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CNN AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN

Even as Skakel Sent Off to Prison, Attorneys Working on Appeals

Aired August 30, 2002 - 09:15   ET

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


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Even as Skakel was being sent off to prison, his attorneys are working on appeals. We are joined by Skakel's lead attorney Mickey Sherman.
Good morning. Thanks for joining us.

You heard the Moxley's reaction to the sentence. What's your reaction?

MICKEY SHERMAN, SKAKEL'S ATTORNEY: I don't think it was just. I think the sentence -- first of all, I disagree there should be a sentence. I think that verdict was not supported by the evidence.

KAGAN: I want to get to the appeal in a second, but first the sentence.

SHERMAN: Yes, I think what we pointed out to the judge, the legislature said that somebody can get as little as 10 to 25 years. Who gets that then? Would that be people who have proven that over last the 27 years, they have lead exemplary lives and helped people. They have no criminal record. They have rehabilitated themselves. So we felt that the judge should have been lower.

And I understand the judge's rationale, but I think it was really not appropriate to expect Michael Skakel to now turn around and say, you know something, I did it; he didn't do it. And there is no reason that he had to live a lie by saying, yes, I did it, just to get a lower sentence.

KAGAN: Yesterday, the court did hear Michael Skakel speak, as you're referring to, but he stood up in front of the courtroom, but basically the judge was not taken by that. In fact, this sounds almost like he was offended by it, showing that he showed no personal remorse or responsibility for the crime. Did Michael Skakel, did your client hurt himself by standing up and speaking court yesterday?

SHERMAN: No, he didn't, and I don't think the judge was in way offended by it. I think the judge, as any judge, wants to hear the client, the defendant, the accused, someone who's being convicted say what we call mea culpa, I did it, I'm sorry, but he knew that that was going to happen.

KAGAN: He was in tight place, he couldn't get up there and say, I'm sorry, because you have an appeal going.

SHERMAN: Yes, and more important, he has nothing to be sorry for. He didn't do it. He has respectful, as he always has been to the Moxley family, and he expressed that, as well as empathy and sympathy for them, but he is not about to say something that's not true, and I don't think the judge was offended.

KAGAN: Did you have a chance to meet with him in private after the sentence was handed down? Can you share any of that with us?

SHERMAN: Yes, he's accepting, you know, of the process. Obviously, none of us accept the judge -- the jury's verdict. We have to accept the judge's sentence. But he is patient and believes very firmly in God. And he is a devout Roman Catholic. That came out a lot in the statement, which some people for some reason seem to be offended by. But he believes that i the end, will come out OK, and the end.

KAGAN: He was very emotional during that statement, and thinking about his own young son. If he serves the whole time his son with good behavior, his son will be 14 or 15 years old by the time he gets out of prison. That has to weight heavy on his heart.

SHERMAN: Clearly, that was the focal part and is the focal part of his existence, anyone. I think Dorothy Moxley said this morning, Michael Skakel lives for his son Georgie. And really, he has no real concern that he will be incarcerated, but to be separated from his son is very, very difficult.

KAGAN: Clearly, give us some insight on the appeal. Are you going more on statute of limitations, or on the fact that this was tried in adult court rather than juvenile court?

SHERMAN: Both of those issues will be central issues in the appeal process.

KAGAN: What is timeframe on that?

SHERMAN: I am not the appeal lawyer. I am told it could be as long as a year. I don't know.

KAGAN: For now, Michael Skakel will remain behind bars.

Mickey Sherman, thanks for your time. Appreciate it.

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