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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: THE POINT WITH GRETA VAN SUSTEREN: Jeffrey Pierce spent 15 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The way I look at it, they fabricated evidence.
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ANNOUNCER: Her testimony helped put him behind bars, and has put others on death row. Tonight, a police chemist under investigation. And the larger point: crime and unjust punishment.
Plus, keeping our lights on.
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RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are lots of ways we can use technology to get better.
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ANNOUNCER: But is going nuclear the best answer?
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ROBERT KENNEDY JR., NATIONAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL: We still don't know what we are going to do with the waste for the next thousand years.
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ANNOUNCER: Robert Kennedy Jr. surveys the Bush administration's energy policy.
THE POINT: Now from Washington, Greta Van Susteren.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Can you get away with sloppy work? I bet you know people who try. What about on a job that involves life and death? You'd probably support automatic safeguards. But what if those people are sloppy, too? This isn't a hypothetical case.
Tonight's "Flashpoint": Crime and punishment. Yesterday, Jeffrey Pierce got out of an Oklahoma prison after serving 15 years for a rape he didn't commit. Authorities now say his conviction was based on mistaken identification and on testimony from an Oklahoma police chemist named Joyce Gilchrist.
At the trial, Gilchrist stated Pierce's hair was microscopically consistent with the rapist. Investigators now say she was wrong. However, the FBI and state officials are investigating Gilchrist, who has been with the Oklahoma Police Department for 21 years, and is now on paid leave. According to a leaked FBI report, her expert testimony often, quote, "went beyond the acceptable limits of forensic science," end quote.
Jeffrey Pierce joins me from Oklahoma City, along with his brother, Gary. Welcome, Jeffrey, and congratulations on being out of prison.
JEFFREY PIERCE, FORMER INMATE: Thanks, Greta. How are you? It feels good.
VAN SUSTEREN: It does feel good. What did you do the first two days out of prison?
J. PIERCE: The world moves fast. These cell phones are about to drive me crazy. I haven't even tried Internet yet. So, I'm just trying to learn all this new technology.
VAN SUSTEREN: How would you describe mood, Jeff, after getting out?
J. PIERCE: It still hasn't sunk in yet that I'm all the way out.
VAN SUSTEREN: Are you mad?
J. PIERCE: I'm not made at people of Oklahoma, I'm mad at the system of Oklahoma and how -- they -- I just feel they've known the whole time that this was just a set-up. I mean -- and they have duped the people of Oklahoma, too. The jurors are even saying we have been duped by the prosecutor's office and the Oklahoma City police department.
VAN SUSTEREN: What about your children, Jeff. You had infant sons when you were convicted of rape 15 years ago. Have you had a chance to see them or speak to them in the last 15 years?
J. PIERCE: No, last night was the first time I've spoken to them.
VAN SUSTEREN: What did you say?
J. PIERCE: I love them, and what they have been doing. They've been playing baseball and making good grades in school, and doing good in life.
VAN SUSTEREN: What did they think you were doing for the last 15 years? J. PIERCE: My wife never told them where I was. We figured...
VAN SUSTEREN: Did they ever -- go ahead.
J. PIERCE: We figured going into this, after about two years, there is chance that I might not ever get out of prison, and we didn't want them to be brought up to prison every week or anything like that. We felt that it would be best if they just not know.
VAN SUSTEREN: Gary, did you ever think this day would come when your brother would get out?
GARY PIERCE, JEFFREY PIERCE'S BROTHER: Greta, I'll be honest with you, there were days when my hope kind of really waned, and I think Jeff and I, we kind of went in cycles. There would be times when I would be down and he would bring me up, and there were times when he was down and I'd bring him up.
But I could not ask for any better ending to this story. I'm sorry it was 15 years, but Jeff has been totally vindicated. This could not have happened -- I couldn't have dreamed it to happen this way.
VAN SUSTEREN: What's been the impact, Gary, on your family that Jeff has been away for 15 years wrongfully convicted.
G. PIERCE: Well, it's like I've told a lot of people, the district attorney's office and the Oklahoma City police department basically took a one-victim crime and turned it multiple-victim crime. My mother has kept in touch with Jeff's ex-wife. We would smuggle pictures of the boys into the prison for Jeff to see.
It's been horrible on my mother to see what it's done to her. Jeff's ex-wife is working two jobs to support his kids. I have taken my kids to see Jeff because it did bring him a lot of joy and it kind of reminded him of his kids. They're a little bit younger than that, but you know, it's been hard on all of us. But you just take the hand that life deals you, and you just go day-by-day and hope that tomorrow something good happens and for us, it did.
VAN SUSTEREN: Jeff, how bad was prison?
J. PIERCE: The first two or three years it was you know it was rough. It was scary and everything. After that, after I got acclimated to it and met people and had friends, it got to where I could bear it. I mean, I had friends that watched out for me, and I watched out for them. They helped me when I needed help and I helped them when they needed help.
VAN SUSTEREN: Jeff, you know, I just can't imagine what it's like to be in prison and to be innocent of a crime and have nobody listen. What was it like? I can't -- in my wildest dreams, I can't imagine what that was like for you.
J. PIERCE: Well, I really never even talked about my crime or my innocence. I mean -- everybody knew. I didn't hide it from people. But everybody in there had problems for themselves, and I didn't want to sit there and cry about my crime all the time because they all had problems themselves. I just tried to get a routine going, in prison that I followed every day: go to work, work out, maybe go out and jog and stuff, go to the library and read the newspaper I just tried to keep a full day's worth of activities to keep my mind off of it.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Jeff, I have to tell, I'm absolutely scandalized by the number of judges that had an opportunity to right the wrong of your case and didn't. Do you have any sort of special feelings toward the court system that it seems like they just looked the other way when it came to your case?
J. PIERCE: Man, it was unbelievable. They overturned three cases because of Joyce Gilchrist's testimony, and mine came up and it was probably the best case out of all of them, I thought, and they denied mine. And that about broke me there when they denied me.
Right then, they just -- I mean, I couldn't believe it. I mean they had her and all they to do was just start letting overturning the cases and they would have got rid of her, but after those three cases, they just went on and starting affirming everybody's cases.
VAN SUSTEREN: We're going to take a quick break. Up next, attorney Barry Scheck and Jeff's lawyer. How many more people like Jeffrey Pierce are out there?
VAN SUSTEREN: We're talking about the investigation of Oklahoma police chemist Joyce Gilchrist. Eleven executions have resulted from cases in which she testified, and she's helped put a dozen others on death row. Joyce Gilchrist says she never intentionally done wrong, and believes she'll be exonerated by DNA testing of the evidence she has handled. Perhaps others could be helped by DNA testing, as well, and not just in Oklahoma.
Joining me now from New York is attorney Barry Scheck, who is head of the Innocence Project, which arranges for DNA testing of evidence in cases where people appear to have been wrongfully convicted.
Former inmate Jeffrey Pierce is in Oklahoma City. And with him now is his attorney, David Autry.
David, first to you. Let's talk about Joyce Gilchrist. Was this a situation where we have an incompetent forensic scientist or is this where someone did it deliberately?
DAVID AUTRY, PIERCE'S ATTORNEY: We have both an incompetent forensic scientist in Joyce Gilchrist, who was allowed to run roughshod over any kind of reasonable scientific standards. And I believe she was encouraged in that, at least, by certain elements of the police department. She was criticized by the courts repeatedly, yet she kept getting promoted. There was no repercussions and no reprimand. So, that tells me that there was some sense -- some sort of a cooperation between law enforcement and this particular chemist. I think that she was an advocate, rather than a scientist. And when you combine advocacy from a so-called scientist, plus incompetence, plus a willingness to go beyond anything reliable, in order to convict people, you get big trouble, like innocent people such as Jeff Pierce getting wrongly convicted.
VAN SUSTEREN: David, I got to tell you, when I hear you talk, I become almost unglued in the fact when you say that courts chastised her for her poor performance.
What were they doing? We had one court that said, she actually violated the terms of a court order, but nonetheless, upheld the conviction of your client, saying Gilchrist's failure to turn over the evidence was not enough to reverse conviction.
The court was just sitting, they had a chance, they were asleep at the wheel, and they just rubber-stamped what was done before. It's scandalous, David.
AUTRY: I absolutely agree with that. She violated court order, she didn't send the hair evidence for testing, the serology evidence she sent leaked out of the container, she gave a late forensic report, as was her habit. And they had all the facts in the world in this case to do what was right, and they let it slide.
VAN SUSTEREN: Let me go to Barry.
Barry, do you have any venom toward the court as I seem to have as sort of ignoring everything. And by the way, we asked the prosecutor on the case to join us tonight, but we were unable to get the prosecutor to join us.
BARRY SCHECK, THE INNOCENCE PROJECT: It's -- the prosecutor I think bears great deal of responsibility. You know, Joyce Gilchrist was kicked out of these professional associations of forensic scientists. One of them, Accident Reconstruction Groups, censured by another.
You really have to go a long way to get censured by these groups, much less kicked out of one of these associations. So it was well- known for a long time that she was a problem. But the prosecutors purposely turn the other way...
VAN SUSTEREN: And so did the courts, though, Barry. Barry, the courts did, too. I mean, the prosecutor is trying to get a conviction, supposed to be fairly done. But now, you have the courts that are supposed to be the checks and the balances. They all knew it.
AUTRY: They all bear responsibility, but I would center a lot of responsibility on the prosecutors in these cases, particularly the capital cases and all the cases like Jeff's, where they put people away, basically for the rest of their lives, because when you are on notice, that the scientist is this bad, and may even be engaging in fraud, you have to go back and look at it.
You have to ask the lab people to do an audit. You have to bring in some professional people to review her work. And none of that was done. And the only reason she was caught was that some good people started blowing the whistle in the laboratories, and she was totally incompetent to even create a DNA laboratory that they're trying to set up there.
So we're just lucky: Thank God that Jeffrey's evidence was available. There are some other people on death row now that we're looking at in this jurisdiction; there's some intimations in these reports that are being done that she tried to destroy the evidence rather than have it retested. This is a major disaster. But it is not the only place where it's going on.
VAN SUSTEREN: Go ahead. What?
AUTRY: The same day that the story broke about Jeffrey's case, in Chicago, Pam Fish (ph), a serologist who had been caught misleading juries earlier -- we wrote all about it in our book "Actual Innocence" in the John Willis case -- now, has been caught again in a case involving four people who were convicted of a rape/murder, two of whom seem to have been coerced into false confession. So it's going on there; it went on in West Virginia; it's going on in Florida.
We need a gigantic review of all these cases, starting in Oklahoma.
VAN SUSTEREN: Speaking of Oklahoma, Governor Keating has been quoted as saying, he expressed confidence, no innocent person has been executed there. David...
SCHECK: How can he know, Greta? How can he know? Especially in light of the Gilchrist stuff. He can't know until we go back and try to find the evidence in those cases, and do some testing. He can't know.
VAN SUSTEREN: David, how long have you been working on this case?
AUTRY: For the last 14 years, with the exception of a few years and an interim period after the direct appeal and before we filed a state post convict application, and then a federal habeas petition on behalf of Jeff. So, probably about 10 out of the last 14 years.
VAN SUSTEREN: Jeff, what are you going do now with the rest of your life?
J. PIERCE: I really -- haven't thought that far ahead yet. I want to get back with my family and, you know, see if we can maybe work something out. Or, you know, at least be there for my kids.
VAN SUSTEREN: You mean, your ex-wife. Is that what you mean by getting back with your family?
PIERCE: Yes. VAN SUSTEREN: How did you pick up the pieces, Jeff, after 15 years?
PIERCE: Well, you just try to forget about the last 15 years, because if you don't, it will take the next three years from you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have any plans to see your children? Is that --have you got that set up yet?
PIERCE: Yes. I am in progress of doing that.
VAN SUSTEREN: What surprises you the most since you have been out? I know it's only been a short time -- 2 days -- but what surprises you most about being out?
PIERCE: Cell phones.
I'm telling you: cell phones.
VAN SUSTEREN: Cell phones.
VAN SUSTEREN: Are their other guys in there, Jeff, who you think shouldn't be there -- that are innocent?
PIERCE: Yes, I know there is. I know -- you can't believe how corrupt it is. There are guys who have been tried for years to get evidence, and it's always lost, misplaced, or been destroyed. It's -- a hopeless cause.
You try and try and try, and they just keep stonewalling you, and I just got lucky. I got out. And I hope this will start and now they won't be able to stonewall, and the rest will start coming out.
VAN SUSTEREN: Thanks to Jeffrey Pierce and to attorney David Autry. And Congratulations to David Autry, I tip my hat to you, 14 long years. And Barry Scheck. Thanks for joining me this evening.
ALL: Thank you, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Next, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Why does he have big problems with the Bush administration's energy and environmental policy?
THE POINT returns after a quick break and our MONEYLINE update.
VAN SUSTEREN: Vice President Dick Cheney says there's no quick fix for America's energy problems. He's urging us to concentrate on developing our energy supplies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What has happened in California, I would argue, is they have taken the route of saying, well, we can conserve our way out of the problem. All we have to do is conserve, we don't have to produce anymore power. So they haven't built any electric power plants in the last 10 years in California, and today they have got rolling blackouts, because they don't have enough electricity, they've got rising prices, they've got a whole complex of problems that are caused by relying only on conservation and not doing anything about the supply side of the equation.
VAN SUSTEREN: Cheney says the Bush Administration will urge the development of coal, oil and nuclear sources of power. But Robert Kennedy Jr. is here with another take. He's the senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Bobby, thank you for joining us tonight.
ROBERT KENNEDY JR., NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL: Thanks for having me, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK, Bobby, what is wrong with the White House position or policy on the environment and energy?
KENNEDY: It's bad economic policy. It's bad environmental policy, and it's absolutely decimating for the environment. As Vice President Cheney described it this morning, the national policy, the government policy is now going to be to build between 1,300 and 1,900 new power plants, one a week, a new power plant a week every week for the next 20 years.
Many of them will be nuke plants which makes no economic sense. There hasn't been a new nuke plant site in this country since 1973 and the reason is because it makes no economic sense. The only way make nuclear power make sense is to give it huge government subsidies. From an economic point of view it simply can not hold its own, and then we have to decide what we're going to do with the contaminants, with the waste products for the next 1,000 years. Who will pay for that? Again, that's going to end up on the back of the taxpayers.
New coal energy: none of this makes any sense. It's not going to relieve the consumer. It's not going to relieve the energy problems that we have in this country right now.
VAN SUSTEREN: Let me ask a question, do you agree we have problem?
KENNEDY: Yes, we have specific problems. We have a refinery capacity problem nationally, and in California you have a -- you have a lack of capacity of power plants but that is not caused by a lack of energy, it's not caused by a lack of oil. Only 3 percent of the oil in California comes from oil. And, you know, the largest amount, Greta, the biggest reserve of capacity that we have in this country is through conservation.
VAN SUSTEREN: So, what's the solution then, Bobby. I mean, I understand that you disagree with the White House's policy, so what are we going to do?
KENNEDY: Well, listen if we raise corporate average fuel efficiency for the automobile industry by as little as three miles per gallon, we eliminate ten percent of our oil imports into this country. We can easily raise it by 20 miles a gallon.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why haven't we done that? What's the opposition to something like that?
KENNEDY: Well, you know, Jimmy Carter did it back in 1976 and his policy -- he raised corporate average fuel efficiency, when he came into office it was 20 miles per gallon. He passed an executive order that said we would go up to 40 miles per gallon by 1980. Unfortunately, and by the end of his term in office we had already made it up to 26 miles per gallon.
Ronald Reagan rolled that executive order back every year he was in office and George Bush did the same, and we ended up, in 1980, at 26 miles per gallon. If we had done what Carter had planed, we'd have eliminated 100 percent of our oil imports into this country by 1980. We wouldn't have had a gulf war. We would have insulated ourselves from price shock in the national oil market.
We would have generated enough cash from savings to payoff our entire national debt and every American would be richer instead of paying $1,100 for gasoline every year as I do now. I would be spending about 600 and our air would be cleaner. That's the energy policy and that's what we ought to be doing now, not building new nuke plants.
VAN SUSTEREN: And unfortunately I have cut you off. We always run out of time. Never enough time. Thanks to Bobby Kennedy for joining us tonight from L.A.
KENNEDY: Thank you, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Divorce is often a contest to see who can be meaner or cheesier. Right now there is a tight race in New York City to see who can win this contest.
Tonight's "Final Point": Knock, knock. Who's there? Here are the possible answers: Judi and Rudy, or Donna and Rudy, as in Rudy Giuliani, the mayor of New York City. Donna is the mayor's wife, but they're getting divorced. Judi is his "special friend." So why the question? Well, the door is the door of Gracie Mansion, the mayor's official residence, and where his wife Donna still lives.
The problem? According to "The New York Times," the mayor's wife is asking a court to order the mayor's girlfriend to stay away from Gracie Mansion. Yesterday there was a court hearing. Wife Donna -- she showed up. The mayor went to a charity golf tournament instead. Not exactly the best PR response to be out on the links while the matter boils.
In divorce court, often the truth of what is really happening is shaded by both sides. I have never seen two people who can view the same set of facts and reach such different conclusions than a man and a woman in the midst of a hostile divorce that involves children. My take: Regardless of who did what, where and when, Mayor Giuliani should take note of the word grace as it pertains to Gracie Mansion. He should act gracious and keep his girlfriend away from the family home, even if it is his official residence.
I'm Greta Van Susteren in Washington. Next, Larry King, it's animal night on "LARRY KING LIVE."
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