Return to Transcripts main page

LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD

No Stand Your Ground in Dunn Trial; Massachusetts Criminals Can Be Foster Parents; New CBO Report on How Obamacare Affects Jobs; Majority of American's Missed Best Super Bowl Ad.

Aired February 5, 2014 - 11:30   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL DUNN, ALLEGED SHOOTER: I had my windows up. I can't hear anything he was saying but there was a lot of (EXPLETIVE DELETED) this and that.

TORY DUNNAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He said he feared for his safety and Dunn retrieved his gun and fired four shots into the SUV he was in. As the SUV sped away, he fired four more rounds.

UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: When you began to shoot, can you honestly tell us that you ever saw a gun inside?

DUNN: I saw a barrel come up on the window like a single-shot shotgun where there is a barrel. I didn't see this part of the barrel. I saw that part of the barrel. It was either a barrel or a stick but, sir, they were like, we're going to kill you.

DUNNAN: Davis sitting in the back seat was killed. His three friends survived. Investigators say they found no guns inside their SUV and Dunn left the scene never calling police.

MARK O'MARA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think that's going to be a big question for this jury. You were in a car, put it in drive, get out of there, and then call a cop, rather take out a weapon and put eight shots into a car killing one person.

DUNNAN: The case is being compared to another Florida case in which a neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman, shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman was acquitted claiming it was in self-defense.

(on camera): Interestingly enough, it is the same state attorney in this trial who tried and failed to convict George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

Tory Dunnan, CNN, Miami.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: There was someone who became quite famous, CNN's legal analyst, Mark O'Mara joining me.

You're the perfect voice here. Can you explain why there seems to be so much confusion when people hear the terms are you going to go on a Stand Your Ground defense or a defense that includes the justifiable use of deadly force? They sound so similar.

O'MARA: I think the defense attorney may have said, I'm not going to do a pre-trial motion for a Stand Your Ground hearing. Obviously, he is not. They are about to start the trial. I don't think that he affirmatively waved being able to say to a jury, I get the benefit of the no need to retreat portion of the statute. That's a very confusing statute. I think that included in the justifiable use of force is the fact that they didn't need to retreat. They have to be able to say to that jury, even though I may have been able to retreat, I did not have any reason to. So you can't consider the fact that I didn't put the car in drive and drive away.

BANFIELD: So --

O'MARA: If he were to ever wave that, it would be a huge mistake and a huge tactical blunder.

BANFIELD: OK. This is something the jury is going to wrestle through and something you had to think through in your courtroom with Zimmerman, the reasonable nature of what you think when you decide to meet force with force or a justifiable action, this kind of thing. Is it reasonable to be so afraid for your life, like what you said, you got a car, you could go in reverse. Doesn't that play in so massively that there is no way anybody could say a reasonable person would not be scared he was going to die? If he had a car, he could get away in right away.

O'MARA: Those 12 jurors have to look at that and say, what Dunn did, was that reasonable under the then existing circumstances? I believe the defense is probably going to say shotgun in your face. You don't have an opportunity to do anything else but shoot. A jury of 12 is going to sit there and say, how many other alternatives existed besides shooting your gun at a car. Could you have ducked? Could you have gotten behind the 2000 pounds of metal that a car makes up? Could you have driven away? That's going to be the defense's highest burden convincing these 12 people that there was no other reasonable alternative but to shoot?

BANFIELD: We will continue to watch it. You are the perfect voice on this.

Mark O'Mara, be safe in all the weather

O'MARA: Thank you.

BANFIELD: Criminals with violent paths like armed assault and drug trafficking and soliciting sex from minors. Guess what? You are not disqualified from being foster parents in one of our states. Yes. I'm not kidding. You'll find out what state next and why they are doing this.

<11:34:25>

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) <11:37:40>

BANFIELD: I want to take you to Massachusetts where we were stunned that the Department of Children and Families has a policy in the handbook that allows people with criminal pasts to qualify as foster parents. Before we get to the list of the crimes that may be OK to have committed and be a foster parent, I want to take a look at the crimes that will get you out of the running to be a foster parent. Murder, rape, incest, trafficking in heroin, and burning down a house -- do that, and you can't be a foster parent. But here is a list of what could be acceptable. Let's preface it by saying, subject to review, and thank god. Assault by dangerous weapon, induce sex with a minor, DUI, possession of heroin, prostitution.

Here is what the Health and Human Services spokesperson told us when we contacted that office today: "DCF's mission is to protect children and strengthen families and decisions about the placement of a child always prioritize his or her safety. The year 2000 superior court decision bars DCF and other state employers from automatically disqualifying an individual from employment solely based on a prior conviction. The department uses factors such as nature of a crime, circumstances and time frame to deny an application to become a foster parent if the situation is deemed unsafe." It goes on to say DCF looks at the full picture to determine which caregiver or home is in the best interest of a child. Fascinating.

You know who else finds it fascinating? Wendy Murphy, a former prosecutor, and Lisa Bloom, a legal analyst for AVO.com, who has dealt a lot with kids and crime and abuse.

Wendy, let me start with you. Why even have the list? Why even put murder on one and heroin possession or induced sex with a minor on one that's OK if it is going to be subject to review? Why have the list at all?

WENDY MURPHY, ATTORNEY & FORMER PROSECUTOR: Welcome to Massachusetts, Ashleigh. That really is the problem here. Ideologically, there is an acceptance for people with a criminal pass to do all sorts of things, including becoming foster parents. That's a great outrage here, including form me. I'm here in Massachusetts pulling my hair out trying to get at least the governor to say, why are we doing this.

<11:40:12>

Here is an interesting thing. You have cited a superior court judge's decision. That's not an appellate court. We have the power in the hands of the governor who is, after all, in charge of the agency responsible. He could tomorrow say I don't care if there is discretion. I don't want anybody who has molested a child or induced a child into sex, I don't want any of those people becoming foster parents, because kids and their well-being are more important than anything else and perpetrators who are looking to, let's say, sexually abuse or make child porn with children, say, sign up to be foster parents --

BANFIELD: I don't get it -- MURPHY: -- because it gives them access to their kids and their pictures.

BANFIELD: I get it. I get it that you have superior court decisions that hand string you all the time and bind your hands behind your back and you have to automatically not disqualify people from having certain jobs. I don't understand how this applies to teachers. You can't have possessed pornographic material or induced sex from a minor and be a teacher. Where am I missing something?

LISA BLOOM, LEGAL ANALYST, AVO.COM: I think Massachusetts is trying to draw the line somewhere. You don't want to exclude anyone with any criminal conviction for the rest of their lives. If they have a 30- year-old marijuana conviction, and since then, they have led a good productive life.

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: That's different than inducing sex with a minor.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

BLOOM: Ashleigh, nobody can defend anybody with a sex conviction regarding a minor as a teacher or a foster parent. I have been a foster parent. It is a tough job. I also want to say, we shouldn't include anyone in the culture of mass incarceration that we live in now, we don't want to exclude anyone with a criminal conviction from any job or any position. They are trying to draw the line somewhere. They are apparently having a tough time.

BANFIELD: Wendy, this is what I don't understand. What kind of people get together to draw that line? I can't believe I saw it in print and double-checked. Inducing sex from a minor. I can't imagine a board would say, yeah, put that on the list subject to review and you can pass.

MURPHY: That covers a horrific array of dangers for children, including pimping and prostitution. Here's the thing. I don't disagree there are people that have had trouble and redeemed themselves and are sincerely interested in helping children, because they had troubled childhood. They now want to help others. That's good. We want to encourage that.

BANFIELD: Not with my kids.

MURPHY: You can't be arbitrary. Here is the thing. We need to make good judgments, screen out the bad apples and this tool doesn't help us do that.

BANFIELD: I think they need some better selection processes of the crimes. I agree, people deserve second chances or with my kids or someone else's kids, I'm not sure that's the Petri dish I want to see out there.

Wendy Murphy and Lisa Bloom, I knew you two would be perfect on this. Thank you both.

BLOOM: Thanks, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: You bet.

The battle over the Affordable Care Act is now focusing on jobs. Republicans and the Obama administration, they are looking at the same report and guess what? Surprise, surprise. They are coming up with hugely, vastly different interpretations. How does that happen? Oh, yes, Washington. It is coming up next with Wolf.

<11:43:28>

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

<11:47:05>

BANFIELD: If you thought Obamacare couldn't get any more polarizing. Along comes a report from the CBO, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, that is projecting a much larger impact on the labor force than everyone originally thought. Between all the subsidies for consumers at certain income levels and the penalties for employers who don't offer coverage to full-time workers, the CBO is predicting Americans are going to work a lot fewer hours than they might have otherwise. How many fewer hours? We have to jump this all together into a big pot. By 2017, the loss will equal out to about two million full-time positions. By 2021, it is projected to be 2.3 million and by 2024, 2.5 million full-time positions. You can cue the indignant sound bites from Obamacare critics who are steaming mad at any jobs lost.

That's my cue to bring in Wolf Blitzer.

At first blush, when you do all the magic and work the hours that people might work less, it sounds really black and white. 2 million jobs lost. Wolf, is it that black and white?

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, THE SITUATION ROOM: It is not that black and white. There is a lot more complexity than meets the eye. If you read the entire CBO report, you understand the nuances involved, you see it is a little bit more complicated. Now, they have the freedom. They don't have to keep a job they earlier didn't like. They are afraid if they leave that job, they won't be able to get health insurance in a new job because they have a pre-existing condition. Now, they will have the freedom to quit one job, take another job. There will be a whole bunch of people who won't want to get a better job because, if they do, they might not be eligible for the subsidies that the Affordable Care Act provides, subsidies because of their income or Medicaid benefits they might not be eligible to receive if they were to take another job.

But I will say this, in the world of politics, as you all know, Ashleigh, nuance is not necessarily well done. In a 30-second commercial, the Republicans will have their talking point. It will be powerful going into the mid-term elections. The Democrats, to explain the positive side of the CBO report, are going to have a much bigger challenge ahead of them. So it is going to be a battle but it is going to be the Republicans seem to have a slight advantage now with this new CBO report.

BANFIELD: The headline is a lot easier to be sure than the big long explanation for the Democrats.

Thank you so much. Good explanation on your part.

<11:50:03>

I want to make sure everyone knows they can watch more of you at 1:00 eastern and again at 5:00, with -- oh, my gosh, he does it again -- Wolf got the interview with Mitt Romney. Mitt is going to join him in "the situation room" right here on CNN.

David Beckham. That's all I have to say. Getting his own soccer team, folks. The player confirming he's going to establish a Major League Soccer franchise in beautiful Miami. Beckham retired from the game last May. And thank you, Jesus, he's back.

Most of America didn't get to see the most talked-about commercial and it wasn't the David Beckham ad during the Super Bowl. Take a peek at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: Oh, you don't even have to be a super metal fan to really like this one. This is just an epic ad for a personal injury attorney. And it only ran locally in one community. But it had special effects and flames and swinging hammers and, oh, my, did it go viral. So how much did he have to spend for this? And who is this lawyer! You're going to meet him, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: We need to take a little side bar right now for a second, because I have to show you something that's being called the best Super Bowl commercial that you did not get an opportunity to see. That is, unless, you're one of the millions and millions of people who have seen it on YouTube. Have a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMIE CASINO, PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY: I'm Jamie Casino. You may have seen some of my personal injury commercials on TV.

<11:55:01>

I wasn't always a personal injury lawyer. I once was a notorious criminal defense lawyer who was employed by some of the most cold- hearted villains. My art brought me great wealth until one day my little brother Michael and his friend were two of four people whose lives was taken.

UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: Your brother was involved in a situation last night. He was shot. He didn't make it.

CASINO: After the tragedy, our chief of police deceived you to make it look like the police department had lost control.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No innocent people were targeted.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Daddy, what do you do when you go to work?

CASINO: At some point, a man must ask why God created him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: The music alone is worth the price of admission, folks. The production makes you think you're looking for a new show on TNT. But this ad only ran in parts of Georgia and South Carolina. But now the personal injury attorney behind it all, Jamie Casino, is becoming a national brand. And that song, I think, is becoming very popular. It's been racking up more than four million hits on YouTube, this commercial. And to put that in context, the great Radio Shack Super Bowl commercial has only two million hits on YouTube -- burning sledgehammers, fire and dragons. And look at this. It features Mr. Casino. That's him on the left. But we couldn't help noticing that it really looks a lot like Michael Corleone from "The Godfather" on the right.

Joining me now, Jamie Casino.

Jamie, this is a burning question, pardon the pun, given all the fire and brimstone in your ads. But we looked into the going rate for the 30-second ad in your community. And it goes for about four million bucks. So if you do the math, this was a two-minute spot you produced. Two minutes equals 30 seconds times four and $4 million times four is $16 million. Did you pay $16 million to put the ad on the air?

CASINO: No, not at all, no. I can't tell you how much I spent for the spot, because the local affiliate has the Super Bowl next year. So they asked me not to divulge that. But I can tell you, with production and the cost of the spot was probably -- I said 100 before, but probably under 130.

BANFIELD: OK. So production is 130,000.

CASINO: No, no --

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: Sorry?

(CROSSTALK)

CASINO: Everything.

BANFIELD: 130 what?

CASINO: Thousand.

BANFIELD: For the spot? For the advertising spot? That's not possible.

CASINO: For the production, everything.

BANFIELD: OK.

CASINO: Was -- yes. For an end spot.

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: How does that work? You've completely -- you've got me confused completely when it's four million bucks for 30 seconds on the air. And you took a --

(CROSSTALK)

CASINO: I think it's four million bucks for the national ads. But this was only a local regional ad that played in parts of South Carolina.

BANFIELD: So what's crazy is that it's a lot more than that for the national spots. Upwards of 10, et cetera. I can't remember the exact amount this year. Let's move on to what it is you're doing in this ad. What's the message here? Because there's a lot of things going on. What message are you trying to get to people in the ad?

CASINO: Well, it was meant for two things. It was meant kind of like a tribute to my brother, because my brother was murdered on September 1st, 2012, Labor Day, he and his friend. And it was four people who were murdered that weekend. And then the day before his funeral, a few days later, our chief of police got on the news and all the news stations and tried explaining that it's safe here in Savannah, and people don't have anything to worry about. And he said no innocent victims were targeted. Well, I spoke to the detective after that, and I said, did my brother do anything wrong. And he says no. And he had no idea that the chief had made these statements. So I confronted the chief, and he retracted it afterwards. But he only did like one sentence.

BANFIELD: So as I understood it, just to sort of summarize, you sort of changed your modis operandi and only take certain cases now. You had this epiphany. But some of your colleagues are hitting you hard on the tone and tenor of this ad, saying it doesn't speak well to the industry of attorneys. How do you answer them?

CASINO: It's not -- the ad is not for everybody. But I've got e- mails from lawyers all over the country saying they love the ad, so -- some people like it, some people don't.

BANFIELD: All right. Well, Jamie, it's good to talk to you. I will say this. It is great TV, watching that ad.

(LAUGHTER)

I couldn't believe what I was watching at first.

Jamie Casino, thanks for being with us.

CASINO: Thank you so much.

BANFIELD: And thank you, everyone, for watching. AROUND THE WORLD starts right now.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company.