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Selling Casey Anthony's Thoughts; Killer Sues for Defamation; Gun Violence in America; N.C. A&T Campus on Lockdown; Star Pitcher Hurt in Brawl.
Aired April 12, 2013 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: So when are your thoughts a commodity that are right for selling to the highest bidder? This is an argument in the one and only Casey Anthony and her 2011 murder trial. The trustee who is overseeing her bankruptcy wants to sell the rights to her story to pay off her debts that now total over $790,000. But Anthony's lawyer says selling her story, which has yet to be written or to be proposed to anybody, would be an unprecedented invasion of her private thoughts. The judge has not yet made a decision on this but it sure brings up some fascinating legal arguments.
Jose Baez, who is a criminal defense attorney, and Paul Callan, are back with us.
Paul, I want to begin with you. You are always my professor of wisdom on these wickets, shall I say. That's the question here, isn't it? They are trying to harness what is in her head and monetize it?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. Casey Anthony owes a lot of people a lot of money. So in order to avoid paying them any money, she declares bankruptcy. And in the United States we have this concept of fresh start. You go into bankruptcy court, you come out with a clean slate and start your life over again. The most valuable thing that she owns is the story of her life and maybe even what she has to say about what went down in that case when Mr. Baez didn't put her on the stand to tell the story. So the bankruptcy court is now looking at, well, can we force her to sell the rights to her story? But as you say, you're really not giving her a fresh start, then, because you're getting in her brain. So the future works, opponents say, and it's a tough concept.
BANFIELD: There is nothing you can do in bankruptcy law to protect against an asset that is about to be realized, correct?
CALLAN: That's correct. You're starting with a blank slate. It's unfair to say five years from now you may make a lot of money when you write a book. So we're going to reopen the bankruptcy and you have to pay off your creditors. That's the opposition to this.
CALLAN: But there's one other thing. One person stepped up and said, I'll pay her $10,000 not to write a story. Ill buy the right, barring her from writing a book. Now she doesn't have to do anything in the future.
BANFIELD: Can you stop someone from talking? Can you say, you don't have a First Amendment right to speak about you, your life, or the crime you were acquitted of?
CALLAN: Well, yes, you do, in a sense. Let's say you work for Coca- Cola and, as part of your job, you find out what the secret is about making the Coke. Your job prevents you from revealing things in your head.
BANFIELD: Jose Baez, you got very sick of me every day in that courtroom during the criminal trial needling you for information that you could never give me. I'm going to try again because that's what I do. Do you have thoughts one way or another, knowing that you are one of the biggest creditors owed in this bankruptcy case?
JOSE BAEZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Ashleigh, to say sick of you is way too strong a word.
In fact, I enjoyed our conversations very much but, unfortunately, as in the trial, I'm ethically forbidden from commenting on this, and all I can do is sit back and listen.
BANFIELD: And wait for the decision, which I'm sure you are doing with bated breath.
I appreciate you coming to us with these related stories and these circus-type cases because they move through unchartered territory.
Jose Baez, good to see you.
Paul Callan, thank you.
BAEZ: Always good to be with you.
BANFIELD: Wow, this next one, a convict, convicted killer suing the widow of the man that he killed? I am so not kidding about this. She's saying how could you defame a killer? Because that's his argument. Our legal team is going to dive in.
BANFIELD: You might call this the textbook definition of adding insult to injury. A man kills your husband and then sues you from prison. This happened after Paula Henry wrote a letter opposing a request from her husband's killer to be transferred to a prison closer to his family. Larry Shandola is serving 31 years for shooting her husband in the face. But he took great offense to some of the things that she wrote about him in the letter to the authorities and now she is in court trying to get his suit against her tossed out. And she's also fighting for legislation to protect other victims from having to go through the same kind of thing.
Joey Jackson is joining us. Sunny Hostin is back with us. Joey, let me begin with you.
Is this a textbook definition of a frivolous case or does he actually have any merit here?
JOEY JACKSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY & CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, there's no merit at all. Let's talk about what frivolous means. It has no merit. It's meritless. As a result of that, you shouldn't be doing it.
Certainly, Ashleigh, if there are sanctions for lawyers, we lawyers are held accountable for what we do. We have to exercise due diligence and if there's no merit at all, we're not allowed to file, could be held in contempt of court. Can be fined as a result.
Her fight is a very good one. She shouldn't be in court and, for the second time, having to be victimized again by a person who killed her husband and now he's claiming to be defamed? What reputation loss have you suffered as a murderer in prison for 31 years?
BANFIELD: I hear you. It's not like he's going to lose income over this.
Sunny, there's always an issue when anyone can sue. You can sue a ham sandwich almost. The issue is, you do have to hire attorneys. You do incur costs as a defendant. All before a judge gets a crack at tossing it out?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. That's the bottom line. You have to respond to a lawsuit. Sometimes if you don't respond, then you get a judgment against you, just a judgment.
But I've got to tell you, and I can't believe I feel this way, but one of the bedrocks of our legal system is the fact that you don't necessarily need a lawyer to enforce your rights, that you can go down to the courthouse or write a pro se complaint and try to get your case heard in a court of law. And so while I think we're really bothered by the fact that this convicted killer could do something like this, I think you have to allow him to do this to protect the rights that we all hold dear, which is the right to be able to sue.
I know you're going to disagree with me, Joey, but I'm troubled by this but I think it's a fundamental right.
JACKSON: The question is people should not have to have a lawyer to sue. You can sue as an individual with a lawyer or not with one. If you're going to level a lawsuit, it should have some basis in law. And in fact, if it doesn't there should be legislation that prevents you from doing that, from dragging in someone who needlessly has to defend themselves against something that will be dismissed ultimately anyway.
BANFIELD: Hold on, Sunny. In case anybody is curious about what it is exactly she said about him, she said, I know he will kill me. She's worried about him moving to Canada. She feels like she's going to lose track of him. And he's a skilled sociopath. So I hear both of you but I also hear that if someone shoots someone in the face can be called a skilled sociopath fairly.
I have to leave it there, guys.
Thank you, Joey Jackson, Sunny Hostin. Nice to see you both.
A 17-year-old boy is shot and killed on the way to the school bus and now a massive search is underway for the suspected killer. Gun violence yet again in America. It's coming up next.
BANFIELD: We're watching a live situation in Greensboro, North Carolina. In the left of your screen is a live picture of the North Carolina A&T campus from the police there have the university campus on lockdown right now as we zoom in, a cruiser, they have been telling students to stay where they are. There was one report that came out earlier of an unknown black male with a weapon. Police department is now conducting a campus-wide search. And, again, probably not a lot of movement other than some of those cruisers moving throughout the campus. If you look at the web site, basically there's the map of the campus. Let me give you a clearer picture of how significant and big it is. It's 200 acres but it also has a 600 acre university. 10,000 students there and 2,000 employees. A lot of terrain to cover as they do their search.
The guy they are looking for, apparently 5'11", wearing a blue jacket, blue jeans, white cap, white T-shirt. An alert went out earlier. So far, we have nothing to report in terms of injuries. We'll watch that and update you as we get more information.
In the meantime, you pick up the television, click through the Internet and almost every day there is a story about gun violence. Did you know that the United States outpaces every country in the developed world in gun-related murders? Every one of those shootings has a story to tell and we are now committed to bringing those stories to you. They are real and they are happening in our country.
Our crime and justice correspondent, Joe Johns, joins me.
You've learned new details on the tragic suicide of Rick Warren's son who shot and killed himself.
JOE JOHNS, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. This is the high-profile pastor and author. He tweeted yesterday that his son, Matthew, had committed suicide with what was an unregistered gun purchased from someone over the internet. Authorities are telling CNN the serial number was scratched off. It's a felony to remove a serial number from a firearm in the U.S. Warren did add that he forgives the person who sold the gun to his son. An interesting and sad twist there -- Ashleigh? BANFIELD: And another file that's come into our office, out of Tennessee. We have a student shot and killed while trying to get on a school bus?
JOHNS: Yes. Very, very disturbing. This is out of Nashville. Authorities say a 17-year-old high school student named Jonathan Johnson heading out to catch his school bus, apparently a basketball player. Police say another 17-year-old is a prime suspect in the case but, so far, they haven't located them yet. We haven't gotten any news on that front. Johnson's family says he is the second youngest of five children. His high school principal called him friendly, kind, said he had a bright future. And, of course, grief counselors are on hand to help the classmates deal with that tragedy. Quite a sad story in Nashville.
BANFIELD: And an important one to tell.
Joe Johns, thank you for that.
Next, to the L.A. Dodgers. They've got a star pitcher worth $147 million under contract and now he has one serious owie that might affect his actual playing and all that money. What's going to happen to the guy who charged the mound and did that to him? You might be surprised to find out the legal ramifications in a moment.
BANFIELD: Baseball is not supposed to be a full-contact sport, but last night, the Los Angeles Dodgers had a game with the San Diego Padres and it turned out to be an all-out free-for-all. Started when the Padres outfielder, Carlos Quentin, hit by Zack Greinke's pitch. He charges the mound, plows right into Greinke, and next came the all- out mayhem. Nothing like a bench brawl, right? But it's the initial hit that might be bigger than the brawl. And it might be a bigger issue altogether in a courtroom. Zack Greinke suffered a broken collarbone from this and not out of the realm of possibilities that the injury could effect his season, his future. Can I remind you that Greinke has a $147 million contract with the Dodgers? Guess the question becomes, can anybody sue over this?
Sunny Hostin and Joey Jackson are back with me.
I didn't expect that I was going to talk sports with you, but I am. I'm going to start with you, Sunny.
Can anybody sue? Can the injured player sue? Can the injured player sue? Can his team sue the other team?
HOSTIN: Yes, you know, I still can't believe that grown men other on a professional sports players are doing this kind of thing. But absolutely, I think a lawsuit is possible. A civil lawsuit. I mean, this could be -- this could be a season-ender. I don't know if it's a career ender, but, you know, there's no question that in my view that was intentional. That was an intentional act. I mean, it is a contact sport. And so certain things I think you sign on for when you're a professional athlete. You play in baseball -- but that was a heck of a charge -- you get hit with the ball. But if you go and hit someone like that, yes, absolutely.
BANFIELD: So, Joey, I'm a big hockey fan. And there is a lot of hitting in hockey. I remember a case in '04 where a guy got hit so bad there were criminal charges that got involved and civil charges as well. That made me think about this, are there any chances of criminal charges in this?
JACKSON: I think it's unlikely. First of all, people have been charging the mound since little league. We teach little leaguers don't ever do this, high schoolers, don't do it. But in the professional level you see it. So the problem is usually baseball internally patrols itself. Just like you mentioned hockey before, Ashleigh, they internally control themselves although there are those limited instances where there is criminal intervention. It's usually left to the local district attorney, but they've been very reluctant. So at the end of the day, these things usually resolve themselves with a suspension of the player in order to deter it from happening again.
BANFIELD: Well, when that '04 thing happened in Canada, that might be why there was a criminal prosecution.
I'm fresh out of time. Both of you, Sunny, Joey, thank you. Appreciate it.
JACKSON: Great weekend to both of you.
BANFIELD: You too.
Back in a moment.
BANFIELD: He not only feeds those down on their luck, but Chef Bruno Serato now helping families move out of motels and into real homes. My friend, Anderson Cooper, updating us now on this 2011 CNN top-10 hero.
CHEF BRUNO: Who likes pasta?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every night Chef Bruno Serato serves three meals to 300 motel kids in Anaheim, California. It's work he was honored for in 2011 as a top-10 CNN hero.
BRUNO SERATO, CHEF:
It was the most amazing moment in my life. After the CNN show lots of people call me, what can we do for you? COOPER: But it was Bruno who wanted to do to help more for area kids living in motels.
SERATO: It's that moment. Because I know where they go back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, you guys all share those markers. Sit right here and color.
COOPER: It's a hard life to escape. Just ask the Gutierrez family who lived in a motel with their five children for more than a year.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then the rest of them sleep on this bed.
He got laid off. I started working just a month ago. It's really hard for us to save up to get into actual home.
SERATO: I said let's pay this.
COOPER: By providing rent and deposit, Bruno helps families leave the motel life for good.
Working with a local nonprofit, 29 families have now gotten a fresh start in a home of their own.
SERATO: What do you think?
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: I love it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The kids just ran around, explored, found their room.
SERATO: This is yours?
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Yes. That's mine.
SERATO: My heart is --