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Burden of Proof

Fifth Anniversary Special

Aired October 6, 2000 - 12:30 p.m. ET



WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did not have sexual relations with that woman.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say that I always believed the press would kill her in the end.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please, please help us.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it doesn't fit you must acquit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: O.J. Simpson not guilty of the crime of murder.



JANET RENO, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I made the decision, I'm accountable. The buck stops with me.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you doing this to me?


ANNOUNCER: Human suffering, judgment, retribution, real-life dramas, playing out in courtrooms across the land. The arrivals of Greta Van Susteren and Roger Cossack to CNN were important new dimensions in law journalism.

Since the inception of CNN, the network has committed itself to gavel-to-gavel coverage of important trials and hearing. Along the way, a new brand of television commentator was born: the legal analyst.


GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CO-HOST: CNN wanted to know if I wanted to spend a week or two doing commentary on a trial, William Kennedy Smith. I thought to myself: Well, three weeks, it sounds interesting, I like trials. Maybe I will do this for three weeks and then I will go back to practicing law, which I love.

ROGER COSSACK, CO-HOST: I came into the work one day at the bureau in Los Angeles, made a comment about the O.J. Simpson case, and suddenly on this television monitor there appeared the face of Greta Van Susteren for perhaps the first time telling me how I didn't get it, and I should be advised, and that she was the one that was going to tell me.


ANNOUNCER: The new legal team of Cossack and Van Susteren was an overnight success. The nation has since become fixated with the law.

On September 29th, 1995, a new program debuted to quench that thirst.


VAN SUSTEREN: Hello, and welcome to this very special edition of BURDEN OF PROOF.

COSSACK: We are very glad you joined us because we want to take a moment and tell you about our show.


ANNOUNCER: The program struck a chord with viewers hungry for laymen's term analysis of complicated legal jargon, and ushered in a new era in television news.


LAUREN OLTARSH, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, BURDEN OF PROOF: The magic of Roger and Greta is that they are so solidly grounded in the law that they are able to follow the story, and follow the nuances of the way the law is applied better than almost anybody.



COSSACK: It is always very clear to us that what we have to do, and certainly what I have to do, is take the position that I think is the truthful position, and not worry about what may be the popular or the unpopular position.

VAN SUSTEREN: We spun off the O.J. Simpson case like Ted Koppel's "Nightline" spun off the hostages in the Iranian Embassy in 1979. So we had that huge boost. We already had an audience.


ANNOUNCER: The topics on the program ranged from federal manhunts, to criminal trials, and continuing investigations.

An existing story was rocking Washington and Little Rock when BURDEN OF PROOF went to the air. An independent counsel investigation of an Arkansas land deal involving President Clinton before he took the oath of office. The probe eventually took on the name of that failed business venture: Whitewater.


KEN STARR, INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: The attorney general of the United States give this office jurisdiction over very serious allegations.

COSSACK: Whitewater shows no signs of going away.

VAN SUSTEREN: Susan McDougal, who has already spent a year and a half in prison for refusing to answer questions before about a federal grand jury.

SUSAN MCDOUGAL, JAILED FOR CONTEMPT: I will never talk with Ken Starr or that investigation. I think I have made that pretty clear.

STARR: I very much wish, Mr. President, that I could report to the country that the work of the Whitewater investigation is complete. That is not the case.

COSSACK: This afternoon, in Little Rock, Susan McDougal's latest legal skirmish with independent counsel Ken Starr...

MARK GERAGOS, ATTORNEY FOR SUSAN MCDOUGAL: What they are looking for is anything on either President or Mrs. Clinton.

CHARLES BAKALY, SPOKESMAN FOR KEN STARR: A three-count criminal indictment against Susan McDougal.

GERAGOS: Kenneth Starr is not seeking the truth.

VAN SUSTEREN: Late yesterday in Washington, a federal grand jury indicted Webster Hubbell.

WEBSTER HUBBELL, FORMER ASSOC. ATTY. GENERAL: I personally will fight any injustice or any attempt to get me to lie about the president and the first lady.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: The United States Supreme Court handed a significant victory today to key Whitewater figure Webster Hubbell. VAN SUSTEREN: The investigation has continued throughout most of the Clinton presidency, today a closing chapter was filed in the Whitewater probe, a final report was sent to a three-judge panel in Washington.


ANNOUNCER: As the Office of Independent Counsel continued its investigation of the Whitewater case, it was asked to probe additional charges levied against President Clinton and his admission, most notably the probe of an alleged affair with a former White House intern.


COSSACK: The historical importance of impeachment of the president of the United States, the trial in the Senate, I don't think I will ever in my lifetime or any of us in our lifetime will ever be involved in cases of that magnitude, in case of that importance.

OLTARSH: When that story started, I don't think anybody knew it would become what it did. The characters in that story, Ken Starr, Vernon Jordan, Monica Lewinsky, were all people that the public became fascinated with and BURDEN OF PROOF was there each step of the way.



VAN SUSTEREN: Explosive accusations are flying around Washington today. The president is reportedly outraged, reports allege Clinton had a year and a half affair with a White House intern.

CLINTON: The allegations are false and I would never...

CLINTON: I did not have sexual relations with that woman.

CLINTON: I will await a recommendation from the White House counsel about the institutional responsibilities of the presidency, and when I get it, then I will make a decision.

CLINTON: This investigation is going on, and you know what the rules for it are. And I just think, as long as it is going on, I should not comment.

CLINTON: I have nothing else to say.

CLINTON: I'm looking forward to the opportunity of testifying. I will do so completely and truthfully. I am anxious to do it.

LINDA TRIPP: I'm glad to have fulfilled my legal obligation by testifying truthfully.

COSSACK: Monica Lewinsky is testifying before Ken Starr's grand jury. VAN SUSTEREN: It is the first time a sitting president has ever testified before a federal grand jury when he himself has been the target...

CLINTON: While my answers were legally accurate, I did not volunteer information.

BAKALY: The office of independent counsel submitted a referral to the House of Representatives that may constitute grounds for impeachment of the president of the United States.

REP. ANNE NORTHUP (R), KENTUCKY: I do intend to vote for at least some of the articles of impeachment.

REP, JACK QUINN (R), NEW YORK: I am voting for articles of impeachment this week.

REP. ROBERT WEXLER (D), FLORIDA: Wake up, America. They are about to impeach our president.

CLINTON: Shall they determined that my errors of word and deed require their rebuke and censure, I am ready to accept that.

COSSACK: William Jefferson Clinton was engraved in the chronicles of U.S. history.

REP. HENRY HYDE (R), ILLINOIS: I hear by deliver these articles of impeachment.

CLINTON: I believe any person who asks for forgiveness has to be prepared to give it.



COSSACK: You know, it is purely by accident I think in many ways that Greta and I were brought together. And to CNN's credit, no one has ever said to us, you know, you do one thing, and you do the other thing, and Greta, you take one position, and Roger, you take the other position. Sometimes we agree and sometimes we don't.

VAN SUSTEREN: We genuinely like each other. We genuinely respect each other. And we genuinely disagree sometimes, but not all the time.

OLTARSH: I think viewers get hooked on BURDEN OF PROOF because they know that it will explore all the nuances around the case or around the issue. And I think that's what makes viewers interested. I think that's why viewers come back again and again and again.



VAN SUSTEREN: After he game a statement saying he loved his family and his friends...

VAN SUSTEREN: The one thing that struck me as chilling...

VAN SUSTEREN: As the chemicals went in, he lifted his head...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... directly at the witness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wailed out for forgiveness, gradually began to lose consciousness, and within a matter of minutes, he was lifeless.

VAN SUSTEREN: You witnessed the execution of Tomas Beavers (ph) with me last Thursday night, and as we both left, I said to you that that was my first and my last.

HENRY HUDSON, FMR. HEAD OF U.S. MARSHAL SERVICE: It is a very emotional experience, Greta. Even people like me who believe in the death penalty are moved by these types of things.



CHARLES ZEWE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Karla Faye Tucker, a 38-year- old ex-drug abuser and prostitute is scheduled to die...

COSSACK: When the victim started to gurgle, Tucker grabbed a pickax and finished him off.

KARLA FAYE TUCKER, DEATH ROW INMATE: Drugs can make you do crazy things.

VAN SUSTEREN: One of the arguments to spare her life is that fact that she has become a born-again Christian.

TUCKER: God just reached down inside of me and just literally uprooted all of that stuff.

COSSACK: I'm not the same person I was several years ago, look at me, I've become this new person. Is that good reason for her to receive...

DAVID NUNNELEE, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Karla Faye Tucker has been executed by legal injection for the crime of capital murder. She ended her statement simply by saying "I love you all."

VAN SUSTEREN: Judy Buenoano is set to become the first woman in Florida to face the death penalty in 150 years.

Why do you think the jury convicted you?

JUDY BUENOANO: Because of similar facts evidence.

VAN SUSTEREN: The evidence being brought in from the different allegations all joined altogether sort of piled up on you?

BUENOANO: Yes, ma'am.

GENE MORRIS, FLORIDA DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS: The execution took place with no problems, no complication, no hitches, whatsoever.



VAN SUSTEREN: In Livingston, Texas, inmate Gary Graham sits on death row for a 1981 murder outside a Houston supermarket.

COSSACK: Graham admits to at least 10 armed robberies the week of the murder, but claims his innocence in the murder of Bobby Lambert.

GARY GRAHAM, DEATH ROW INMATE: I am innocent of the charges. I did not kill Bobby Lambert.

BERNADINE SKILLERN, EYEWITNESS: Believe me, Mr. Graham shot that man. He killed him on that parking lot.

VAN SUSTEREN: Will you still be willing to take a polygraph examination?

GRAHAM: I have to follow the advice of my defense attorneys on that.


MIKE GRACZYK, ASSOCIATED PRESS: It was very obvious, from the way he looked, that he had put up a struggle.


ANNOUNCER: Up next, on this anniversary edition of BURDEN OF PROOF, the umbrella of suspicion.


VAN SUSTEREN: Patsy, did you ever suspect John? or John, did you ever suspect Patsy?

PATSY RAMSEY, MOTHER OF JONBENET RAMSEY: Never, not for one moment. What was done to JonBenet could not have been done by a parent.


ANNOUNCER: And the trial of a British au pair.



VAN SUSTEREN: Diana was tragically killed early Sunday morning in a car crash that also took the lives of her friend Dodi Fayed, and the car's driver and Ritz Hotel assistant director of security, Henri Paul.


ANNOUNCER: Press coverage of courtroom and crime stories dates back beyond the inception of CNN, but in the early '90s, the network's coverage of a high-profile rape case furthered CNN's commitment to legal news reporting.


VAN SUSTEREN: The William Kennedy Smith trial was really the beginning. It was the beginning of the legal analysts because it was the beginning of a network having a commitment to showing the American people about what happens in the courtroom.


ANNOUNCER: The William Kennedy Smith trial was just the springboard for an enhanced legal emphasis at CNN, and BURDEN OF PROOF would prove to be the vehicle for that effort.


COSSACK: You know, we have done a lot of high-profile cases, McVeigh, the nanny trial, obviously those are in the headlines, those are the ones that everybody knows about.

But I think the real importance of this show is to, is on a day- to-day basis, is to try and sit down and explain how the law works, in terms and in language that people understand.


ANNOUNCER: The murder trial of O.J. Simpson ignited the press into overdrive of legal coverage, and brought together the duo of Greta Van Susteren and Roger Cossack.

OLTARSH: Being at Rockingham with Greta, interviewing O.J. Simpson, knowing she was going to ask: Did you murder Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman? And just being there as she did it, and hearing his answer.


VAN SUSTEREN: Did you do it?

O.J. SIMPSON: No. Did not do it. Don't feel that I could have ever hurt anybody. I think I spent my life being a good guy.


ANNOUNCER: Some the programs featured dramatic tales of guilt. Others horrific story of innocence loss.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some guy jumped into a car with her two kids in it, and he took off, and she got out of the car in our house.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's got the kids.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, ma'am, the car, she's hysterical, and I thought I need to call the law and get them down here.

SUSAN SMITH: I would like to say to whoever has my children, that they please, please bring them home.

SHERIFF HOWARD WELLS, UNION COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA: Susan Smith has been arrested and will be charged with two counts of murder in connection with the deaths of her children, Michael, 3, and Alexander, 14 months.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why do you think she did this?

LINDA RUSSELL, SUSAN SMITH'S MOTHER: I don't think Susan did anything. The illness Susan has was responsible, not Susan.



VAN SUSTEREN: On February 4th, 1997, an 18-year-old British au pair called a 911 dispatcher in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She said the nine--month-old baby she was caring for had stopped breathing.

GERARD LEONE JR., MIDDLESEX COUNTY PROSECUTOR: Matthew Eappen was in a coma, and in critical condition, and in full respiratory arrest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Severe shaking...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Violently back and forth.

COSSACK: Louise Woodward took the witness stand in her own defense.

CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: She did say, after Matthew Eappen died, she had shaken this baby, she said she had been rough with this baby, and she that maybe this baby hit his head on the side of the tub.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why are you doing this to me?

COSSACK: Middlesex Superior Judge Hillary Zobel (ph) reduced the verdict to manslaughter and released her for time serve.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To be honest, the mind cannot grasp, and the heart refuses to accept the death of one so young.

P. RAMSEY: Ran back upstairs and pushed open her door, and she was not in bed, and I screamed for John.

MARK BECKNER, BOULDER COUNTY PROSECUTOR: We have an umbrella of suspicion, and people have come and gone under that umbrella.

J. RAMSEY: I did not kill my daughter, JonBenet.

VAN SUSTEREN: I think that the media may have this one a little bit wrong, because no one has to talk to the police.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are not under arrest, there's no legal reason to detain them at this time.

COSSACK: Boulder police asked District Attorney Alex Hunter to hand the case over to a grand jury.

ALEX HUNTER, BOULDER DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The Boulder grand jury has completed its work, and will not return. No charges have been filed.



COSSACK: I think what legal journalism does is offer people the opportunity to see how their courtrooms are conducted, what goes on inside the trial, what lawyers do. I think if you do that, people have the opportunity to make decisions about whether or not they want, this is the way they want it to happen.

OLTARSH: Roger and Greta know the law. They may not know whether to look at camera 5, 6 or 7, but they know whatever the legal topic is. And they are very creative. They are very insightful as to what a lawyer is doing, as the lawyer is doing it.

VAN SUSTEREN: The prosecutor who prosecuted Timothy McVeigh was one of the most extraordinary prosecutors I have ever seen. He was so good at his work, so smooth, because he didn't have venom, he wasn't like salivating, trying to get the defendant. He simply said: Here is the evidence.

JOSEPH HARTZLER, FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Our only hope is that the verdict will go some way to preventing such a terrible drastic crime from ever occurring again.

VAN SUSTEREN: Here in Denver, the "Rocky Mountain News" published a special extra this afternoon. The headline said it all in very large letters, "Guilty."


ANNOUNCER: It was worst act of terrorism on American soil ever committed. The impact of the Oklahoma City bombing left shock waves throughout the nation. But Americans would be rocked again, this time by the acts of two teenagers in a Littleton, Colorado high school.


COSSACK: Today, the school is a crime scene. The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department reports that 15 people were killed in yesterday's attack. The suspected gunmen are students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who reportedly killed themselves.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think that the responsibility when a young child uses a gun and kills another child, that some of the responsibility may be cast in the direction of a parent?

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think if the custodial adult either knowingly or recklessly leaves a gun where a child can get a hold of it, then I think there should be some liability there.


ANNOUNCER: Some felonies are committed by people with agendas, even those who publish their own manifestos. Case in point, the hunt for the Unabomber.


COSSACK: The shadowy figure was the subject of an extensive FBI manhunt. The hunt led to Ted Kaczynski, a hermit living in a tiny tar paper and plywood mountain cabin, only after his brother alerted authorities.


ANNOUNCER: The capture of Theodore Kaczynski was just one chapter in the Unabomber investigation, and just one successful outcome of a massive federal manhunt.


COSSACK: The death of fashion designer Gianni Versace is being mourned around the world.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Police are investigating and they say they're looking for a white male, age 20 to 25 years old.

VAN SUSTEREN: Andrew Cunanan is the chief suspect in the Versace killing and the deaths of four other men.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's extremely bold. He's not your typical serial killer. I think he hand-picked Gianni Versace for his fame.

JANET RENO, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The FBI is conducting a nationwide fugitive investigation.

BILL ESPOSITO, FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: We would prefer that Mr. Cunanan be taken alive.

VAN SUSTEREN: The body trail comes to a dead end. The manhunt for Andrew Cunanan is over.



VAN SUSTEREN: The FBI is stepping up its manhunt for Eric Rudolph.

LOUIS FREEH, FBI DIRECTOR: This is an appropriate time for the nation to reflect on terrorism.

EMILY LYONS, BOMBING VICTIM: I don't know why this could have happened to anybody.

TOM BUSH, FBI SPECIAL AGENT: We have a great deal of interest in Mr. Rudolph.

VAN SUSTEREN: Investigating this case against Eric Rudolph, I mean how do they find him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Putting him on the "10 Most Wanted" may in fact lead to his apprehension.



COSSACK: Rafael Resendiz Ramirez is suspected in eight murders, all near railroad tracks in Kentucky, Illinois and Texas.

CHARLES ZEWE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's about 5'7", about 150 pounds. He's a slight man. He's got a snake tattoo on his left arm.

COSSACK: This is the biggest manhunt on the railroads since the days of Jesse James.

DON CLARK, FBI TASK FORCE LEADER: We're not going to leave any leads unturned.

COSSACK: This morning in Houston, the suspected "railway killer" was arraigned on...

RAFAEL RESENDIZ RAMIREZ, SUSPECTED "RAILWAY KILLER" (through translator): Can all this be done very quickly so that I can say that I'm guilty?

DEVON ANDERSON, PROSECUTOR: If he's guilty, I'm going to do everything I can to prosecute him to the fullest extent that the law will allow me.


ANNOUNCER: Up next on this fifth anniversary, behind the scenes of BURDEN OF PROOF.



VAN SUSTEREN: When I grew up, I wanted to be a lawyer. My father was a lawyer. My father then became a judge. I grew up in the small town of Appleton, Wisconsin, where lawyers had offices, hung out a shingle and went to the courthouse and argued it on behalf of their clients. That was my idea of what a lawyer is. I did that for almost 20 years, and every time it was an honor.

COSSACK: I did argue before the Supreme Court. It was 1984 and it was a case that, at that time, was of major importance. It was called the United States vs. Leon, and unfortunately I was on the losing side. There were six shortsighted judges who really didn't see the issue and three brilliant judges who voted for me. I lost 6-3 in a case that the "New York Times" I think at that time said was perhaps certainly the most important case that came down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whatever magic it is, whatever chemistry Roger and Greta have together that makes the show staining.

VAN SUSTEREN: Roger who? Roger Cossack. I think I've heard of him. Roger Cossack, it sounds real familiar, that name. Roger Cossack.


COSSACK: Hello and welcome to BURDEN OF PROOF. Greta is on jury duty. How'd you like to be on that jury?


VAN SUSTEREN: Roger and I get along so well because we are good friends and we can poke fun at each other, we can tease each other. Roger is good friends with my husband and has said that my husband deserves the Medal of Honor for living with me.

COSSACK: She doesn't really beat me up. It's OK. We really do get along. And she's just fine. And so it's going to be OK. Hang in there. Someday we'll have our innings.

VAN SUSTEREN: On a serious note, I want the American people to understand something: The law is simple. The law not there to frighten or to terrify, it's there to resolve. Being sued doesn't mean you're a bad person. If you are a doctor and you get sued or you're a lawyer and you get sued, it means someone thinks you might have made a mistake.


ANNOUNCER: Verdicts, subpoenas, affidavits -- just part of the new repertoire of legal jargon found around the office water cooler and at the kitchen table, and the vernacular which defines BURDEN OF PROOF."



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