tv CNN Newsroom CNN May 19, 2012 1:00pm-1:30pm PDT
welcome back to the newsroom. i'm fredricka whitfield. the news continues as world leaders galther in the u.s. for two important summits. police in chicago arrest three activists they say plan to violently riot. their bail has been set at $1.5 million each. among their targets, according to chicago police, president obama's chicago campaign headquarters. let's bring in cnn's paul. he has been following the fast depping story in chicago. so paul, what are you learning about the plot? >> well, fredricka, serious charges leveled here in a chicago courthouse today. among other things, conspiracy to commit terrorist acts, they're chajed with, possessing explosives. and along these lines, they suggested these young men were planning these attacks not only on bo obama's campaign headquarters,
but rahm emanuel's office, and part of this was going to be a diversion so they could caro out other terrorist acts. listen to what the prosecutor husband to say. >> specifically, plans were made to destroy police cars and attack four chicago police department stations. with destructive devices in an effort to undermine the police response to the conspirators' other plans actions in the nato summit. >> and prosecutors also say they seized just a myriad of weapons, including a mortar, four completed molotov cocktails, some throwing stars, knives with brass knuckles on them and a hunting bow. the defense attorneys came out and said this was propaganda. they were infilt ralted by undercover agents and this was one big scam by police. >> what we have learned now, we believe it was a set-up, an
entrapment to the highest degree, and it's sen sassationa by the police and the state to discredit the protesters to come here and nonviolently protest. >> we should know one thing, the defense attorneys changed their tone because before, we heard a lot of about well, this was beer making equipment. they took a big step backward from that, and now the defense seems to be they were entrapped into all of this. >> thanks so much. pretty striking case. now to that other summit, and a second security concern. this one as world leaders gather adthe g-8 summit at camp david. they intercepted two small planes that had entered the no-fly zone surrounding the compound. and a bombing outside of a school in italy kills one teen and wounds at least two others. there are note books and
backpacks in the street. they found three gas cylinders that had been detonated with a remote control. officials say it is not clear why the school was targeted. and the blind activist who ignited a political firestorm wheen the u.s. and china will soon have a new home. you're looking at live pictures at the newark airport where chen is scheduled to arrive in a few hours. he left the beijing airport early saturday. in april, she escaped house arrest and sought asylum in the embassy. wind of the biggest enemy of those fighting wildfires out west, they died down today. the winds, that helped just a little, but fires are spreading and intensifying. three towns are under evacuation orders as the fire has torched nearly 13,000 acres and it keeps advancing.
i talk to the fire information officer on the scene. >> today, it's been a big air, so as early as 8:00, when conditions have been favorable to get up in the air, and we have eight helicopters committed to this incident, four tankers committed to it. all day long, the radio has been firing away with folks calling in. and bucket drops from the helicopters. >> new evidence mounting evidence, that is, in the trayvon martin shooting case. does it help or hurt george zimmerman's stand your ground defense? our legal guys weigh in on this one. [ nurse ] i'm a hospice nurse.
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in a few minutes, our favorite legal minds, our favorite brilliant legal minds, avery freeman, richard herman are going to be along. we're going to talk about every under the sun from the george zimmerman case, trayvon martin case, to jonathan vilma and taking on the nfl commissioner and we're also going to talk about john edwards and the jury cl driberating again come monday. you have favorite thoughts on these cases coming up? >> well, every one of them, fredricka, are explosive. we saw developments we never expected to see. we'll see what happens here. >> all right, richard? >> i think john edwards is going to get convicted, fred. i think george zimmerman's credibility was bolstered by some of the evidence turned over. some of the findings and discovery. and crink that's going to be shocking to a lot of people.
jurors in the john edwards trial have plenty to think about this weekend before getting back to dleliberations on monday. he's charged with six criminal counts of campaign frien ans fraud, which could send him to prison for up to 30 years. let's bring in avery freeman, good to see you, and richard herman, new york criminal
defense attorney and law prof s professor joining us from las vegas. good to see you. >> hi, fred. >> they're going to resume on monday. they provided only three days of testimony, focusing on federal campaign finance laws and trying to discredit the prosecution witnesses and not calling too many people, including not calling john edwards or rielle hunter. was this an effective strategy for the defense? >> the strategy on the defense was that the prosecution utterly failed to prove their case pursuant to the election law, the campaign financing laws and the criminal statute that's in place here. they maintain that position. that's going to be their position on appeal. i think john edwards is going to get convicted here. i think it was a mistake for him not to testify. i think he could have related to one or two jurors there. i think his conduct was so outrageous and the issue is whether he knew or did not know he was violating the law. fred, this man is a lawyer.
this man ran for president twice. he was a senator. he had to have known what the campaign laws are. that's the prosecution case. i think the jury is going to bang him out next wiebe. >> the bottom line, avery, the prosecution has to prove that he willfully and knowingly used campaign money to cover up this affair. i mean, that's the crux of the case. did the prosecution do that? did they prove that he knowingly, willfully, misused campaign finance money? >> i don't think so. but i think, you know, if there's the most reviled man in america is john edwards. and i know my colleague said that he was absolutely going to take the stand. that's what he predicted. i thought that if john edwards took the stand, i think a first year law students could have cross-examined him into oblivion. the argument is made, and i think abbe lowell, who is the lead defense lawyer, said that,
you know what, when you're looking add credibility of the prosecution's chief witness, andrew young, think about the $35,000 he spent on porcelain veneers for his teeth, and i think there is an argument, if there is reasonable doubt, it's going to come from alex forger, who represented bunny mellon, who said it was strictly personal. that's reasonable doubt, and i think that's why he's got a chance at avoiding this conviction. >> in fact, abbe lowell reminded the court, it was andrew young's idea to pose as the person responsible for, you know, rielle hunter's pregnancy, and he was willing to help hide her and it really would be the government's burden in which to prove otherwise. and that's at the crux, you know, did the prosecution kind of meet that threshold? >> fred, the government got a devastating jury instruction at the end of the case last week. where the judge instructed the
jury, they can find that the funds were used to influence the election. if they find it influenced the election, which obviously, it would have, because if the came out that he impregnated rielle hunter, that would have destroyed him immediately, that's sufficient. they must find, though, that he knew it was a violation of the law, and i don't think the jury is going to disagree with that. they're going to think, this man, this lawyer, this intelligent, politician, knew, and i think they're going to convict him. >> you think there's a conviction, avery? i'm hearing doubt. >> it's still up in the air. still up in the air. >> okay,lert, very good. let's move on to another case. much of the facts are still up in the air. at least the conclusions about what took place here. george zimmerman in the trayvon martin case. a mountain of evidence revealed by the prosecutors, they had this evidence, this treasure-trove of evidence, and now revealing it public le, among those pictures of george
zimmerman, his injuries, lacerations to the head, cuts on his nose, his defense trying to substantiate he was defending himself, he was being beaten up by trayvon martin. at the same time, there was also videotape that was shared of trayvon martin and how casually he was buying skittles and iced tea at this store. and he didn't seem like his behavior was erratic or out of sorts. so the type of evidence that we have seen, you know. avery, does this put the defense in a better position or is this more ativdvantageoutivan tativd prosecution? >> it's a mixed bag. at the end of the day when you look at almost 200 pages of materials, 67 cds, i think it favors the defense because for the first time, we've seen in very graphic terms how george zimmerman looked before the paramedics took care of him. and i think that really goes
heavily toward the defense of self defense. and i think at the end of the day when you started out, good things for the prosecution. but angela corey, who is the state's prosecutor, saw those head shots before treatment. i'm not sure that charging him with second degree murder was really the smart thing to do here. looks like a manslaughter. >> really, richard? >> i don't think it's manslaughter, avery. look, fred, when you want to analyze credibility of a witness, you need to corroborate what the witness has said. what did zimmerman say? it looked like trayvon was on drugs. there was thc in his system. he said trayvon punched him in the nose, he had a broken nose. he said he was banging his head into the concrete. his head was cut and bloody. he said he was reaching for the drug. he pulled the gun and shot him at close range.
all of this combined with the fact an eyewitness said he saw trayvon on top of zimmerman. his own father said the screams were not trayvon, and the witness initially said the man on the bottom was the one screaming. and listen, trayvon was 6'3", a lot bigger than zimmerman. >> not apparently in weight size. there was still a 40-pound difference. >> that that nothing to do with the charge. fredricka, that has nothing to do with the charge. the question is -- it may be self defense, but that's not the point. the point is if the prosecution is going to charge george zimmerman, i don't think they should have charged him with second degree murder. i think the charge is manslaughter. i'm not talking about the defense. i'm talking about what the charge should have been. >> our legal guys are back with more. a church suing a former member for a half million dollars. the some reason, something the church member posted on the internet. ♪
new orleans saints bounty scandal won't go away. a suspended linebacker, jonathan vilma, is suing roger goodell for deafination. he claims goodell made false statements and comments about his alleged role in the bounty program. our legal guys are back. avery freeman and richard herman. vilma, he went on to tweet about this, too. quite publicly saying, quote, as i said before, i never paid more intended to pay any amount of money to any player for intentionally hurting an apoebant. he is also saying the nfl relied on at best, heresy. were there recordings, richard, or documentation, would there have to be in order for the nfl to suspend a player on something
like this? >> fred, there was an intense investigation done by the nfl. i don't know every avenue they turned up. i don't know all of the witnesses they interviewed, what information they got, but roger goodell acted as the judge and executioner here. he made the sole determination, vilma what not allowed to parm in that. appeared to me that maybe he had spicy gumbo, bought he brought this ridiculous lawsuit i have here. ridiculous lawsuit which is going to be dismissed. >> really? >> no way -- >> avery. >> no way he's going to be able to prove actual malice or a complete disregard for the proof. >> avery -- >> that's not why he filed it. >> you agree. how do you see it? >> i agree with that part. let me tell you what the thinking is here. there is an arbitration started this week. what happened is lawyers talked about the penalty here.
what the strategy is because there's no substance to this case, what the strategy is is to get discovery. to find out what kind of evidence the nfl has. and that's why jonathan brought the case. the the evidence surfaces, the case is dismissed. right now, there's no way -- >> or if the evidence does not surface, case dismissed? >> dismisses the case. it was a very tactical move. >> the nfl, you know, says this in a statement, claiming that the nfl findings are corroborated by multiple independent witnesses and he says that indeed, we have not yet reviewed the filing. however, our commitment to player safety and the integrity of the game is our main consideration. so something tells me -- oh, and there's more. we recognize that noneveryone will agree with the decisions that need to be made. we'll see where it goes on both sides. let's talk about another interesting case in oregon involving a church and a church member. and apparently, the church member was a stay-at-home mom,
went on a blog and talked about the many reasons why she felt alienated and why she was being mistreated by the church, and the church doesn't carry on in, in her view, a christian kind of manner. now the church says, oh, really? we're going to sue you for making such public comments on a public domain, and avery, where might this go? does this mean that you can't say anything negative about a institution like a church? on a website, no less? >> the pastor there was upset because the ex-proficiehfex-par called him creepy. based on that and the fact he was a narcissist. >> and cult like. >> cult like, well, the fact is that thou sahalt not bring a lawsuit. it's protected speech, and this case, there's going to be a hearing on monday, by the way. and there's a likelihood, i
think, that the judge is going to say dismissed. >> really? okay, so richard, before i get your popinion on this, the pastr did say this, quote, i stand by my right and the right of every american citizen to defend themselves, their families, their churches, their secular organizations and their businesses from world wide web internet assaults consisting of false criminal accusations and character assassination of the worst kind. >> fred, i think this pastor, after about 3 1/2 years of reading this blog, couldn't take it anymore. and he tried to do something. but it just goes to show you the quality of legal minds in this country to bring this type of lawsuit because avery is 100% right. this case will be dismissed. the defense has brought an anti-slap action against them, which means this case must be dismissed. they cannot prevent her from writing on the internet.
it was her opinion and her opinion only. that's not defamation. >> that's protected by the amendment, right? >> by the way, the only thing we have agreed on today at all, this case has to be gone. >> that's how it should be. >> you can catch our legal guys every saturday, noon eastern and 4:00 eastern time. >> tomorrow, dr. sanjay gupta is talking to a man who creates breast ta breathtakingly beautiful works of art in silver. >> there's no one in the history of the country who has done what he's done. i don't mean just the last 50 years, the last two centuries. the mcarthur foundation prize because there's nobody like him. >> i told my wife, there is a monetary award over a period of five years of $500,000. she said, it's a joke. i hope i can thank them with my work, with my dedication.
>> nice. tune in tomorrow to watch the next list. or set your dvr for 2:00 eastern, and then at 2:30 eerb time, join me in the news room. lydia mcalker lost her home and her school to the tornadoes that ripped through joplin, mississippi. >> every time i drive by it, it's really sad. all the memories and the friends i made in the hall ways. >> on monday, president obama will speak at joplin high school's graduation ceremonies one year after the twister struck. she'll be joining me tomorrow to talk about how her family and the town are rebuilding. a party?
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all right, another heartbreaking setback. that student infected with that rare, potentially dead ly flesh eating bacteria. s they had to amputate her fingers on both of her hands. her faukt has been in close communication with surgeons and said they'll do whatever it takes to save her. the oregon board of education and for instance,
school schools five years to combly with dozens of states cut off funding. native americans say the nicknames of mascots are demeaning and discriminatory. up next, dr. sonaunjsanjay gupt. and we'll leave you with the sounds of arlington national m cemete cemetery. marking the 150th an vsry of taps. ♪
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