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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD

San Diego Mayor Facing Calls for Resignation; Bulger Found Guilty. Mob Enforcer Faces Bulger; "No Muslim" Parking Sign; DOJ Files Anti-Trust Lawsuit Against Airline Merger; California Transgender Students Have Choice.

Aired August 13, 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: What's he referring to? The rehab. The rehab he apparently left early.

Our lawyers are back with me now, Danny Cevallos and Paul Callan.

People shake their heads at this, thinking, wait a minute, if you do something naughty, you're out. That's not the case when it comes to public office anywhere, and particularly this jurisdiction, right, Paul?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Not true at all. As a matter of fact, particularly famous case, Michael Curley, famous mayor of Boston, served as mayor from a prison cell. He was re-elected after being convicted of a felony and continued to serve as mayor of Boston. San Diego, same thing. Even if this mayor had been convicted of a crime, couldn't necessarily be forced out of office. They can do a recall election, though. They've got 40 days to put the signatures together to recall him. And he can be thrown out of office by the voters.

BANFIELD: Let me get this straight. Voters who do not like this -- and there are many, you saw some in that protest -- they have to go by the recall process, they can't do an impeachment or something more drastic like you're just fired?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: There doesn't seem to be an impeachment statute that applies, or code. You look to the city charter, you look to the municipal code here and the only available remedy seems to be a recall in this case. So the question becomes, can they get enough voters involved for the recall. But it stands in stark contrast to California being an at-will state, which means for private entities, you can hire or fire for any reason, as long as it's not an illegal reason, which is why this case shocks people. Because when it comes to our public officials --

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: It's not the same.

CEVALLOS: -- the rules are totally inverted.

BANFIELD: And seems like it should be the other way around, quite frankly. Here is my question. Maybe he could be, you know, like that 1920s mayor and serve while he's in trouble. And maybe he'll have to spend time in civil courtrooms, because any one of those people who made those allegations can take this the civil route, right, Paul?

CALLAN: Yes, they're talking as many as 13 sets of allegations out there, and they all can file lawsuits against him. He's their employer, and if he acts improperly, there are federal laws that protect them. So --

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: So good luck to that jurisdiction to get its work done if he is battling lawsuits on a bunch of fronts, right?

CALLAN: Tough place to be a female municipal worker.

BANFIELD: And tough place to be the mayor. People are going to dislike him even more.

Danny and Paul, stand by, a couple other things.

Speaking of Boston, the mobster, James "Whitey" Bulger, guilty. Not just a little, a lot. Dozens of guilty verdicts coming down in that racketeering and murder case. Now one of his enforcers who took a stand is speaking out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN WEEKS, MOB ENFORCER: We killed people for being rats, and I have the two biggest rats right next to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: That man, Kevin Weeks, was like a son to Bulger, a bad son. Up next, you'll hear why he says he would shoot Bulger if they were in the same room.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Crime and punishment. Welcome back to LEGAL VIEW, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. When it comes to crime and punishment, the reign and terror that capture the trial of James "Whitey" Bulger is tough to top. What a saga. For years, he was the vicious mob boss of south Boston. No more, though. He's going to be an inmate. He is expected to spend the rest of his life behind bars after being convicted of racketeering and murder and a whole lost of gang crimes I don't have the time to list for you. It's that long. His lawyer says there is absolutely going to be appeal, because he says the judge refused to allow Whitey Bulger to defend himself with the argument that, in effect, he was given a license to kill by the government, because the government gave him immunity for his crimes. That's what he says.

Deborah Feyerick with more on how this drama played out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As Whitey Bulger's mob enforcer, Kevin Weeks says, he buried the bodies, moved the guns and collected the cash, which bookmakers and businessmen paid to stay in business. Weeks was one of the government's eye-witnesses. Last month, he came face-to-face with his one-time crime partner.

WEEKS: The -- he wasn't the same guy I knew. He was a lot older. But his -- you know, life in his eyes. He had changed. He kind of lost the spark.

FEYERICK: Weeks turned against his former boss after learning Bulger, who ran a murderous criminal enterprise for 20 years, spent much of the time as a government informant, the kind of man Bulger always referred to as a rat.

During the trial, Weeks and Bulger cursed each other after a defense question about Weeks' role and his regrets.

WEEKS: Basically, what he asked was, he says, you have no regrets in life. Nothing bothers you. I says, you know what bothered me? We killed five people. He says, and that bothered you? I said no, what bothered me, we killed people for being rats and I had the two biggest rats next to me.

FEYERICK: Defense argued they never provided any useful information to the government and that Bulger's lawyers argued crime partner, Steven Clemy (ph). Weeks testified he had seen Jim Bulger murder Deborah Husby (ph) with his own eyes.

WEEKS: I walked out and Jimmy was strangling with her. And Jimmy jumped out and started strangling her. And he killed her. And then she was brought downstairs and ultimately buried.

FEYERICK (on camera): Do you ever think of the look on Debby Husby's (ph) face?

WEEKS: No.

FEYERICK: Do you remember the look?

WEEKS: Not really.

FEYERICK: Do you remember Bulger and how he reacted after?

WEEKS: He laid down and went to sleep.

FEYERICK: Why?

WEEKS: He always did. He was nice and relaxed.

FEYERICK (voice-over): In December, 1994, Bulger fled south Boston. After a corrupt FBI agent tipped him off, the feds were closing in. After a worldwide manhunt, Bulger was finally arrested in Santa Monica, California, in 2011. (on camera): Whitey Bulger stood up and said he didn't get a fair trial, it was a sham. He had been given immunity by a corrupt prosecutor. What do you think of that?

WEEKS: I will equate it to this. He got a fairer trial than the people we killed.

FEYERICK: Do you think Jim Bulger ever lies awake at night, thinking about the people he allegedly killed or killed?

WEEKS: I think he lies awake at night thinking about the people he should have killed and didn't kill.

FEYERICK: If Jim Bulger were sitting across from you right now --

WEEKS: Right.

FEYERICK: What would you want to say to him, tell him?

WEEKS: Nothing. I would have to shoot him, because he would be trying to shoot me -- if he was sitting there right now.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Deborah Feyerick, CNN, Boston.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD: Wonder if Mr. Weeks ever lies awake at night because of what he has done.

So this is the 21st century, right? Muslims heading to worship were treated to this little ditty -- this sign: No Muslim parking, your car will be towed. Is that legal? Coming up, you're going to find out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Welcome back to LEGAL VIEW. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. There was a time in this country when signs like these were common. You can see beside that man, "white only entrance." and there were all sorts of signs saying "colored only," "no coloreds" or "colored only entrance" or "no Jews" you would think was ancient history, especially from the black and white images, right?

No, not right. Because this sign was found this week, "No Muslim parking in the Westview Shopping Center, your car will be towed." So if it was last week's sign and this week's issue, it's a big problem. The shopping center is across the street from a mosque in Spring Branch, Texas, outside of Houston. The Muslims across the country who have been seeing this are pretty darn angry. The employees of the shopping center say that members of the mosque are taking parking spaces that are meant for customers, especially during their celebration times, like Ramadan or the end of Ramadan. The owner of the shopping center says he has no idea who put up the signs. But they have since been taken down.

Are the signs illegal? They aren't right. They're ugly. It's not nice to say that. But are they illegal?

Our legal panelists here to sort this out, Paul Callan is here; defense attorney, Danny Cevallos.

During the break, we were having spirited conversation about First Amendment rights, making the sign and saying those ugly words, and then, of course, discrimination and civil rights.

So, Danny, where do those two things come together, clash, or do they?

CEVALLOS: First, after 1964, if you have a company, you hang out your shingle and you discriminate against someone based on their race or religion or any of the protected classes, you're violating Civil Rights Act, the Civil Rights Statute. However, going back to free speech, the question becomes, is the content of this speech such that it is not protected by the First Amendment? First, consider how different the statement is, if the word instead of Muslim is "mosque." Fascinating, right?

BANFIELD: How does that change anything?

CEVALLOS: Because that changes it completely.

BANFIELD: So no Muslims here or no mosque member,

CEVALLOS: No, no, the statement was "no Muslim parking." If you change that to "no mosque parking," now you're talking about a place of business people are going to, namely the mosque.

(CROSSTALK)

CEVALLOS: And then it becomes proper. However, this could be chalked up to something too ignorant to know the difference. But you could make that assumption that everybody who goes to a mosque technically may be Muslim. But think about our speech and how drastically different this becomes, how it implicates the First Amendment in a different way, when you say "no mosque parking," which is probably proper under the First Amendment. And then it becomes "no Muslim parking," which then possibly discriminatory and not protected under the First Amendment.

BANFIELD: I think ignorant is an understatement. And I'll say that only because if this is a church -- and Joey Jackson, I just noticed you're in the segment. I'm sorry, I didn't introduce you.

Hello, my friend.

JOEY JACKSON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It's all good, Ashleigh. Always great to be with you.

BANFIELD: And the church was celebrating a big wedding and people were parking, I could understand that they say no church parking here. But if they said no Christian parking -- you can't imagine a moment where they would say no Christian parking, could you, Joey?

JACKSON: I can't at all. I can't imagine they did this. It's improper, inappropriate, illegal, on all counts. I understand we have a First Amendment. That First Amendment is strong. We can say things, do things. You can argue, however, in the First Amendment context, this is hateful, because it would have a tendency to segregate a particular type of category of people, and you could, you know, even argue that it could incite violence against those people. And so something like this should not ever be done. And is certainly action could be taken to take it down.

And I think in a broader context, from a moral issue, it's not only Muslims that are outraged, it's all of us that are outraged, because certainly if you discriminate against one group, what's next? So certainly this should never happen at all.

BANFIELD: So, Paul Callan, what's the difference between -- and I'm not sure if Danny already answered it, but I'm still a little confused. What's the difference between marching down the street, as you have seen KKK members do, saying I hate a certain color and putting up a sign saying I want a color not to park here? They're both signs, and they are speech.

CALLAN: They are. Here's the difference and why I think it doesn't make a difference. Yes, the First Amendment protects your ability to hate other people, for the most part. And this shopping center could have put up a sign saying "we don't like Muslims." However, they would still have to serve Muslims or face a lawsuit. Free speech allows you to express your hatred. But the law says, if you're going to deny service to somebody based on gender or religion or color of skin, you're going to pay a price in a lawsuit. For instance, you could have an employment manual, and you could write in the employment manual, "Women need not apply for higher positions in this organization." That's free speech. But that would be discrimination under federal law. The corporation would be sued and would pay a huge amount of money.

BANFIELD: So writing it is not the infraction, not executing the apologies.

CALLAN: That's right --

(CROSSTALK)

JACKSON: -- violence of segregating a particular group of people, it becomes problematic and falls out of ambit of the First Amendment. That's a problem.

BANFIELD: Oh, you guys, I knew you would settle this for me. Thank you.

And I know that Joey Jackson, you're a very busy man. You have your HLN programs you're preparing for. So I have to say goodbye.

(LAUGHTER)

Thank you.

JACKSON: See you later, Ashleigh. BANFIELD: All right.

JACKSON: Danny, take care.

BANFIELD: See you back on the legal program.

JACKSON: Bye-bye, Paul.

BANFIELD: Love having the lawyers on staff now in a legal program.

So here's another one for you. American Airlines mired in the law right now, because American and U.S. Airways want to merge. But the Justice Department in a slew of states said, not so fast, jet airliner. Richard Quest is going to join me in a moment with details in only a way that Mr. Quest can deliver. I cannot wait.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Richard Quest is a very busy man and comes to us about the Justice Department filing an anti-trust lawsuit.

Richard, you been on this story and this be was not something that these parties expected the Justice Department to do.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, they did not. This is a deal AMR and U.S. Airways -- they're hoping to close this transaction to do the merger by the end of this month of August. They've had approval from the European regulators, both shareholders of AMR and U.S. Airways, and they were waiting for two things, the bankruptcy judge, who has to approve it for American Airlines, and the DOJ. Everyone was expecting was the DOJ to say you can have your deal but you'll have to give some slots, maybe a Washington or somewhere else where they have very heavy concentration. And then you have this.

BANFIELD: That's big.

QUEST: It's not only the DOJ but it's also the DOJ with the attorney generals of Florida, Tennessee, Texas, Pennsylvania, Virginia and D.C.

BANFIELD: Why those states? What's the problem?

QUEST: That's where they are based. Texas, AMR. Pennsylvania is for U.S. Airways, along with Arizona, Phoenix. These are the places where they have heavy concentration.

There's a conference call under way at the moment with the DOJ. Basically, they're saying, in their view, if this deal goes ahead, it will be anti-competitive in those key markets.

BANFIELD: One line, not going to happen by the end of the month, I think it's fair to say.

(LAUGHTER)

QUEST: Not necessarily. This is so far down the road, this is so late in the day that the negotiation strategy is going to be intense.

BANFIELD: I bet. If anyone knows intense, it's you.

(LAUGHTER)

QUEST: Coming from you --

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: It's great to have you state side.

QUEST: Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: -- in New York.

All right, Richard Quest, thank you for that. I know you'll let us know when things change as well.

QUEST: Yep.

BANFIELD: Perfect.

A big boost for transgender students in California. They now have the right to decide which bathroom they the go in and what sports team they can join. While that's great for them, what about those who aren't so happy about it, like some of the girls in that girls room who say I feel violated. We'll have our experts weigh in on this one, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Welcome back to the LEGAL VIEW. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. I want to turn to California now for a Bill of Rights check. The governor, Jerry Brown, signed a law yesterday allowing transgender students to choose their own bathroom, choose their own locker rooms, and their own sports teams they want to play on at public schools. This is the first law of its kind in the states. The people who fought for it says this will change lives.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELI ERLICK, TRANSGENDER STUDENT: I'm transgender myself. I had to miss classes and programs because of my identity. No student should have to lie about themselves in order to get all the credits to graduate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: That's one side of the story but there are some parents rattled by this, including the mom of a 9-year-old girl.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUTH DAVIS, MOTHER OF 9-YEAR-OLD GIRL: She's going be at a K-8 school. She could potentially have a 14-year-old boy walking in on her in the bathroom. I don't understand how -- how we're protecting all of the children.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: That's a great question, how do you protect all the children, the right of all of the children?

I want to bring in our legal panel on this one. Paul Callan and Danny Cevallos are back. Joey Jackson had to move on to HLN duties.

This is a great question. Whose rights, Danny, are more important are can we get to that answer?

CEVALLOS: It can be boiled down to the concept of we'll give you individual liberties until they infringe on others. That's the problem a lot of people have with this law. We want to give individual liberties to transgender children but are they infringing on the privacy of other children in the bathroom. You can look ahead to where this is going to take us, not just in the bathroom but on sports teams, getting changed. You use a stall in the bathroom but if you played high school sports you know the locker rooms are the place to change --

BANFIELD: They are.

CEVALLOS: -- and the bathroom is where you get fully nude and --

BANFIELD: Parents are worried about it, and the students as well. They have their feelings and they may be legitimate feelings.

So what's the answer for them in.

CALLAN: Pardon my lack of political correctness on things, but when I hear a first grader is a girl trapped in a boy's body or vice versa and wants to use the girls' room as opposed to the boys, I wonder if the science has kept up with where society is on this issue. I think a lot of people would be upset if they thought their first-grade child, girl was going to be in the bathroom with a boy who thinks he's a girl. I think the law has moved a little too fast in this area with respect to elementary school, elementary school students.

BANFIELD: Not if you're transgender. You've been discriminated against openly.

CALLAN: No, no. That's fine when we get older, maybe into adolescence. I'm not so sure it's clear in first grade. That's the issue.

(CROSSTALK)

CALLAN: That's the issue you have to talk about.

BANFIELD: I think the definition, we should have another big conversation about there.

But I'm full out of time but thank you to you both.

CALLAN: Thank you.

BANFIELD: Great to have you both on the set. Welcome to the new show. Good to see you.

Danny Cevallos and Paul Callan.

Thank you for watching. AROUND THE WORLD starts now with Brooke Baldwin and Michael Holmes.

I'm going to toss it over to you with that very heavy question still hanging in the air about the rights of people and people who are different than say you, me or anybody else.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: I know. Perhaps that's happening in California as a harbinger of things to come.

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: Hey, Brooke, Brooke?

BALDWIN: Yeah?

BANFIELD: What about our own offices? How would you feel if it was extended to our office space?

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Well, now you've started something. Thanks for that, Banfield.

BALDWIN: I know.

BANFIELD: Michael, have you been in the ladies bathroom again?

(LAUGHTER)

HOLMES: No.

BALDWIN: Stop that. We'll stop this right there.

Ashleigh Banfield --

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: You are wicked.

BALDWIN: -- thank you very much. Like your new digs by the way. Thank you.

BANFIELD: Thank you.

(LAUGHTER)