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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Attorney: Tooth Pain Meds Caused Diane Schuler`s Tox Results; Parents Searching for Teen Who Vanished 6 Months Ago; Jackson Death Investigation; Hot Housewife Suit
Aired August 13, 2009 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
VINNIE POLITAN, HOST (voice-over): Ridiculous new excuses in the drunk driving crash that killed eight people. The husband of the driver now claims his wife wasn`t drunk at all. Instead of blaming alcohol and pot, he`s pointing the finger at Ambesol, a medication for tooth aches. Are you kidding me? This woman had ten shots of undigested alcohol in her system. That must have been some toothache.
A teenage girl vanishes while walking to school and hasn`t been seen for six months. Cops said there`s been no progress in her search, but her family is pushing on. We`re going to talk to her mom and dad as they desperately track down this beautiful girl.
Also, mounting evidence in the Michael Jackson death probe. The "L.A. Times" now reporting that M.J.`s doctor pumped him full of anesthesia and then left to make a phone call. By the time he got back, Jackson wasn`t breathing. It begs the question: had the doctor been there, would Jackson still be alive?
Plus, a cop claims he was humiliated at work after his wife posed for "Playboy." Now, he`s suing the force for $3.5 million. Give me a break. If your wife struts her stuff in a nudie magazine, people are going to bust your chops. What did this guy expect?
ISSUES starts now.
POLITAN: Hello, welcome to issues I`m Vinnie Politan. Another outrageous excuse in the wrong-way drunk-driving accident that killed eight people, including Schuler herself, her 2-year-old daughter and her three nieces.
The attorney for Diane Schuler`s husband says the soccer mom who caused that deadly crash wasn`t drunk or high as her toxicology report stated. He says that she`d been using Ambesol for a toothache, and that caused the false positive. Her hubby`s attorney addressed her toothache last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOMINIC BARBARA, ATTORNEY FOR DIANE SCHULER: Had numerous medical conditions, problems. One of them was an abscess, which was almost two months old, which she would not go for the dentist, for no matter how much he begged her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
POLITAN: But how did taking Ambesol for that toothache explain the reported six grams of booze found in her stomach, not to mention the pot she`s been smoking?
Meanwhile, the attorney for the two men killed in the SUV that Diane smashed into said this new theory is absurd. The family of those two men spoke to "The Today Show" on Monday. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t believe everything we hear, you know, from the Schuler family. You know, when he says about his heart is clear. My heart is broken at night. OK? I lost my father and my brother. My family is devastated by this. But I feel like if he`s going to -- he`s in denial. Because somehow, somewhere along the line you have to know somebody can drink like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
POLITAN: The question remains: what did Daniel Schuler know about his wife`s apparent drinking problem and when? Could this tragedy have been avoided?
Straight to my panel: Brian Russell, clinical psychologist and attorney; Don Clark, former special agent in charge of the Houston FBI; Stacey Honowitz, Florida prosecutor; Dr. Dale Archer, clinical psychiatrist; and Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels and WABC Radio talk show host.
Curtis, I`ve got to start with you. Diane Schuler`s husband and his attorney came under fire from their press conference last week, claiming she wasn`t drunk. She had tons of ailments. Now he`s blaming this: Ambesol. The little tube that you get over the counter, Curtis, when you`ve got a little canker sore or a little minor toothache.
Now, come on. Her blood alcohol level two times over the legal limit? What are they doing here?
CURTIS SLIWA, FOUNDER, GUARDIAN ANGELS: What a liar for hire. This spin doctor, he`s pulling out every conceivable alcohol-related product. Watch, up next will be, "Oh, she had an obsessive compulsive disorder. She was a germophobe and took baths in Purell, and the alcohol seeped into her system. And that`s why she was double the legal limit."
This guy is going on and on. That`s why they call them liars for hire. This guy can actually say it, believe it and go before a jury and try to convince them. Because, remember, he`s looking for one juror with the furniture upstairs rearranged in the wrong rooms who goes, "Oh, that`s conceivable. I remember I had a toothache, and I was stung out. I was half out of it."
BRIAN RUSSELL, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST/ATTORNEY: Vinnie, it`s the Ambesol defense, but what it really should be is the imbecile defense. Because the alcohol in this is benzyl alcohol, and the alcohol in adult beverages that gets you drunk is ethyl alcohol.
But even if we wanted to go out after the show and try to go on an Ambesol bender, do you know how many containers of this...
POLITAN: How many containers would it take?
RUSSELL: I am personally very disappointed with the shots that I took before the show. Don`t try that at home, by the way. It`s a medical experiment here, but, come on. This is the imbecile defense.
POLITAN: Stacey Honowitz, as a prosecutor in all your years. But I`ve prosecuted a DWI cases, as well. I`ve never heard this one. I`ve heard of the Listerine defense, you know, the drunk that washes his mouth out with Listerine, then fails a breathalyzer. But Ambesol showing up as alcohol?
STACEY HONOWITZ, PROSECUTOR: We`re all sitting here. We know how ridiculous that sounds, and I don`t even think it`s a spin. I think it`s just ridiculousness. I mean, there`s nothing more to say about it.
You`re never going to be able to argue that in court. You`re never going to be able to find an expert that says that`s what caused it. And you`re never going to be able to go against the toxicology report. That`s what rules in this case.
The idea that he wants to bring in Ambesol or anything else is just ridiculous. And really, I don`t think that any smart person in this world is going to buy a defense like that.
DON CLARK, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: You know, Vince, I really hear what everybody is saying, and I agree that it is ridiculous going on. But what it`s done for the investigators, is it`s really caused them a triple set of problems here. Because as the prosecutor mentioned, they`re going to have to bring some evidence in there to show whatever they need to show to prove their case here.
And by this benzyl -- benzyl being put into this equation here, you`re going to find out that there will be, as someone said, maybe one person on the jury that you`re going to have to convince, with no conditions, that that person...
POLITAN: Let`s do this. Bryon Russell, can you do this for me? Put your arms out, and I want you to close your eyes and touch your nose with your finger, because you had some Ambesol tonight.
RUSSELL: Look at that. Look at that, you know, I took a couple shots in the interest of medical science before the show tonight, Vinnie. And I can tell you that my throat is a little numb, but my mind is as sharp as a butter knife, as it is every night on the show. And so there you go. Don`t try this at home, kids.
HONOWITZ: You know how many people drive every single day under the influence of Ambesol? Honestly.
POLITAN: I`ve never heard of this one. This is an absolute new one. But it actually -- and the attorney said -- you know, you can look it up on the Web. And I looked up Ambesol and DWI today, and all I found were quotes from that lawyer. So I don`t know what he`s talking about.
All right. Everybody, stay right there. We`ll have much more on the wrong-way crash in 30 seconds.
POLITAN: We`re back, dissecting the outrageous claim by an attorney for the husband of Diane Schuler, the wrong-way drunk driver who killed eight people last month. He`s saying that she wasn`t wasted on booze, despite the 6 grams of alcohol in her stomach and -- oh, yes -- the vodka bottle at the scene of the crash. The toxicology results were a false positive due to her use of Ambesol for a toothache. Why are they fighting the toxicology result?
Don Clark, you might have insight into that. You`ve heard some rumors about marital problems, Don?
CLARK: Well, you know, I heard speculation. I was out in Santa Barbara there on the fifth when this thing -- when it broke there, and there were all kinds of rumors going on, even out there about what could have taken place, and could there be some problems within the family?
I mean, this is so unusual. I mean, you look at Susan Smith, she killed her own kids. You look at Andrea Yates. She killed her own kids. And you look at this situation, there were three nieces that were involved in that. So people were speculating, and they were talking to myself and others about what could have taken place there. Which, again, Vinnie, which means that the investigators are going to have to sort through it and really bring a strong case to the jury.
POLITAN: Well, one of the big issues, and this is one thing I`m having a difficult time wrapping my head around, is that even if you use this Ambesol theory to explain the 6 grams of alcohol in Diane Schuler`s stomach, which it doesn`t, by the way, folks, it still doesn`t explain away the 1.75 liter bottle of vodka authorities recovered in Schuler`s minivan.
HONOWITZ: The pot.
POLITAN: However, a private investigator for the husband who had a theory on that on ABC`s "Good Morning America." Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The big question here is the vodka bottle.
TOM RUSKIN, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: Let`s assume it was in the car. They were known to transport. She was such a person who didn`t drink they would bring the bottle back and forth in case the husband wanted to have a drink at home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
POLITAN: Look at that. I don`t get that. The thing is, what they did find, they found the bottle of vodka. Right, Stacey? But what they didn`t find was a tube of Ambesol or it also comes in a bottle form. I don`t remember them finding that at the scene, Stacey.
HONOWITZ: No, they didn`t find anything at the scene. And if they want to go back to the house and try to do a search warrant on the house to find a container of Ambesol.
I mean, the -- that`s why the -- what we`re discussing now is such ridiculousness. Everything that they`re spinning, everything that they`re saying is pure speculation, and that`s what it`s going to be, pure speculation.
The fact of the matter is the facts. A bottle found at the scene, a 1.9 blood alcohol in the toxicology reports. Those are the facts of the case, not speculation.
SLIWA: Vinnie -- Vinnie, if you know this attorney Dominic Barbara, he`s going to spin more. He`ll say, "Hey, she was into sweet water, Channel No. 5. That has alcohol."
And how did she have marijuana in her system? "Oh, she got a contact high, secondary smoke. She didn`t inhale." This guy is...
POLITAN: Curtis, it could have been one of those poppy-seed bagels also.
SLIWA: Hey, Vinnie, she had a shmear of cream cheese on it and then realized it was a poppy-seed bagel.
CLARK: This whole thing -- this whole thing is about confusion. That`s what it`s about. By the lawyer bringing this up, it`s confuse, confuse, confuse and defer things other ways and deflect things other ways so that his jury will have something to at least think about. One juror, that`s all it takes.
POLITAN: Dr. Dale Archer, how do you hide this?
HONOWITZ: You`re insulting the general public to think this way. It really is. You`re insulting the general public by saying there`s going to be that person and find them. Listen to what we`re talking about. She kills eight people, vodka, a 0.19, and we`re talking about Ambesol? I mean, it`s just ridiculous.
POLITAN: But the one thing on the side of the wife is that apparently, no one thought that she had a problem. Or maybe they did. I don`t know.
RUSSELL: I don`t believe that for a second. I don`t believe it.
POLITAN: We`re going to talk more about this bizarre story in a minute.
Now, are any of you buying any of these excuses? Give us a call: 1- 877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297 and, please, weigh in.
Then, a mother and father`s harrowing search for their missing daughter. I`ll speak to the parents of Amber Dubois. That is six months ago.
But first, the wrong-way crash fallout keeps getting weirder and weirder. Now the attorney for the driver`s husband says Ambesol caused the accident. Just the latest in a long list of excuses.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA: She had numerous medical conditions, problems. One of them was an abscess which was almost two months old, which she would not go to the dentist for, no matter how much he begged her. She had diabetes at various levels. She also had a lump on her leg, and the lump on the leg, they`re not sure what it was, but it was moving.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL SCHULER, HUSBAND OF DIANE: I go to bed every night knowing that my heart is clear. She did not drink. She`s not an alcoholic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
POLITAN: That was Daniel Schuler, husband of the wrong-way drunk driver, Diane Schuler, defending her after toxicology reports say she was drunk and high the day she crashed her minivan head-on into an SUV, killing eight people, herself included.
Now Daniel Schuler`s attorney is saying that Ambesol, an over-the- counter oral anesthetic that she used for a toothache, is the cause. Unbelievable.
All right, Dr. Dale Archer, let`s go down the list here. Which is more likely to cause, perhaps, some disorientation on the roadways? Would it be vodka, marijuana or Ambesol?
ARCHER: Well, I think there are a couple points here.
First of all, you will not convince me that she doesn`t have a substance abuse problem when she`s got 0.19 percent blood alcohol. She`s got 10 shots of vodka in her stomach, and she`s got a high level of marijuana in her blood.
But I will say that it is possible the family did not know she had a problem. There are, what I call, secretive alcoholics who sip, typically vodka throughout the day, because it does not smell. And they don`t act drunk. They don`t look drunk. And they are not intoxicated, but they`re still alcoholics.
So the message is, you don`t have to be going out to the bars five nights a week getting bombed to be an alcoholic. She very well could have been under the radar, and typically they don`t come to light until a tragedy like this.
POLITAN: Great point.
RUSSELL: Vinnie, that`s possible. But I think what`s more likely what happens more in families is denial. I think more often people do suspect...
POLITAN: Denial is classic.
RUSSELL: Denial. Just yesterday we saw the family of Billy Mays, and they`re saying they didn`t have any idea of any substance abuse with him. And that could be just, you know, they`re trying to protect his memory now that he`s deceased or they`re in denial that there were any...
POLITAN: You`re seeing it from Jermaine Jackson.
ARCHER: Denial is the classic example, no doubt about it. But we have to bring up the secretive alcoholics.
RUSSELL: High motivation. High motivation to lie because he may be on the hook if he...
HONOWITZ: I think he could be in denial. I think he could be very much in denial. I don`t know if on that day he knew anything because, quite frankly, why would he subject any of those children or his wife to that kind of behavior?
POLITAN: Let`s find out what the folks at home think.
CLARK: How could he be in denial over alcohol, and he admits that she had been smoking marijuana periodically? Yes.
POLITAN: Let`s see what the folks at home think. Let`s go to our Shannon, who`s in Texas.
Good evening, Shannon. You`re on the air.
CALLER: Hi. Thanks for taking my call. I was wondering have the police been able to speak with the boy that has survived this horrible crash?
POLITAN: I don`t think they have spoken with him yet. He`s still -- he`s still in serious condition in the hospital. And, yes, that may shed some light on ultimately what happened here. Thanks so much for the call, Shannon.
Let`s go to Mary in Indiana -- Mary.
CALLER: Thank you for taking my call. My take on this is evidently her family didn`t know that she had a problem either, because would her brother have let her children go in the car with her?
ARCHER: I think that`s an excellent point, and I think that that`s why we have to at least consider the fact that the family did not know. I`ve had patients that have come into my office and are sitting there and saying that, "Yes, I`ve got a problem. I need to get help."
And the family sitting right next to them saying, "You don`t have an alcohol problem. There`s nothing going on.:
No doubt denial is classic, but we cannot discount the fact that maybe the...
POLITAN: Somebody has a problem like that they`re going to try to hide it. They`re going to do whatever they can to hide it. You know, here`s the question, Stacey, though, that I have.
Generally speaking, a case like this, if the driver survives, it becomes a big criminal investigation, potential criminal charges. She didn`t survive this crash. Why is this being looked at in a criminal context? Is there -- is there a possibility that anyone could be held criminally responsible other than her?
CLARK: Well, I think -- I think it is possible from an investigation position. That it is possible -- and the investigators are going to try to look at this from every way. Maybe somebody provided her with the alcohol that was in her body. Somebody probably provided her with the marijuana. So maybe there is an extension there to someone outside.
POLITAN: Stacey, do you see it going that way?
HONOWITZ: That would be my answer exactly. I mean, that`s basically what it boils down to. It`s almost like a dram (ph) shop thing kind of thing. Because who`s responsible if they knew that she was -- had a substance abuse problem, and they provided her with that? So I think really that`s -- I mean, it`s a stretch at this point because she`s not alive. But I think that`s what the investigation is ongoing for.
POLITAN: Janis, who`s in Ohio tonight. Janice, you`re on the air.
CALLER: Hello. My comment was, I want to give the mother the benefit of the doubt. I believe that maybe she was drinking the vodka to help with that abscess tooth. That`s an old remedy that people used to use.
POLITAN: OK. How about -- how about the marijuana, Janis?
CALLER: The marijuana, I think she was using -- if she was having nausea problems, marijuana is good to help with nausea.
POLITAN: Not ten shots of vodka, though.
CLARK: It`s a big stretch from being nausea and then from driving on the wrong side of the road. So it had to be a lot more than that.
POLITAN: Janis is trying. Janis may be that one juror out there.
SLIWA: Well, you know, Vinnie, the origin of this is originally when they had drunken driving cases it was always the guy. They`d say, "Oh, it was the Old Spice. It was the Brut. It was the High Karate. The stink of that alcohol just made me want to pass out when I crashed into that car."
And believe it or not, some jurors actually, "Oh, yes, that`s conceivable. Did you ever -- did you ever smell that High Karate, that Brut, that Old Spice?"
POLITAN: I think you`re wearing some of that tonight, Curtis. Thanks so much to my excellent panel.
All right. Coming up, more on Michael Jackson and the death drama surrounding his case. Did Jackson stop breathing after his doctor gave him anesthesia and left the room? That`s what new reports are claiming.
And Amber Dubois vanished six months ago after walking to school. I`ll speak with her distraught parents, next.
POLITAN: Fourteen-year-old California girl Amber Dubois vanished exactly six months ago today on her walk to school. Amber seemingly disappeared without a trace.
Cops have no suspects, but they are not ruling anyone out. Over 500 people have been interviewed, and police have received and investigated over 1,000 tips.
Despite the frustrating lack of information, Amber`s parents are not giving up. They reportedly have hired a private investigator and are flying in dogs from Maine to help in the search for their daughter. Tonight, vigils will be held nationwide for young Amber as friends, family and strangers are hoping for her safe return.
Tonight, I`m honored to be joined by Amber`s parents, Moe Dubois and Carrie McGonigle. Thank you, both, for joining us tonight.
And I know this must be extremely difficult, but, if you could -- and Carrie, I`ll begin with you. Could you explain what happened that morning six months ago and why you believe that your daughter`s not a teenage run away?
CARRIE MCGONIGLE, MOTHER OF AMBER: Amber was very excited that day for school. It was a day she was looking forward to for over a year. She was purchasing her baby lamb for her school project. I waited until the very last day to give her the money. And she had her Valentine`s Day presents in her backpack that we took her to the store the night before.
I kissed her good-bye in the morning and told her I`d see her later that evening. We`d go do something. And she left for school.
POLITAN: There was nothing unusual about that morning?
MCGONIGLE: Except that she was so excited about purchasing the lamb.
POLITAN: Moe, what can -- what can folks do if they know anything about this? Have you set up Web sites? We`ve got numbers for folks to call?
MOE DUBOIS, FATHER OF AMBER: Absolutely. If you recognize Amber in any way, the first thing is contact the FBI, get in touch with them, let them know anything that you may know.
If you`re unaware or don`t know anything, by all means, logon to Amber`s Web site. And you can find the entire story. You can download flyers, put them up in your local areas, give them to local law enforcement, and make sure everyone is aware of Amber`s story.
POLITAN: Now, one thing that intrigues, I think, everyone in this case is that you`re looking into the presence of this suspicious dark red truck that was on the school grounds that day. Take a look at this video. It`s grainy surveillance footage that shows the truck pulling in and leaving after about four minutes. Have police been able to track this truck down?
DUBOIS: No. At this time, there has been no concrete location of the vehicle. The vehicle appeared at exactly the three-minute window that they`ve narrowed down Amber`s disappearance to, and we`d just like to find out who the owner of the vehicle is. Perhaps he may have seen something, may have a connection to this. We have no concrete evidence of who owns the vehicle or...
POLITAN: Let`s take one more look at it. And again, folks, if you know anyone that owns a vehicle like this or -- it`s dark red, and it`s in that area. And this wasn`t connected to anyone at the school, right?
MCGONIGLE: No, they`ve had no -- they checked out everything. They looked for it before they released it to the public, trying -- trying to find it.
POLITAN: Tell us about the vigil that`s going to take place.
MCGONIGLE: We`re going to have it -- where we having it?
DUBOIS: We`re having the vigil tonight in New York at Central Park at Tavern on the Green. There`s also a vigil in Orange County today in California. Back home in Escondido, we`re having a vigil. There`s also one in Arizona. We`re having a few of them, basically, nationwide.
POLITAN: Moe -- Moe and Carrie, thank you so much for coming in. And all our thoughts and prayers are with you in the search for your daughter. Thank you so much.
MCGONIGLE: OK, thank you.
POLITAN: Still to come, more on the investigation of Michael Jackson. Stay with us.
VINNIE POLITAN, HLN GUEST ANCHOR: Was Michael Jackson left alone to die? The "L.A. Times" saying his doctor pumped him full of anesthesia and then left to make a phone call. By the time he got back, Jackson wasn`t breathing.
Plus, a cop claims he was humiliated at work after his wife posed for Playboy and now he`s suing the force for $3.5 million. Give me a break. If your wife struts her stuff in a nudie magazine people are going to bust your chops. What did this guy expect?
But, first, a shocking report about what went down in the hours and minutes before Michael Jackson died.
Plus, stunningly candid remarks coming from the camp of Jackson`s personal physician: "The Los Angeles Times" quoting three familiar sources with the death probe who say Dr. Conrad Murray left Michael Jackson alone while the insomniac pop star was knocked out on Propofol.
Those sources say Dr. Murray left the room to make a phone call. When he returned Jackson had stopped breathing. The report also says that Dr. Murray obtained that Propofol legally from the Las Vegas pharmacy raided by federal drug agents on Tuesday.
This is all consistent with TMZ`s report back at the end of June that the doctor at some point took his eyes off his heavily sedated patient. TMZ said Murray might have even fallen asleep, a theory that Joe Jackson subscribes to.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON`S FATHER: You don`t take a doctor and stick him in the room there. And the doctor give him something to make him rest and then he don`t wake up no more. Something is wrong there.
The doctor, the doctor just somehow, I understand that he left and went to sleep or something. I don`t know what happened there. But he tried to bring...
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Are you implying then that the doctor committed foul play?
JACKSON: Something went wrong, something went wrong, Larry, because when they tried to bring Michael back, he was dead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Reacting to this latest shocker, Dr. Murray`s attorney Ed Chernoff lashed out at quote, "selective leaks by investigators who he says rushed to portray Murray as guilty."
Quote, "They leaked that Propofol killed him. The investigation was designed to support a conclusion they already made."
Mr. Chernoff`s representative confirms to this show ISSUES that his statements are accurate, however, he made no comment about the conclusions of the "L.A. Times" report.
Straight to my panel: Lisa Bloom, CNN legal analyst and California girl; Darren Kavinoky, criminal defense attorney; Stacey Honowitz, Florida prosecutor; Mike Walters, assignment manager for TMZ.
Let`s start with you, Mike, what is the latest that you`re learning at TMZ?
MIKE WALTERS, ASSIGNMENT MANAGER, TMZ: The most interesting thing I read today was Chernoff`s statements which is about the fact that Murray, he claims didn`t know Michael Jackson was an addict.
I mean, come on. The guy had track marks, we know that. He, obviously, had done drugs. This wasn`t something that just all of a sudden that they stumbled upon. Also I feel that they`re mounting some kind of defense here with these statements and Lisa probably could talk about that.
But the thing is here to me -- that you know what -- what doctor gets hired for $150,000 a month to take care of Michael Jackson on tour and doesn`t do drug tests, doesn`t check his health and then acts like, "Oh, I didn`t know he was an addict."
You know what? Those are some of the charges that could come out here. I think they`re mounting a defense -- and you know what -- it is not an excuse that if you`re his doctor you didn`t know that he took medications or drugs before you started administering Propofol which is what he admitted that he did in this case.
It doesn`t make sense to me, guys.
POLITAN: Lisa Bloom, does it make any sense to you here what the doctor`s campus is saying?
LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, it really doesn`t. I`m surprised the attorney is talking at all. I guess, to be fair to Attorney Chernoff, he`s got to combat all of the very negative stories that are coming out day after day about Dr. Murray.
But I don`t think this is helping him to confirm that he didn`t know that Jackson was an addict. I mean, a simple Google search would have told him if Jackson had revealed publicly on video that he had been an addict, that he had gone to rehab, that in the 2005 child molestation case police found all kinds of prescription medication.
So putting your head in the sand is not generally a good legal defense. "I didn`t know. I didn`t want to know." I think things are getting worse for Dr. Murray.
POLITAN: When I`m looking for a good legal defense in California I go to Darren Kavinoky -- Darren.
DARREN KAVINOKY, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Thank you. Thank you Vinnie.
POLITAN: Go ahead.
KAVINOKY: Here`s the thing, if I may. By the way, it`s great seeing you and Lisa back together. It is like old home week now.
BLOOM: He learned everything from me.
KAVINOKY: Reunion week here.
BLOOM: Everything he knows -- from me.
KAVINOKY: That`s right.
So here`s the problem and this is really the best point that I think Chernoff made is that what we`re getting is leaked information in drips and drabs. We don`t have the full toxicology report yet. That doesn`t stop any of us from speculating.
POLITAN: We don`t have it, but they have it.
KAVINOKY: Here`s the thing. There`s two ways that criminal cases can be investigated.
The first way is the investigators investigate the facts and the chips fall where they may.
The second way is investigators begin with an end in mind and then they conveniently discard or ignore anything that`s inconsistent with their target. And that appears to be what happened here.
POLITAN: I`ve heard this before in California, Stacey Honowitz. It sounds like Darren is leaning towards a rush to judgment by investigators here. Is that what you`re hearing?
STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: That`s exactly what I`m hearing.
And I know we agreed last night, but we`re not going to agree here.
KAVINOKY: Come on Stacey.
HONOWITZ: I mean, the bottom line is everybody knew from the very beginning like Lisa said that this guy was a drug addict. He was all over the place. I`m really fascinated in how he got insurance because they do a complete medical background and check and urinalysis and all those and how he got insurance for this tour.
POLITAN: Isn`t that a great point for the defense for the doctor, "Hey, he passed whatever physical he needed to pass. I`m coming in, in the springtime. I don`t know Michael Jackson`s history. I just have the "Thriller" album. That`s as much as I know about Michael Jackson."
HONOWITZ: How do you come in as a doctor for $150,000 a month and you`re administering this kind of anesthetic and you don`t know what your patient is on?
POLITAN: Lisa Bloom, Michael Jackson is not going to tell his doctor the truth, is he?
BLOOM: No, but, listen, Vinnie -- that the only way that Michael Jackson can go to sleep at night is if he`s knocked out the way people are knocked out for major surgery. He has to be drugged up with an IV drip to go to sleep at night.
Isn`t that a tip off to a doctor that there`s a problem with this patient?
HONOWITZ: You don`t just go from not being able to sleep -- you don`t go from Ambien from Propofol. Obviously, there were things in between that he was trying to relax and these -sedatives. How could you not know? I think that`s the question.
BLOOM: How about a nice chamomile tea?
KAVINOKY: But it may be the best thing in Dr. Murray`s defense is we have some complicated, forensic toxicological issues here. The idea that Dr. Murray gave him Propofol in legitimate amounts but because of all the other doctor-shopping and drugs that Michael was taking it was this cocktail that killed him. That creates some real hurdles for prosecution.
BLOOM: Darren, you`re forgetting about the news of the day that Dr. Murray went in the other room and got on the cell phone and is yakking away on the cell phone while his patient is under the Propofol. What is that?
POLITAN: That`s what we call bad facts for the defense.
POLITAN: Mike, can you clarify something? You work at TMZ. Obviously, you`ve seen the toxicology results and you`ve read the autopsy. Can you tell us what it says?
WALTERS: No, but you know, it`s funny. We should address the leaks to the media. You just brought that up. Let`s go to the documents.
What we do have is the search warrant. The search warrant from today, which I just read, specifically says Dr. Murray, four of the people that work for him, they name those people and they say a Visa card, they say Propofol and pharmacy in Las Vegas.
This stuff -- it`s somewhat of a smoking gun. It`s laid out in paper. All the other toxicology stuff, fine, let`s leave that out for a second. This says on it, Propofol -- it doesn`t say any other drug -- it says a pharmacy in Vegas which was purchased by Dr. Murray or one of his assistants from this pharmacy.
If we want to stop with the leaks, let`s just start with that because it says right there that that`s what they`re looking for. This is the search warrant from the LAPD Metro and DEA; that`s what they`re looking for, Propofol (INAUDIBLE).
POLITAN: So, Lisa, it looks like they are focusing in solely on this doctor and there could be speculation that maybe it was one of those lethal cocktails that are so famous out in Hollywood, but maybe not.
If they`re just looking for evidence of the Propofol this could be it, right?
BLOOM: Yes. But there`s no excuse for Dr. Murray to go in the other room with the cell phone when Michael Jackson is on the IV drip with this heavy sedation of Propofol with his cell phone and saying, "Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now?"
HONOWITZ: There`s the manslaughter. That`s the gross negligence on the part of the doctor.
Forget the cocktail. It`s gross negligence on his part to have a patient under this drug. And I want to know, does the pharmacy have a right to individually sell that type of drug just to a physician? I thought that really was dispensed to a hospital for surgery, not for individual use at a home.
BLOOM: That`s supposed to be the case.
POLITAN: Darren, how about when we talk about the California legal standard for manslaughter here. How bad does a doctor have to mess up?
KAVINOKY: Well, it`s got to be so far beyond what anybody in the community would consider to be reasonable behavior. If you remember about this news of the day relating to this phone call, he went out and left the room and I believe the "Times" reported he did so because Michael had done well on the Propofol previously. That he had this track record.
BLOOM: That`s no excuse.
KAVINOKY: It may not be an excuse. But jurors have a difficult time, generally, second guessing the medical opinions of doctors. This is another hurdle for prosecutors in this case. We`re all trained to accept what doctors have to say.
HONOWITZ: But Darren, how do you explain -- what is going to happen, though -- you know, you might have a hurdle except if you march in every anesthesiologist in the word who`s going to say you don`t administer this outside a hospital setting, then you walk away...
KAVINOKY: But that then begs the question --
BLOOM: In the hospital there are other personnel who can come in and monitor the patient if the doctor needs to go in the other room and take a phone call or go to the bathroom and take a break. You bring in a nurse and bring in somebody else to keep an eye on the patient.
WALTERS: Yes, but he wasn`t a patient, he was sleeping. The thing is, you don`t treat insomnia with Propofol...
BLOOM: He wasn`t actually sleeping.
POLITAN: Thank you everyone. Great thanks to my expert panel. Great job, folks.
Ronald Cummings, the father of a missing 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings questioned by police after his in-laws find a headless rat in their mail box. We`ll discuss the nasty family feud going on there.
Then, check this out, an Ohio police department being sued by one of his officers who is being humiliated at work because his wife posed nude in Playboy. Does this guy have a case?
Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS; that`s 1-877-586-7297 to weigh in.
POLITAN: An Ohio police officer humiliated by his co-workers after his wife appeared in Playboy sues his department. Does he have a case? We`ll discuss.
But, first, "Top of the Block" tonight: Joey Buttafuoco back in the headlines thanks to a new tell-all book by his ex-wife. Apparently Mary Jo called him a sociopath; a label he has a serious beef with so he`s taking her to court.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOEY BUTTAFUOCO, SUING EX-WIFE: I don`t have to take this lying down. I don`t have to take Mary Jo`s nonsense any more, listening to this crap, reading this crap in that book.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
POLITAN: You got to love that. This from a guy who has an affair with an underage girl who, by the way, proceeds to shoot his wife in the face; so now he`s seeing Mary Jo for defamation of character after she publishes a book calling him a sociopath. Only in America, folks.
Now, the Long Island auto mechanic is seeking unspecified damages and wants Mary Jo`s publisher to recall her book. The former Mrs. Joe Buttafuoco issued a statement saying, quote, "Everything people need to know can now be found in my book."
And from one family feud to another -- get this -- Ronald Cummings, the father of little Haleigh Cummings, the 5-year-old who`s been missing since February. Well, he has been accused of putting a headless rat in his in- laws` mail box.
Apparently Cummings got into it with his brother-in-law, Hank Croslin, last week which resulted in Cummings being arrested and now Croslin says he fears the headless rat is some sort of retaliation.
People, come on. What`s going on here? Have we forgotten there is an innocent, beautiful little girl missing here? Stop feuding with each other and get out there and let`s find that little girl.
That is tonight`s "Top of the Block."
Now, if your wife poses nude for Playboy, you should probably expect a little e bit of ribbing from the guys at work. But an Ohio police officer claims he endured a lot more than some harmless teasing.
Ron Fithen is suing the town of Gahanna, Ohio and its police department for $3.5 million. He claims he suffered harassment, emotional distress and lost pay all because of his wife`s Playboy pictures.
Here`s one of the few shots we can show you. It was posted on davesfree.com. Fithen appeared in this hot housewives` issue of Playboy. This is not her on the cover, though. The issue came out in March of last year.
The lawsuit was filed just last week. In it Fithen claims he endured a humiliating and intolerable working environment after his wife`s photos were published. He also says he and his wife were targeted by an invasive, non-criminal investigation all because of a few steamy photos.
Back to my fantastic panel: criminal defense attorney Darren Kavinoky, CNN legal analyst Lisa Bloom and WABC radio talk show host Curtis Sliwa.
Now, we can`t do a story about hot wives without talking to Darren Kavinoky first here, Lisa. You know that, I know that.
POLITAN: Darren, come on. She voluntarily...
KAVINOKY: You just made my wife`s day. Go on, Vinnie.
POLITAN: Voluntarily poses for Playboy. She got paid or didn`t get paid for it -- I don`t know the details of it. Nobody forced her to do it. She went out, she promoted the whole thing.
You got expect a few guys or whatever to give you a little bit of ribbing at the office -- perhaps a lot of ribbing at the office.
KAVINOKY: I just wonder if part of his lawsuit is to get compensation for the carpal tunnel syndrome after all of his buddies high fived him?
You don`t like the guys high fiving?
POLITAN: Lisa, Lisa, let`s bring you in here.
KAVINOKY: His co-workers are law enforcement officers and not always known for great appropriate reactions to things. I could see this guy having a legitimate beef if he was truly mistreated around his workplace because of this. So I`m actually -- I`m going to take his side on this deal.
POLITAN: You are? You would take a case like this?
KAVINOKY: We focus on the criminals.
POLITAN: That`s the test, would you invest your valuable time?
Curtis Sliwa, come on.
CURTIS SLIWA, FOUNDER, GUARDIAN ANGELS: Oh, I could see how he was traumatized. Some of the cops who are busting with him said, "Hey, be honest, was there any air brushing involved with that?"
I mean, here it is, the guy being treated like Hugh Hefner Jr., in the middle of nowhere Ohio and leave it to beaverland, father knows best, little house on the praire.
The guy is like Axle Rose and John Mellencamp; he`s got a groupie wife and he`s complaining? Please. I want to die and go to heaven and be in this guy`s shoes.
POLITAN: Are we jaded, Lisa?
BLOOM: First of all, I`m just going to sit back while I talk because I know I`m not even going to be on camera -- you`re going to show those boobie shots over and over and over and over.
Oh, what a shot.
BLOOM: Slowly panning down over her body. Ok, I get it. Actually I know Gahanna, Ohio. It`s a lovely town. It`s an upscale suburb of Columbus.
POLITAN: You`ve been there.
BLOOM: Very nice people. I spoke to some people there today and they think this lawsuit is ridiculous.
Look, I used to do employment cases. He doesn`t have chance based on the facts as I understand them. He got a little ribbing at work. People wanted signed autographs of the pictures. That`s not a hostile work environment. It has to be so awful that no reasonable person can tolerate it.
He wasn`t fired, he didn`t have his pay cut as far as I know, and yes, he gets to go home to this beautiful wife, so I don`t see him convincing a jury.
KAVINOKY: He may have a tough time with the jury. But the real question, in all seriousness...
POLITAN: The jury would like to examine the evidence, please.
KAVINOKY: Yes, indeed. Or perhaps a jury view to the couple`s bedroom.
POLITAN: A view. A jury view.
BLOOM: A jury view, right. And he`s got two mountains of evidence on his side.
POLITAN: Lisa bloom said that, by the way. We don`t have to look at her anymore. Let`s look at Lisa Bloom for a second. Can we get Lisa Bloom? There she is.
BLOOM: Hi, I`m still here.
POLITAN: I don`t think it`s just guys that are looking at this one way. If your wife does it, she told him about it beforehand, right? So they`re all on board for this thing.
BLOOM: Well, if it`s a little ribbing, that`s ok.
POLITAN: A little ribbing.
All right. Stay right there. We have much more to talk about on this case. We`re not letting this go in one block, folks.
More on the cop humiliated after this lawsuit coming up right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN ZETS, ATTORNEY FOR GAHANNA, OHIO: Deputy Chief Bell never asked for a copy of that issue. He never asked for it to be personally author. In fact, Deputy Chief Bell has never even seen that issue of that magazine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
POLITAN: That was the attorney for the Gahanna, Ohio Police Department. He says his client never even laid eyes on Playboy`s Hot Housewives issue. Police officer Ron Fithen is suing claiming his fellow cops made life unbearable after his wife posed nude.
Back to my fantastic fully-clothed panel who are still with us.
KAVINOKY: Only from the waist up.
This lawsuit reminds me a lot of the guy in Florida who was canned last month over his wife`s career in pornography. Scott Janke was town manager for Fort Myers Beach. He hoped to keep his wife`s porn exploits under wraps.
But things like that tend to get out and once gossip mill got going the mayor held an emergency meeting and forced Janke to step down.
Lisa Bloom, these stories beg the question, where can a guy with a racy wife get a job these days?
BLOOM: Yes, I look back and I felt sorry for him, because he lost his job and that isn`t right. He`s working as a city manager, he should be judged on his own merits, not on what his wife does, and his wife`s activity was perfectly legal.
And I`m sure, Vinnie, in this case, you have carefully, carefully researched all day long, looking at these photos for the purposes of legal research.
POLITAN: Lisa you keep blocking my research today for some reason. They`ve got some filters or something over here.
But Curtis Sliwa, these days with all these celebrity sex tapes that come out and everything else, haven`t we as a society almost gotten past this, and it`s really no big deal?
SLIWA: Vinnie, before I go there, where could a guy like him get a job with a racy wife? Working for Bill Clinton pulling on all these junkets all over the world; are you kidding? Bill Clinton would hire him in a nano second.
And not only that, these guys are strutting around like roosters. Are you kidding? Every guy looks at them and says, oh, my God, this guy must be swallowing Viagra four times a day to satisfy her. Are you kidding? Every guy would wish that they could be walking in their shoes.
BLOOM: Why are we looking at pictures of her working out?
KAVINOKY: Know what may be the problem? Look at the reaction that your well-educated and distinguished panel has. Think about the ribbing this poor guy took.
POLITAN: Speak for yourself, Darren Kavinoky.
KAVINOLY: This could have been -- this -- we really don`t know what his co-workers did to him to create this -- this harassing environment. I`m still -- I`m going back...
POLITAN: But shouldn`t we expect it?
KAVINOKY: I`m going to the Supreme Court with this. I have to back this guy.
POLITAN: When you say ok, "Honey, sure, go ahead, pose in Playboy. I`m 100 percent behind you." Don`t you expect that`s going to happen? Not only at work, but at Thanksgiving dinner?
BLOOM: It was a little ribbing, right. They`re busting his chops, Darren, they`re asking for signed autographs, teasing him. That`s it.
He didn`t lose his job. He didn`t suffer any pay cut.
KAVINOKY: Maybe, we`re speculating about what his co-workers did and did they tease him or did they do this. We really don`t know the details. It could have been really ugly for this guy.
BLOOM: $3.5 million? That`s what he is seeking; $3.5 million from this nice small town in Ohio. Please.
KAVINOKY: I`m backing this guy all the way to the Supreme Court, Lisa. I think he has got a point.
BLOOM: Somebody has to.
POLITAN: Unbelievable. It`s a true story folks, it`s a real lawsuit. I guess one of those only in America deals.
Let`s go around quickly. Is it successful, Darren, yes or no?
KAVINOKY: Is it successful in court? I got to tell you, I`m backing this guy all the way.
POLITAN: You say yes. Lisa bloom yes or no?
BLOOM: Absolutely not. No way. It won`t get past the motion stage.
POLITAN: Curtis Sliwa, last word here.
SLIWA: Let him go pound some doughnuts at Dunkin` Donuts. That`s where he belongs. That`s the kind of cop he is.
POLITAN: Thanks a lot, fantastic panel for joining me tonight.
I`m Vinnie Politan, in for Jane Velez-Mitchell. You`re watching ISSUES on HLN.