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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD

Snow in the Northeast, Midwest; 8-Year-Old Hero Dies Trying to Save Grandfather From Fire; Child Pornography Restitution Case Argued in Supreme Court; Family Wants Teen's Name Cleared, 70 Years After Execution

Aired January 22, 2014 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR, "NEWSROOM": Thank you so much for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello.

LEGAL VIEW with Ashleigh Banfield starts now.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to the Great White North, and I do not mean Canada. This is New York City. And it looks just like this across huge sections of the country right now.

Well over a foot of snow in places are keeping planes on the ground and kids out of school and just about everybody shivering.

Also this hour, the Supreme Court takes on child pornography. Does a young girl deserve money from each and every one of the thousands of men caught with her images on their computers?

And fighting for a new trial for a 14-year-old boy sent to the electric chair for the murders of two young girls, George Stinney, Jr., executed in 1944. His family lawyer says, this case will never die until the truth comes out.

Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It is Wednesday, January 22nd. Welcome to LEGAL VIEW.

We are here in New York City where it's a balmy 10 degrees, there's 11 inches of snow on the ground and if you do the "feels-like" calculation, minus-seven in the wind chill.

We have had the heaviest snowfall of the entire season, and that, by the way, has covered the Northeast.

Trying to get out of the city was an absolute nightmare. No one was moving. We heard one woman to say it took her three hours to go six blocks. That's when you just want to get out and walk if it weren't so cold.

Philadelphia, covered in 13.5 inches, but it didn't stop kids from having fun and also from sledding down the Art Museum steps. How great is that? Instagram video coming into CNN, sliding down the steps, perfect, nice and soft in the snow.

In Chicago, beautiful pictures if you like the idea of tugboats breaking up the ice in the harbor. That area got hit with six-to-12 inches of lake-effect snow. And the temperatures falling down into the single digits. The wind chills as low as 25-degrees-below-zero.

CNN has been busy bringing you team coverage of this major winter storm. And I want to bring in meteorologist Indra Petersons, who's got the assignment in Boston, George Howell, who is in Chicago, live for us, and Karen Maginnis is in the -- I don't -- 72-degree CNN Center in Atlanta.

So I'm going to start with you, Indra. Give us the read on Boston. You're smiling, but something tells me not everybody is there.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I think I started smiling when you said 72 degrees in the studio, because I'm sitting in a lovely, whopping wind chill of 10--below.

So I had a little calculation there. It is about 80 degrees warmer for you. Love that.

Either way, yes, we're definitely talking about a very cold system that brought a lot of heavy snow, record-breaking snow, that's what you just mentioned, in a good 24-hour period.

And what's so unusual, Ashleigh, is this was just a system that was kind of an Alberta clipper. That's how it started.

And those systems are usually moisture-starved. They move over land. It's cold air. They're very dry, usually just bring several inches of snow.

Sure, Chicago got some lake-effect snow, some moisture from the lakes, right? Same concept, now, this system moves and kind of intercepts with the ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, and it develops the strong low.

That's the reason we quickly saw so much snow overnight, the closer you are to the coastal section.

So, we're talking about almost a foot of snow in New York City in 24 hours. Record-breaking snow up towards Philly, a good 13 inches out there; Jersey, 15 inches; and southeastern portions of Boston, 16 inches of snow.

But a little caveat there, some of the snow drifts, talk about that snow and that wind kind of just piling up in one section. Some of those snow drifts are a good three-feet high. That's what we've been dealing with.

Kind of want to show you some of the snow out here. Same thing we always kind of show you, just the texture of it, it's very dry.

And the reason this is so important -- I do this every time -- you can't make a snowball. If you throw it, the wind picks it up and just blows it right back at you.

Why does that matter? Because the Arctic air is going to be staying here for several days. So, all this record-breaking snow, it's not going anywhere.

And (inaudible) going to be talking about this cold air and snow on the ground for several more days, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Just going to be blowing around on those nicely plowed sidewalks and streets and making them messing again.

Indra, thank you for that.

I want to move over to the left of the screen. George Howell, it looks like you're squinting, because the wind and the snow, probably the blowing snow, is rather upsetting in Chicago.

And that's not the only problem there. There is actually a propane shortage that's befallen that community. Can you give me the lowdown?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ashleigh, absolutely, yeah, the wind did kind of turn around. But without the wind, you kind of get used to this.

Right now, it's seven degrees here in Chicago. I guess negatives is when it gets tough for me, but absolutely this cold weather has put a much greater demand on propane.

People want it. The supply is limited. And as prices continue to shoot through the roof, propane dealers, both large and small, are worried.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JERRY DAUPARAS, ASHLAND PROPANE: I been doing this since the family business. They've trusted us to take care of them. And -- sure, I'm getting them gas, but how are they going to afford to pay for this?

HOWELL: Concerned about supplying his customers the propane they need to stay warm in this bitter cold snap, Jerry Dauparas is caught in the middle, his company struggling to get enough supply to meet daily demands.

And as the price continues to go up, Dauparas knows that many of the people that count on him can't afford it.

DAUPARAS: And I have to pay the bill, too, to my suppliers. So, yeah, it's emotional. I mean, it's not easy telling somebody to -- it's expensive.

HOWELL: Weather is only part of the reason for the shortage. Last year's corn crop is partially to blame.

The robust fall meant producers needed more propane to fuel heaters to dry the crop.

Then there's the issue of greater exports. Some say that's also crimping propane supplies.

As a result, prices have all but doubled.

More than two dozen states have issued emergency declarations to ease restrictions on propane drivers to get more of it on the roads to places that need it. Industry leaders are looking for more solutions.

JEFF PETRASH, VICE PRESIDENT, NATIONAL PROPANE GAS ASSOCIATION: We have reached out to the pipeline association here in Washington to bring to their attention the severity of the situation to try to expedite the shipment.

We've also reached out to the railroad association to urge them to expedite rail deliveries.

HOWELL: But with winter in full effect, this propane retailer knows the dynamics of supply and demand don't make that much of a difference when the people knows are just trying to keep their homes warm.

So he explains it as best he can.

DAUPARAS: We're doing our best to get them product.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: As the cold weather continues, the snow continues to fall here in Chicago and throughout the East Coast.

There are things that you can do. If you're a household that relies on propane, give the situation, the first is simply to take shorter showers, the experts say.

Also to dial your thermometer back five degrees, they say that will help to conserve, even ration, until more product, more supply, Ashleigh, can get online.

BANFIELD: You can also do one other thing, just for your own purposes. That's wear a hat and gloves, because I don't know what you're saying about seven degrees not being cold, my friend.

I grew up in Canada, and that's plenty cold.

HOWELL: It's kind of weird. I'm surprised I'm getting used to it. Yeah.

BANFIELD: I think you're numb.

George Howell, thank you for that report.

I want to scoot back over to the warm climes of the CNN Center in Atlanta where Karen Maginnis is standing by.

One of my teammates put out an email to the entire LEGAL VIEW team yesterday. I'd saying it was around 2:00 or 3:00, saying it's snowing in Atlanta.

I didn't think it could snow if it was over the freezing mark, but it -- you know, if it was warm enough, but is that true? Was it really snowing in Atlanta?

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: There were some snow grains, actually, those little tiny things that almost look like balls of ice, but, yes, you see some of those higher clouds?

They've got a lot of moisture with them and it stays cold all the way to the ground, so that's why it manages to snow.

But, technically -

BANFIELD: Here's what I don't think, though, Karen. I think that it might have been a little bit of snow where you are, but it was nothing like the poor folks in the Midwest, around the eastern seaboard.

It took me four hours to get home from work yesterday, four hours.

MAGINNIS: About 75 million people were impacted by this storm system, up and down the eastern seaboard, but mostly along the I-95 corridor.

Take a look at the picture we've got out of the White House, looks beautiful, sparkling, some of those snowflakes in the air. It feels like minus-five. And if you take a look at the flag blowing in the breeze there, yeah, that's the reason why it feels like it's minus- five.

This is one for the record books, but we wanted to show you some of the more impressive snowfall totals. (Inaudible) saw just about 16 inches of snowfall, but here are the real records. And, yes, we talked about this earlier, Philadelphia, over 13 inches of snow; Central Park, 11 inches of snowfall.

And you know what? You'll see a little clipper system move by later on today. And if you're not stuck at the airport, and many of you ever just because of the backlog of flights that were canceled yesterday.

And if you're out on the (inaudible), yeah, the wind and the snow is blowing, but that will last until about another couple of hours as the snowfall comes down with winds gusting to about 30-miles-an-hour.

But then, just wait. As we go into the weekend, we've got this other storm system moving in across the Upper Mississippi River Valley, and, Ashleigh, those temperatures are going to dip to double-degrees-below- zero again.

BANFIELD: I knew you were going to say that, which means that all the snow that's fallen isn't going to have any time to melt before we get another piling on.

MAGINNIS: Exactly.

BANFIELD: All right, Karen Maginnis, thank you for that. Also, my thanks to Indra Petersons and George Howell, working outside in the very cold temperatures today.

I want to turn now to a story that's crossed our radar, the story of a very, very young hero, a hero who's gone, though, far too soon.

Just 8-years-old, this boy, Tyler Doohan, was sleeping over at a relative's mobile home when, suddenly, flame and smoke started filling the room. So what did Tyler do? He jumped into action. He helped six other people escape that inferno, but when he couldn't find his grandpa, he ran back into the fire. He did not make it back out.

Jean Casarez joins me now with this extremely tragic story. I think a lot of the details of just exactly what transpired are still sort of filing in, but, ultimately, what happened?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: It's so sad to even have to talk about.

I just got off the phone with the fire chief and, Ashleigh, there were nine people in that trailer. Six of them got out, and, truly, this little 8-year-old little boy realized, my grandpa, he's not here.

His grandpa was an amputee, so he runs back in to the trailer home toward the back and the fire chief just told me that he and his grandpa was found. It was obvious, he was trying to lift him up to carry him out of that mobile home.

Now, here's some more information that we're learning. Fire officials got there in less than a minute after the call went out. They were very, very close. And the mobile home was just engulfed in flames.

BANFIELD: So no one could get in to help Tyler in what he was trying to do, help his grandfather. Nobody could help him get out.

CASAREZ: And that was my question. There are adults standing out there. Why aren't they going in?

And they told me, the fire chief, that carbon monoxide can overtake someone. Their mental state can become distorted.

Tyler was sitting -- sleeping on the ground with his cousins. That's the best place to be in the fire, because you're going to have your faculties where others may not, because you are so low to the ground.

But the cause of death, they're not saying now. The other family members are in the hospital. They want to interview them. They have not.

But Tyler's mother, she had allowed him to sleep that night with relatives. She is speaking out about the son who is being called a hero. Let's hear from her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRYSTAL VROOMAN, TYLER DOOHAN'S MOTHER: They were laying in the bed together, trying to get to the window.

I'm just so grateful that he went with people he loved. He didn't go alone. They didn't cross over alone.

I'm just so glad that he was with his best friends. It makes me really proud. It really does, but I just want him back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CASAREZ: And the cause of death is undetermined, of course. They do believe it was of an electrical nature.

Ashleigh, there were space heaters all around in the mobile home and there was no smoke detector.

And the chief told me that a smoke detector in that small space area could have been heard by everyone. And it could have saved lives.

BANFIELD: And, ultimately, the grown-ups could have helped that disabled grandfather perhaps get out without Tyler having to risk his life and then obviously spend his life.

Jean, thank you for that very, very sad story. Thank you.

We have another case we are looking at. It's child pornography, and it's being argued at the highest court in the land today. And the issue is intriguing.

Should the children, the victims of child pornography, be paid restitution by every single person who looked at the images in the first place? And, by the way, how much should each of them pay?

We're going to break that all down in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Today marks the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling that almost everybody can cite by name, Roe versus Wade, and that means snow or no snow, thousands of anti-abortion activists are mobilizing on the National Mall for a march to the high court's steps. Abortion rights activists are holding their own event. For his part, President Obama is saluting what he calls Roe's guiding principle that every woman should be able to make her own choice about her body and her health.

So here is an easy one for you. Should a convicted pedophile caught with dirty pictures of a child have to pay that child as a consequence of his crime? The natural answer is probably of course. But what if several men are caught with the same pictures of the same victim, how about thousands of men all ogling the same girl named Amy as her uncle rapes her on camera? Should they all have to pay Amy as a part of their punishment? If you say yes, here's where it gets a little bit tricky. How much should each of them pay her? Equal amounts? And should it be up to Amy to have to chase down each and every one of the twisted abusers to collect the damages?

As sick as all of this sounds, Amy's case is real. This morning, it was heard by the Supreme Court of the United States. The justices have to decide whether a Texas man named Doyle Paroline should pay the entirety of a $3.4 million damage settlement that Amy, who is now an adult, claimed and was awarded by an appeals court. Paroline says he only had two pictures of Amy, only two, and that it's unfair to stick him with the whole tab of that settlement or I should say that award. Ultimately, since there are 3,000 other criminal cases involving pedophiles with pictures of Amy, he has a bit of an argument. To be sure, there is not much sympathy for Paroline or anyone like him for that matter, but there is a principle that's at stake here. And that's where Jeffrey Toobin comes in.

So, for starters, how is it that this one man with two pictures, as bad as that crime is, ended up stuck with such a big tab of $3.4 million?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, in 1994, Congress passed a law that said victims of child pornography, that is the people, usually women but not always women, girls, boys, who are portrayed, are allowed to get restitution from the people who committed the crime of possessing this, restitution. How do you define what restitution is? It is actually very difficult. This being the age of the internet, once these pictures get online, thousands of people have access to them. Do they all pay? Do they all pay the same amount? Do they pay based on how much they can afford? Do they pay based on how often they looked at the photographs? It starts to get very difficult. That's why the case is before the Supreme Court today.

BANFIELD: Ultimately, they have a lot of possibilities before them. They could do something middle of the road. They could go all in the favor of Amy saying, you know what, Paroline, pay the 3.4. You shouldn't have done anything. Two pictures, ten pictures, doesn't make a difference.

TOOBIN: Right, and Paroline says, unless you can prove that my possession of these photographs caused you harm, you shouldn't get anything at all. Those are the extreme views.

BANFIELD: But how do we determine that in crimes in general? If you are a victim of crime, you have lawyers fees, you've got counseling. You may have lost -- there are already defined damages out there.

TOOBIN: But it's very hard in most circumstances, in the real world for people to recover damages. Most criminals don't have a lot of money. Most victims of crime don't have very good access to the court system. So, it's actually very rare for people to get much in terms of civil damages once crimes have been committed.

BANFIELD: It's kind of funny, because the U.S. government has weighed in somewhat on how they think this case should go. It is a bit of a middle of the road.

TOOBIN: Right, and basically what the solicitor general, the Obama Justice Department has said, is, look, let's leave this up to the district court judges who do the accept sentencing. Let them decide because they have the most familiarity with the facts. Let's not make a flat rule that she gets the whole amount, or she gets nothing, let the district court judges decide.

BANFIELD: Is what you're saying is let the district court judges decide each and every one of these cases and the apportion the amount they owe, which portion of the totality they owe?

TOOBIN: Correct.

BANFIELD: How can they know what cases are coming down the pike?

TOOBIN: Well, they do. It is all after the fact. Once the --

BANFIELD: We still have a bunch of cases yet to be adjudicated.

TOOBIN: Well that's the -- again, that creates the problem, but what -- the judges can only decide based on what's before them at the time they have the case. Usually, people sue once they have a sense of the scope of the damages. You put your finger on yet another complexity here. How long are these pictures out here?

BANFIELD: It's going to keep going.

TOOBIN: And how many people continue to exploit the children.

BANFIELD: Sadly, the internet is forever. Now, let me just ask you, the one line I threw in there, there is hardly any sympathy for people like that. Does that even play in with the nine justices, the kind of person they are dealing with?

TOOBIN: Well, look, they deal with criminal cases all the time. They deal with murderers, child pornography possessors, creators. They are used to dealing with bad people, but even bad people have to have the rule of law applied to them. That's what this case is about. It is also worth pointing out that Amy has already received over $1 million in damages from various other people involved in this case. So I don't know if that should play in there or not.

BANFIELD: For anybody who thinks, well, gee, Amy, you got your due. Let's also note that Amy is now considered to be the most viewed victim of child pornography now in the world. Her images have now gone so viral that there is no victim out there believed to be more viewed than Amy. Amy's rape by her uncle. It is so disgusting to even think that this is even a case, but it is. Jeff I've gotta wrap it there, but let's see how it goes, obviously. Jeff Toobin, joining us live.

A 14-year-old boy is executed. It happened 70 years ago in South Carolina. We don't do it anymore, but this young boy was convicted of killing two white girls after the jury deliberated for just ten minutes. A death penalty, ten-minute deliberation.

Today, this boy's family is fighting in court to clear his name. Do they stand a chance? At LEGAL VIEW just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Seventy years ago, a 14-year-old boy was executed. Just think about that for a minute - executing at 14-year-old boy. He was executed because he was accused and convicted of killing two girls, aged 7 and 11. That little guy in the mug shot right there was so small, that he didn't even fit in the electric chair. The straps were loose on his body. So they had to put him on books so that he would actually fit on the seat. When the switch was flipped, his body convulsed, dislodging the mask that was too big and exposing his face as he died.

George Stinney is the youngest person to be executed by a U.S. state since the 1800s, but today his family says Stinney did not kill these two kids, Mary Emma Thames (ph) and Betty June Beneker (ph), and they want his name cleared.

Our David Mattingly has all the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In 1944, George Stinney Jr. was just 14 when a rush to judgment sent him to his death in South Carolina's electric chair, convicted in the murders of two little white girls, Stinney's trial reportedly took just three hours. The all-white jury deliberated just ten minutes. Seven decades earlier, attorneys for the Stinney family ask for a new trial to clear his name.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George Stinney could not have committed the murders. I think George Stinney saw those children but I don't think George Stinney was the last person to see those children.

MATTINGLY: The bodies of 11-year-old Betty June Beneker and 7-year-old Mary Emma Thames were found in a ditch in the small town of Alkalu (ph). A coroner's report at the time described a brutal beating, multiple severe head injuries suggested the killer used a blunt instrument about the size of a hammer. Family of the victims still believe Stinney was guilty.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They had no choice in how they died and he did, and I think justice was served according to the laws in 1944 when this happened.

MATTINGLY: In the few records that still exist, Stinney allegedly confessed, even told police where to find the murder weapon. During the trial, his attorney called no witnesses, asked no questions, and filed no appeal after the young boy was sentenced to death. Today, Stinney's siblings testify the teen was innocent, with them the entire time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to clear the air. We were not allowed to go any place without my mother permission. They were very strict with us. We could not go no place, nowhere.

MATTINGLY: David Mattingly, CNN Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD: I want to bring in trial and criminal defense attorney, Heather Hansen for more on this one. The natural reaction is, are you kidding me, that could have happened? The reality, it happened all the time. Why would this child have not even had an appeal? It is automatic in this country on every death penalty. You get an appeal.

HEATHER HANSEN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And it sort of leads to the conclusion that there was an ineffective assistance of counsel here. But the problem here, Ashleigh, is, there is no transcripts of any of it. The argument on the prosecution side is, it would be speculative to say that there was an ineffective assistance of counsel. Perhaps there are things on the record to explain why they chose not to appeal, to explain why they chose not to call witnesses, and because we don't have a record, we can't guess as to what those things were.

BANFIELD: Okay, the body of the facts as we know them, regardless of what's missing. There are some knowns in this. One of the knowns, is that there were no witnesses to this, there was no direct evidence tying him to killing these two girls. He happened to have just been one of the last people to see these girls as they were out looking for wild flowers down a train track.

He was with his sister who ultimately was his alibi and was never called at trial. So we know already that this was a junk case. Then we also know that there was a confession that a 14-year-old kid gave to a bunch of grown-ups because he was in custody without a lawyer or a grown-up or a family member present. And we already know plenty of innocent people confess for all sorts of reasons. Isn't that enough to have this verdict thrown out at least just so the family can reclaim his name?

HANSEN: The judge is not supposed to be retrying this case right now. She is supposed to be solely basing her decision on whether to give them a new trial on the law and the facts as they were tried in 1944. What does she have to base that on? Really, nothing.

You are correct, if it were to be retried, the likelihood is that the prosecution would fail.

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: Can't retry something when you don't have anybody alive and you don't have any evidence to bring out a lock-up (ph).