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Interview with Judge Judy

Aired April 1, 2002 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Yasser Arafat remains holed up in his headquarters while Jerusalem reels from another suicide bombing.

In Washington, an exclusive interview with former secretary of state, Madeleine Albright. Then, in Los Angeles, no holds barred, no subject off limits, the always outspoken Judge Judy weighs in on the hottest headlines. They're both next on LARRY KING LIVE.

It's a great pleasure to welcome her back to LARRY KING LIVE after many appearances as secretary of state and now the former secretary of state, Madeleine Albright. This is her first TV interview on the situation in the Middle East. The latest has Arafat pinned down in his headquarters as the Israeli army continues to conduct sweeps of the West Bank. What do you make of all this?

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FMR. SEC. OF STATE: Well mainly it is just a huge tragedy for everybody involved, Larry. I have been watching the footage on it, and to watch all the people dying and bleeding and the relatives and the shooting, it's a huge, huge spiralling tragedy.

KING: Your thoughts on how this administration and your successor, Colin Powell, is dealing with it?

ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that, I hate to be critical, because I know how very hard these jobs are. And often people that are on the outside don't have all the information. But I regret very much that this administration has not been as fully involved as we were. I think they very much felt that we were overinvolved, where as I think that we were acting responsibly and trying to bring the parties together.

And I understand that Secretary Powell is going to be on the morning shows tomorrow. And I hope very much that he's going to tell us that he's going to the region. Because ultimately, I think as hard as it is for any secretary of state to get fully involved in this, because it sucks up all the time, I just think it's very very important for the secretary to be a part of the discussions.

KING: Do you think he will go to the region?

ALBRIGHT: I don't know, Larry, because I think that there clearly is some incoherence in the policy at the moment. And today there have been various disagreements about how much we are critical of Arafat, how much of Sharon are we supporting the security council resolution that was voted on over the weekend? So there's some confusion.

I think the United States is indispensable in terms of trying to bring these parties together. It's not easy, but if we're not involved then we see it spiralling into the kind of tragedy that's taken place now. We're not responsible for this, Larry. I don't want anybody to think that. But I do think that we do have a role to play in trying to bring the parties together.

KING: As a diplomat, you wouldn't have answered this, but as a former diplomat, you maybe willing. Who's right and who's wrong?

ALBRIGHT: I think that is a very hard part to answer. I think because you can go back a week or a month or five years or ten years or hundreds of years and the truth is that these two peoples are trying to live on the same land.

And to me, I had hoped, if you look at the tragedy that happened in Haifa yesterday, where Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews died together, that perhaps that could have been taken as a symbol of the tragedy on both sides to try to change the dynamics here. It's very hard to say. Israel has been attacked. There's no question about it. The huge numbers of Israelis that have died recently from the suicide bombings is untenable.

But at the same time, clearly, the Palestinian people have had a very difficult lot. And it was something that we were trying to work on at Camp David to bring out some kind of comprehensive solution that would provide security for Israel and a state of the -- state of their own for the Palestinians. And I think that is still the solution.

KING: Now, you know Mr. Arafat very well. You've been with him on many occasions, social and otherwise. Why didn't he take that deal?

ALBRIGHT: Well, I think he was completely wrong. And it's one of the great disappointments. Because we came very close. It's very hard to psychoanalyze him, but I think that he thought there would be more rounds. I think he did not feel secure in the way that the Arab countries would back him up on whatever was done on Jerusalem.

I certainly wish that something like the Saudi proposal of a couple of weeks ago had been made also at the time of the Camp David. That would have helped him. But it's hard to figure out why he would have turned down a deal that basically gave him much more than anybody had ever thought of and would have been a good one.

KING: You also think that -- do you think maybe you should be called in and Secretary Baker, others who have served as secretary of state, Warren Christopher, for advice, or is that not done?

ALBRIGHT: I actually think that it should be done. I spent a lot of time consulting my predecessors when I was secretary. I considered it part of the importance of continuity of American foreign policy. But if this administration, for whatever its reasons, does not want to make use of any of us who worked on this issue for eight years, they should reach back to former Secretary Baker. Because, after all, he is the one that managed to bring off the Madrid conference that launched this whole Oslo process, made it possible for the Israelis and Palestinians to talk to each other. So skip over us, even though we have the most recent experience, but they should reach back for Secretary Baker.

KING: What about reports that the United States has worked out a deal with Morocco, where they will provide asylum for Arafat?

ALBRIGHT: I have not heard that. And I think that the truth is that Arafat is, whether we like it or not, is the leader of the Palestinian people. And they don't -- the Israelis at the moment, I think, don't have much choice in trying to negotiate with him or deal with him.

I think the important part, I always think about Prime Minister Rabin, who made a strategic decision for peace, decided that you don't -- he said something like, you don't make peace with your friend. You make peace with your enemy. And he also decided that it was important to negotiate through terror. He said you need to negotiate for peace as if there were no terror, and you need to deal with terror as if there were no peace process. I think they ought to look back at some of the things that Prime Minister Rabin suggested.

KING: Prime Minister Sharon says, and he tells William Sapphire, that he has -- by taking the action he's currently taking, prevented a lot more of what would be terrorism. They've arrested people. They've stopped suicide bombings. That's why they're continuing to do what they do. Does he have a point?

ALBRIGHT: It's hard to see that. I really do think it's important for everybody to know that I believe that the Israelis have a right to defend themselves. President Bush has said that. And clearly, it is the right of any group of people to do that. And to try to prevent the suicide bombings and the terrorist acts.

But if you look at this purely tactically, it doesn't look as though that is going on. In fact, there seems to be kind of an endless source of suicide bombers that are now being elicited by some of the Israeli actions. So if they want to have a way to defend themselves, that is the Israelis, against the terrorist bombings, they need to make sure that their tactics are actually accomplishing the ends that they want.

KING: What's the end game, Madeline? What do you see at the end of the tunnel here?

ALBRIGHT: I think what has to happen, Larry, is for the Americans to become involved. I have often said this is like a bicycle. If you're not pedaling forward, you fall back. I think there are plans and with all due respect, I think that the ideas that were worked out after Camp David, by President Clinton, are the basis of an agreement. And that the United States ought to go with the support of the Europeans and as many Arabs as they can, and with the Russians and to try to present a new plan that would be internationally backed because this cannot go on without our role in it.

KING: Thank you, Madeline. Always good seeing you. Look forward to many visits.

ALBRIGHT: Great to see you, Larry. Thank you very much.

KING: Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright calling on the current secretary of state, Colin Powell, to go to the region, to go to the Middle East hands-on, so to speak.

Tomorrow night, Dan Rather is our special guest. He'll be coming to us from Tel Aviv live. When we come back, Judge Judy returns to LARRY KING LIVE, so don't go away.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'd like to see Chairman Arafat denounce the terrorist activities that are taking place, the constant attacks. We've got a plan that will lead to peace.

I think it's very important for the prime minister to keep a pathway to peace open, to understand that on the one hand Israel should protect herself, and on the other hand there ought to be a pathway, a capacity to achieve a peaceful resolution to this issue.



KING: She is the host of -- she's the presiding judge of the top rated Emmy nominated "Judge Judy" now in its sixth season. She was a judge in New York's family court. Last appeared with us in February. Always good to have her back. Judge Judy Sheinlin joins us, the host of "Judge Judy." There are so many things to talk about. We'll run it right down. Let's start first with your look at, should the Catholic church be turning these names over to civil authorities? Should we be having trials here, or is it best handled inside?

SHEINDLIN: That's a real hot button to start with, Larry. I gave it some thought on the way over here because I know you and I don't have much of discussions before we do this...

KING: There's no preplanning here.

SHEINDLIN: I said what was he going to ask me? I thought that was probably something he would want to discuss. So I thought about it. What's the difference, Larry, between taking the life of an unborn child and killing the soul of a child that's here? And when you sexually abuse a child, and being an old family court judge, or excuse me a former family court judge.

KING: You're not old.

SHEINDLIN: I saw children who had been repeatedly abused by loved ones or people in authority. And I always knew that their lives would be forever destroyed. They would never have a complete adult life. So you are really, when you sexually abuse a child, especially a person in trust, you're removing that soul. You're taking a piece out of the soul. And it would seem to me that the Catholic church, which is so protective with their position on abortion, should be as protective as destroying a soul.

KING: So they should unquestionably call police authorities?

SHEINDLIN: Absolutely. Without question. It doesn't seem to be any issue. And then once the police are called the issue that we have to address is whether these artificial statutes of limitations that states impose on the prosecution of cases, in this case sex abuse, pedophilia, whether we have to look into that and see whether or not it's real and what we can do to address the problem of those children who come forward in their 20s, who finally resolve that they have to speak out in their 20s, and whether the state should still have an opportunity to prosecute.

KING: Did you deal with a lot of pedophilia cases?


KING: Is it a problem or is it a Catholic priest problem?

SHEINDLIN: First of all, it's a criminal problem.

KING: But I mean is it vast? Is it way beyond the Catholic church?

SHEINDLIN: Of course.

KING: Pedophilia is everywhere? There are Jewish pedophiles and Protestant pedophiles?

SHEINDLIN: Mostly civilian. That's true. However, however, when you have an entity like the church, where children are -- children are entrusted to people to help shape them as human beings, and that's what happens in any religious affiliation, whether it be Catholic or Protestant or Jewish. You send your child to Catholic school. You send your child to Hebrew school. If the person in authority is abusing them, it doesn't make any difference whether they are civilian or wrapped in a robe. They have to be prosecuted.

KING: Pedophiles though, they're unique in that they're not your typical criminal, are they? They have a major problem.

SHEINDLIN: Who cares if they have a problem, Larry? That's their problem. They're not the usual run of the mill criminals because sometimes people will steal because they're hungry. Sometimes people will burglarize a house because they need a fix of dope. Sometimes people will forge a check because they need money.

KING: They need money.

SHEINDLIN: But pedophilia is not something that happens one time. It's an ongoing process, very few pedophiles say I tried it and I don't like it. They work up to a point where they try it and then it becomes a constant. So it's not just one victim. There's usually serial victims. And for any organization to protect those people really means that you're exposing other victims. It has to be stopped.

KING: We hear -- we'll be taking calls for Judge Judy as you wish to call in. We hear this all the time. We hear about the long- range effects. What are the effects?

SHEINDLIN: Well, I can only tell you -- I'm not a psychiatrist.

KING: But you've seen them in court.

SHEINDLIN: I can only relate to you what psychologists had testified to me. There's an inability to relate. There's an inability to relate very often with your identity. There's certainly a feeling of worthlessness that comes with it. There's sometime an inability to connect to family as an adult. You may marry, but you always have those visions in the background. Sometimes what you do is, you produce a child and then a teenager and adult who engages in the same kind of conduct.

KING: That's true.

SHEINDLIN: That's what happens. It's just like if a child is raised in an abusive home, not a sexual abusive home, but sees a parent, a father beating up the mother regularly, abusing the mother, abusing other children. Those are the children who usually become abusers because that's what they learned. It was a learned conduct. So it explodes exponentially. You're not just dealing with one child, you're dealing with probably ten people or 20 people when you're abusing one child.

KING: We'll take a break, talk about other cases in the news. We'll be taking your calls for Judge Judy. Dan Rather tomorrow night. Don't go away.


SHEINDLIN: Can I ask you a question? Did you ever go to church on a Sunday, on Easter Sunday?


SHEINDLIN: To you get dressed to go to church or do you wear shorts? Do you get dressed to go to church or do you wear shorts?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I apologize your honor.

SHEINDLIN: Good. Judgment in the plaintiff in the amount of $2200. That's all.


KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE, Madeleine Albright earlier, Judge Judy Sheindlin with us now, the host of "Judge Judy," now in its sixth season. Emmy nominated, top rated. Now let's move to the Andrea Yates matter. She has been convicted, found guilty, but her life has been spared. What's your view of that whole matter?

SHEINDLIN: I think that the jury in that case was sending out a message. And that message is, should be, that this is not only the responsibility of the person who was on trial, but it becomes a family tragedy and a family responsibility.

It was clear to me from what I read in the papers and that's the only information that I have, that this woman long suffered with post partum depression. What is the responsibility of her husband in assisting in, being complicit in creating more children to someone who is already so emotionally stressed, and where's her family? Clearly they -- if they were involved with her, involved with the grandchildren, they had to see how stressed she was.

KING: This is a moral responsibility you're talking about. Is there a legal responsibility here?

SHEINDLIN: Is there a legal responsibility? On the part of the husband? I don't know whether we can say there was a legal responsibility. However, the very idea that there has been a hint that he would have the chutspa (ph) to sue the doctors who took her off medication, given his own moral complicity to me is an outrage.

KING: He said he didn't know she was that sick until -- and then she was helped a lot after the fourth child was born. They put her on different medication after the fifth.

SHEINDLIN: He didn't know she was that sick? If he didn't know she was that sick and he spent 24/7 other than work with her, how could he suggest that doctors, who saw her maybe for an hour once a week or once every other week, are responsible? See? I don't know whether you can establish a criminal responsibility on his part for his nonfeezance. He didn't do anything. But certainly to suggest that he on behalf of the children, can sue someone else civilly to me is an outrage and an abuse of the process.

KING: When someone has post partum depression, are they insane at that time?

SHEINDLIN: Larry, I don't know. I had kids. My children have had kids. I have friends who had kids.

KING: But you're a judge. The defense attorney said if she wasn't insane no, one is insane.

SHEINDLIN: Most people who kill a family member, especially a child, have to be crazy at the moment, or crazed at the moment that that happens. This is not a homicide committed in the course of a robbery or burglary or rape. So there has to be that moment when you're insane. But do we excuse that behavior?

Clearly this jury was saying, we are not going to excuse this behavior because you had a choice. You had a choice before. If you knew the day before that you were being stretched to the breaking point -- and this goes not only for Andrea Yates, goes for all mothers. There have been copy cats and there will continue to be. You have a responsibility to put your children in protective care whether you take them and drop them off at a day care center or at your parents house or say to your husband, you have to stay home from work today or say to your best friend, I can't cope, come and take the children before it gets too bad.

That's your responsibility. You can't wait until the rubber band has broken. That's what this jury said. You can't wait until the rubber band has broken and then use it as an discuss.

KING: Jury selection begins tomorrow in the trial of Michael Skakel charged with the murder of Martha Moxley. This goes back, it is a Kennedy story, goes back years. Is that the hardest case to prove something that happened when someone was 17 and now he's in his 40s?

SHEINDLIN: I don't know, Larry.

KING: Legally...

SHEINDLIN: We talk about statute of limitations.

KING: But not in murder.

SHEINDLIN: Not in murder. We talk about statute of limitations. And I touched on it before when we were talking about the child abuse cases, the sex abuse cases. I'm going to get back to that for just a second. Because I think that all over the country, the statute of limitations has to be plead as an affirmative defense, which means you can bring these charges at any time. The reason that you have statutes of limitations is because evidence goes stale sometimes.

KING: You don't want to be haunted all your life.

SHEINDLIN: If you commit a crime, you maybe have to be haunted. We are not talking about stealing a banana. We are talking about murder, rape, sodomy. And if you have to be haunted all your life, who cares?

But pleading the statute of -- forcing the defendant to say, I cannot get a fair trial because of the statute of limitations and then establishing it to a judge, saying this is the evidence that I would use, these are the witnesses that I would call. They're no longer available. The evidence is no longer available and then let the judge decide whether the defendant has a right to use the statute of limitations rather than saying well, the statute of limitations for this crime is five years. After that you cannot prosecute. That seems to be ridiculous.

If in the Skakel case there is sufficient evidence to establish that he committed this murder I don't care if he's 40 or 440. The state is entitled to and the family of the victim is entitled to have that kind of closure, to feel as if the person that killed their daughter didn't get away with it.

KING: Judge is a tough job, isn't it?


KING: When you get down to it. Lot of things -- you may often try to make things black and white, but they're not.

SHEINDLIN: Well things -- I think the frustration that the American public has, or that they should have is with a judicial system that doesn't make it clear.

I mean, what I just said to you about the statute of limitations. Doesn't that sound reasonable? Doesn't that sound like common sense. Why pick an arbitrary number of five years or six years or two years, when it's very possible that DNA evidence could establish what was necessary?

That witnesses who were there who -- and are still alive and whose memory of the events is still fresh can come forward two years later or three years later? Why have this arbitrary number when it can be used by the defense and say to the defense, to a defendant, you have to establish that you would in some way be prejudiced by going forward with this trial because of the lapse of time.

I think -- and I think that judging and the common sense of judging has gotten lost over the past 25 or 30 years. We have embellished and superimposed things that really bear no relevance to right and wrong, fair an unfair, just and unjust. And I think that the public wants to see that. I think that one of the trials that just concluded recently, that dog mauling trial...

KING: I'm going to ask you about that next.


KING: Our guest is Judge Judy. We will be including your phone calls. Dan Rather tomorrow night, Madeleine Albright earlier. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This contestant, she fainted on stage because of the dress that she was wearing was too tight.

SHEINDLIN: How do I know that? That's ridiculous. She fainted because of her dress.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then the stress and anguish of getting something the night before.

SHEINDLIN: Get over it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's right here.

SHEINDLIN: Get over it. I don't want to hear it. Stress, anguish. Please, over a dress?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's an evening gown. It's a competition, your honor.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a competition. These girls build -- all summer they've been working on this.

SHEINDLIN: Did she win?


SHEINDLIN: Maybe that's why she fainted.



KING: We're back with Judge Judy. Before we talk about the dog mauling case, let's take a couple calls. Scottsdale, Arizona, hello.

CALLER: Hi, judge.


CALLER: My question actually goes back to the pedophilia, and a case I heard about in Texas a few years back. Do you feel that the threat of, or the actuality of mandatory castration would be appropriate for someone who is convicted of being a pedophile?

JUDY: Do you?

CALLER: I think it would be perfect.

JUDY: I think that you have to ask the victims and the family of the victims.

KING: If the victims say yes, it's not barbaric to you?

JUDY: Is it barbaric to me?

KING: Yes, the victim says castrate him.

JUDY: I think that you cannot cure someone of being a pedophile. I think that...

KING: Can't cure them?

JUDY: No. No. I don't think that you can cure someone of being a pedophile. I think that it takes a certain mindset for a 30 or a 40 or 50-year-old man to take a 6 or 8 or 10-year-old child and sexually assault them anally, orally, vaginally. I think it take a certain sickness.

And we have not, as a civilized society, been able to come up with a cure for that kind of sickness. And if you cannot come up with a cure for that kind of sickness, you have to protect society. And since pedophiles do not go to jail for life, right? If you get out of jail and you're 60 or 65 or 70, is there a likelihood that you're going to recidivate? Absolutely, unless you put you someplace on an island. You know, go to -- we don't have Devil's Island anymore. So chemical castration to me is a perfect response.

KING: Overland Park, Kansas, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Judge Judy.

JUDY: Hello.

CALLER: I'm asking about family services and legal government, what their responsibility is regarding changing laws to protect children about pedophilias towards priests so that they don't spend the night at priests' rectories. Shouldn't there be laws that if the parents aren't going to protect them, at least like family services should be protecting these children?

KING: In other words, family services should say the Catholic church that a child can't spend the night at the rectory?

JUDY: I think that you're placing the emphasis on the wrong syllable, quite frankly. People are supposed to be responsible. And I don't think that the vast majority, it would seem to me, the vast majority of priests are fine, decent, honest, God-loving, God-fearing people.

But you have a small core who are not. And the problem, is there has been a protection of that small core in order to, I believe, save face, in order to have anyone revere, as they should, their religious organization.

So I don't think that it's possible to have a law that says you cannot stay over at the house of a teacher, or a priest, or your pediatrician even if it's a slumber party and you're one of the pediatrician's children's friends. I think that that's interference that we're not gonna get to.

KING: What's your read on the dog mauling matter? Am I responsible for what the dog does?

JUDY: Somebody is responsible, Larry. And if not the owner...

KING: The jury said so.

JUDY: The jury was sending again, I believe, out, not only a verdict against these two people and the most serious kind of message, but also saying to people who choose to have -- choose to have dogs that are capable of causing serious injury or death, that it is your responsibility to insure that those animals are do not cause serious injury or death. Or under appropriate circumstances, we're going to hold you criminally, not civilly responsible, but -- not civilly responsible, but criminally responsible for the actions of your animals.

If you get behind the wheel of a car, which is not a deadly weapon if handled properly. And because of your erratic behavior, that car -- you have an accident. Maybe you just have an accident because you blinked for a minute, or because you sneezed for a moment. It wasn't even intentional. But you caused somebody's injury. You are responsible civilly for that accident. But let's say...

KING: Because you control the car.

JUDY: Because your control of the car. So you're responsible civilly, not criminally if it was an accident.

But let's say you have six beers before you get behind the wheel of that car. So then you're driving a car capable of causing death. And you do cause a death. Then you are not only civilly responsible, but you're criminally responsible.

KING: Right.

JUDY: If you have a dog, that by virtue of size and power, and certainly in the case of these two people, they had the knowledge that these animals had in the past, had the potential of harming other people, if there is a death, you are criminally responsible. And that's what the message the jury sent out to everybody who has a big dog, a big dog that they might decide well, I'm going to take it to the park. I'm going to take the dog off the leash and let the dog run. The dog likes to run. That dog hurts a child, mauls a baby, you're going to go to jail.

KING: Do juries send messages?

JUDY: Oh, I think so. They do...

KING: Beyond just the verdict?

JUDY: Oh, I think so. And I think that they do it sometimes by a nonverdict. I mean, they did that in the O.J. Simpson case. Right? The first Menendez trial. No verdict. Sometimes they want to make a social statement and the jury...

KING: The jury can make law, in a sense.

JUDY: Right. You know, that's jury nullification. And then, I think, that in cases, especially like the dog mauling case and in the Andrea Yates case, in addition to ruling on the evidence in that case, these people were prepared to say, to everybody, you better watch out.

If you're the mother of a woman who has two children and suffering from post-partum depression, you make it your business to get over there. If you're the husband, you make it your business to watch very carefully if your wife can't get out of bed in the morning because of depression, that she may be at risk, and your babies may be at risk because we may one day hold you responsible as a co- conspirator.

And certainly we're going to hold her responsible. That's a message. And maybe it will save lives. Certainly, I think that the dog mauling case will save lives. I think people are going to think twice about having dogs that are bred to attack. KING: And that's better than saving a life? Nothing.

JUDY: Nothing.

KING: Right back with more of Judge Judy and more of your phone calls on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I also had my dog on a leash with me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's how she got the scars, your honor.

JUDY: Just a minute. You took your dog into eat Chinese food?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, he stayed outside. There's a tree like in the parking lot. And I had him on his leash. And he was tied to the tree.

JUDY: You let the dog tied on a tree, while you went in and had lunch?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, well, if you'd seen the area, you'd understand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's premeditated, your honor. She had, in fact, wanted to come down and pepper spray me at that time.

JUDY: Mr. Butler, I'm going to come back to you. I guarantee you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's lying, lying, lying.

JUDY: Mr. Butler?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I'll be good. I'm cool.



KING: Take another call for Judge Judy. St. Louis. Hello.

CALLER: Yes, Judge Judy, how would you deal with the American John Walker, if he came into your court?

JUDY: Don't know.

KING: Haven't heard the evidence.

JUDY: I really haven't heard the evidence. So it's really hard for me to say. I know what I see.

KING: The defense is saying he was tortured.

JUDY: Didn't look tortured to me, but I didn't see the whole tape.

KING: Someone ruled, I think, today that you can, as long as you can hook the fact that he had knowledge of the death of the -- or participated, he didn't have to do the actual killing to be tried for murder.

JUDY: Well, you could. You know, if you're a co-conspirator, you can be tried for murder. You don't necessarily have to be the one to pull the trigger or to jab the knife. If you are engaged in conspiratorial conduct, and they can establish that, you're part of it.

I haven't heard it all. We certainly know where he was. We certainly know -- I certainly know some of what he was doing there because, through his own words, which we all have seen that tape of him lying down and making statements. Haven't heard it all. Don't know.

KING: Harvey, Louisiana, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Judge Judy.

JUDY: Hello.

CALLER: I wanted to ask if, in hindsight after a time to think about it more, have you ever regretted a decision? And would you elaborate on it if you have?

KING: Either in family court or on the TV show or anywhere?

JUDY: You know, while I sat in family court, I probably heard 20 or 25,000 cases. And I am sure during the course of those cases, there were cases that I probably would've decided differently had I had either more time or been able to explore more.

But all you can do as a judge is really give a case your best effort. And then, if you're going to keep all that stuff in your head, you't can move forward. So I can't give you an example of a case that I regret. I've dealt with a lot of difficult ones, where I've had to make tough decisions. But I tried to make the decisions fair, based on the evidence, and have a basis in commonsense and then just put a period and move on.

KING: The Van Dam case, the child is taken, eventually is killed. There is a suspect. He's under arrest. But we learn that the mother testifies that she was out drinking, and dancing, and smoking some pot the night the child went missing. What is the element of blame? In other worlds, we've discussed it with the Yatest case. Obviously, she didn't harm her own child. What about, though, if there was neglect? Should any bearing of responsibility in court anywhere?

JUDY: She will always...

KING: This is always an if. We don't know. JUDY: Well, I read the same thing that I assume you're talking, Larry, where she said that both she and her husband would smoke marijuana in the garage.

KING: Yes.

JUDY: So not to smoke it near the children. And then she went out. And she was out until 2:00 in the morning. And she came home and found the garage door ajar, something like that. She will always bear that responsibility, that moral responsibility, that blame as a parent for not being there. And what if I were there? What if I had not been out with the girls at a bar? What if? What if? But does she bear any legal responsibility? No. Doesn't bear any legal responsibility. There is only one person responsible, I mean, unless they got the wrong person. But there's only one person responsible for the kidnapping and death of that child. And the fact that the parents may have a lifestyle that is neglectful or different doesn't make them criminally responsible, but they will never stop blaming themselves. Nor should they.

KING: A New York judge has imposed a smoking ban on a non- custodial mother. The judge has ordered a mother to stop lighting up in her home or her car if she wants continued visitation rights with her 13-year-old son. Citing studies on the dangers of secondhand smoke, Justice Robert Julian of Utica, New York said the mother's habit was not in the son's best interest. What do you make of that?

JUDY: Well, I read a little bit of that. And again, I don't know all the facts.

KING: From what you know?

JUDY: But you have a teenager who's living with his father and paternal family. So clearly, there is some estrangement with the mother. And I, as a family court judge, would have no problem with this 13-year-old saying to me, "I don't want to be around my mother when she's smoking, because it impacts on my health and I can't stand the smell. I have a condition that makes me ill."

But this judge went further. This judge said she can't smoke in her own house or in her own car...

KING: When the kid...

JUDY: ...even when the kid is not there, because the boy said, "I don't like the smell in the house. I don't like when I leave the house, I don't like the smell on my clothes. I don't like to go there because it smells from smoke."

So that went even further. That doesn't say it's a health risk because being around a smelly house isn't necessarily...

KING: Are we leading up to Judge Judy thinks this is harsh?

JUDY: We're leading up to Judge Judy saying I don't know all the facts, but it seems to me you have a 13-year-old boy, who's saying, "I don't want to see my mother because -- or if I see my mother, I want to see her infrequently, and in a restaurant or go to a movie with her. But I don't want to go over and stay over at her house."

And at no other excuse, other than the fact of this smoking. As I said, I can understand the judge imposing an order that says when your children are around you, don't smoke because it's not healthy for them. But when the child is not there, and she's not the custodial parent, I believe it was an over stretch.

KING: More with Judge Judy on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Dan Rather tomorrow night. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On the police report, it says I went straight up to the car and keyed it. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I asked you if your kid's going to this school. Isn't that pleasant conversation?

JUDY: End of discussion. You're showing me your temper.


JUDY: You are showing me your temper.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My life has been turmoil for two months.

JUDY: You are showing me your temper.


JUDY: You are -- stop speaking.




KING: By the way, we've been asking many of our guests, where were you on 9/11?

JUDY: I was at my home in Putnam, New York, with Jerry, having a cup of coffee and watching "THE TODAY SHOW."

KING: So you saw it happen?

JUDY: Mm-hmm.

KING: Do you remember your first reaction?

JUDY: My first reaction -- it was disbelief like everybody else. And then, once it settled in I said I will probably only remember where I was twice in my life, exactly where I was. And that's on September 11th and the day that Kennedy was assassinated. KING: November 22nd.

JUDY: November 22nd.

KING: Has it had any effect on the law at all? Any effect on jurisprudence? Obviously, we're seeing military tribunals. I mean, that's a result.

JUDY: I don't think we've seen any impact on it, except that there were lots of folks...

KING: We have people put in Guantanamo.

JUDY: But there are lots of folks out there who were former liberals, who were willing to stretch the constitution to its illogical extreme. And those people have sort of swung back or else they're afraid to speak.

KING: That could be, too.

JUDY: That's possible. This is not the time for them to speak. I don't think we can lose our position as being a country, where the right thing happens and where we treat everyone within the system reasonably. But I think that everybody knows that self-preservation and self-protection is something that is equally as important.

KING: Syracuse, New York, hello.

CALLER: Hi, judge. How are you?

JUDY: Good.

CALLER: As -- years ago I was a social worker in the foster care system, I found myself often in your courtroom. And I wanted to ask you how you were able to maintain your integrity, your honesty, your sense of humor, and your objectivety with everything that you ruled on?

JUDY: How many times did you come into my courtroom?

CALLER: Oh, I must have been in your courtroom at least a dozen times.

JUDY: Was I okay?

CALLER: Oh, you were terrific.

JUDY: I think that the answer really is once you are armed with certain basic skills, legal skills, and if you were brought up in Brooklyn and have a certain amount of Brooklyn common sense. And I'm not excluding the Bronx, Larry, from that.

KING: I'm Brooklyn.

JUDY: You're Brooklyn, okay. Then what you have to do is you have to say certain things have a common sense base. And if it doesn't make sense, it's usually not true. That's always...

KING: Good thinking.

JUDY: Somebody told me a story and it was inconsistent with my human experience. I'm really just a common person. I am a girl who grew up in a nice, well-knit family, close connected group. I have friends. I have -- relatively normal.

If it didn't make sense to me, then someone was feeding me a bunch of crap. And that's how I did it in family court. If a parent was explaining to me that they really didn't leave their children alone for more than five minutes when they went out to the store because they had to buy a quart of milk, and it was midnight, and the police got there at 3:00 in the morning, they were out doing more than buying a bottle of milk. That's just common sense.

KING: Well said. We have a couple minutes left and I'm interested on your thoughts on gay adoption, the Florida case?

JUDY: I don't think that we can say that any person can't be a parent. And I certainly have seen couples, gay couples, who have children, who are wonderful parents.

The issue, I think, that the state faces is one of who makes makes -- who do we -- without knowing what people are going to be five years from now, 10 years from now, how do we make the best choices for children immediately?

Now the case in Florida is a particularly unique case, because there you have a child who has lived with this seemingly wonderful adoptive couple, who have taken in children with special needs over the years, and created a family of seemingly wonderful kids.

And then to suggest that he's there. He's defacto there. And to take him out of that home, he's nine-years old or 10-years old, is the ultimate act of cruelty. It's form over substance. It's saying you can be a foster parent for 10 years or 15 years or 18 years, but you can't be an adoptive parent. It's saying to this child, you can have a foster father, but you can't have a real father. You can't have an adoptive father. And to me, that's the ultimate form of lunacy.

So that this is a unique case. And I think that you have to entrust each case. You can't have a hard and fast rule.

KING: But you can't make a ruling that gays can't adopt?

JUDY: You should not have a rule that says you're too old to have children. We certainly don't have rules that say you're too young to have children. We don't have rules to say you have to have the same religion in order to have a child. That you cannot have other children in order for to us place a child with you. I don't think that we have to create hard and fast rules. I think that you have to trust the good wisdom and common sense of good judges. And hopefully, most of them are. Some of them are not.

KING: Did you ever have a case like it in New York? JUDY: Did I ever have a case like it in New York? I did a lot of adoptions in New York.

KING: Gay adoptions? Any.

JUDY: I'm sure.

KING: Thank you, Judge Judy.

JUDY: Thank you. Always a pleasure.

KING: My pleasure. Judge Judy Sheimler, what can we say? Emmy nominated, Emmy deserved. Judge Judy. We'll tell you about tomorrow night and look at what's ahead right after this. Don't go away.


KING: I know there's a lot of bad in the world, but there's some good too. Like Dan Rather's going to be with us tomorrow night from Jerusalem and Madeline Albright and Judge Judy was with us tonight. And baseball's back. The world can't be bad. Baseball's back.




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