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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Two High-Profile Trials on Verge of Collapse?; California Releasing Prisoners Early
Aired March 25, 2004 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks so much for joining us tonight. I'm Paula Zahn.
It is Thursday, March 25, 2004.
ZAHN (voice-over): Two dramatic courtroom developments. Jurors at each other's throats in the trial of Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski. And the teenager who accuses Kobe Bryant of rape says death threats have her life in disarray. Are both cases on the verge of collapse?
Addicts, thieves, violent offenders, hundreds freed every week from overcrowded jails in Los Angeles, they don't finish their time because of budget cuts. Isn't that a dangerous way to save on taxes?
And sons of Camelot, the past, present and future of America's foremost family dynasty, the Kennedys.
ZAHN: All that ahead tonight, but, first, here are some of the headlines you need to know right now at this hour.
The White House this evening is requesting the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks meet with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice again.
Let's turn to Dana Bash, who is joining us live from the White House to talk about the significance of all this tonight.
Good evening, Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Paula.
And that request came in a letter from the White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, to the chair and vice chair of the 9/11 Commission. And, as you said, they want another private meeting with Dr. Condoleezza Rice and members of the commission. This is not what the commission has been asking for.
They have wanted a public hearing. They wanted Dr. Rice to appear this week during hearings as they occurred. But she said no then and she is still saying no now. Now, Dr. Rice did meet with commissioners here at the White House in February for about four hours. This letter tonight says -- quote -- "In light of yesterday's hearings, in which there were a number of mischaracterizations of Dr. Rice's statements and positions," that is why they want this next meeting.
But it is also important to know that Dr. Rice has said, according to a spokesman from the commission, to commission members in meetings and also in public, even to reporters, that she is willing to sit down in private. So this letter from Alberto Gonzales seems to be a formality, making it official, also perhaps politically letting people know that she is willing to cooperate.
Now, at the commission, they are saying that they are certainly willing to hear what she has to say and they are probably going to set something up sometime soon. But it's important to note that they are not agreeing to testify publicly, which is what Democrats have been calling for and the commission has been asking for as well -- Paula.
ZAHN: Yes, a lot of controversy swirling around that. Dana Bash, thanks so much.
The CIA is analyzing an audiotape that may have come from al Qaeda's No. 2 man, Ayman Al-Zawahiri. It aired today on the Arabic news network Al-Jazeera. The tape's speaker talks about Pakistani troops moving into the border region. Now, that happened last month. But it does not mention the fierce battle there last week, in which al-Zawahiri was believed to have been cornered.
The speaker calls on Muslims to rise up against the Pakistani government, in particular the president.
"In Focus" tonight, two high-profile prosecutions that may be on the verge of collapse, the first in New York, where former Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski and a colleague are accused of reaping a $600 million bonanza at the expense of stockholders. The jury has been sent home to cool off, after notes were sent to the judge complaining of prejudice and a toxic atmosphere during deliberations.
Joining us now is Dan Ackman, senior columnist for Forbes.com.
Good to see you, Dan.
DAN ACKMAN, SR. COLUMNIST, FORBES.COM: Good to see you.
ZAHN: Let's take a look now on the screen at a portion of that note that was sent out -- quote -- "The atmosphere in the jury room has turned poisonous. The jury contends that one member has stopped deliberating in good faith. The majority of us believe we could reach a fair conclusion without the presence of this juror." Please note that we do not have the same views of guilt and innocence, but all believe we could conclude deliberations in good faith.
OK, then, 20 minutes later, this other note went out -- quote -- "The disagreement has become so intense that it has resulted in a very bad acrimony. Perhaps this jury cannot continue."
So how did Kozlowski's team react to this note? ACKMAN: Well, Kozlowski's team immediately moved for a mistrial on the idea that their chance for a fair trial no longer existed because of the acrimony within the jury pool. The judge quickly denied that request.
ZAHN: All right. And then a third note went out. Now, what was that all about?
ACKMAN: The third note merely said that the second note was the view of only one juror. So here you have a jury arguing not just about the evidence, not just about the verdict. You have a jury that's arguing about the notes.
ZAHN: All right, you were in the courtroom. How did the judge react to all of this?
ACKMAN: Well, the judge said it was no surprise that a jury that had been in the jury room all day, and indeed now for six days, that had been on trial for more than five months, would have some cross words. So it was really that he was not surprised that this has happened and therefore was certainly was not prepared to send the jury home for good.
ZAHN: So what is it that we can expect to happen tomorrow?
ACKMAN: Well, tomorrow, the judge will listen to the lawyers and ask them what he thinks -- what they think he should tell the jury. Then he will tell the jury basically to get back to work, at which point they will try to deliberate again.
ZAHN: And what are you inclined to think will happen?
ACKMAN: Well, I think a hung jury is obviously possible, given these notes. But I certainly think given that there's 32 separate charges here, it's unlikely that they will be unable to agree on at least on a few of them.
ZAHN: Do we know about this one juror in specific?
ACKMAN: Well, we don't.
A lot of people are speculating that it's juror No. 4, who happens to be a retired lawyer. That's really pure speculation. I don't see how people know that. I certainly don't know that. And I certainly would not rule out the possibility that it could -- the first note indicates that it's more than one juror that is -- at least more than one juror that is arguing against conviction. And I certainly wouldn't discount the possibility for an acquittal still.
ZAHN: Well, keep an eye on it for us. Dan Ackman, thanks so much.
There are developments tonight in the Kobe Bryant case as well. Bryant's accuser today urged the judge to set a trial date soon so that she can get her life back to normal. She also said she has received hundreds of death threats. And her mother even wrote to the judge worried about her daughter's safety. There may be a whole lot to this than meets the eye.
Joining us now from Eagle, Colorado, criminal defense attorney and former Denver prosecutor Craig Silverman.
Always good to see you, Craig. Welcome.
CRAIG SILVERMAN, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Hi, Paula.
ZAHN: Well, we're going to share with our audience part of that note the mom wrote to the judge. She said -- quote -- "Her life is on hold. Her safety is in jeopardy until this case is over. I'm asking that the court do whatever possible to bring this case to trial as soon as possible."
Give us a sense of what the motivation is behind this note.
SILVERMAN: Well, I think this note from a mother is heartfelt and impactful.
There's no doubt that this young woman has gone through a trying time. Three different men have been arrested for threatening her, as well we know for sure that she's being followed by the tabloids, photographs taken of her when she doesn't want it to occur. So I take the mom at her word.
But it was attached to a very unusual motion filed by the victim's lawyer. It's not even clear that the victim's lawyer has standing to file a motion trying to accelerate the trial date, telling the judge that his client, the alleged victim, is tired of waiting.
ZAHN: So how is the judge likely to react to all this?
SILVERMAN: I don't think that the judge will be that happy.
First of all, in the motion, they kind of mislead the public about the state of Colorado law. But beyond that, it's an injection of a third party in a criminal case, where normally you just have a prosecutor and a defendant. So it's interesting to contemplate what might be really going on here.
ZAHN: So what do you think is really going on here?
SILVERMAN: Well, you have to consider the context. For the last two days, we've had a rape shield hearing. And if this prosecutor and this alleged victim lose the rape shield hearing and the jury hears about a man before Kobe Bryant and more significantly a man who had sex with her after Kobe Bryant, but before she went to the cops, there's virtually no chance of the prosecution prevailing.
And they may be looking for a gentle way out. This motion today, this complaining about the delays and all the threats may be part of a graceful exit strategy.
ZAHN: You were in court today and yesterday. Describe to us the demeanor of the alleged victim.
SILVERMAN: Well, you know, when she got done testifying, I was in the hallway and she walked right toward me as she went to the exit door. And she looked composed and stoic. And I think anybody who could read something into that is a lot smarter than I am.
ZAHN: But, clearly, this is a very challenging time for her.
SILVERMAN: Oh, absolutely. Nobody would like to talk about these subject matters, let alone in a courtroom under oath with a bunch of strangers. And let's face it, Kobe Bryant is a veritable stranger to her.
ZAHN: And if the judge grants a speedy trial, what will the impact be on the defense?
SILVERMAN: Well, you know, Kobe Bryant at any point during these proceedings could tell the judge, hey, I want to plead not guilty. Once he does that, the state has six months to put him on trial, and if they fail to do that, he goes free.
ZAHN: Thanks for being our eyes and ears there. Craig Silverman, appreciate it.
SILVERMAN: My pleasure.
ZAHN: A rare event where the biggest names in the Democratic Party dine together. Beating President Bush is the appetizer tonight.
And at the L.A. County Jail, thousands of hardened criminals are walking out way before their time is up. The sheriff says he has to let them go, budget problems.
And the sons of Camelot, a best-selling author's intimate look at the latest generation of Kennedy heirs.
ANN RICHARDS, FORMER TEXAS GOVERNOR: ... more than any other fund-raiser in Democratic Party history. And this event...
ZAHN: Well, it's a veritable Democratic love fest in Washington, D.C. tonight, the unmistakable voice of the former governor of Texas, Ann Richards, piercing the crowd.
Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Al Gore all in one place tonight to help raise money for John Kerry. That is an extraordinary show of unity by some Democratic stars who often are not seen together. The event could raise $11 million for Kerry's campaign.
And joining us now to talk politics, John Fund of "The Wall Street Journal" and regular contributor Joe Klein of "TIME" magazine, who is at the dinner in Washington. Along with him there is former presidential candidate Senator Bob Graham.
Welcome to you all. So, Senator Graham, how would you describe the level of unity there tonight?
SEN. BOB GRAHAM (D), FLORIDA: I would say it's all encompassing. It couldn't be better. All of the candidates were there, the two former Democratic presidents, vice president, tremendous (INAUDIBLE) to get behind (INAUDIBLE) candidate John Kerry and go to the White House.
ZAHN: I don't even know if you can hear me, Joe, but we know the $11 million obviously is important to the Kerry campaign. In the end, what does tonight really mean?
JOE KLEIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think the unity is as important as the money. Democrats are experts at the mathematical function of subdivision. They subdivide themselves constantly.
But this time you have a room full of very happy Democrats now listening to Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic Party chair. And it's a unique experience. I've got to say that George W. Bush is a miracle worker. Nobody could unite this party except for him.
MATTHEWS: As you're watching this, John, are you thinking the Republicans should in any way be worried about this?
JOHN FUND, COLUMNIST, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Oh, yes, the Democratic Party is clearly very united against Bush. Whether they're united about -- or behind John Kerry as being the best possible candidate against George Bush, I think there's still some doubt.
ZAHN: Let's move on to 9/11 Commission, the president, of course, coming out today strongly defending his actions prior to September 11. How damaging do you think in the end Richard Clarke's allegations have been to this president's credibility, John?
FUND: They have been damaging.
But now the questions about Richard Clarke's credibility are coming up. Look, all journalists love whistle-blowers, Paula.
But when a whistle-blower is selling a book -- remember, FBI Agent Gary Aldrich was selling a book during the Clinton years -- some skepticism is allowed. Tonight, we have the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Porter Goss, who I'm sure Senator Graham respects very much, saying he's going to possibly pursue perjury against Mr. Clarke because -- quote -- "His testimony to our committee is 180 degrees out of line what with he's been saying in his book. He's either lying in his book or he's lying to our committee. It's one or the other."
So I think we should have skepticism about both the Bush administration and Mr. Clarke given that he's selling a book.
ZAHN: Senator Graham, do you have complete faith in what you heard from Mr. Clarke? This is a pretty serious charge, of potential perjury. GRAHAM: Well, I think the president's credibility is also on the line. And his credibility is going to be judged by actions.
Has this president held anybody accountable for the events of 9/11 or the lack of adequate information and intelligence leading up to the Iraq war? Has he proposed any changes that will strengthen the intelligence community's capability to protect Americans? He's done neither.
FUND: But, Senator, there are two people we should ask that, Richard Clarke No. 1, who praised Mr. Bush's terror efforts and criticized Clinton's terror efforts, and Richard Clarke No. 2, who is selling a book, who says the Bush administration ignored terror.
And now he's changing his mind, saying, well, they considered it an important issue, but not an urgent issue. Richard Clarke is changing his story day by day by day. Porter Goss, someone you respect, is saying he's lying, Porter Goss, who is the co-chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a former CIA agent.
BLITZER: Senator Graham?
KLEIN: Paula, could I have a word?
ZAHN: Let's let Senator Graham react to
GRAHAM: Yes, Paula.
Paula, what the president needs to do is to stop throwing slime over
FUND: Porter Goss is not throwing slime. You respect him.
GRAHAM: ... and over now Richard Clarke. He needs to start answering the very credible charges.
FUND: You're just ignoring this.
ZAHN: No, well, Senator Graham just called them very credible charges.
Joe Klein, how do you see this playing out, when you have someone with the profile that Porter Goss has suggesting that Richard Clark has committed perjury here during these commission hearings?
(CROSSTALK) KLEIN: Well, it's a comment on how partisan this year has gotten.
You see how excited John Fund has just gotten. He's screaming. He's red in the face. He's interrupting Senator Graham.
FUND: It's only so I
KLEIN: Now he's interrupting me.
What you have here with Dick Clarke is the Prophet Jeremiah. He's one of the most obnoxious people in Washington, but he has always pretty much told the truth. A couple of times, during the Bush administration, he was the good soldier and he walked out there for them. But I don't think that anybody doubts the essential truth of the argument that he's making, which is that Clinton didn't do enough until it was too late and Bush didn't do anything at all until September 11.
That is a problem for the current president. It was a problem for Clinton as well. It's a real problem for the country.
ZAHN: All right, I want to close tonight with the president's performance at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner last night in Washington. I want to find out whether you all thought it was appropriate humor when the president poked fun at the very controversial issue of finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere.
BUSH: Nope, no weapons over there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, I was at the dinner last night. And I was really fascinated to see the reaction. Half of the room I thought was laughing and then you saw some pretty uptight body language.
Did you have a problem with that, Senator Graham?
We've lost over 500 American men and women in this war. We have had 3,000 or 4,000 seriously injured. To treat as humorous that we went to war for essentially a deceitful reason is not a presidential manner in which to represent the people of the United States.
ZAHN: Inappropriate humor, Joe Klein?
KLEIN: Well, look, this is going to be a long, ugly election year. And I think the president should be allowed to have a little humor. There are certain ground rules that obtain at those kind of dinners that you were at last night. And, you know, it doesn't upset me overly much.
ZAHN: You get the last word tonight, John Fund.
FUND: Bush had four reasons other than this about why we went to war. This was fine for 95 percent of the audience. For a few military families, I can understand why they might have grimaced.
ZAHN: All right, John Fund, Joe Klein, Senator Graham, thank you for all your perspectives tonight.
GRAHAM: Thank you.
ZAHN: And who could possibly wrap a child in explosives and send him to his doom? A teenage boy, the new face of Middle East violence.
And, if you are addicted to gambling, can you sue the casino for letting you get in over your head?
ZAHN: Israel tonight is trying to find out who sent a teenage Palestinian boy on a suicide mission. He did not succeed. And the sight of him wrapped in explosives may be one of the most chilling images ever in the decades of violence there.
Ben Wedeman reports from Gaza.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It has come to this, a Palestinian boy rigged with explosives caught at an Israeli checkpoint.
Interviewed by his captors, he said he was 14, that he did it to go to heaven and be happy. His mother says he's 16. She thought he was in school.
"If I knew what was happening," she says, "I would have done the impossible to stop him."
Gaza psychiatrist Iyad Sarraj has studied traumatized Palestinian children.
IYAD SARRAJ, PALESTINIAN PSYCHIATRIST: This is not only one child trying to explode himself or being abused. This tells you that this environment now is so disturbed and chaotic that it becomes very, very dangerous.
WEDEMAN: Disturbed enough for children to become easy prey for those with a violent agenda; 13-year-old Yasser Tafisch (ph) weeps over the grave of his brother, Hatin (ph), killed three weeks ago attacking an Israeli position in Gaza.
"If I could, I'd become a martyr, too," he tells me. "But you're young. You have your whole life ahead of you," I say. "I'd do it now if I could," he responds.
Yasser's mother, Amman (ph), shows us old pictures of her dead son. I ask her if she'd prevent Yasser from following in his brother's footsteps. "No, I wouldn't," she says. "I'd be lying if I told you I'd stop him.
Yasser had a photo studio down the street make computer-generated pictures of him and one dream out of reach and another closer to home, old symbols of parental authority replaced by the new.
SARRAJ: The martyr, the militant, the Kalashnikov, the sword, usually in normal environments, the father is the hero of the children for a long time. But then the father in our case is demolished.
WEDEMAN: A society increasingly militarized and the innocent swept up in the madness pay the price.
Ben Wedeman, CNN, Gaza.
ZAHN: Broken budgets equal thousands of get-out-of-jail-free cards in Los Angeles. A financial crisis is emptying cells of dangerous criminals.
And we're going to introduce you to a priests whose pet project brings animals and their owners together for worship.
And the workout makes you stronger, we are told, but will sweating to classical music make you smarter.
ZAHN: And we're back.
Here are some of the headlines you need to know right now. Congress has passed a bill that would make it a separate crime to harm a fetus during a violent act. The Senate approved the legislation tonight, sending it to President Bush, who will likely sign it. The bill's opponents fear it will be used to chip away at abortion rights.
And a 3-year-old boy, California boy, who disappeared yesterday has been found in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The county sheriff says little Aiden Burke appears to be OK. A member of the search team says -- quote -- "He smelled like dirty diapers. We were just happy to see him."
Soon, people will once again be allowed to climb the steps up to the Statue of Liberty. The inside of the landmark has been off-limits since the September 11 attacks. National Park officials say the site has undergone security, health and safety enhancements. So, the next time you exercise your body, you might want to try exercising your mind with a little music. A new study in the journal "Heart and Lung" says listening to music while working out can make you smarter. So is it really that simple?
We are giving the study our "High Five" treatment, five quick questions, five direct answers straight and to the point.
Joining us now is Jim Karas, a fitness and weight loss expert and author of the weight loss book "Flip the Switch."
Always good to see you.
JIM KARAS, AUTHOR, "FLIP THE SWITCH": Thank you, Paula.
ZAHN: So you're telling me you can actually get smarter if you exercise while listening to music?
KARAS: That's what Ohio State says.
They took 33 people and they put them on treadmills and they gave them tests afterwards. The second time, they put them on a treadmill and had them listen to Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons." And their results on their verbal fluency tests doubled.
ZAHN: So question No. 2, does it matter what kind of music you listen to
KARAS: That's a great question. They didn't study that yet. But other case studies showed that the faster music actually improved your physical performance while slower music actually reduced your performance but that has to do with the physical aspect not the brain.
ZAHN: So question No. 3, in general then, if you exercise to music, you're getting a better workout?
KARAS: I think you are. Especially, I find, if you're exercising to music that has a little bit of a good beat. Think about people who are on treadmills running, doing different cardiovascular activities. When they've got the headphones on, they generally seem to have more of a spring in their step, they're smiling a little more. I think they're getting more molecular activity. They're getting more oxygen potentially to the brain. They're happy.
ZAHN: So do the studies show you exactly what kind of music you should be listening to to increase the brain power?
KARAS: No, just listen to the music that you like. That's what's most important. That's what's motivating.
ZAHN: That's a very personal thing.
KARAS: What is yours? That's question No. 5.
ZAHN: You know, I like something with a very strong beat. Otherwise I slow down. KARAS: I love "The Stones," "Satisfaction," you can really rock with music like that when working out.
ZAHN: That's why you look the way you do. Question No. 5, any dangers associated?
KARAS: Clearly, if you have really loud music on, you're going to run into a car. On the treadmill, you really have to be careful because part of that is moving, part is not. So I say don't have it on loud enough that the person next to you can really hear the music. Be careful.
ZAHN: That's another reminder we all need more music in our lives. Jim Karas, thank you for dropping by tonight.
KARAS: Thank you.
ZAHN: On to another issue that's creating quite a controversy on the West Coast, cutting government spending to hold down taxes can be politically popular. But in Los Angeles it has resulted in the early release of 47,000 criminals, some dangerous, in the past year. So is this move to release inmates before they've served their full sentences as dangerous as some people think? That's the point of our debate tonight. Joining us, a critique of the program versus a man who says the budget crunch has left him no other choice. Joining us from Los Angeles, L.A. City attorney Rocky Delgadillo, and Los Angeles county sheriff Leroy Baca. Welcome to both of you.
So Sheriff Baca, that averages out to about 100 criminals a day being released from your jails. Among those are robbers, car thieves, stalkers, drunk drivers and abusive spouses. How concerned are you about those early releases?
LEROY BACA, SHERIFF, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Well, I'm very concerned. Let me say this, when the sheriff's department, the largest in the United States, is responsible for the jailing of offenders in a county of 10 million people, we have normally had a staffing level that would accommodate the average of 22,000 inmates a day. Now it's at 17,000, because of the $166 million cumulative cut over two budget periods. So we're really 1,000 less deputies and 200 professional staff less than we were about two years ago.
ZAHN: I think everybody understands sheriff, what you're saying about the budget strain. But I guess the question I have to you is, whether you can really take this risk when you know that the U.S. Department of Justice has finished a survey saying that 67 percent of convicted criminals will commit another crime within three years of their release.
BACA: Well, let me say this, that people who are being released are misdemeanor sentenced offenders, which means that their average sentence without any early release is about 45 days. So the circumstances of the releases that we're doing are not the people who are headed to state prison, and not the people who have been convicted at a level that would require them to stay longer. 45 days as an average is what it is. And because of the budget cuts, we've reduced that down to on average 10 percent. So when the comments are made about those who are the more serious in terms of their backgrounds, what they're in the county jail for is one year or less in the county jail system. Thus, they will be getting out. The difference is, instead of 45 days, they'll get out in 10 days et cetera.
ZAHN: Mr. Delgadillo, you still think that's a big deal, don't you?
ROCKY DELGADILLO, CITY ATTORNEY, LOS ANGELES: First of all let me say I'm sympathetic to the sheriff's budget woes. I'm a public safety official in the city of Los Angeles and I have budget woes as well. But I have to say to you that, misdemeanors, let me put them in the perspective for you in the city of Los Angeles. Misdemeanors in Los Angeles would be felonies in other jurisdictions. Child abuse, domestic violence, other offenses that offend people in the city of Los Angeles, gangs, these are serious crimes and we're concerned about the people that are being let out of prison.
ZAHN: Sheriff, what about the statistic that some of these offenders that being released have only served about 10 percent of their sentences?
BACA: Yes. Let me say this, that as the chief law enforcement officer of Los Angeles county, I'm not happy about this circumstance. But I have no control over what is funded into my budget. Thus, as Rocky understands, that he himself has no control over his. And much of what Rocky described is based on plea bargaining that goes on in the courtroom. Thus, the problem is not just within the sheriff's department, it also means that the prosecution staff is short. It means the courts are short. And that in Los Angeles county, the largest court system in the United States, we have expeditious justice going on, which leads into the jail, which thus leads into my problem.
ZAHN: And Rocky, in closing tonight, you can see there's not much you can do about this given the budget constraints?
DELGADILLO: Well, I hope that we can all be more creative. We all have to do more with less. We have to do a better job of identifying those individuals who we need to keep in prison. There are some who have been let out early, and commit other crimes right away. Often with the very same victim that they were involved in in the first place. So I'm concerned about that. And I hope that we can work with the sheriff, and he has offered that, and I'm hopeful we will do that to flag those individuals who need to be in jail and serve their full sentence as opposed to those that might be let out early.
ZAHN: We wish you luck with this challenge ahead. L.A. county sheriff Leroy Baca, city attorney Rocky Delgadillo.
A casino keeps a list of problem gamblers, but one of them loses big time. Now she's suing. Should she?
And the trials and triumphs of the youngest Kennedys. A candid account of the sons of Camelot.
ZAHN: A gambling addict puts her name on a list of people who should not be allowed in casinos but one lets her in anyway and she blows a bundle. Who's to blame? It's a serious question as more states offer self-exclusion lists that require problem gamblers to forfeit jackpots and face arrest if they've been blacklisted themselves and then are caught in a casino. It is also the issue in a lawsuit brought by Norma Astourian. She joins us from Detroit, along with her lawyer, who joins us from Orlando tonight. Welcome to you both.
So, Norma, how bad did your gambling problem get?
NORMA ASTOURIAN, GAMBLING ADDICT: How bad? A degree? I think it's a normal degree. I think starting and playing for six years, three years, tremendous. It's very tragic.
ZAHN: So you gambled, what, three or four times a week?
How much money did you ultimately lose?
ASTROURIAN: Ultimately, maybe $300,000.
ZAHN: Ouch. And this is money obviously that you did not have to blow.
ASTOURIAN: Well, of course not. A gambler doesn't have it in their checking account. It's something that they -- it's a drug. You need it. You need to have it. It's like being an alcoholic. It's like being a drug user. I never thought I would ever come to this point of ever doing drugs. I guess I was doing drugs.
ZAHN: And when you realized you had a problem, you decided to put your name on this list called a disassociated person list.
ZAHN: Meaning you were asking the casinos to bar you from coming in and gambling.
ZAHN: But you were able to get in.
Is it true that you were allowed in 80 times over a two-year period?
ASTOURIAN: Absolutely no problem. There's probably 1,000 people on the disassociated persons list. And I guarantee you, they're all going.
What we need is to unite all these people, and I have been working on a program for two years. It is no way associated with Gamblers Anonymous. I don't believe in it. I don't want to believe in it...
ZAHN: Do you feel any responsibility, even though your name was on the list, for trying to get in there on your own?
ASTOURIAN: Absolutely not. I thought I was going to be entertained and have fun when it came to town, the carnival will casinos. I got hooked.
ZAHN: All right, let me read to you a statement from MGM Mirage, one of the casinos you're suing. Up on the screen now. It says quote, "We appreciate the fact that Mrs. Astourian took personal responsibility to acknowledge her gambling problem. Having already taken this initial step toward recovery, it's unfortunate and serves no clinical purpose to try now to place blame elsewhere. Moreover, Mrs. Astourian violated the law by entering the casinos after she barred herself. This lawsuit has no merit either legally or morally."
ASTOURIAN: What do they take responsibility for. 450,000 just Michigan alone, there's only two states that doesn't have gambling casinos. This is all over the country.
How much more can we ignore this, the suicides, the crime.
ZAHN: But let's bring your attorney Blaze, into all of this. Blaze, as you know, some people in our audience might be having trouble understanding the position of Norma, even though she recognized she had a problem.
What do you say to them who are very skeptical about this lawsuit?
BLAISE REPASKY, ATTORNEY FOR NORMA ASTOURIAN: What we say about the lawsuit is that my client admitted that she had a problem, and as a result of that, she signed this exclusion list to be placed on it so she wouldn't be able to go into the casinos and gamble any longer. So, she did her part by doing that much. The casinos have totally ignored their responsibility. They've done nothing whatsoever to keep these people out of the casinos. They're shirking their duties. And they are doing it too, and they are responsible.
If there wasn't anything to the list, then why did they create the list to begin with. They sent people like Norma to Gamblers Anonymous and they just discard them. They make no good faith attempt to keep them out of the casinos. Keep in mind, when she signed up that form, she gave up the rights, including the fact that she might be prosecuted if she went in. And including the fact that if she won any money, they would take it from her. She wasn't entitled to the money if she won it. Nothing's been said about if she lost money they gave it back to her. So the casinos have done nothing whatsoever to in good faith comply with what they're supposed to comply with. The rules and regulations in the law.
ZAHN: From that statement from MGM, an entirely different point of view, but We appreciate your sharing your side of the story with us. Norma Astourian, Blaise Repasky, thanks.
Addiction, of course, is at the heart of the story. So, let's bring in frequent contributor and addiction specialist, Dr. Drew Pinsky.
Do you feel the casinos are abrogating a responsibility here?
DR. DREW PINSKY, ADDICTION SPECIALIST, FREQUENT CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's an interesting question. I'm glad that they're raising this issue, because creating structure for people with addictive problems is an important thing. And we all as community members should be assisting this. For instance, if someone is drinking on an airplane or going to bar drinking excessively, of course, we all as community members would say, hey look, why don't you cut it out, you're going to harm yourself. But what obligation do we really have?
The fact is that when it comes to addiction recovering the obligation for the treatment falls squarely on the patient. It's sort of where addiction gets a bad name that somehow by calling forth the idea that somebody's an addict, they can't be responsible for their actions. Well, that is true. But they are responsible for their recovery. Now, whatever structure we can all do as good community members to help them with that, that's a good thing. But it's an interesting question to what extent are we obliged to do that. And to what extent does our obligation end and does it go back on the patient.
ZAHN: And of course, you have to raise the question, to what extent are the casinos equipped to police these lists, even given the harsh legal avenue you may have to walk later.
ZAHN: Do you believe then that the gaming industry is preying on these people whose names are on these lists today?
PINSKY: I don't think I can answer that question, that they're preying on them. Any more than an alcohol, a company that produces alcohol, a retail organization that distributes alcohol or people that distribute tobacco or cigarette companies. I mean, I think we're kind of struggling with this as a society. It's nice, I'm actually sort of proud of Norma for bringing up the issue, and how far are we going to go with a culture that can be very destructive for some people. But again, the message I hope people get tonight is, please understand, when somebody has an addiction, they're not responsible for their disease, but they are responsible for their recovery.
ZAHN: Dr. Drew Pinsky, always good to have you on, thanks.
PINSKY: Thanks, Paula.
ZAHN: Coming up, the latest generation of the Kennedy's. The challenges of being born in a family with great expectations.
And the challenge of inviting pets to join religious services. We'll introduce you into a very (UNINTELLIGIBLE) priest. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ZAHN: It is a family known for its wealth, power and tragedy. And more than 40 years after president John F. Kennedy's assassination, many remain fascinated with the clan. And now a new book looks at the current Kennedy generation, the so called, "Sons of Camelot." Arthur, Laurence Leamer spent 5 years researching to provide a revealing look into the often dramatic lives into the Kennedy's.
Laurence Leamer joins us now.
Good to see you.
LAURENCE LEAMER, AUTHOR, "SONS OF CAMELOT": Thanks for having me.
ZAHN: Who are the "Sons of Camelot"?
LEAMER: It's a story of 19 men, Ted Kennedy -- Senator Kennedy, Senator Robert Kennedy and the 17 grandchildren. And out of them, there are four violent deaths, there are five people who died because they've been associated with him in the wrong place about half of them have problems with drug addiction and alcohol, that's the dark side. The bright side is no family in American life among these 19 people have made the magnificent contributions to America they have. You just go one after another.
ZAHN: What is the most surprising thing you learn about any of these younger men in this very detailed research you did?
LEAMER: I think just the magnitude of what they faced. I mean, Joe, the second, for example when his father died, Robert Kennedy dies, he's flown back. He's told that Kennedys don't cry and he arrives in the hospital and he walks in and learns that Kennedy's do indeed cry. All these relatives are crying there. His father dies, his mother can't deal with it and he has to tell his siblings that their father has died.
ZAHN: That was left up to him?
LEAMER: That's left to him.
LEAMER: Because she couldn't deal with it.
ZAHN: You had unprecedented access to all of these siblings, and paint not necessarily sympathetic portrait of all of them, but I thought you had the most nuanced account of John F. Kennedy, Jr.'s life. What did his friends tell you about him and the life he wanted to lead?
LEAMER: They loved him. He had such wonderful friends. Not one of these 15 people I would want as my friend. They each knew a different person. He has a friend Dan Samplin (ph) was is a businessman in Seattle. When John wanted to get away and have adventures, he would call Dan and they would go up in the cascades climbing, or they'd go to the Grand Canyon on trips.
The commonality is, they all loved him and miss him. When the interviews for the book many of them started crying. They aren't going on television to talk about the book now, because some of them say they're afraid they'll start crying five years afterwards, that's how much they care about this man.
ZAHN: What is the truth about the end of John F. Kennedy, Jr.'s life? A lot have written of his failure in miss magazine and pressure in his marriage. What did you write?
LEAMER: He was going through a difficult time. He had to get activities every day to feel good. He had to work out. He broke his ankle. So he couldn't do that. He was on crutches. George was in trouble, he was trying to find a buyer to take over half of the magazine.
His marriage, yes, there were difficulties. But there had always been difficulties. And it didn't mean his marriage was ending. He's having to deal with all of these things. He had come through difficult times before. If he had had a copilot with him that evening, the copilot wanted to go with him, he would be alive today.
ZAHN: You write about how Senator Ted Kennedy has said that he and his siblings have been both the victims of the family as well as the beneficiaries.
LEAMER: He talked about that. How -- showing the pictures on the wall and the poignant qualities of their life. Look in the past, it's just full of such sadness, there's no way to avoid that. And the way was just to go on, and always go on in a positive way.
ZAHN: How do they reconcile what has happened to various family members, whether it's people dying in plane crashes, just the horrible tragedies befallen this family?
LEAMER: They don't want to look at it. They don't want to look at it. There's this kind of, you know, pop psychology we're supposed to deal with tragedies and go through them and go on. Tragedy of this magnitude, you don't go on.
I mean, the ultimate example is Jackie, when your husband dies in the car and his brains are blown across you, do you just deal with that and go on? No, it's with you forever.
And the tragedy of Robert Kennedy's death, they just stay with them. The only thing is just to have a positive attitude and go on and try to do good things in the world.
ZAHN: And in spite of the failings and weaknesses of some the family members, by and large you like them?
LEAMER: I like them. I like the energy. I like the sense of life. They are alive. ZAHN: Laurence Leamer, thank you for bringing that to us tonight.
LEAMER: Thank you.
ZAHN: Good luck with the book.
Coming up next, putting pets in touch with a higher power.
ZAHN: If you find yourself at a certain church in Connecticut, don't be surprised if you have to share a pew with a 4-legged parishioner. Bruce Burkhardt explains.
BRUCE BURKHARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For some churchgoers here at St. Francis Episcopal church in Stanford, Connecticut, the service is more than uplifting. It's a howling good time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be the blood of Jesus Christ, oh Lord.
BURKHARDT: What if a dogfight breaks out up front?
FATHER RICHARD MAYBERRY, ST. FRANCIS EPISCOPAL CHURCH: Then we just have extra prayers at that moment.
BURKHARDT: Father Richard Mayberry, along with Mother Molly McGreevy (ph), came up with this idea of a special communion service one Sunday a month. The owners receive communion, the pets receive a special blessing.
This dog doesn't need a blessing, he needs an agent.
It could be any Sunday, any church. Beforehand, there's the usual social niceties of greetings of and how are you's.
MOTHER MOLLY MCGREEVY, ST. FRANCIS EPISCOPAL CHURCH: We might have never taken the steps if it hadn't been somebody coming into church one day with their animal and then another person and another person. And then we discovered other people had allergies.
BURKHARDT: So the idea for a separate service just for pet owners. Appropriate for a church named St. Francis, the saint known for his special kinship with animals.
MAYBERRY: Let us pray. Hear our humble prayer, oh god, for our friends, the animals. Especially for animals who are suffering.
BURKHARDT: It is an Episcopal service customized for critters, even if they don't always fully appreciate it. That's no way to get to heaven, or is it.
MCGREEVY: I believe firmly that anything we have ever loved is not lost to us after death. And to me, you know, that includes pets.
MAYBERRY: Take, eat, this is my body.
BURKHARDT: Animals have souls? Do they even need -- do we need to know the answer to that?
MAYBERRY: I couldn't tell you.
(LAUGHTER) That one does.
BURKHARDT: And if these people are guinea pigs in a new way of worship, where does that leave the real guinea pigs?
MCGREEVY: May god continue to bless you. And may you live long and happy life.
BURKHARDT: Animals going to church. Might not catch on everywhere, but here at least owners and their pets seem to be singing their praises. Bruce Burkhardt, CNN, Stanford, Connecticut.
ZAHN: That wraps it up for all of us tonight. Thanks for joining us, see you tomorrow night.
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