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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD
Tarrant D.A. Tries Again on Texas "Affluenza" Teen; Brazil Ignores Snowden; Rodman Heads to North Korea; India Soccer Stand Collapse Injures Over 100; Two Tickets Win Mega Millions; Indian Diplomat Arrested
Aired December 18, 2013 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN HOST: So sorry to say it but if you hit the numbers for the mega millions last night, you're going to have to share the $648 million jackpot because two people, two beat the astronomical odds. One on the East Coast, one on the West Coast -- could they come forward and announce themselves this hour?
Also ahead, did a 16-year-old drunk driver who killed four people and got off pretty darn easy because he was wealthy, did he do something wrong in his case, and ultimately, could he end up back behind bars? A new twist, we'll explain in just a moment.
And the execution of North Korea's number two leader and a U.S. State Department travel warning just don't seem to be enough to keep Dennis Rodman away. He's about to tip off another bizarre, basketball- diplomacy mission. We will explain.
Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It is Wednesday, December the 18th. Welcome to LEGAL VIEW.
So, a brand-new development in a case that has a lot of people talking, the Texas teenager who plowed down four people while he was driving drunk.
Well, it might just end up that he goes to jail after all, a brand-new development, sort of a legal twist in the case of Ethan Couch, the kid who claimed he had "affluenza," a rich-kid syndrome and didn't know any better, didn't know right from wrong.
The judge bought it, let him off the hook, essentially, not sending him to prison, giving him 10 years probation instead.
And now the Tarrant County d.a. has something else in mind. Because two of the crimes that happened weren't officially dealt with, they might actually deal with them now.
And on top of that, look at your screen, plaintiffs, victims, and damages, because civil cases have been launched against this young man and his family and you might see over a million, but look down to the bottom on the right, 20 million unspecified damages and that could be even higher.
To explain all of this, I want to bring in our legal attorneys, Paul Callan and Danny Cevallos, are "On the Case." The judge that you just saw has been taking it on the chin for giving this kid that probationary sentence.
And now the Tarrant County d.a. has come back and said, ah-ha! I have two things I still have to work with.
They're the assaults, not the killings, but the assaults of the two people who were injured.
Paul Callan, can you explain why now there may be this do-over?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The prosecutor's coming in as a result, frankly, of massive publicity criticizing what this judge did and has discovered something.
There were two counts involving kids who were riding in the same car as Ethan Couch, the driver, and saying that the judge didn't deal with those two counts.
So we're going to ask the judge to sentence him to jail on those two counts.
BANFIELD: This is called a intoxication assault. An intoxication assault, is that a simple assault? Is it an aggravated assault? What kind of assault is it?
CALLAN: What's bizarre about it is, it is -- it's a reckless assault, OK? It's the same thing as the manslaughter charge that was the subject of controversy.
But what's interesting here is normally those counts would have been covered in a plea deal when the original thing was negotiated.
And I'm just wondering when they look at the paperwork if the judge isn't going to say, hey, I took that into account when I was looking at the manslaughter charge, so, please, I'm not going to resentence.
And how can the judge justify this? She's giving him nothing, essentially, for the manslaughter and now she's going to say, I'm sending him to jail for an assault? She'd look so hypocritical.
BANFIELD: Let me just put up on the screen if we have it, please, and that's the statement that's coming out from the Tarrant County district attorney with regard to this case.
"During his recent trial the 16-year-old admitted his guilt in four cases of intoxication manslaughter, two cases of intoxication assault. There has been no verdict formally entered in the two intoxication assault cases.
"Every case deserves a verdict. The district attorney's office is asking the court to incarcerate the teen on the two intoxication assault cases.
"Due to limitations in the family code, we are unable to make additional comments," courtesy of Joe Shannon. That's the Tarrant County d.a.
Danny, is this clerical? Is this an opportunity for grandstanding on the part of the d.a.? Could we actually see Ethan Couch go to jail?
DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I have so many problems with this and I'll tell you in order.
Number one, any plea agreement -- it should have been understood that all of the open cases, all of the open transcripts should have been consolidated and dealt with at once.
I have to believe that at least Couch believed that they were being dealt with, all in one instance.
The second thing, too, is that this probably raises some double- jeopardy issues.
But the bottom line, and I love the d.a.'s comment, "Due to the juvenile code, we can't make any other comments," like they're really playing it close to the vest. He's telling everything else he's planning on doing to this child.
But at its core, this undermines -- trying to send Couch to jail undermines the entire idea of the juvenile system.
Look, if we want to send juveniles to jail, let's get rid of the juvenile delinquency courts and just charge them all as adults.
But we don't do, because the science shows that juveniles are different. They develop differently.
BANFIELD: I appreciate that. But not every case is the same. And I think that's the issue that so many people have with this kid and this particular sentence.
I only have a couple seconds left. But tell me this, Paul.. This judge has been -- I mean, excoriated in the press. She's really a pariah, almost, at this point, with regard to this sentence.
Can she redeem herself with another sentence with the assaults, or would that be just ridiculous to incarcerate over a lesser?
CALLAN: Danny and I disagree. I think incarceration was the right sentence initially.
But this judge would look totally hypocritical, she would look like she folded as a result of public pressure, and judges are supposed to be independent of public pressure.
So -- and, you know, final -- she's retiring soon, so why would she care? She's not running for reelection. So, I think the judge will not fold.
I think she's going to say this is nonsense. And I think, for better or for worse, the sentence will probably remain the same. BANFIELD: Let's watch. I think this is a fascinating development, nonetheless, especially since we have no idea there were two verdicts that didn't actually get dealt with or adjudicated in this particular case.
Thank you both. Stick around. Lots more to talk about in a moment.
But some other top stories that we're checking right now in the news, the Brazilian government is saying, thanks, but no thanks, to an offer from former NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
Snowden, who's now in Russia, posted a letter on a Web site offering to help investigate United States surveillance of Brazilian citizens. The government says it will not respond to that letter.
Also making news, Dennis Rodman is not letting political upheaval stop him from returning to North Korea. The former NBA star is due to arrive tomorrow to help train the country's top basketball players there.
The visit comes after last week's execution of the uncle of North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, on charges of treason. It will be Rodman's third visit this year. No word if he will be talking about the execution or about Kenneth Bae, who's still incarcerated there, an American citizen.
Jaw-dropping video of an entire soccer stand collapsing before a game in India, more than 100 people -- oh -- injured when that happened. Police have now launched a criminal case against the sports club for alleged safety violations that may have led to that collapse.
Apparently, some very heavy rain hit the area over the weekend and that, the official say, compromised the wooden planks that those people were on.
Two winning tickets and the jackpot got even bigger, if you can believe it, the Mega Millions aftermath and the nice little surprise that CNN was a part of, coming back.
BANFIELD: If you live in Atlanta or San Jose, California, and you're just wondering about the co-worker of yours or group of co-workers who maybe didn't show up for work today, it may very well not be the flu.
It may instead be this. It's the magical combination of numbers. The no-shows beat -- possibly, the no-shows beat the inconceivable odds and matched all six numbers in last night's Mega Millions drawing worth $648 million.
There are two winning tickets, and even if your tickets don't match all of these numbers, look again, don't rip it up, because 20 tickets in all matched all of the numbers except the Mega Ball, so those tickets are worth a cool million dollars each.
Again, don't rip up your ticket if you didn't get the Powerball. $800 million is left on the table, annually, from people who just toss that ticket that is actually worth something.
So while we wait for the Mega winners to come forward, and they just might during this hour, our Dan Simon in San Jose and Martin Savidge in Atlanta found that you can make money selling the winning tickets as well, which is kind of a bizarre notion.
So, first of all, talk to me about the Gateway Newstand, what happened there and what is the mood like today.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now the mood is that everybody is trying to figure out who exactly got that winning ticket.
As you point out, there are only two and one of them was sold in this office complex behind us. You can't see, Ashleigh, the little news stand that's inside, but it's at the center of a really very big question.
And just as you were describing, there are a lot of people walking around this office complex, going, hey, do you know people that didn't show up for work today? Because that's expected to be the clear indicator that they probably struck it rich last night.
Talking to the owner of that news stand, she believes that in fact it was a group of people. She doesn't know that for certain. She doesn't know who won.
She does know it was one of her customers, but she thinks the way people were snapping up tickets yesterday, it was probably purchased by a group. In other words, there was some kind of group office thing going on.
She's waiting to find out, as we are waiting to find out.
BANFIELD: It will be so much fun if it actually does come forward during this hour.
Dan, I want to zip over to you. Tell me what the story is where you are.
DAN SIMON, CNN SILICON VALLEY CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Ashleigh. We're in front of Jenny's Gift Shop. This is a strip mall in San Jose, California, and since this is a gift shop, perhaps the person who came in to buy this ticket was buying a Christmas present and maybe they walked away with two Christmas presents, including the winning lottery ticket.
Right here, I have John Reading with the California lottery. He's got a big sign in front of him.
If you could hold this up to the camera, John, you're going to put this in front of the store. "Millionaire made here."
If you could just sort of explain what you guys are doing today? JOHN READING, CALIFORNIA LOTTERY OFFICIAL: We're coming in, we're going to put the signs all over the store and basically just get the store ready for all the excitement.
SIMON: I guess the question that everybody has, any idea who this winner is?
READING: No idea at this point.
SIMON: OK. And so the guy who owns this store, he gets a piece of the action as well. Can you tell us about that?
READING: That's correct. He will get a million -- $1 million.
SIMON: A million dollars. And so you're here just basically waiting for him to arrive and you're going to celebrate with him?
READING: We're going to celebrate, yes.
That's the story here, Ashleigh. Again, we don't know who this is, but a lot of excitement here in San Jose.
Most of the stores around here, these are small Vietnamese stores. And the owner, he's a 37-year-old. He's got three kids, and as you just heard John say, he's walking away with a million dollars himself.
We'll send it back to you.
BANFIELD: So, I'm glad you cleared that up, because selling a winning ticket doesn't mean selling your winning ticket. It means just selling the ticket before it actually wins and you make some money off it, which is great.
Martin, Dan, thank you both, and keep us posted if you hear any news on who those winners are. They'll be fascinating characters, to say the least.
I want to talk about other kind of money, the real kind of money that you and I have to deal with. How does $85 billion sound? Pretty nice, right? That's how much the Federal Reserve has been spending each and every month on government bonds and mortgage-backed securities, all in an effort to prop up our economy.
So, take that Mega Millions jackpot we just talked about and multiply it by 131. You will almost guess what the Fed kicks out every 30 days and the program is calls quantitative easing. You may have heard about if as QE. That's what it is. Quantitative easing. We could find out today when the Fed is going to stop doing it, or at least hall back, turn off the spigots somewhat. Alison Kosik is it joining me.
So, the Fed's been in a meeting for two days. It wraps up today. This is what investors have been worried about because the market has been drunk, essentially, with all this money that's been flooding into the economy.
ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Trying to figure out what the Fed is going to do, but I've got one bigger number for you, Ashleigh: try $3.8 million. That's how much the Fed's been pouring into the economy since all of these stimulus programs began in November 2008. The economy was in really bad shape. We were losing 775,000 jobs just in November when the very first stimulus program started, so the whole point in this stimulus was to prop up the economy, move more money into the economy and basically push interest rates low.
BANFIELD: Why is interest rate so small with QE 2. I mean you got QE 1, which was moderate. And then QE 3 is the same. How did they come to this decision on how much?
KOSIK: You have the fed testing the waters into how much they thought that the economy needed to get it sort of moving again, and the latest was this $85 billion a month that is pouring into the market. Well, now it's coming -- it's sort of coming to a head because the economy is showing improvement, so some are saying, look, the fed is going to scale back on the stimulus program, even if it's just a little bit and then there's another school of thought that says, look, we want to see more consistent data of economic strength and you look at inflation and it's tame. There are some central bankers around the world who think that we're getting very close to deflation. So, they think, hey, look, the Fed has more wriggle room and they could continue the stimulus even after the meeting that we'll find out how it is resolved today.
BANFIELD: I'm no economist, but I hat the notion of what could happen if there is any kind of news that the party is over, ladies and gentlemen.
BANFIELD: Makes me nervous.
KOSIK: The market is expecting that it won't be a surprise.
BANFIELD: Alison Kosik, thank you. Appreciate it.
So going rate for babysitters in your neighborhood, $10, $20 bucks depending on how old they are. There's a diplomat in New York who has been arrested for what she paid her babysitter and if you think that's not such a big deal, wait until you hear how it's become an international incident, and now the security of Americans in India may be in question. I'm not kidding. That's coming up after this.
BANFIELD: Welcome back to LEGAL VIEW, I'm Ashleigh Banfield. Take a look at the woman on the screen behind me. She's been arrested. Her arrest -- she's an Indian diplomat here in New York City -- has caused a big problem in India, not just for her, but for people from America who are there working there for the United States. She allegedly submitted false documents to get a work visa for a housekeeper and then allegedly paid that housekeeper a lot less than a legal minimum wage, and then she got arrested and what's causing the backlash in India is not only the arrest but how this diplomat was treated upon being hauled in to custody and jail. CNN's Pamela Brown has this report.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Watch as police remove the concrete security barriers in front of the U.S. embassy in New Delhi. Newspapers in India reporting that the government is behind the anti-U.S. protest. Why? Retaliation sparked by an arrest of this Indian diplomat in New York City, Devyani Khobragade.
According to this criminal complaint Khobragade a Deputy Consul General severely underpaid her babysitter only paying her $3.31 an hour far less than minimum wage. The complaint also alleges the diplomat worked her babysitter far more than the 40 hours per week allegedly without overtime pay and then lied about all of this on visa documents, a violation of U.S. laws.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My daughter has nothing to done any all, she had nothing to do with the visa process.
BROWN: State Department diplomatic security arrested Khobragade last Thursday after she dropped her daughter off at school. She was later strip searched and put in a holding cell with other defendants. Her lawyer says she pleaded not guilty.
DANIEL ARSHACK, DR. KHOBRAGADES'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I have every expectation that she'll be completely vindicated.
BROWN: Her arrest sparked outrage among Indian officials, some calling her treatment barbaric. One even calling for the partners of gay U.S. diplomats in India to be arrested. The country recently banned gay sex.
VASHWANT SINHA, FORMER INDIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: What the government of India can do immediately is to cancel those visas, arrest all of these companions, put them behind bars.
BROWN: Indian officials also snubbed U.S. delegates visiting India. One tweeting, "Refuse to meet the visiting USA delegation in solidarity with our nation."
KAMAL NATH, INDIA'S PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS MINISTER: More steps should be taken against the United States until they've given an unconditional apology.
BROWN: U.S. Marshal Service officials stand by their strip search procedures saying they treated the diplomat the same way they treat everyone else.
MARIE HARF, STATE DEPARTMENT DEPUTY SPOKESWOMAN: Thus far, all indication are that appropriate procedures were followed. But nonetheless we understand this is a very sensitive issue and we're continuing to review exactly what transpired. (END VIDEOTAPE)
BROWN: Khobragade's lawyer Daniel Arshack telling CNN that his client is protected from the charges by diplomatic immunity, and that he expects a prompt resolution. He also said that he is distressed by the treatment she allegedly received saying that there was simply on reason to have arrested her on the street in front of her daughter's school, nor to have her strip searched.
Similarly situated individuals of her stature are routinely provided an opportunity to report to the authorities to address charges at their convenience instead of being swept off the street like a common criminal.
A law enforcement source familiar with this case did tell CNN that Khobragade was not arrested in front of her child, and that she was not handcuffed until he arrived at the courthouse, a courtesy not afforded to most people according to this source.
I also want to note here that I spoke to a State Department source and the source is telling me that she had consular immunity under the Vienna Convention, limited immunity, not diplomatic immunity, and that essentially the source saying that she did break the law so she has no immunity at all.
BANFIELD: Ah, that just raises so many questions.
BROWN: Yes, it does.
BANFIELD: Isn't it a good thing that sitting next to you is the legal analysts of the day, Paul Callan and Danny Cevallos.
Paul, let me begin with you. You just heard what Pam got from her source. Consular immunity, not diplomatic immunity, what's the diff?
CALLAN: Well, here's the difference, and think Strauss-Kahn case.
BANFIELD: No. No, you lost me.
CALLAN: Remember when Dominique Strauss-Kahn got charged for the rape case in New York? Okay. He had a similar kind of immunity. What it means is this. If you're engaged in your official activities as a diplomat, you're covered and totally immune. But you have a limited immunity as a consular official. If - and that immunity only applies when you're acting as a diplomat.
Now here, she's hiring a domestic worker for her house, and she submits an application and allegedly lies on the application. So that's a crime that has nothing to do with her job, hence no immunity.
BANFIELD: Okay. I'm going to argue with you as a complete idiot who is not a lawyer but thinks she can go head to head with two really smart ones. If she were filling out documents related to her work here as a consular official and submitting them to our State Department, how can you say that's not part of her job? That she's not working within her actual duties, thereby protected by the kind of immunity that she and her lawyer believe she has.
CEVALLOS: A sound defense.
BANFIELD: But total garbage, right?
CEVALLOS: No. I'm actually inclined to agree with you, that in this case, as long as it's reasonably related to her official activities. After all, it's why she's here, it's why she's making the application. I would expect her defense attorney to center their immunity defense around that. Everything else - I mean if she knowingly felt that's what the statue calls for, did she knowingly procure and put that information down. We focus on the visa. It's not the tact that she was being paid less than the minimum wage. Those are the elements of the federal crime. I think they fall back on that consular defense, any immunity defense, and build their case around that.
CALLAN: Does being a diplomat in the New York require you have a housekeeper? I don't think that's required -
BANFIELD: But the paperwork she filled out, is it not a little bit different?
CALLAN: It has to be officially related to what she does as a diplomat and cleaning her house is not officially related to what she does as a diplomat. Hence, no immunity. I stand with Pam and her State Department source. No immunity.
BANFIELD: Well, councilor, you're smarter than I am and I actually haven't seen the paperwork that she had to fill out. I have no idea if it would be different. Just quickly though, can you touch on what is going on in India? It seems like this has raised a complete catfight, that they are taking it out on our diplomats over there.
BROWN: They are. So basically it seems like they're more upset over how she was treated rather than why she was arrested.
BANFIELD: Strip search.
BROWN: Right. Because you have to think, we have a difference in cultures, too, and in India that is seen as humiliating, that kind of thing. That is sort of what is believed to be behind the outrage and the fury there. They have been taking IDs away from consular staff at several different embassies throughout sevral cities in India.
BANFIELD: But not the embassy staff. They've been taking consular IDs away, and we should be really careful, too, because as I understand it, some of these Ids are like perks. They're like --
BROWN: Right. It gives them benefits. It gives them basically benefits --
BANFIELD: But it doesn't mean like papers please, and they you're going right to jail because you don't have them. But it's a big deal.
CALLAN: Interesting sideline, U.S. prosecutor born in Punjab, India, the U.S. attorney to the southern district born in India, brilliant lawyer, he's going to be the prosecutor.
BANFIELD: I knew you'd have a twist to this.
CALLAN: Just to show you how America works. Right.
BANFIELD: Paul Callan, Danny Cevallos, Pamela Brown, thank you for that.
Another story: this holiday season the chances you're going to see a road block and usually that might mean a check for DUI, but what if someone asks you, open up your window, open up your mouth, we're going to get a swab of your saliva and DNA. Some people said, you're kidding me, right? That's exactly what happened to them. What are your legal rights, and did someone break the law when they did that? You'll find out in a moment.