tv Hardball Weekend MSNBC April 21, 2012 5:00am-5:30am EDT
good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. leading off tonight, george zimmerman on the stand. it's a well-known principle. defense lawyers don't let their clients testify but today in his bail hearing covered by all three cable networks, george zimmerman took the stand and told the parents of trayvon martin that he was sorry for their loss, that he did not know how old trayvon was and that he thought he was slightly younger than himself. the judge set bail at $150,000. also on trial is florida's stand your ground law. florida led the nation in implementing the law. now that governor rick scott has designated a task force to stand your ground, could it set the stand for repeal or revision? plus, republicans are discouraged about mitt romney's prospects and democrats plan to make them more discouraged.
give up the romney is a flip-flopper argument and hold him to all of those right-wring positions he took in the primaries. and there's more fallout. three more agents are out. finally, let me finish with the number that will determine whether obama or romney gets elected this year. we begin with george zimmerman's day in court. joanne reed isç managing edito of grio.com. well, i always start these conversations by saying i am not a lawyer. i listen to those who are. let's take a look at this. here's george zimmerman speaking in court this morning and addressing the parents right there in court of trayvon martin. let's watch. >> i wanted to say that i am sorry for the loss of your son. i did not know how old he was. i thought he was a little younger than i am. and i did not know if he was armed or not. >> joanne reed, that's something that the defendant in this case
said he wanted to do earlier but did it in court today. what do you make of it? >> what is interesting, the family of trayvon martin found that very off putting and disingenuous. the truth of the matter is george zimmerman has had opportunities to address the family before. he started a website a couple weeks ago at which no such statements of con trugs were included. he also had a phone call, he left a message for a friend, frank tappy, in which he expressed no remorse. when i spoke with one of the attorneys for the martin parents, they felt that this was a performance for the cameras, about humanizing george zimmerman. >> yes, but what did he say was the reason he did it today? i understand his statement was that he was told by counsel not to try to contact the family. isn't that the case? >> well, that is what he is saying now. again, we only heard for the first time that he wanted -- >> is that true? >> the family has essentially said they have had no contact from george zim cityerman. zimmerman. >> we know that. but let's go over to mr. coffey. would it be normal to tell a defendant or potential defendant
not to contact the victim?ç >> of course it would be. and it would be not very common to put a defendant on the stand for any reason whatsoever to make what was an unwanted and unappreciated apology, because it creates the risk that the prosecutor might be able to go somewhere when you expose your client to cross-examination. the judge kept a very short rein on the prosecutor so it didn't blow up in their face, but it was an unnecessary risk and didn't seem to accomplish anything for george zimmerman. >> i'm always surprised by things that happen in court. let me ask you this, mr. coffey. is it normal in a bond hearing to say to the prosecutor in this case, that you committed a crime, the day you committed a crime, to basically say he's guilty act as if he's been found guilty. is that normal, acceptable
parlance in the courtroom. >> did it surprise you that he got away with it? >> it surprised me that the defense did not object. important result for george zimmerman, he is going to be out on bail. >> joy-ann, were you surprised about that? he said you committed a crime just right there in court as a fact. >> and he really also challenged him very much. yeah. the presentation of the prosecution was as much as he could to try to cross-examine george zimmerman but as kendall coffey said there was a tight rein on him. the oh thing that was interesting -- >> he didn't cross-examine him. he said you are a criminal, you committed a crime in hisç questioning, he just said it. >> right. but the idea is the presumption from the prosecution is that he is a criminal. that's the presumption. that is not shocking. the defense is trying to mitigate at every turn what was in that proffer from prosecutors. they were trying to say that confrontation was problematic. it should have been that
zimmerman met trayvon martin rather than confronted. >> isn't confrontation -- isn't confrontation a loaded term? >> absolutely. but it's also what the prosecution is trying to accomplish. they are trying to prove second-degree murder so each side wants to present evidence in their best light. >> mr. coffey, ken, let me ask you this question, is this the normal thing in a bond hearing that you try to establish the credibility of the witness, credibility of the defense, i guess? >> what the prosecutor was trying to do is take the opening he had and be as aggressive with george zimmerman. he was also aggressive cross-examining george zimmerman's wife and father where they were very careful about holding back was the best evidence. anybody that thinks that the best evidence of the prosecution has was fully displayed today is making the wrong take-away from this hearing. >> your thought, joy-ann? i'm sorry. >> that's fine, i think the prosecutor actually said right at the end of his presentation, look, we've got a lot more, and you've got to presume they were trying not to show too much of their case because remember,
there's going to be a second hearing and ken coffey can explain that. they don't want to give the defense attorneys a preview of their case, which could give them an advantage going into that next hearing. >> let's take a look atç this t stuff. here's george zimmerman's father questioned via speakerphone this morning. he was asked about george's, his son's appearance following the shooting that night. let's listen to his case, his testimony, at least today. >> so what did george's head look like when you saw him the day after? >> well, his face was swollen quite a bit. he had a protective cover oaf his nose. his lip was swollen and cut. and there were two -- vertical gashes on the back of his head. >> did you see the any pictures of that? >> i did not take any pictures. >> have you seen any of them? >> yes, i have. >> who showed them to you?
>> i saw one on the news today. >> the state attorney's office ever show you any of those pictures in. >> no, they did not. >> let's take a look at the pictures. we got them from abc news. we'll take a look at the pictures, there it is, there's that gash there, two vertical gashes on the back of his head. i don't know how to read injuries. joy-ann, your thoughts about this evidence that's all over the country now? >> chris, when i saw that picture, the question is, when was that take season if you look at the timeline by presented by the police department, within minutes he was confronted with police officials. florida law would have prohibited them from taking pictures. if a neighbor walked onto the scene shortly after the shooting zimmerman was treated, remember, he was treated in the back of the patrol car for cuts and bleeding nose. when did a non-member of the investigative team get to take a picture of the back of his head?
that's the question raised for me. >> your question to abc is your account is inaccurate? >> no, i'm just saying -- >> what are you saying? >> did other people get to come onto that crime scene? did they take that at the scene, which would also raise questions about the investigation. if people not directly involved in the investigation were close enough to the crime scene or were on the scene before he was treated, that means that they encountered george zimmerman while the police were still investigating. so that's my question. >> why is that relevant to his guilt or innocence or whatever happened that night? >> i think it goes back to the way that sanford police handled this case, which has been harp sharply criticized. not just by trayvon's family but did they just resume he was the victim and not do the thorough investigation. >> i think you're making part of a broader question about the whole way they dealt with this. to me personally watching this, again, with the presumption of innocence, i don't like the way the whole matter of this guy, this kid, the way he was treated
that night and how almost irrelevantly he was treated, almost like they assumed he was the bad guy. his defense attorney questioned the investigator from the state's attorney office as to who started the fight, which is a critical question between zimmerman and martin. let's watch this inner play. >> do you know who started the fight? >> do i snow in. >> right. >> no. >> do you have any evidence in the courts who may haveç start the fight? >> no. >> you know, let me go to mr. coffey here, ken, there's a number of steps in this. when did the encounter begin? we can assume the encounter began because he was trailing this guy, he was suspicious on whatever. he was suspicious of him. he confronted him, they confronted each other at some point. does it matter under the law of self-defense who throws the first punch? does that matter? >> well, it certainly can, and that's why i was, frankly, surprised by the gap in that
part of the testimony. but certainly the state is going to get to work on fixing that, because if, in fact, it develops that trayvon martin started the fight, or that the state can't prove who started the fight, and i'm not saying by any mean that is he did, that's a problem. it certainly helps george zimmerman with his self-defense, but we are very early on in this case. again, we have to emphasize the prosecution has a lot more ammunition, and that is being said a moment ago, something they have to stay up for the stand your ground hearing. because if there's such a hearing, it gives the judge the ability to throw the whole case out, and that's going to be a much more actively contested hearing than anything we saw today. >> well, the prosecutor had one final message in his press conference. let's watch that today. >> you all have not heard the evidence. please be patient and wait for the trial. thank you very much. >> well, this is so tricky here, joy-ann, i don't know how we are going to cover this. i'm going to do it with the
presumption of innocence as we do in all cases. be watching this with all kind of attitude here, right? >> absolutely. chris, the bottom line is that this case has been litigated and re-litigated on twitter, on blogs, everyone feels they, too, are prosecuting this case and everyone has taken a side. that raises questions about jury selection, is the entire jury pool in the country tainted. and can zimmerman get a fair trial? those are all important questions. >> what scares me, if we can all watch a picture, a movie, a tape of everything that happened that night from the beginning to the end, i think there would be a difference of attitude about guilt and innocent. that's what scares me about this case, there are so many different perspectives, so much history. ever since the first slave arrived in the united states, the attitude of history here. you can't push it aside, i don't think. thank you, joy-ann reed, please come back. kendall coffey to you as well. coming up, florida led the country with the stand your
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i'm a firm supporter of the second amendment. i also want to make sure that we do not rush to conclusions about the stand your ground law or any other laws in our state. we look forward to hearing from the citizens in our state about their concerns and recommendations for keeping our state safe. >> welcome back to "hardball." that was now a somewhat famous florida governor rick scott yesterday announcing a task force he's created to review the state's stand your ground law. this is following the death of trayvon martin. the 17-member task force headed by florida's republican lieutenant governor jennifer carroll. there she is. an nra member who voted to pass the stand your ground law while serving in theç state legislate back in 2005.
she also voted in favor of the take your guns to work law. wow. in 2008, what is going on? with me are two members of the governor's task force, the democratic florida senator who passed the stand your ground law in 2005. and kenneth bell, the former judge of the florida supreme court justice. i don't live in the head that you guys live in, the pro gun thing, i don't get it, i don't get it, i don't get it. sometimes i think you want to get back to the saloon with what is his name? marshal dylan and trying to clean up -- i have to start with something really basic. stand your ground, okay, i guess the argument of if you're out on the streets and someone is really trying to kill you, you have the right to defend yourself, that's fine. but what is this gun fetish that you are -- why are you voting for all of this gun play, you have 900,000 people in florida with concealed weapon licenses, almost a million people walking around in florida today.
you go into a movie theater, you have 20 guns in the movie theater with you. what's that about? >> well, the law is a as a result of the looting after the hurricanes in florida. >> oh, give me a break. the looting after the hurricanes. so in other words you put a sunset law on this and it only lasted through the hurricane. >> no. it's a good policy. we try to protect the home because a person has a right to defend themselves in their home and a lot of people don't live in housing, they live in cars. >> senator, i think you're in the bs land when you say to defend your home.ç the right to carry a concealed weapon is not the right to have a shotgun up stairs in the closet. it's the right to walk the streets, rather proudly, with a gun in your pocket. why? >> well, this is america. and the constitution allows you to have, to bear arms. >> no, your law allows it. your law allows you to carry a concealed weapon. >> that's true. just like other states in the united states of america allows concealed weapons, too. >> i think you guys are flipped
out. judge bell, you're part of this problem, too. are you one of the guys that thinks everybody should walk into a restaurant armed? no, really, there are certain people out there that won't go to a certain hotel unless they can carry a gun, unless they can pack, won't let them in to have a meal. this is saloon stuff. your thoughts, judge bell? >> well, i'm on the task force that the governor appointed because my experience with the general law of using justifiable force in defending yourself. that's what you call the stand your ground law is about, it's not about guns, it's about whether or not and in what circumstances you're allowed to use deadly force to protect yourself or your family or others. >> so what else are we talking about besides guns, judge? you said it's not about guns. what do you mean? >> well, chris, it's about public safety. >> judge, you're on the stand here. you said it wasn't about guns,
stand your ground. well, in the trayvon martin case, it's clearly about guns. if mr. zimmerman didn't have a gun on him, i don't know what would have happened, but the other guy wouldn'tç have been shot. >> well, what if he had a knife or a baseball bat or a sword or any other weapon? there could have been other weapons in this case that he could have used deadly force in an appropriate or inappropriate way. the purpose of the task force is to look at the changes to the law and the law itself does not address the issue of the right to bear arms or concealed weapons. the law that's in question is justifiable use of force. and the presumptions and the immunity and other things give there. >> let me get back to the senator, why do you think -- do you think it's a good idea to review this law to see if a good law or not? >> yes, i do i think it's appropriate that we go across
the state of florida to take testimony to review those case that is are suspicious and see if we need to go back tallahassee and redraft the law or tweak it or -- >> because it's an easy defense, isn't it? >> absolutely and i think it's being abused throughout the nation. >> give me an example. >> here in sanford, florida, with trayvon martin and mr. zimmerman. >> wait a minute. let's not litigate that case. because that case is going to trial. find another case. you're a state senator. you must know other instances where it's been abused? >> i think there was a case in jacksonville where a person was walking down the street and he utilized -- he ended up killing the person, and utilized the stand your ground defenseç ande won. >> thank you so much, judge bell and state senator gary siplin, i'm sure we'll talk about this as you proceed with your task force. up next, governor chris christie wants you to know he never falls
back to "hardball." now for the "sideshow." yesterday i talked about massachusetts voters' latest beef with senator scott brown that he accepted a sizeable contribution from the president of the new york yankees. well today senator john kerry joined the morning joe team and joined the team as part of the 100th birthday celebration and they didn't pass up the chance to tie him to the evil empire. >> i'm a yankee fan today. i was listening to something scott swisher said. >> no, you have scott brown here. >> i'm just playing around.
we are just having fun. i want to announce to the boston press, that's fun, only fun. >> well, the progressive superpac american bridge is also reminding voters that brown has a rocky history with the sox. back in 2001, he supported a plan to move the sox out of fenway to foxborough, massachusetts, where the patriots play. >> i know lots of things have changed over the years, but not fenway park. there's been a lot of talk over the years about replacing the park, but that would have been a mistake. >> perhaps not so surprisingly, brown forgets to remind listeners he once wrote a letter asking the red sox to move theiç ballpark to fox borough. >> scott brown asked that the team move to the football stadium in foxborough. >> the things they fight about out there. next up, last week the new york post reported that new jersey governor chris christie had been spotted dozing off during a
bruce springsteen concert at madeson square garden. the sighting was a hot topic in chris christie's press conference yesterday. >> what happened, during "rocky ground," which was kind of a spiritual song, people sat. so i sat up on the seat, and i put my head back and closed my eyes and listened to the song. when i was fist-pumping during "bad lands" nobody took pictures of that. when i was contorting myself during "because of the night" nobody took pictures of that. i have never fallen asleep during a bruce springsteen show. i will never fall asleep during a bruce springsteen show. >> actually, i believe him. christie says he's been to more than 120 springsteen concerts and had been lobbying the boss to play in a new casino in atlantic city. that's "hardball" for now. coming up next, "your business" with j.j. ramberg. who knew lashes this big could last this long.
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