind of immunity or privilege.
PINSKY: So you do. OK.
GERAGOS: But then it`s the consequence. What do you do if somebody refuses? Here, you can`t do it in California.
PINSKY: I`ve got to go to break. I have two seconds.. Thank you, my friend. Mark Geragos, thanks for joining me.
More questions and comments straight up.
PINSKY (voice-over): Coming up, sober as a judge. Not this judge. A prescription drug addict who allegedly bought pills from defendants. How far will an addict go to get high? One woman claims the judge got drugs during court breaks and then had sex with her in his chambers.
Now, one of his murder convictions has been overturned. The victim`s family wants justice, and they`re right here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (on-camera): And we are continuing our on-call segment. And my producers have prevailed upon me to do something that, I guess, is happening like every hour on HLN. I`m going to close my eyes. You take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The audience loved it. Dr. Drew is still all (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to thank Dr. Drew for allowing me to attack him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His wife almost staged an intervention, you know, over there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: But, see, the deal is, my wife got to dance with Derek, so it kind of worked out OK, even though I need to be hospitalized for chest pain afterwards. I`m just saying. But thank you for your vote for Maria, everybody. Vote for Maria Menounos, my buddy.
OK. We`re going to go to your questions now. Enough of the funny business. Abby on Twitter wants to know -- oh, Jesus! I thought this was the end of the funny business. She wants to know when I`m going to be on "Dancing with the Stars"? No near-term plans, Abby, but thanks for asking. I don`t know where -- I`d be so freaked out if I`d done something like that.
I`d have to start training right now for the next year. No time. Sean e-mails this question -- I`m not sure it`s on mission for me. He`s asked the following. "I only abuse alcohol when I`m depressed, when I`m happy. I easily moderate my drinking. I have yet to find anyone who understands this. It seems it`s either you`re an alcoholic or not. I feel I`m in the gray area, but listening to you for over half my life, Dr. Drew, I look your advice."
Well, my friend, you are an alcoholic, because alcoholics are really the only population that really uses alcohol to modulate their affect, modulate their mood states. For a non-alcoholic, it doesn`t do that much for them. Now, what you`re telling us is you`re still in the earlier stages of the disease.
You got to remember, alcoholism is an addiction. It`s a spectrum disease from merely predisposed, meaning, having the genetic potential, to having sort of mild or incipient symptoms, to more moderate, to more severe, to end stage, and finally fatal. That`s the course of this. Most people think of the severe fatal category as being alcoholism.
I think of it as the whole thing. You`re in the more mild incipient stages of it. And of course, what motivates people to use a substance is they are miserable. They`re trying to get solutions for their emotional problem that they can`t solve internally, they reach externally. Their genetic setup is that they get a very nice response from alcohol, if you`re an alcoholic.
So, they keep going, and they go long enough to trigger the disease. They throw the switch on the disease. You haven`t quite thrown the switch yet, but trust me, my friend, it will come. Be very, very careful.
Dixie in North Carolina. What do you got for me? Hi, Dixie.
DIXIE, NORTH CAROLINA: Hi, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Hi, Dixie.
DIXIE: OK. I`m a recovering alcoholic. I`ve been sober for 35 years.
DIXIE: Well, don`t say that yet.
DIXIE: What I don`t get is when I quit drinking, alcohol would still be my drug of choice. When I quit drinking, I surrendered totally to AA.
DIXIE: Now, I`m hooked on opiates and I cannot --
PINSKY: Yes. Well -- well, it`s -- I don`t distinguish alcoholism and addiction. They`re all the same disease. They all affect the same part of the brain. They`re all based on the same genetic predisposition. And if you`re an alcoholic, you`re the subpopulation that becomes the opiate addict.
So, if you`re -- that`s why they tell you, my dear, in the program, you can`t use mind-altering substances because you`ll trigger the disease. And unfortunately, you move up the food chain to the more addictive substances that are more difficult to get off, and, my dear, although you know the basics, now knowing recovery kind of becomes a liability because your disease will use it as justification for not going get treatment.
You`ve got to go in. You have to detox. You have to do hard work, and it takes a long time, my dear. Please, go do it. I`ve got Josh on the line in Los Angeles. He`s got a question about internet scams. Josh, what is that?
JOSH, LOS ANGELES: Hey, Dr. Drew. So, my father-in-law has been involved in some internet scams, and he doesn`t seem to acknowledge that they`re scams. They`re some romance (ph) scams, and we`ve tried to help him out and teach him, you know, all the signs, and he completely refuses to see it.
JOSH: I want to know what we can do?
PINSKY: How old is your father-in-law?
JOSH: About mid to late 60s.
PINSKY: Yes. One of the bits of research that has shown to be absolutely consistent as people age is that they are more prone to financial scams, and scammers know that. It`s a very strange thing. And it was -- I got to tell you a funny personal story. I -- my own father before he passed away, God rest his soul, he was talking to some guy, and he was seemed to be getting into it.
I brought this up to him. He was a physician. He understood what I was talking about. And my dad`s response to that was, hey, son, you`re not getting any younger either, meaning, soon, I`ll be in his category getting scammed. And it`s true. As you get older, even with insight, there`s a lot of wisdom in that statement, even with insight, you`re trying to provide your father insight like show him the facts, they`re still prone to this scam.
So, I don`t have a good solution to you other than to -- you have a solution in the legal system for elder financial abuse. I would really look into that if you possibly can. I don`t know how you do it in this particular case, but there are agencies out there that you can report to who will take these people on because people that work with the aging population know that this is a serious issue.
Ragan e-mailed me this. Oh, it`s a very nice compliment. "Your care for the patients on "Celebrity Rehab" is so sincere and apparent. Which patient`s story has touched you the most?" I want to tell you, we`re working on a rehab show without celebrities right now. We`re going to start in about a week or so, in fact. You know, right now, what`s on my mind is Shifty, of course, Seth Binzer, because he`s been sick recently.
I have no update for people. I will provide an update as soon as he wants me to update, except that he`s doing OK. And you know, trying to pick a case that touched me the most is like trying to judge your favorite child or something. It`s almost impossible to do that. I was deeply involved with many of these people.
I`m touched with most of them. Sean Young right now is somebody that occurs to me as somebody that I really enjoyed taking care of, but each of them was a very powerful experience for me.
So, all right. Next up, we are going to get into judging the judge. That`s right. Get this, a Tennessee magistrate is accused of having sex and buying pills during courtroom breaks. And he`s doing this with the convicts he had previously sentenced. That is next.
PINSKY: Knox County, Tennessee criminal court judge, Richard Baumgartner, presided over more than 1,000 cases from 2008 until late 2010. The problem is, during that time, he had a severe prescription drug addiction. He allegedly bought pills, get this, during courtroom breaks, and he bought them from the criminals he had presided over their case.
One of them says he actually had sex with her in his chambers and bought drugs from her. Here`s what the judge had to say at sentencing. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD BAUMGARTNER, FMR. CRIMINAL COURT JUDGE: I take absolute and full responsibility for my conduct. I am solely at fault for what I have done, and I accept that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Seems a little more sober there. Baumgartner is his name. I mispronounced it. Tonight, the power and consequences of prescription drug addiction. And the question, why are judges allowed to stay on the bench when they`re impaired? I`ve seen this happen before. I`ve treated judges.
I`ve actually, myself, had drugs -- had judges in treatment who went back to the bench I knew severely impaired, and there was nothing I could do about it.
Joining me, Anna David, executive director of TheFix.com, back with us, Judge Mary Ann Gunn, host of "Last Shot with Judge Gunn," and criminal defense attorney, Mark Geragos.
But first, very quickly, joining us by phone is the district attorney general of Knoxville, Tennessee, Randall Nicols. Mr. Nicols, can you tell us what the fallout has been that you`re dealing with as a result of the judge`s behaviors?
VOICE OF RANDALL NICOLS, KNOXVILLE DISTRICT ATTORNEY GENERAL: To date, there have been seven cases that -- where the motion for new trial has been granted as a result of the conduct of the court and some of the failings that the judge has found. So, I have seven major felonies that have already been ordered to be re-tried.
I don`t know the precise number, but each day, we`re having petitions for the writ of habeas corpus filed from people in prison, asking for relief. Presently, I`m at about 14 of those, and some are continuing to flow. So, we expect that we`ll get upwards of 100 petitions in the near future for new trials.
PINSKY: Thank you, Mr. Attorney General. I appreciate that update. Mark Geragos, you`re in these courtrooms all the time. Does this gobsmack you the way it does the rest of us?
MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes. He`s been conservative. I don`t think that it`s going to be 100. In fact, I`d put the over and under at 500 on something like this. Every person who`s sitting in prison who`s gone in front of this judge feels like they got a raw deal is going to be filing a petition for writ of habeas corpus.
PINSKY: Anna, the reason I asked you to come here is you and I`ve talked many times about how far this disease takes people, but even you were shocked at this.
ANNA DAVID, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THEFIX.COM: I mean, I have sort of heard it all. I mean, I was actually enraged reading this, just how far it got. The fact that he was -- he got addicted to painkillers because he was being treated for pancreatitis caused by chronic alcoholism.
DAVID: The fact that that happened, the fact that it was allowed to go on that long, the fact that he was having sex with people he put in drug court and buying drugs from them, I mean, it`s disgusting.
PINSKY: Maybe get people to understand how profoundly destructive that is for someone who`s in treatment to be sort of abused by someone in power. That shatters everything about the treatment process.
DAVID: Absolutely. I mean, how could you have any faith in what anybody is telling you, you know, when you`re being treated for addiction you`re told to throw out everything you know because we`re giving you a new moral set of standards.
PINSKY: And trust us. Trust us.
DAVID: And the person that put you in that position is having sex with you and buying drugs off of you.
PINSKY: And Mark, you`re smirking.
GERAGOS: Well, it`s, because, you know, we talk about -- I mean, this is not breaking news. I mean, there are judges who in the afternoon you go in front of them and you need an interpreter to understand them because they`re so drunk. So, I`ve seen it for years.
PINSKY: But Mark, that is -- to the rest of us, it is breaks news, you know? We are stunned. I asked Judge Gunn to come in and talk about this as well. Judge Gunn, did you hear what Mark Geragos just said?
JUDGE MARY ANN GUNN, HOST, "LAST SHOT WITH JUDGE GUNN": I did.
PINSKY: Is there something going on with your peers we need to know about it?
GUNN: Well, you know, Mark, I think the world of you, but I disagree with you. I do not think this happens very often. And, it`s true, you cannot make this right. He can never make it right. It will be years unraveling those thousand cases that he heard in the two years that we know of that he had a problem with his addiction.
And being a drug court judge, those addicts that come before you for help, they look to you for guidance. They look to you as their leader. And it is absolutely unimaginable the things that this gentleman did. And I`m shocked at his punishment. I`m shocked that it may go off his record after a period of time. And I just don`t think this is something that happens normally, Mark, in the courtroom.
GERAGOS: I`m certain -- I certainly don`t think it`s normal, but I will tell you that it`s certainly not breaking news. I mean, judges are like anybody else. They come from a kind of a high pressurized, high- stress area of society, and everybody`s got issues. So, why should judges be exempt?
DAVID: Many professions -
GUNN: Sex in chambers, Mark?
GERAGOS: Well, you know --
GERAGOS: You want me to start on the number of prosecutors I know who have sex in their office or sex in chambers?
GUNN: That`s not a judge, though. That`s not a judge.
GERAGOS: Most judges are former prosecutors, so that`s where they learn it.
PINSKY: Oh, my God. I`m not sure I want to tackle that yet. I`ll bring you back for that conversation, but I want to stay with the judges, because I have personal experience treating judges and seeing them go back on the bench sick and there`s nothing I could do.
GERAGOS: Wait, that`s what I`m saying.
PINSKY: Why isn`t there some kind of a system in place? This is the question I want to ask both you and Judge Gunn. You know, this used to happen with doctors. Forty years ago, we started putting systems in place to catch the doctors, and I would call the well-being committee at the hospital and say, you have a problem, they`d bring them right in.
That`s that. That`s why you don`t hear so much about that anymore. Judge Gunn, is there anything like that for your peers out there?
GUNN: Of course, there is. And when people say that there`s nothing they can do about it, there`s a lot you can do about it. You can write to the Professional Conduct Committee of every state, and every state has --
PINSKY: Hang on. Hang on. Wait a second.
GUNN: I mean, you can write anonymously.
PINSKY: Judge Gunn, I`m the guy`s physician. HIPAA laws prevent me from doing that.
GUNN: Oh, I`m sorry. I was talking to Mark Geragos. I`m sorry.
PINSKY: Oh, Mark, you should be --
GERAGOS: The last thing I`m doing when I`m practicing in a courtroom is reporting my judge to the authorities. I can`t imagine something that would be worse for the client. And, look, I have a great deal of compassion for people who are in that spot. Obviously, they spin out of control, and this guy obviously spun out of control.
He takes responsibility for it. What do you do to solve that problem? I don`t think that there`s any easy answer. I mean, look, when you say you treat judges, right?
PINSKY: I have.
GERAGOS: So, you know that you have in the past.
GERAGOS: So, this certainly is not an anomaly.
PINSKY: No, no. (INAUDIBLE) expect it. I would expect them to have the illness of addiction like every other human being.
GERAGOS: Like everybody else.
PINSKY: And by the way, addicts tend to be smarter, more creative. They`re very hardworking. They tend to be in a population of very accomplished people, but there`s no system in place for those of us that know they are potentially impaired to do anything about it. And Anna is sitting here in complete outrage. I`ll let her talk.
DAVID: Well, it`s just also there are people with a lot less power who would be penalized and there would be a system in place in a normal everyday job where people are drug tested and fired for being on drugs. The fact that this guy was able to abuse his power so much, I mean, sure we can say, oh, he was suffering from a disease --
PINSKY: Which he was.
DAVID: Which he was, but at a certain point, you know, how do you separate what the person --
GERAGOS: I`m not excusing -- I`m not excusing having the, you know, the sex with the people who are in front of him, things of that nature. I mean, that`s awful and rightfully so. People are going to be asking to have convictions or new trials or things vacated. The problem is, I just don`t think that there`s any way that you`re going to be able to solve this problem by either drug testing judges.
I can`t even imagine that happening, or having some kind of having lawyers report them to the bar or to the bench and bar.
PINSKY: That`s what doctors used to say about other doctors. I can`t imagine reporting these guys. He`s the head of surgery, I can`t imagine it.
GERAGOS: I think doctors are in a different situation.
GUNN: You guys --
GERAGOS: I really do. You have -- judges have immunities, and they have, you know, they have immunities to the degree that I don`t think -- what are you going to do? Are you going to try to pass some law that judges have to be drug tested? It`s going to go in front of other judges. Guess who`s going to declare it unconstitutional?
PINSKY: Judge Gunn, I`m going to let you finish this conversation. I`ll let you finish it because you run a great drug court. I have great respect for you. I`ve worked with you before, and I think you might have some real insight into this. So, you finish this off for us. What do we do with this?
GUNN: Well, here`s what you can do. First of all, you can keep in mind that pills are a huge problem in our society. They kill more people than heroin and cocaine put together, and that was a study that came out of Los Angeles. It`s poison. And it makes good people turn into bad people and do really bad things.
I`m telling you, that you can anonymously turn in any judge in this country and file a complaint with them with the authorities in the capital of every state, and there`s an investigation that will ensue from that. Take that to the bank.
PINSKY: Judge Gunn, thank you so much, my dear. And thank you, Anna David, for joining us. Mark Geragos is going to stay with me.
The judge`s court convicted the killers of a young man who was kidnapped, tortured and killed. Now, that ruling has been overturned because of what we`ve been discussing here, and the victim`s parents are devastated. They`re here with us next.
PINSKY: Christopher Newsom (ph), Shannon Christian (ph) were kidnapped. They were tortured and killed after a 2007 carjacking. The judge who presided over their killer`s case was our friend, Richard Baumgartner, we`ve been speaking about here. That judge, of course, later found to be abusing prescription medication that he was, sometimes, getting from other felons in his court.
Now, the guilty verdict for Newsom and Christian`s killers had been overturned because of the judge`s behavior. There`s going to be a new trial. And for Christopher Newsom`s family, the thought of sitting through more trials must be unbearable.
Joining us are Christopher`s parents, Mary and Hugh Newsom. Mary, what were your thoughts when you heard that your son`s killer was going to go free because of the judge`s behavior?
MARY NEWSOM, DRUG ADDICTED JUDGE`S RULING OVERTURNED SON KILLED: I was in shock. It was very, very disappointing news and unbelievable hearing that`s all of the things that the judge had done. I respected him and thought he was a good judge. I thought he did a good job. And to hear what he had done during these trials was just -- just the worst news I could have possibly heard.
I don`t want to have to go through these trials again. It was stressful. It was devastating. And it -- it took so much out of you, and it`s so stressful to sit there day after day, which we did, and the jury did, and the jury sat and listened to the same thing that we did. And, you know, there was nothing that you could tell went wrong with these trials.
The trials went fine. What he did after in his own time shouldn`t have anything to do with the trial. There shouldn`t be any question about that. As far as I know, I think everything was done fine.
PINSKY: And Mr. Newsom?
HUGH NEWSOM, SON`S KILLERS` CONVICTION OVERTURNED: Yes.
PINSKY: Mr. Newsom, are you concerned that other people may be in harm`s way because this guy is out and about?
HUGH NEWSOM: Not as far as Judge Baumgartner. The one I`m concerned with is the Judge Blackwood (ph), who`s throwing out all of these trials, was the same one that presided over Judge Baumgartner`s hearing and let him off with a slap on the wrist.
Now, there was no medical professional evidence presented during the overturn of the trials, the hearing, that said -- that pointed out any evidence as to where -- how many appeals renders a person impaired. And there was no errors made in the trial. That --
PINSKY: It`s an interesting point. Mark Geragos, I want to ask you about that, because one of the things about being a judge is you`re engaged in a lot of sort of over learned behaviors.
PINSKY: For people that are professionals, you`ve done that a billion times and you can do it even when you`re impaired. Is that a reason to throw out all these trials? Or should they each be looked at in their own merit?
GERAGOS: I think that your guest, the mother just said, even she was appalled by the behavior. And if she`s appalled by the behavior and she is the mother of the victim and had to sit through this, just imagine with some other judge who`s listening to this is feeling. Even though the guy is in front of him -- look, this guy has been -- I understand slap on the wrist, but at the same time, this guy has, you know, he`s the subject of national news.
He`s been disgraced. He`s lost his position. He`s taken some pretty good collateral consequences. So, given all of that -- and I don`t know how you parse out whether or not it affected his decisions, but clearly, he was addled.
PINSKY: Thank you, Mark. Thank you, the Newsoms. I appreciate it. And of course, thank you all for listening and watching as well. We`ll see you again next time.