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Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield

Philip Seymour Hoffman Death, Heroin Overdose; Echoes of Zimmerman in New Florida Trial; Woody Allen Denies Renewed Abuse Allegations

Aired February 03, 2014 - 11:00   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Large quantities of heroin and at least five other drugs found in Philip Seymour Hoffman's apartment, brand- new details emerging this hour in the tragic death of an Oscar-winning actor.

Also ahead, Woody Allen, once again, fighting child molestation allegations, denying his adopted daughter Dylan's detailed description of an alleged encounter more than 20 years ago when she was just 7- years-old.

And on trial today in Florida he shot and killed an unarmed 17-year- old at a gas station after telling him and his friends to turn down their music.

His lawyer says, he simply did what any responsible gun owner might do.

Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It is Monday, February 3rd, and welcome to LEGAL VIEW.

We have this just in on the investigation into Philip Seymour Hoffman's death. Close to 50 bags of heroin, several bottles of prescription drugs without prescriptions and also used syringes, all found in his apartment, according to two law enforcement sources.

Also today, an autopsy was scheduled for this actor who was found dead on his bathroom floor yesterday, one of the syringes still stuck in his left arm.

Last year, he told several news outlets that he had checked into a facility for a relapse after a 23-year struggle.

In 2006, he told CBS on "60 Minutes" he nearly died after he graduated from NYU.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So this was drugs or alcohol or both?

PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN, ACTOR: Yeah, it was all that stuff, yeah. Anything I could get my hands on, yeah, yeah. I liked it all, yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And why did you decide to stop?

HOFFMAN: You get panicked. You get panicked. It was -- I was 22 and I got panicked for my life. I really was. It was just that.

And I always think, God, you know, I have so much empathy for these young actors that are 19 and, all of the sudden, they're beautiful and famous and rich.

I'm like, my God, I'd be dead.


BANFIELD: Alexandra Field is outside the apartment where Hoffman died.

Alexandra, just really disturbing information about the quantity, the sheer quantity of drugs that have been discovered in that apartment.

What more are you hearing?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ashleigh, it is heartbreaking for so many fans to learn of Hoffman's death, and now, we are hearing from several law enforcement sources about what else investigators found when they went into that fourth-floor apartment right here in Greenwich Village.

They tell us they have found evidence that Hoffman had spent a lot of money on drugs and that he appears to have been a heavy user.

We understand now, according to our sources, that investigators found at least 50 small baggies filled with a substance which appears to be heroin. Those baggies are marked with labels that are typically associated with different, so-called "heroin brands" on the street.

They say they also found some bags filled with other various white powders which will have to be tested.

They say they found additional drug paraphernalia, at least 20 used syringes sitting in a cup in another room in the apartment, and on top of that, a number of different prescription medications, none of which Hoffmann apparently had a prescription for.

Sources tell us they found five different pills for which there was no prescription, various pills, something for ADHD, an anti-anxiety medication, a muscle relaxant.

Our sources say that friends and family members of Hoffmann have been speaking to the police and they now tell investigators that he appeared to be high as recently as Saturday night.

To back up here, the last time that Hoffman was seen was around 8:00 on Saturday night.

After that, nobody saw him until friends entered his apartment and found him dead on a bathroom floor with a needle in his arm, according to law enforcement, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Very distressing, Alexandra Field, live for us in the Village.

Fellow actors like Tom Hanks are saying things about Philip Seymour Hoffman like how about this? "A giant talent."

All we keep hearing about is talent, talent, talent. This man starred in more than 50 films.

His career started on the stage. He landed his first professional stage role before he'd even graduated from high school.

He went on to study acting at NYU and he enjoyed a career full of outstanding performances.

Back in '92, a small role in "Scent of a Woman" gave Hoffman the big break he needed, and he continued to make a name for himself even in small films called "Savages," a film called "Pirate Radio," and, of course, his Oscar-winning performance in the 2005 film "Capote."


HOFFMAN, ACTOR, "CAPOTE": Since I was a child, folks have thought they had me pegged because of the way I talk.


HOFFMAN: And they're always wrong.


HOFFMAN: No, I'm not OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you having a heart attack?

HOFFMAN: No, I'm not having a heart attack.

HOFFMAN: If you hit a woman, love dies, but if you say the "F" word, nothing actually happens.

So, here it comes, especially for you, the "F" word.

First, though, this very fine piece of music.


BANFIELD: Hoffman was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in the film "Charlie Wilson's War" as a non-conforming CIA agent.

He gave a persuasive, tender portrayal in "Almost Famous" of the old, faded rock critic Lester Bangs. His premature drug-related death was not depicted in the film.

He played a charismatic sect leader in "The Master," and the list just goes on and on. It's too long to list.

Such an incredible talent, and his death certainly reminds us of a lot of other celebrities who have died of drug overdoses. Heath Ledger comes to mind, Whitney Houston, Cory Monteith, Amy Winehouse, all extraordinary talents, their lives cut so short battling a monster that is oftentimes just too hard to defeat. Dr. Drew Pinsky the host of HLN's "Dr. Drew," joins me now, live on set, and you know what? I just want to hold these up.

Since you're in New York, you woke up to these two big headlines on the two --

DR. DREW PINSKY, HLN HOST, "DR. DREW": Super Bowl Monday.

BANFIELD: Super Bowl Monday, and these are what the front page of "The Daily News and "The New York Post" depict, both the same picture. I think this is one of the last photographs that was taken in January of him.

So --

BANFIELD: Couple of things. I think we should remind ourselves that because this gentleman had a chronic medical condition we call addiction, it does not diminish him as a person, as a father or his legacy that he's left behind.

It is something we have to constantly remind ourselves about. This was a wonderful human being with a terrible illness, just as if he had cancer or any other chronic medical problem.

BANFIELD: Such a illness that he recognized -

PINSKY: Lifelong. It's always lifelong.

BANFIELD: He was sober for so long.

PINKSY: We think, but even if he was, listen, the population that relapses after many, many years, a very challenging population to treat.

Their disease sort of knows too much and their disease sort of takes advantage of that.

I want to make sense for people what's being found in his apartment, by the way. There's all this, oh, my god, he had all these prescription drugs.

BANFIELD: Look at this list.

PINSKY: They are all drugs used for detox, except the (inaudible). He clearly was trying to get off the heroin. All that is drugs --

BANFIELD: I can't even -- look at this list. I can't even pronounce that.

PINSKY: I know. He's on clonadine (ph). He's on upernarfine (ph). He's on methylcarbonol (ph). These are all drugs we give for withdrawal routinely. He knew what he was doing. He was trying to detox himself.

(Inaudible) is just visceral. It's like --

BANFIELD: He's got those and 50 bags of heroin at the same time. PINSKY: Depends on what you mean by "bag." The average heroin addict uses five to ten bags a day. They bags as they are called on the street, so I don't know what people are describing, really.

All we know is he's using it a lot and he was trying to come off.

The vinase (ph) disturbs me a lot, because that stuff is for ADD, and drug addicts should never be on those psycho-stimulants in my opinion.

It makes them relapse. They relapse. You tell a drug addict, you need to take this. You won't be comfortable unless you take this. You tell a drug addict that, it's game on, and they magically start to seek their other drugs after that

BANFIELD: Somebody who is as well-versed in heroin as he admitted to being, how do they o.d.?

Are they used to a heavier dose when they were more inclined to do it daily, and then all of a sudden, they use a dose when they are just not able to handle it?

PINSKY: Yes, and this list that you've provided me tells me if I were to recreate this based on this evidence, I would say, he was trying to get off.

He probably was off for a period of time and then took what would be a customary dose for him, but if you are not tolerant to your customary dose, then it's too much.

You stop breathing. You go to sleep, you stop breathing and that's the end of that.

That's why the needle is still in the arm. They just kind of slip off. It's a tragedy. We have all lost someone.

But imagine this family and their kids. Actually, more people are going to die of opiate, which is pain medication, and heroin, more people are going to die of this in the next 30 days than died in the 9/11 tragedy.

BANFIELD: Repeat that.

PINSKY: More people are going to die of this disease, addiction to opiates and heroin, than are going to die -- than died in the 9/11 tragedy. And that's just in the next 30 days.

BANFIELD: In the next 30 days, we will lose --

PINSKY: And the extraordinary thing about Philip Seymour Hoffmann, he didn't die of pills. He died of heroin. Most people with a heroin habit find their way onto pills and that's --

BANFIELD: If there is anything that can come of this, hopefully, this will save someone out there in crisis and who knows if it will?

Drew, thank you so much. There is another whole side of this as well and it's the criminal side. Authorities right now are heavy into the forensics. They're trying to pinpoint where Philip Seymour Hoffman got this junk and who might have been with him when he died?

Who gave it to him? Who sold it to him? Who played middle man?

It leads to the question, could we end up seeing any charges in this death? And, boy, wouldn't those make headlines?

For the LEGAL VIEW, I want to bring in CNN legal analyst and defense attorney, Mark O'Mara, as well as Alan Dershowitz.


He's a professor of -- at Harvard Law School, was, and gave up and wrote this book, "Taking the Stand -- My Life in the Law" by Alan Dershowitz.

Mark O'Mara and Alan Dershowitz, thank you joining me.

Mark, I'll start with you. What are the police doing right now with all of this list that you're hearing about that's breaking, all of these bags, all of these 'scripts and all of this paraphernalia? What are they doing to process it to find who helped him die?

MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's what they're doing.

What they are trying to do is find out any information, any forensic information on the bags themselves, and try and find out where he got it.

They're going to look at his phones, and see his phone records, look at surveillance cameras.

What they really want to do is now that we have one dead person, they want to hold somebody responsible, and there are laws in most states now that say, if you give drugs to somebody who killed themselves, you're responsible for their death.

So what they want to do is go back up a level or two and get to the people who gave him the drug.

And I think they're going to be successful, because in today's day and age, with cell phone records and surveillance cameras, they're going to have a good chance of finding somebody.

BANFIELD: And, apparently, you just hit the nail on the head, they're combing through what they call computers and other electronics found in that apartment.

Professor Dershowitz, is this a case of felony murder, whereby in many states, you commit a felony and someone dies, you are just as responsible for murder as you would be if you'd have actually shot a person? Or is this something else?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: No. You could make the case for felony murder.

It would be an absurd application of an absurd law. The felony murder concept, which started in England and which has been abolished in England, is an absurd misapplication of the law.

Here you have a man who was addicted, who went out and got the drugs from somebody. That somebody didn't want him to die. He didn't die because the person -

BANFIELD: That someone didn't care. If they're dealing in heroin, they don't care.

DERSHOWITZ: No, that's -- I don't think that's right. I think when you have --

BANFIELD: They're worse than drunk drivers. Come on, Professor Dershowitz. They are worst than drunk drivers if they are dealing heroin to addicts.

DERSHOWITZ: This is a guy was going to get his heroin, no matter what. If this guy didn't sell it to him, somebody else was going to sell it to him. If he didn't get it in the country, he was going to get it out of the country.

This raises the big issue of whether we should be decriminalizing all these drugs, making them into a medical issue.

The idea of searching for a scapegoat, look, notwithstanding what Dr. Drew said and other people said, this great actor, who I was a big fan of -- I saw him in "Othello." I saw him in "Death of a Salesman."

I know this culture. My young daughter is a young actor off Broadway now. Thank God, she is not into any of these kinds of things.

But this is a culture that exists, and to start pinpointing responsibility for the person who provided him the drugs is a search for a scapegoat in a situation that requires a much more careful analysis and thinking about let's just get this guy who did it.

The same thing happened when Belushi died. The same thing happened when other famous people died. You go after the last person who sold him the drugs.

He's the one or she's the one who goes to jail and the problem continues. It is a foolish quest. And I think it may end up in a criminal prosecution, but it's not going to make the problem go away. And it's not going to make it any easier --

BANFIELD: You are smarter than I am, but I will never leave this without saying the guy who gave an addict the drug that killed him deserves to go away for life.

DERSHOWITZ: What about the guy who gave the addict the drug that didn't killed him?

BANFIELD: It doesn't make him any less guilty. The poor user can't help at this point.

DERSHOWITZ: You're playing Russian roulette. You are playing Russian roulette.

In this particular case, he died. In many cases, they don't. So you're going to pick a scapegoat and put this guy in jail -

BANFIELD: With a sick man, yes?

DERSHOWITZ: -- for all the crimes that all the other addicts did.

BANFIELD: That's just me.

Mark O'Mara, last word, real quickly, why am I wrong?

O'MARA: You're not. The government has done a number of different things to try and hold people responsible, the whole RICO action where we hold people responsible for the overall crime.

I like the idea of saying to somebody, if you give a drug that causes a death, we're going to hold you responsible, only because I think we have to go up the ladder so that at some point we get to the people and let them know, dealing drugs can put you in prison for life.

BANFIELD: All right, Mark O'Mara, Alan Dershowitz, good to talk to you both. Thank you for your perspective.

Up next, a potential "stand-your-ground" case, eerily reminiscent of the Trayvon Martin trial, a while man accused of shooting a black teenager to death.

And that man on trial says he felt threatened after he confronted the young man who was playing loud music and wouldn't turn to down. Really?

The LEGAL VIEW on this one, coming up.



BANFIELD: Here's a switch. Don't stop me if you've heard this one, because it's not what you think. A middle-aged white man shoots and kills an unarmed black teenager in Florida. The shooter says he felt threatened, and his own words are fueling speculation that race was a factor.

Don't blink. Those two images on your screen are not George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin, but the story sure sounds the same.

The man who's going on trial this week for first-degree murder is this man, Michael Dunn. He admits he opened fire on 17-year-old Jordan Davis after an argument at a Jacksonville gas and convenience store back in November of 2012.

Now Dunn says that Davis, with three of his friends, were in the car next to him getting belligerent when he asked him to turn their music down. Words were exchanged, and then he says he thought he saw a gun pointed at him. So he opened fire. Here's the problem: No gun. No gun found on any of the teenagers. No witnesses can back up any of Dunn's claims.

Now, we call this segment "Prosecute or Defend?" because which would you want to do in this case? As jury selection gets underway in Jacksonville, I bring back two prominent attorneys: litigator, author and professor, Alan Dershowitz, and defense attorney and CNN legal analyst, Mark O'Mara.

Mark, before I even get to you, because I know how intimate this is for you, I want to get to Professor Dershowitz on this one.

This man said left the scene. This man says he saw the barrel of a gun. There was no gun. How difficult is this going to be to prove, especially with a stand-your-ground claim?


ALAN DERSHOWITZ, AUTHOR/PROFESSOR: Well, it is difficult, because Florida, you know, I recently saw a T-shirt that had Florida in the shape of a gun, and it said, "Florida, the Gunshine State. Here, we don't call 911."

The stand-your-ground law is a terrible abuse. Basically, it says, if you have a choice between leaving the scene and nobody getting hurt or losing your macho, you have to err on the side of maintaining your macho and shoot first and ask questions later.

The real question will boil down to whether the jury believes or thinks there's a reasonable doubt about whether he actually thought he saw a gun. Because the law of self-defense doesn't depend on whether a gun was there, though that's very important evidence. It depends on what a reasonable person in his situation would have believed. And if the jury has a reasonable doubt, because the burden of proof is on the prosecution, to disprove self-defense, they may very well acquit. My own prediction, I think they'll convict in this case.

BANFIELD: All right. So Mark, Professor Dershowitz hit the nail on the head with the word "reasonable." We always hear it, and it's almost homogenous in our life now. But what's reasonable to one person may not be reasonable to another.

And now in Florida, we have a whole generation of people who have now come through the case that you defended, the Zimmerman case, about all this. And their reasonability may be affected by this. Do you see the jury pool, the potential pool, in Florida as profoundly different now when it comes to this case? Thus, this man may not get the same kind of presumption of innocence that perhaps your client did?

MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, actually, in a strange way, I do. Because I was very surprised the way the population looked at the Zimmerman case and were questioning whether or not that was self- defense, with all the injuries, the 45 seconds, all that that we know about the Zimmerman case. So I was sort of believing that it was going to be a much easier verdict than it turned out being, the 16 hours they took.

So if you transpose that to the Dunn case, now you have a case where there's no injuries. There's no actual fight between the two. There's no weapon, as you had mentioned. So I think that most of the facts in the Dunn case are going to support that his argument that he was reasonably in fear of imminent and great bodily injury, that whole term has to be looked at in completion. That he was reasonably in fear of imminent great bodily injury. I don't know where that shows up in this case, in the facts that we know yet.

There's no evidence that any of the boys got out of the car. Even though he can say, "I saw a gun," the facts that wrap around the case to support the reasonableness of his personal belief have to be there, and to date, we haven't seen them yet.

I would agree with Professor Dershowitz. In a case like this with the evidence that's come out so far, it's going to be a different verdict than it was in Zimmerman.

BANFIELD: I hear you.

DERSHOWITZ: It's an interesting case.

BANFIELD: Not a drop of blood or a bruise. Go ahead, real quickly, Professor.

DERSHOWITZ: There's an interesting case in New York, the Bernard Goetz case...


DERSHOWITZ: ... where the New York courts said that reasonableness has to be defined in terms of the person's life experience. So one of the questions will be in Florida where a, quote, "reasonable racist" or a reasonable person who believes that black people may be more dangerous than whites, an objectively unreasonable conclusion, whether or not the jury can take into account his own subjective views in determining what was reasonable to him. So the jury instructions will be very important.

BANFIELD: And that is -- and that is such a huge ask of jurors. We all know it without question.


O'MARA: Very dangerous one, too.

BANFIELD: Mark, Alan, gosh, I love having you guys on. You make -- you make us think of places we never would think of. Stay with me if you will, guys, for a moment.

Claims of sex abuse have resurfaced against director Woody Allen. The director is denying the very public and explicit claims against him that are being made by his own adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow. The legal view on this is coming, ahead.



BANFIELD: Amid the Oscar buzz over his latest screenplay, Woody Allen is vehemently denying some new claims that he molested his adopted daughter. And the claims are coming from that adopted daughter.

Her name is Dylan Farrow. And she's now sharing some pretty unspeakable details. It's something she says happened more than 20 years ago when she was only 7 years old.

Yes, we've heard the allegations before, but as CNN's Deb Feyerick reports, the details, the very, very, clear, lucid details this time are very tough to ignore.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dylan Farrow, the adopted daughter of Woody Allen and Mia Farrow, speaking out and renewing allegations of sexual abuse by the Hollywood filmmaker.

In an open letter publishing in a "New York Times" blog, she gives a graphic account of what she says happened in their Connecticut home. Quote, "When I was 7 years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother's electric train set. Then, he sexually assaulted me." Quote, "He talked to me while he did it, whispering that I was a good girl, that this was our secret, promising that we'd go to Paris and I'd be a star in his movies."

Late Sunday, Allen's representative responded. Quote, "Mr. Allen has read the article and found it untrue and disgraceful. At the time, a thorough investigation was conducted by court-appointed, independent experts. The experts concluded there was no credible evidence of molestation, that Dylan Farrow had an inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality, and that Dylan Farrow had likely been coached by her mother, Mia Farrow. No charges were ever filed."

The allegations first came to light in 1992, but the letter and recent tweets are putting them back in the spotlight and back in the court of public opinion.

Mia Farrow displayed her contempt for her ex- in January as the 78- year-old Allen was being honored by his peers at the Golden Globe Awards, tweeting, "A woman has publicly detailed Woody Allen's molestation of her at age 7. Golden Globe tribute showed contempt for her and all of your survivors."

Farrow's son, Ronan, followed suit, making no effort to veil disgust for his father: "Missed the Woody Allen tribute. Did they put the part where a woman publicly confirmed he molested her at age 7 before or after 'Annie Hall'?"

It's all part of the complicated story that is Woody Allen's personal life. The couple separated after 12 years when Mia Farrow discovered Allen was having an affair with her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi, who is now Allen's wife.

The same year Dylan told her mother Allen had allegedly touched her inappropriately. Allen has consistently denied the claims and was never charged. But the allegations have tainted his image for two decades.

Now, Dylan breaking her silence and admonishing some of Hollywood's most celebrated by name, for in her words, turning a blind eye by continuing to work with Allen.