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Defense Rests Unexpectedly in Nikolas Cruz Penalty Trial; Patagonia Founder Transfers Ownership to Help Fight Climate Crisis; Roger Federer Says He Will Retire From ATP Tour and Grand Slams. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired September 15, 2022 - 10:30   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: In San Francisco -- a woman in San Francisco is suing police after she says DNA from her rape kit years ago was used to arrest her in another case. She's suing on civil rights grounds. We'll talk about it next.


HARLOW: This just into CNN. President Biden will speak in under 30 minutes from the rose garden. He will talk at 11:00 A.M. Eastern Time to mark the tentative deal the administration was able to broker with the rail unions to avoid a major rail strike.


Of course, you'll see that live right here on CNN when it begins.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A big sigh of relief there in the White House.

In another story we're following, an unexpected move, lawyers for the Parkland School shooter Nikolas Cruz suddenly rested their case this week as they were less than halfway through the number of defense witnesses, they had expected to call in the death penalty trial for Cruz.

HARLOW: Prosecutors said because they had no warning, they were not ready to move forward and the judge made it clear she was not pleased with how this has all played out in terms of the lawyers criticizing the defense side.

Our Carlos Suarez joins us live outside of the courthouse. I mean, yesterday, the words from the judge very pointed at how the defense team has handled this process.

CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that is exactly right. And this isn't the first time that the judge has had some choice words for the defense and the prosecution. Just a few weeks ago, she accused the two sides of treating her courtroom like a, quote, classroom. At the time she was upset because she felt the two sides kept interrupting her, they were walking around the courtroom during testimony and she felt that they were shouting at each other. Now, yesterday's heated exchanged played out before the jury was brought in. The defense team was expected to call two witnesses to the stand and they have given no indication that they were going to end their case early. When all of this plays out, you can imagine the surprise on the judge's face. Again, we were all expecting several more weeks of testimony from dozens or more witnesses, including Nikolas Cruz's own brother, Zachary.

Here is now the moment the judge reacted.


JUDGE ELIZABETH SCHERER, 17TH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT OF FLORIDA: This is the most uncalled for, unprofessional way to try a case. You all knew about this and even if you didn't make your decision until this morning, to have 22 people plus all of this staff and every attorney march into court, be waiting as if it is some kind of game, now I have to send them home and the state is not ready, they are not going to have a witness ready, we have another day wasted. I just -- I -- honestly, I have never experienced a level of unprofessionalism in my career. It is unbelievable.


SUAREZ: So, Nikolas Cruz was in court and he was asked if he was comfortable with the decision that his defense attorneys had made. He said yes. It is important to note here that the jury is not trying to figure out whether or not Nikolas Cruz is guilty in all of this. He's already pleaded guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder. All the jury is deciding is whether or not he should die for his actions in Florida. Their decision on death does have to be unanimous.

So, what happens next? Well, the prosecution will begin their rebuttal at the end of the month and then the jury could get this case as early as the second week of October. Guys?

HARLOW: Carlos Suarez outside the courthouse, thank you so much for following this all along and explaining this latest development to us.

Well, joining us now to talk about this case and a few other significant legal headlines, CNN Legal Analyst and Criminal Defense Attorney Joey Jackson. Joey, it is good to be there.

It is not in all courtrooms do you get to see what is happening and do get to see a judge express her displeasure with the legal teams like that. Help explain the significance and where you think this goes from there? I mean, do you see there could be a mistrial of this phase even in the penalty phase?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. So, Poppy and Jim, good morning to you. So, it is important in as much as there is a certain rules of engagement in court. There is a certain decorum and certainly both parties need to put the other party on notice as to what you are doing. The defense initially, let's remember, in trying to preserve and protect their client's life, had been providing a lot of evidence and information with respect to his upbringing, with regard to his mother's drug use, with respect to medical and other testimony, not really excusing the offense he's been guilty. This is to determine to whether he gets life but to explain his actions. And in doing they noted, the defense did, Poppy and Jim, that there would be 80 witnesses called.

When you call 25 of those witnesses, it is your prerogative not to call the rest. But not putting the court, nor your adversaries, the prosecutors, on notice such that the trial could be structured and it could go on and the juror's time could not be wasted and the court office's time and the attorney's time, that is significant. And so that is why the judge was so upset about this.

Final point, with respect to any mistrial, that is not going to be at issue because the jurors, the 12 jurors and 10 alternates, were not in the courtroom during this exchange. So, that would go to a mistrial. What could come up in the event that he is sentenced to death is whether or not he, that is the defendant, Mr. Cruz, was adequately effective or was there ineffective assistance of counsel or other issues for not calling those other witnesses. So, that is the basis and the nature of what happened in court just the other day.


SCIUTTO: A lot of cases to follow this morning, Joey, so I appreciate you running through them. There is a disturbing headline from a case in Iowa where an Iowa judge has ruled a girl who was 15 when she killed a map she said had raped her multiple times must now pay that man's family $150,000 in restitution. How did this come about?

JACKSON: Yes. So, what happened in this particular case is that this is a victim of sex trafficking, as a result of her being sex trafficked, Jim and Poppy. This particular victim, of course, decided to kill, right, the person who was raping her. There is a lot of dispute as it related to whether it was done in self-defense or whether he was otherwise the person she killed not in a position to defend himself because she was -- he was sleeping at the time. Those are issues for another day.

Ultimately, however, she decided to enter into a plea arrangement, that plea arrangement for voluntary manslaughter. Pursuant to that plea arrangement, there were certain conditions that were set. What you're speaking about is restitution, which is compensation to the victim, if you could call him that after he raped of her, of the crime.

Now, to be clear, this was not a judicial determination as we look at the judge there. This is pursuant to the law. The statute particularly in this jurisdiction says you have to pay. So, the judge didn't have any discretion and noted that this was not his doing. If you don't like this, then you need to change the law. And there are no safe harbor laws in Iowa where this was meted out that would provide for no restitution to be paid for the person who was killed in this particular case and that was the rapist.

HARLOW: Joey Jackson, thank you very much. SCIUTTO: We also want to take a moment here. This is a sad moment for us and our team to remember a man who was part of the CNN family passed away far too soon. You likely remember seeing the attorney, Page Pate, dozens of times that he appeared on our air to share his expert, gentlemanly legal commentary. The last time Poppy and I had a chance to speak with him was just August 22nd. Then on Tuesday of this week, we heard the terrible news that he had died in a drowning accident off the coast of St. Simons Island in Georgia.

HARLOW: Well, first responders say that he was swept into a rip current while swimming with one of his sons. And although his son was able to get to shore and live, Page did not survive. He leaves behind his wife of 17 years, Elizabeth, and their sons Chatham and Asher.

Page has been a respected attorney for more than 25 years. He was one of the founders of the Georgia Innocence Project. In a statement, his law firm said in part, quote, though he was a formidable and sometimes intimidating attorney in the courtroom, Page had an easy smile and earnest laugh and a great sense of humor. He was guided by his faith and his creator. But he had an open heart and an open mind to all.

SCIUTTO: Listen, that was very much our experience here at CNN as well through many, many appearances and conversations on this broadcast. Everyone on our team that came into contact with him, they described him uniformly as a man who was a pleasure to work with, always professional, always well-prepared. We will miss him. Our sincerest thoughts go out to his family.



HARLOW: One of my favorite stories of the day, Patagonia under new management after its founder transferred it, the company, for the sake of the planet. Watch.


YVON CHOUINARD, OWNER, PATAGONIA: Not a lot of people understand how serious we are about saving this planet. I'm dead serious.


HARLOW: Certainly is. A press conference announcing that effective immediately, Yvon Chouinard and his family will transfer their entire ownership stake into two newly created entities, those who will ensure the company's values will continue to be upheld and that Patagonia's profits are used to combat climate change.

In this letter titled, Earth is our only shareholder now, he writes, quote, truth be told, there were no good options available so we created our own. Instead of going public, you could say we're going purpose. Instead of extracting value from nature and transforming it into wealth for investors, we'll use the wealth Patagonia creates to protect the source of all wealth, and, of course, that's the Earth. Happy to have our Chief Climate Correspondent Bill Weir, and David Gelles, Climate Reporter for The New York Times, who broke the story. My husband sent it to me yesterday and I was like trying to juggle all of the kids and I'm read it the same time, and I'm totally riveted by it. It is fascinating. Congrats on breaking it. You describe him as a reluctant billionaire. Why did he do this? How did he do it?

DAVID GELLES, CLIMATE REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well how he did it was extraordinary. It was a two-year process that I document in some detail. The why really goes back to the very moment he founded the company. And he told me in our conversations over the last month, I never wanted to be a businessman. I never wanted to own a company. He's been uncomfortable with the material wealth that this company has afforded him for decades and he's been looking for a solution, as he's now 83, as to what would happen to the company upon his death and it was a process but they finally landed at this most extraordinary solution.


HARLOW: A huge company, worth $3 billion, Bill. Can you explain why this is so different than just taking a company public or selling it and giving a bunch of money to an environmental charity?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, he says in that letter there that instead of extracting stuff from the earth, turning it into wealth for investors, they're going to take their wealth and put it back into the source. As you say, they already have over a thousand grantees from Raptors in Ojai to wetlands, friends of the wetlands all across the country and around the world. They really encouraged people to get engaged.

But I think it is really interesting. We have got to go back to the origin of the story. Take a look at this. In 1968, Yvon Chouinard and one of his best friends, a guy named Doug Tomkins, they got in a V.W. bus and they went from San Francisco all the way down to the tip of South America surfing and skiing. They called themselves the Fun Hogs. And they climbed the big mountain that is the silhouette of the Patagonia logo and Doug Tomkins started The North Face because they spent all this time in the backwoods and complaining about the gear wasn't good, so let's build our own companies.

And then as they got richer in the go-go '80s, when he dies with the most toys wins, they sought that that mentality will just kill the planet. And so they started thinking about how do we save it. Doug Tomkins tragically died on a canoe on a kayaking trip on a lake in Argentina. Yvon Chouinard was with him there. Doug Tomkins took all of his wealth from fashion and his art collection and created huge national parks in South America. That was his sort of idea on how to fix the planet. Chouinard has gone in a completely different direction, trying to reinvent capitalism, as we know it. And these two guys would say to their customers, don't buy this if you don't need it.

HARLOW: Yes, that's really what it is. I mean, I think the question now, and he's been outspoken for years against the, quote, capitalist ideal, my question now to you is, because he said in your piece to you, I don't respect the stock market at all. Once you're public, you've lost control of the company and you have to maximize for the shareholder. So, he sees the Earth as the only shareholder now and humanity. Will any other companies, any other founders follow or is he the outlier?

GELLES: I cannot tell you the name but I have literally gotten a text since this published from another founder saying, I may want to do this.

HARLOW: Really? A big name.

GELLES: A name you would know.

HARLOW: Wow. Does this change capitalism slowly?

GELLES: Maybe the very beginning. This is something that I've been covering at the times, whether it's Patagonia or the many other companies. We're in this moment of reckoning around capitalism, because I think a lot of people around the globe and certainly in the United States over the last ten years recognize that just the way things are working are not working for so many people. And so some corporate leaders, including them, like Yvon Chouinard, have been looking for solutions.

HARLOW: So, Bill, there was this big 2016 New Yorker profile of Chouinard, and he talked about, in his words, everyone just green washing. So, that is essentially when a company talks about being environmentally conscious but isn't making notable, substantial steps to get there.

WEIR: Right.

HARLOW: Can you speak to the difference between talking about it, you know, buying credits, if you will, and actually doing something like this? Because I think the counterpoint would be, well, you also have a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders. You also need to have a profitable company, so, the balance.

WEIR: Right. There is this really -- it is divided up into camps. Yes, everybody is on the carbon pledge bandwagon, even oil companies. If you watch their ads, it looks like they're turning algae into gasoline. They're not. Even some outdoors companies will try to glam on to that because that's their customer base.

Patagonia, I think, historically, David put it no better than I, just put their money where their mouth is in terms of reuse, reduce, recycle being the -- it is a corporate culture even with their employees there about how they bring children and pets to work and flexible workspace. It is a holistic approach to how we think about every part of our life. And that is the way you ultimately fix the planet, is by making micro adjustments all at once.

But, yes, who else is going to follow their lead? Overseas, as developing countries are just saying, hey, let us discover the ills of capitalism for ourselves first before you tell us we can't do it. It is a really seismic moment though, I think.

HARLOW: I'm waiting for whoever texted David. You know, David, you can have the exclusive on that one. Thank you. What a joy to be able to tell this story and bring it to the world. Thank you, Bill, as always.

WEIR: You bet.

HARLOW: All right. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Remarkable to see that generosity.

Well, this just into CNN, 20-Time Grand Slam tennis champion Roger Federer is retiring. Federer announced that he will leave professional tennis after one final competition in London just next week. He says he will still play but will no longer compete on the ATP Tour or in grand slams, and that's big news.


The Swiss star made the announcement on Twitter citing the injuries and surgeries he's endured over the last three years. Federer is 41 years old, went pro in 1997. This comes just weeks after Serena Williams announced plans to step away from tennis.

And in just minutes, President Biden will speak from the rose garden to mark the tentative deal his administration was able to broker to avoid a major rail strike. Of course, we're going to bring you those comments live when they happen.

HARLOW: You will see them right here in just a few minutes.

Thank you so much for joining us today. We'll see you right back here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto.

At This Hour with Kate Bolduan starts right after a quick break.