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CNN Larry King Live

Interview With Damon & Brenda van Dam; Interview With Judge Judy Sheindlin

Aired February 06, 2002 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, the desperate search for Danielle van Dam, who disappeared from her home this past weekend. Her parents, Damon and Brenda, join us with a plea for their daughter's safe return. And in Fort Lauderdale, John Walsh of "America's Most Wanted."

And then, Judge Judy. She'll lay down the law on headline issues and take your calls. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening, and welcome to what should be a very special edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Judge Judy is our regular guest tonight, and she'll be with us later.

But we're going to begin tonight with a breaking and ongoing story that we hope ends very happily, very soon.

Joining us in the suburb of San Diego, California are Damon and Brenda van Dam. As you probably know by now, unless you're living on another planet, their 7-year-old daughter Danielle is missing; and still missing. Has been missing since the weekend.

Joining us as well from Fort Lauderdale by the Broward County Sheriff's Department is John Walsh, the host of "America's Most Wanted: America Strikes Back." They're going to do a segment on Danielle's case for his show Saturday night.

We'll start with the couple in San Diego.

First, Damon, everyone asks how you're doing. How are her two brothers doing?

DAMON VAN DAM: Her older brother has some trouble with it. He knows what's happened. And he's had some breakdowns, but he's doing OK.

The younger brother, his play has started to involve not-good things, but he seems to be dealing OK with it.

KING: And how, Brenda, do you explain it to them?

BRENDA VAN DAM: Derrick (ph) knows that Danielle's missing, and he knows that -- I really believe that he knows what's going on. Darren (ph) does not know what's going on. I just said both their names! And...

KING: We know what you're going through, so don't worry about any little...

B. VAN DAM: He just asks when she's going to come home. He said, Mommy, I thought we lived in a safe neighborhood; and I said, so did I.

And I explained to them that there are more good people in the world than bad people, and I just hope they believe that.

KING: Damon, let's get up to date on the events. There has been no ransom request, right? You've received no contact from anyone, is that correct?

D. VAN DAM: Nothing. We've got a couple phone numbers; we've heard nothing from anyone.

KING: And you noticed her missing when? Sunday morning?

D. VAN DAM: Saturday morning she wasn't in her bed.

KING: Were doors open? Did someone (sic) look like they broke in? What did the scene look like?

D. VAN DAM: We can't say much about it because the police investigation has asked that we don't say much. There was an open door in the house.

B. VAN DAM: There was a breach to our house, and that's all that we're allowed to say.

KING: And I understand they're reporting today they doubt if she's in the immediate area, and they're extending the search wider. Are you completely satisfied with the way the police are acting, Damon?

D. VAN DAM: The police have given it their all. They're trying so hard. We're very happy with the police. We're working as closely with them as we can, doing everything we can do to help them, and they're doing everything they can do to help us. They're filling us in. It's a great, great group of people in the police, and a great group of people helping support us to get the word out about her.

KING: We don't want to compromise the investigation. They are talking to a neighbor. What, if anything, can you tell us about that, Brenda?

B. VAN DAM: I can tell you that he's our neighbor; that's about it.


KING: I'm sorry, go ahead, Damon.

D. VAN DAM: No, not someone we know well. B. VAN DAM: We do not know him well.

D. VAN DAM: We know his name; you know, we know who he is. We recognize him; we've talked to him a couple times, but not a friend.

It's -- one of the important parts of our message here is they're investigating him, and it's possible -- but he's not arrested. This is not over. And we want the message out everywhere that...

B. VAN DAM: Danielle is still out there. And we still want to continue looking for her.

KING: All right, the events are, you went out Friday night, you checked back in -- Saturday you checked; you got up, you saw things, you went and checked -- you didn't check the room until Saturday morning. She was gone. The first move is to call the police. You haven't heard from anyone.

John Walsh, we're going to bring you into this. Now, you lost a boy. A similar...


KING: Adam was taken where?

JOHN WALSH, "AMERICA'S MOST WANTED": He was in a mall with his mom in a store, and she was two aisles away, and he was watching a video game -- some older boys playing a video game. Videos were brand new in those days. The older boys got in an argument -- it was two sets of teenagers -- two white boys and two black boys. And a 17- year-old, untrained security guard, a female who just had an abortion, on medication, said, You white boys out this door, you black boys out the other door.

My wife came back three minutes later, two aisles away, never knew Adam had been ordered out of the store. And for all these years police believe that a serial pedophile named (UNINTELLIGIBLE) kidnapped Adam outside the store.

KING: What can you say to the van Dams to keep their spirits up?

WALSH: I've talked to them. They've got to be strong. I think they're very focused. they know who the real victim (sic) here, and the victim is Danielle. They're cooperating with police; they've gone in and they've done the right thing. They've taken their polygraph exams.

I think it's important that people know they passed the polygraph; that this little girl is in danger. Wherever she is, we never give up hope.

But they're being very strong. And I think what's wonderful is their concern with their other two children and what they're going through.

But this couple really needs help. The cops are doing a great job, but somebody out there knows something about what happened to this little girl, and we need to get her back.

KING: Damon, were you offended, being asked to take a polygraph, or do you understand that is part of the general procedure in cases like this?

D. VAN DAM: Yes, I totally understand. And we've done everything we can. We opened up our home to the police. We asked them to come in. It was frustrating at the beginning for them to start the investigation, however, because of course this started off as a missing person -- she walked away.

But we've done everything we can. I'm not offended at all. We were both very happy to take polygraphs. And we're not suspects. And we're still doing everything we can with the police.

KING: Brenda, is Danielle -- tell us about her. Now, we know this can happen, so it's got to be -- is there a possibility that she could have run away?

B. VAN DAM: There isn't. There is no possibility that Danielle could have run away, or locked out of our home. My children know that if they leave this house they get permission. She was a wonderfully -- wonderful, happy -- or she is a wonderful, happy child. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) beautiful, smart; and she has no reason to leave our home.

KING: Damon, what do you do for a living?

D. VAN DAM: I do software engineering work.

KING: All right, so you're not a candidate for a major kidnapping to get major money out of you, living in some giant...


KING: ... in the suburb.

D. VAN DAM: No, this is a middle class suburb. It's a safe neighborhood. I don't know why -- I don't think anyone would do this for money. I haven't heard anything about that.

KING: John, if someone has taken her, God forbid, what is the best hope that she's still alive?

WALSH: Well, we've gotten children back. We never give up until we find out and get a resolution.

The toughest thing, of course, Larry, is the not knowing. But most children that are stranger-abducted like this, unfortunately, the Justice Department did a survey and said that most of the children are dead within four hours.

But we've gotten kids back alive. We've gotten back 24 missing children alive on "America's Most Wanted." So I never give up hope.

The cops have got a lot of work to do. Another thing that they're looking at closely is that there's 13 registered sex offenders that live in that area. So people need to know that, you know, someone could have knowledge of this little girl, walked in that house -- I know that the alarm before they went to bed showed that a sliding door was open.

Somebody might have had knowledge of this little girl walking in, grabbed her. I'm praying that she's still alive; but the more that people know about this case -- somebody may have seen something, and I hope somebody has the courage to call, because I'm praying this little girl comes back alive.

KING: And speaking of that, we have two phone numbers and a Web site to give you, and then we have some more questions of our guests. And we certainly thank them for doing this.

If you have more information, or want to know how Danielle looked and what she was wearing -- we're going to show you the pajamas. We have an identical pair that we can show you.

If you have information, call 800 -- it's toll-free -- 800-251- 9927. If you have any tip at all; if you think you may know this -- where this girl is and you've seen something suspicious -- anything -- call the San Diego Police Department at 619-531-2000.

There is also a Web site: It's And that is the Web site, if you want information in that area.

We'll be right back with Damon and Brenda Van Dam and with John Walsh. Don't go away.


KING: I might add, in continuing this story, there is a $10,000 reward being offered. The Millennium Children's Fund is offering $10,000 for information leading to the safe return of Danielle.

We're talking with Damon and Brenda van Dam, Danielle's parents, and John Walsh, who will do a big feature on this on "America's Most Wanted" Saturday night.

Can a reward help, John?

WALSH: A reward does help lots of times. People will give valuable tips. Crime Stoppers works all over the United States.

And I've got to say one thing, Larry: A lot of people don't want to call the police. So I want to add one thing here, that if they want to call the national Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 1-800-THE-LOST. They have a 24-hour toll-free hotline. They'll turn the tip over to police.

If people are afraid of retribution, or they're afraid if their phones might be traced or tapped, call 1-800-THE-LOST.

But somebody knows something about this little girl, and sometimes rewards do help.

KING: Now Damon, we understand that you have an exact -- you have duplicated what she was wearing. Can you show us?

D. VAN DAM: These are...

B. VAN DAM: Yes.

D. VAN DAM: A friend -- they had a sleep-over with a friend, and Brenda bought two pairs -- matching pairs, and the friend has given us the pajamas to show to you guys.

KING: Let's stay focused on...

D. VAN DAM: If anyone sees the pajamas, too -- if anyone sees these pajamas, call in and let someone know that you've found these pajamas.

KING: That is absolutely certain -- you know that's what she was wearing the last time, when...


KING: How are you holding up, Brenda? How do you -- I mean, we can empathize, sympathize here. How do you -- what is it like minute- to-minute?

B. VAN DAM: It's very hard. Every day has been different for me emotionally. I take time in the morning to let everything out. And I do that alone in my room; I don't want my children seeing too much of that coming out of me. And I just scream and cry into my pillow and pray that somebody will see this.

And if Danielle sees this, I want to tell her that I love her. You are my best friend. Everybody is here waiting for you. We want you to come home. So if somebody does have you, please just ask them to let you go, and tell them you want to be with your family.

KING: Damon, how do you -- we know about daddies and daughters.

D. VAN DAM: Yes, she's my sweet little angel, and I love her so much. And I'll be OK when I have all day when I have something to do to try and get her back. The nights are hard though.

KING: You jump when the phone rings?

B. VAN DAM: Definitely. The phone rang in the middle of the night one night, and I jumped up so fast I immediately got a headache from the blood rushing through my body.

KING: Damon, has the press been around a lot? Are they outside the house? Are they a bother or a help?

D. VAN DAM: The press have been great, too. They've been outside the house a lot. We can't go outside. But they have not been harassing us; and they've been great about it. They haven't hammered us with anything. We've done a couple announcements to them.

They've been very helpful. All you guys have been great.

KING: And John, when you do...

D. VAN DAM: We appreciate it so much.


KING: ... usually you show pictures of who you're after. Isn't this harder when there's no picture to show of a suspect?

WALSH: Very, very difficult, Larry; very difficult. But we've been lucky 24 times. You know, when "America's Most Wanted" goes on Saturday nights, millions and millions of viewers tune in. They know that they can call the "America's Most Wanted" hotline and remain anonymous. And we've had great luck.

I know it's tough; we don't have a suspect, but police are looking for any clues. The pajamas are a very, very important clue.

Somebody may have seen one tiny, tiny thing that they may think is inconsequential; I'm saying, no matter how insignificant you think that is, please have the courage to make that call, and let's pray we get this little girl back alive.

And this family -- I've walked in their shoes; they're going through hell right now. The not knowing is the worst. But I'll tell you, they're very, very strong and very brave, and they're doing the best they can.

KING: And what you're saying, John, is if somebody thinks they saw something, call in.

WALSH: Absolutely. We've broken cases, Larry -- you've been interviewing me for 15 years on "America' Most Wanted." We've caught people in 30 countries, 16 guys off the FBI's 10 most wanted. That's because someone just took the time to call in and say, I think I saw this guy, or I think I saw something.

SO no matter how insignificant it is, call the police. If you don't feel comfortable calling the police, call 1-800-THE-LOST or call 1-800-CRIMETV. We'll let the police handle it.

You know, they just need -- we just need one little clue, Larry. We need somebody to have the guts to say, I think I have a strange neighbor; I think I saw something weird; I think I saw something bizarre. We just need that one little tip to get this girl back.

KING: Damon, are your parents, or are Brenda's parents living?

D. VAN DAM: All our families are here. They've all come to be with us.

KING: How are the grandparents holding -- how are your parents holding up, Brenda? B. VAN DAM: It's been very hard for everybody. But we have to stay strong for Danielle, because when she does come back to us she's going to need so much love to help her get through this.

And so everybody just thinks about that, and they stay strong for her.

KING: Same with your parents, Damon.

D. VAN DAM: Yes. Actually, only my mother's still alive; but my mother and my two sisters are here, and we're all working hard to get her back. And that's the focus right now.

KING: All right, for a physical description -- you're holding a picture there, aren't you, of Danielle?

D. VAN DAM: Yes, actually, we had scheduled a trip to Italy this Saturday, and they did last-minute passport photos. This photo was taken the day before she disappeared -- that Friday it was taken. She just got her hair cut. So all the videos and other pictures running of her have longer hair, but this is the latest photo.

B. VAN DAM: Her hair is now shoulder-length.

KING: It is shoulder-length now. And she is a second...

B. VAN DAM: Yes it is.

KING: ... grader, right? Second grader. She's four feet tall. She weighs 58 pounds. The hair is dirty blonde. We've seen the pajamas.

B. VAN DAM: And she always has the necklace on that's in the picture. And we had just recently been to Disney World, and she has Mickey Mouse earrings in with blue stones on them.

KING: Damon, your neighborhood is, what, a suburban, nice neighborhood?

D. VAN DAM: Yes, nice little suburban neighborhood.

KING: Never nay trouble like this in the neighborhood? Never heard of anything like this before?

D. VAN DAM: Nothing like this. All the kids play in the streets all the time. The school is right down the hill; all the kids walk to school. You know, all the parents are involved. Everybody knows everybody. Everybody has come out since and has been very helpful in the neighborhood.

KING: Brenda, have Danielle's friends come by?

B. VAN DAM: Danielle's friends have written cards to her; I'm saving them for her. And they've brought little gifts to her. And I think that's good for them, because it's a way for them to get out their frustrations. Her whole class has written her. KING: John, do you think, in our closing moments here, John, do you think there's something you could say -- and then I'll ask the van Dams to do the same -- to someone who -- I don't know how to put this, God forbid -- might be with her?

WALSH: I'll send a very clear message: Whoever has her, for whatever reason you took this little girl, you've done a terrible thing. You've hurting her family, you're hurting her friends, you're hurting her little brothers. You have got to do the right thing before you make a terrible mistake.

You have to give this little girl up, because if you do something to her and you don't give her back, you will be hunted down and you'll pay for it. Now is the time to do the right thing and give this little girl back to her loving family; absolutely.

KING: Drop her off at a police station and drive away, right?

WALSH: Absolutely; absolutely. Just drop her off anywhere; anywhere; anywhere. Nobody's going to hurt you.

Now is the time to do the right thing before you cross the line, because if you do hurt her, you will be hunted down like the coward you are, and you'll pay.

KING: Damon, anything you want to say -- or Brenda -- Damon, you first.

D. VAN DAM: Same thing. just drop her off anywhere. We just want her back.

KING: Brenda?

B. VAN DAM: I just want them to drop her off and walk away and let her come home safely. That's what everybody wants.

KING: Thank you all very much. Again, we'll be repeating this a lot, if you have any -- if you want any information it's 800-251-9927. If you have a tip, you can call the San Diego Police: 619-531-2000. If you're hesitant about calling the police, call 1-800-THE-LOST, or you can go one the Web site

Our guests have been Brenda and Damon van Dam, John Walsh, whose "America's Most Wanted" will do a segment on this on Saturday night.

We pray for you, van Dams. We have nothing but the best wishes for you, that we can come on again sometime, maybe tomorrow night, with Danielle.

B. VAN DAM: When Danielle comes home, we're going to have a great party for her, and you're all invited.

KING: Thank you very much.

When we come back, Judge Judy, who may have some thoughts of her own. Don't go away. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: She presides over the top-rated daytime show on American television. She's Judge Judy. That show is now in its sixth season. She's a best-selling author, former judge in New York's family courts. So she certainly figures in to what we've just been talking about. And Judge Judy Sheindlin, it's always a great pleasure to welcome you. You know it's been a year? I can't believe that a year. What's your overall view of what we've just seen?

JUDY SHEINDLIN, "JUDGE JUDY": Other than tremendous sympathy for these parents and for their families, something that John Walsh said hit me. He said, in the immediate neighborhood where they are living, there are six registered pedophiles. And when I heard that, you know, I have kids and I have grandchildren. I have grandchildren that, you know, some little, some bigger. And I say to myself, how would I feel knowing that there were six registered pedophiles living within a three-block area of my grandchildren? I'd be furious. You know, pedophilia is supposedly something that these folks can't control. They're never going to get any better, unless you give them a lobotomy, and we don't do that anymore.

KING: But does that mean they can't live anywhere?

SHEINDLIN: I have a good place for them. I travel cross country to work, either from New York state to California, when I come here to work or from Florida where we live to. There are vast open spaces where I see absolutely nothing.

KING: Put them in...

SHEINDLIN: There's a place. They don't have to live amongst our children. If they have a disease that they can't cure and that they can't control, and they refuse in our justice system to say if you are a pedophile and you've abused a child, you can't get out anymore. We have to put you someplace where you can't go out and do damage. But we live in a society, and we say listen, everybody is redeemable. Bull.

KING: Do we know they can't be cured?

SHEINDLIN: Are you willing to chance it with your children?


SHEINDLIN: If you are not willing to chance it with your children, why should we chance it with anyone else's?

KING: Agreed. But...

SHEINDLIN: That's the...


KING: ... unless I was assured by some that this is a curable disease. SHEINDLIN: If you knew someone had committed a sexual assault on a 6-year-old, and 10 psychiatrists gave you affidavits that they were cured, and they said, Larry, we would like to send them over, just so that the world can see, how you view our testament to his sanity. We'd like them to baby-sit for your boys. Would you let them do it? Have a testament. You have 10 top psychiatrists. Would you let them do that? No. Then you can't subject their children to it.

KING: Did you have pedophiles in your court?

SHEINDLIN: Absolutely.

KING: How did you deal with them, as a family judge? You had certain restrictions, you couldn't send people away for life.

SHEINDLIN: All I could do was remove children from their care. And make sure, you know, I could remove children from their care, And their criminal cases were handled in the Supreme Court in the criminal term.

KING: Do you understand it psychologically, what triggers someone?

SHEINDLIN: I have no idea, and I don't think anybody has any real answer. Some people will say it's chemical. Some people will say it's a result of being abused as children. Some people say it's a combination of the two, that it's a chemical imbalance, but they have no control, it's serotonin, whatever.

Bottom line is who cares what it is? It is what it is and until you can find a cure, a cure, then you have to keep these people out of harm's way. End of discussion. There's no discussion. Six pedophiles should not be living in a residential neighborhood with children.

KING: Assuming for a moment...

SHEINDLIN: Excuse me, I get angry.

KING: It's OK. I understand. Assuming there was a pedophile involved in this case, then the prayer is that she was just raped. She's alive and raped. I mean, that's your prayer as a parent.

SHEINDLIN: Well, let me tell you something. I don't know if that's you -- either way, either way, whether you are a child who was 7-years-old and over a two-and-a-half day period is sexually assaulted and then freed or whether someone sexually abuses you and then kills you, your life is destroyed. That memory of a 7-year-old or a 10- year-old of being sexually abused, never goes away. If you are a crime victim.

We don't even have to go to the most venal, the sexual abuse of a child. If you are the victim of a violent crime, Larry, if someone takes a gun and puts it to your head and says, give me your wallet. You never get over that. Your life is never the same. You never walk around the corner the same way. You never look at people the same way. You never react to a stranger the same way. Your life is always altered. So it always amused me, because it did amuse we after a while when a lawyer would say to me, he didn't hurt him with the gun. He only took his property or he didn't hurt her with the knife, he just put it to her throat. He never had any intention of hurting the old lady. And I knew that that person's life, that victim's life was altered forever. So that...

KING: But as a parent you would certainly rather have her alive, if raped, than not alive.

SHEINDLIN: There's no question. Because you still have a child.

KING: Would you still put them away for life?

SHEINDLIN: Forever. I would dump in the middle of the desert on my way here to work. I would do it personally. I'd do it out of the plane. I'd open the door myself. I'd give them a parachute but I (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: What do you think keeps them going? Just hope? That's all you can do.

SHEINDLIN: The parents?

KING: Yes.

SHEINDLIN: Well, they have two other children, and you have to keep going. You have no choice, but your life is never the same. You know, there's a certain life cycle. Parents go before their children. That's what's expected, when you lose a child, I know people, and I'm sure you do, who have lost young children, even older children, you don't recuperate from that.

KING: Has "Judge Judy" evolved over these years that you're doing different kind of cases or any major changes in the show?

SHEINDLIN: No. Has the program evolved? I don't know. I just go out there and do my business. I really don't get involved --

KING: Still disputes, right?

SHEINDLIN: Still disputes. Sometimes they are people who know each other. Sometimes family members. Some former girlfriends boyfriends, we have a lot of those. A lot of people that live together.

KING: See more of that?

SHEINDLIN: Yes. I sometimes look at people and they'll say to me, we lived together for eight years and we have three children. Did the word marriage ever creep into the conversation? We're not ready to make that kind of commitment. But you always -- but it's always amusing to me. Yes, lots of folks live together.

KING: There are a lot of phones ringing. We'll take a lot of calls for Judge Judy in our remaining half hour with her. Tomorrow night, Martha Stewart will be aboard.

By the way, you know, the Olympics begin Friday, Saturday night on "LARRY KING WEEKEND" we'll present highlight of our interview with President Gordon B. Hinckley, the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Utah will become the host state for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

We'll be right back with more of Judge Judy and your phone calls. Don't go away.


SHEINDLIN: You're lucky she's not suing you for a hell of a lot more than $752, the return of her fee. That's outrageous! They ought to close your business.

Sound familiar?


SHEINDLIN: Does that sound familiar?


SHEINDLIN: All right, even though your sweet, kind and butter would melt in your mouth, you instigated this problem.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am not afraid of him.

SHEINDLIN: That's right. So there we go. The syrup is gone. We're getting down to who this lady really is.




SHEINDLIN: You damaged the truck, Mr. Dia (ph). Mr. Dia, you damaged the truck. Put your hands down. Does it look like you're losing?


SHEINDLIN: Whining and crying, you get used to it.

When was the last time you drank milk?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This morning for breakfast.

SHEINDLIN: Maybe with Kahlua.


KING: Oh, Judge Judy, you're so tough. I think that's called a White Russian, I think. SHEINDLIN: Yes, I think so too.

KING: Judge Judy Sheindlin is our guest. Before we take some phone calls, what do you make of the John walker matter, first, knowing you had family court, do you put any of the blame that some are doing on parents who permitted their 17-year-old to go to Yemen?


KING: You do?

SHEINDLIN: You know, we've seen our children through their teenage years, even kids who are 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21, 22 are still idiot children.

KING: Idiot?

SHEINDLIN: So you have to say to them -- you have to still continue to set the boundaries. In our house it was, as long as we paid the bills, we set the boundaries. And they tried to, you know, blur the boundaries, but there were certain things that they could do and there were certain things that they couldn't do. And a 17-year- old, if they want to go some place, they can go on a teen tour. They can go, you know, they can go on a summer hostel trip.

But you don't give them permission actively or passively to pursue that kind of experience, unless you are really sure that they are -- they have -- they are solid beyond their years, they are really older than 17, they really know their mind, they've made a reasoned choice. And if they have, if you are satisfied as a parent that your 17-year-old has really made a choice well reasoned that you've discussed, well, then you can't say there is a 20-year-old kid.

KING: Can he get a fair trial?

SHEINDLIN: We certainly hope so.

KING: We've seen all the tapes and...

SHEINDLIN: Really, what have you seen? You know that he was there. You know that some reporter asked him questions when he was on a gurney. You know, that he was there. Yes, he trained. But there's a lot more proof that's necessary for the charges that they brought against him. And I haven't read each of the indictments, but how are you going to prove that he trained, carried a gun, that he knew he was fighting against Americans? How are you going to prove that? I assume that they have the proof.

KING: And you think you can get an impartial jury that will look and say they didn't prove it, if they didn't prove it and therefore, exonerate him?

SHEINDLIN: Oh, I think so.

KING: Yes? SHEINDLIN: Not probably of everything, but, you know, if you have enough on the plate, therefore, if the jury says, I reject this count, I think that...

KING: Juries are fairer than we think?

SHEINDLIN: I think that they are fair. I think that they will follow the law. And if the government has the merchandise, they are going to get a conviction. And if they don't on some of the indictments...

KING: Of course, a lot of wild newspapers have already convicted them, I mean, right? Traitor headlines.

SHEINDLIN: Larry, you know, because of the sadness of September 11 and because of the way it changed our world, our world as Americans forever, we have this sense of vulnerability and we're so angry. You know, there is an anger.

KING: We have a right to be angry.

SHEINDLIN: Yes, we have a right -- no, we have a right to be angry, period, that we -- it's that loss of innocence, our vulnerability that we never felt before. We were never involved in a war here. You know, it was always some place else. We'd send the money. We'd send the troops. We'd send the arms, but we never felt vulnerable here, and we do now. And that's all because of September 11. So we have a right to be angry.

You got to target the right people. You know, we don't have bin Laden to be angry at and to look at in a cage. And he's just one person. It -- there shouldn't be a media frenzy to me about this one. He is one person and he is American it should be a sadness that he went from here, where it was good, to there, where it was bad, voluntarily. Why?

KING: It's a puzzlement.

SHEINDLIN: Why? It's a puzzlement. But anger is a much easier emotion to deal with.

KING: It's hard to sympathize with him.

SHEINDLIN: Hard to sympathize with him at all.


I don't sympathize with him at all. He did it and he went there.

KING: You made your bed, lie in it, as my mother would say to me.

SHEINDLIN: Mine too.

KING: Vancouver for Judge Judy, hello.

CALLER: Hello.


CALLER: I would like to ask the judge if she would have granted bail to John Walker today. And I would like to give encouragement to the couple missing their little girl. I'm a retired correctional officer and a seven-day-old girl was recovered that was kidnapped in Vancouver and found in California. And so there's always hope.

KING: Always hope. Thank you for saying that. Would you have given John Walker bail?

SHEINDLIN: No. I mean, he knows how to get out of the country. His parents know what the potential is. The bail is to really -- the purpose of bail is to ensure your appearance in court. I think that he is clearly a flight risk, and I mean, that's the basis of bail in the state courts, at least. So I would not have granted him bail.

KING: Why do you enjoy your show, since it involves every day when you come in, you tape three in a day, right, sometimes?

SHEINDLIN: I tape a week's worth programs in -- I do about 10 cases a day.

KING: You are around conflict all the time. Doesn't that kind of get to you?

SHEINDLIN: You think of how happy I am when I go home.

KING: No, I mean to someone -- you enjoy watching people...

SHEINDLIN: I enjoy dispute resolution. I enjoy resolving something. I may not do it perfectly, and hopefully I get the right answer most of the time, but I always enjoyed the sense that I was helping the people who appeared before me because at least I was giving them that period at the end of the sentence.

Listen, you may think that you should only pay $20 a week support. She wants $50 a week support. I think $35 is more appropriate. You may like the decision, you may not like the decision. This is it. Go on with your life. Now go on and macinade (ph) about something else. You want Saturday and Sunday visitation. You are only going to get Saturday and Sunday three weekends a month because she's entitled to spend a little time with her kids herself. You may not like it. Deal with it, put a period and move on.

And in my courtroom work that I do here, the problems usually are much smaller, but the people have become emotionally invested in that little problem, whatever it is. So whatever it is, I'm able to say, listen, I have a lot of experience, smarter than the lady who lives next door to you. Let me resolve your problem, put a period and then move on.

KING: Well said. Judge Judy is our guest. Martha Stewart tomorrow night. I'm Larry King and we'll be right back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had to file two police reports against because she had people calling me, threatening me, which I actually have something that I want to play for you.

SHEINDLIN: I don't want to hear it. I'm not interested. Put it down. Not interested, sir. Mr. Graham, how old are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 20 years old.

SHEINDLIN: How old is she?


SHEINDLIN: She's 76. She's entitled to live as long as she has to live in peace. And if it didn't work out, you get your behind out of her house. That's what a nice human being does.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had to move out immediately. That cost us around $300.

SHEINDLIN: I just explained to you, that's your choice. I try to give you an example. You weren't paying attention. The landlord is not responsible for your moving expenses. That is your choice. It's, I believe, wise of you to move, but that was your choice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She has no mode of transportation. My other car is being repaired, so I'm sure that she should get her rental...

SHEINDLIN: Well, when you wear one of these, then you can make that decision. Judgment for the plaintiff, for the amount of $1,053. That's all.


KING: That's all. Kenmore, New York, for Judge Judy. Hello?

CALLER: Judge Judy, you're such a voice of reason. And I have a question for you: Out of all the family court cases that you've handled, are there any that you can't out of your mind?

KING: Good question.

SHEINDLIN: Very good question. Well, I suppose the topic that we were talking about today was child abuse and pedophilia. And the cases that I remember in that area -- it never ceased to amaze me how people would use hot irons on a child.

KING: You had these people in front of you? SHEINDLIN: Burns, cigarette burns on a child. Broken bones on an infant. I had a man who was convicted of -- first in my court and then in the Supreme Court -- of sodomizing an 18-month-old baby. And somebody who walks -- you know, walked among us, you know. He had a civil service job. He had a little too much to drink one night.

KING: Regular guy.

SHEINDLIN: Regular guy. Regular guy. So those cases -- those cases stay with you. You know, some custody battles I remember, some things that were very unfair. Some things that the government did that were very unfair to people I remember. But if you are doing that walk for 25 years, you can't hold it all, because if you hold it all your head explodes.

KING: You're sitting behind the bench, and there's a man in front of you who sodomized a child. How do you impartially view him?

SHEINDLIN: You don't. You don't impartially view him. You -- once you know he did it, I mean, there was no question that this man did it -- no, he confessed to doing it, and his excuse was that he was drunk. That was his excuse.

You know, I said, "if you are drunk, you know, you fall asleep. Normal thing, you fall asleep. Maybe you get angry, maybe you go outside and you scream out. But it's -- there's something abnormal -- so abnormal about sodomizing an infant that I can't accept." So I had to see to it that whatever happened in the criminal court proceeding that he would never be around children.

So I didn't -- you know, I made it clear to his wife, who was also, you know, she'd left him to baby-sit and she was really an innocent. And what happened was, they took away all their children. The judgment that I had to make, if he was out of the house, I had to make sure that he was at his house, and that he would never come back, because you can't take a chance with the other children.

KING: Is the hardest thing to do in family court to take a child away? Let's say it's not a pedophile, let's say it's like a drug addict mother.

SHEINDLIN: I think the hardest cases -- we were talking about this over lunch a couple days ago when I was working somebody asked me that question. Very often people who are mentally challenged, the mentally retarded, the mentally handicapped have children. They don't understand having the child process, but they have children. But the state has a process that they have to go to, you know, to get the children back to their biological parents, that's what they are supposed to do.

So they put these people, many of them are lovely, lovely people, lovely, gentle, sweet people who will follow an instruction, like you have to be there every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to visit. And they will be there on time, and they know what bus to take. And so, they sort of string them along. And they say to them, if you do all of these things, maybe you'll get your baby back. They've already taken the child away.

And they do everything they're supposed to do, but then they still can't get their child back, because they really are incapable within our framework of taking care of them, unless of course you have those sheltered environments where you have someone to assist, and there are a couple of those in the country, but there aren't that many. Those are the most heart wrenching, because these people, they're not bad people, they didn't do anything purposefully.

KING: And they love their child.

SHEINDLIN: And they love their child.

KING: Vernon, Texas, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Judge Judy.

SHEINDLIN: Yes, ma'am.

CALLER: First, I want to say that I watch you every day, I love you.

SHEINDLIN: Thank you.

CALLER: But I want to know, do you ever get any hate mail, because you're so intimidating? If you do, does it bother you ever? How do you react to it?

SHEINDLIN: Tell me your first name?

CALLER: Jackie.

SHEINDLIN: Jackie, I probably did when I was sitting in the family court, get some nasty mail. I remember that I did. Since I started this job, I have this wonderful team of people, and they keep all the nasty mail away from me. So I say this to all of you people who watch the program and are even thinking about writing a letter telling me how much you hate me: Don't bother, I never see it.

KING: I think the same thing -- I must say, I know my staff probably hides stuff, too.

SHEINDLIN: At my age, I don't have to have anything that's aggravating.

KING: Who needs the (UNINTELLIGIBLE), right, of having to go through that.

What do you make of the Enron thing and those poor people that got whacked?

SHEINDLIN: Well, I'm going to give you my lay opinion...

KING: Sure.

SHEINDLIN: Because I can't be an expert on everything. KING: Everyone's got an opinion.

SHEINDLIN: I think that the worst thing that came out of the Enron debacle is, I'm just an ordinary Joe, as an investor. You know, you try to, when you -- I don't do the stock market anymore. But when I was investing little bits of money, I'd try to do it right, I'd look down and see what the price/earnings ratio was on a stock, and read the prospectus, look to see whether they -- what the accounting says how much money they had, how much money they made, what their debt was before I put my 12 cents into the stock when I was working for the courts.

And now -- so I was the average. People can't trust that anymore. Your average investor can't trust that anymore.

KING: Well, you're not playing with a level field.

SHEINDLIN: Because they say at least -- we always knew that the big boys had the inside scoop. The big boys want to make the big bucks. But maybe we could take some of the leftovers. We gleaned the field a little bit, and take just a little bit for ourselves, if we were smart and if we read everything and if we were astute.

But you can't even rely on that. If you can't rely on Arthur Andersen to give you a fair share, what do you do?

KING: Judge Judy is our guest. We'll be back with our remaining moments. Martha Stewart tomorrow night. Don't go away.


SHEINDLIN: Not only are you not a very nice person, Mr. Graham (ph), you're also a slob.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you know what, being a slob and creating damage in an apartment are two completely different things.

SHEINDLIN: No, no, no. Let me explain something to you, sir. When you live in a house, vermin, roaches...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were no vermin or roaches in the apartment.

SHEINDLIN: You couldn't see them if they were there, sir!



KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), you are tough lady. Judge Judy has an answer to the Enron situation. Don't put them in jail. Take all their money. All the guys who made the $2 billion while you lost...

SHEINDLIN: No. All the people who sold their stock and made money on all of these mips and pips and whatever else they were dealing with in corporations that didn't exist, in all this fancy accounting.

KING: She's one of those individualistic capitalists.

SHEINDLIN: As well -- as well as Arthur Andersen, as well as taking back all the $27 million they made last year and $22 million the year before that they made, doing all these deals. Take all that money, put it in the pension fund and say, now, see if you can get a lawyer to represent you pro bono.

KING: Because you're broke.

SHEINDLIN: Because you're broke. You have no money. And if you are successful, we'll hear your case. But it doesn't have to be a priority and it doesn't have to cost the government. It's going to cost us $20 million to prosecute them. And the people still won't have their money. Take all their money. Sell their house. Get them an apartment someplace in Bensonhurst, period.

KING: Got to drive home Bensonhurst. Morgantown, West Virginia, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Judge Judy.


CALLER: It's a pleasure and an honor to talk to you.

SHEINDLIN: Thank you.

CALLER: Your show is one of the highlights of my day.

KING: A-ha.

CALLER: And I just wanted -- I had a couple of questions here, real quick. I wondered if you actually enjoyed being the personality of Judge Judy, and also, what are the long-term goals for the "Judge Judy" show.

KING: That's assuming that this is not your personality, that that's your role on the show. That's her, lady.

SHEINDLIN: He told you. It's not -- this is it. I'm too old to change my colors.

KING: That is you. What you see is the real...

SHEINDLIN: What you see is it. That's what makes this job fun. It makes it easy. It's not stressful.

KING: Any goals for "Judge Judy" beyond being the top rated, syndicated show in daytime? I mean, do you see it doing any specials? Do you see yourself doing other media stuff? Show expanding to an hour, a nighttime version of "Judge Judy", maybe?

SHEINDLIN: That might -- Larry, I enjoy what I do. And I don't have any long-term goals to do anything else. I mean, I'm not going to make myself into a talk show person or make myself into a psychologist or somebody who gives advice more gratuitously than I do now. But I might one day like to see an evening version of our program because I think that there are a lot of people who because of their work schedules don't get to watch it during the day.

KING: I bet it could work. Might have to up the format a little and...

SHEINDLIN: Up the ante a little bit.

KING: ... make the money a little more.


KING: Highland, New York, hello.

CALLER: Hi. I'm a huge fan of Judge Judy. I want to tell her I've learned a lot from her show. One thing is to get things in writing, definitely. And I had a question. There is always a lot of outrageous stuff going on on your show, and I was wondering, what was one of the most outrageous shows that you think you've had?

SHEINDLIN: Tell me your name?

CALLER: Lori (ph).

SHEINDLIN: Lori, I really treat this show like one treats childbirth. You know, you go through it and you forget it because if you remember it, you'll never have another one. So if I kept -- I think we did 1,000 cases -- a thousand shows well over a year ago. The last bunch of cases that I did are up -- what's the most fresh?

KING: Did anyone ever get real mad at you?

SHEINDLIN: You mean in family court or this court? In this court?

KING: Both.

Oh, people got angry with me in family court. You take away somebody's child and they get angry. And I don't care whether I had to bring him in from Attica where they were doing a life sentence for a triple murder and I was going to free their kids for adoption. They got crazed. But on this show, no, no. They may get angry outside, but not inside.

KING: Wait a minute. You would take -- there's a lifetime prisoner at Attica and you were going to take his away or her child away?

SHEINDLIN: Free that child for adoption.

KING: And they get mad?

SHEINDLIN: Oh, yes. You can't take my kid away!

KING: Why? But they're in prison for life.

SHEINDLIN: Doesn't make any difference.

KING: You ever miss family court?

SHEINDLIN: Yes, I do. I do.

KING: Who appointed you?

SHEINDLIN: Ed Koch appointed and reappointed me. Do I miss family court? Sometimes I miss the importance of that work. I was...

KING: Maybe the most important court?

SHEINDLIN: I was the pot stirrer there.

KING: I'll bet.

SHEINDLIN: I was a pot stirrer there, which is how I got here. That doesn't always say I did the right thing, but I made people sit up and take notice and do the right thing. If you were a government institution, you were paid to do something, you do it or I'm going to expose you. I mean, I didn't mind calling the press into the courtroom and saying, you see that housing officer over there. He won't give this woman an apartment so she can get her six kids out of foster care where we're paying $100,000 for the kids. The apartment is $6 -- that she found $6 over the legal limit. It's $400 a month, so we're going to pay $100,000 to keep the kids in foster care instead of bending that rule a little bit.

The city said that's absolutely right. That's the rule. I said I'm going to bring in the papers. I think they want to hear this, how we're being fleeced. And all of a sudden, the money got there, it got there so that it could get these kids out of foster care and into public housing.

KING: You know, maybe tonight, we've seen the birth of the nighttime Judge Judy.

SHEINDLIN: From your mouth to God's ear.

KING: Maybe once a week, maybe...

SHEINDLIN: Maybe, but not at 9:00.

KING: I'll bet some of the network -- no -- some of the network suits, cable suits are watching this saying why not? We are into legal things. This is big. The woman is popular. Humans watch at night. It's a natural. Love you, Judge.

SHEINDLIN: Thank you.

KING: Judge Judy Sheindlin, what a pleasure it is. As I said last night when saying she'll be on, she is never dull. Judge Judy Sheindlin again, we hope we can help somehow find a safe and sound Danielle. We'll tell you about tomorrow night and some nights ahead. We're going to take a break now and also lead you into Aaron Brown in New York. We'll be right back with our remaining moments. Don't go away.


KING: We've said it to Nancy personally. We'll say it to everyone publicly. A very happy 91st birthday to former president Ronald Reagan, and many more, and peace too.

Martha Stewart tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE. Right now, it's time for "NEWSNIGHT". And there he is in New York, Aaron Brown -- Aaron.