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Coach Mike Rice, Fired; Interview with Tom Mesereau; Conrad Murray Speaks to Anderson Cooper; Latest in the Jodi Arias Trial

Aired April 3, 2013 - 11:00   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: He's also making apparent homophobic statements directed their way.

CNN's Pamela Brown is with me now live, along with criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson. He's also an "In Session" contributor and college law professor.

Pamela, let me start with you. What is the university saying about this recent breaking development, the firing of Coach Rice?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ashleigh, we just heard from the university president just moments ago.

In a statement he says, "Yesterday I personally reviewed the video evidence which shows a chronic and pervasive pattern of disturbing behavior. I have now reached the conclusion that Coach Rice cannot continue to serve effectively in a position that demands the highest levels of leadership."

He goes on to say, "Therefore, Tim Pernetti and I have jointly decided to terminate Mike Rice's employment at Rutgers."

And also we're hearing from Tim Pernetti who is the athletic director at Rutgers and he says, quote, "I am responsible for the decision to attempt a rehabilitation of Coach Rice."

He says, "Dismissal and corrective action were debated in December and I thought it was in the best interests of everyone to rehabilitate, but I was wrong. Moving forward, I will work to regain the trust of the Rutgers community."

Now let's take a look at the video here that has really caused public outrage. Take a look at the coach, Mike rice, the coach of Rutgers, throwing basketballs at players, hitting them, grabbing them, saying homophobic slurs.

This is video that the university officials watched back in November. It was brought to them by a disgruntled employee who used to work alongside Rice, and officials launched an investigation after they were alerted to Rice's behavior and watched this video. And officials came to the conclusion that it was about to suspend Rice for three games and also impose a fine.

But after this video was made public yesterday, there really was outrage, an outcry to do more to fire Rice. And so that is why we're hearing from the university this morning that Rice is out of a job.

The question still remains if there will be disciplinary action taken against Pernetti and other university officials.


BANFIELD: And, Pamela, there are some really high-profile athletes that are weighing in on this now, aren't there?

BROWN: That's right. We're hearing from Lebron James, also Ray Allen, teammates of Miami Heat. So let's take a look at what Lebron James is saying on Twitter.

This has been retweeted, by the way, more than 8,000 times. He says, "If my son played for Rutgers or a coach like that, he would have some real explaining to do, and I'm still gone whoop on him afterwards. Come on."

So what I think is so interesting here, Ashleigh, is we're hearing from players, well-known players, that are saying, look, this behavior is not acceptable.

We all know that coaches can lose their cool but it's clear that Mike Rice crossed the line here.

BANFIELD: I don't think I'm hearing many people come to his defense, that's for sure, if anyone at all. And you see some of the video that's been widely broadcast, of just the sidelines behavior and just his intensity. There's nothing wrong with intensity, but when it gets to the level of the video.

By the way, Joey Jackson, this video was shot by a name of Eric Murdock, a former NBA player who was actually on staff. He worked for the director for player development for Rutgers.

Some say disgruntled employee. His lawyer says he wasn't a disgruntled employee. He was actually terminated for having complained about the illegal conduct by Coach Rice.

Is this another legal mess that, you know, is swirling not only around Coach Rice, but the university, too?


Now, first of all, Ashleigh, we certainly want passion in our coaches, but this passion certainly crosses the line.

Now, as far as Murdoch, who you alluded to, he went and said, listen, this is not the type of conduct representative of the university. More so, I don't think that it goes to motivation of players, and how do you expect us to be successful if you have a coach name-calling and putting his hands on people?

He's fired for that and then they're saying he was fired for insubordination unrelated to that? I don't think so. So direct answer to your question, Ashleigh, is we will see legal action as a result of this and I think the school will have some answering to do as to why he, Eric Murdock, was fired as opposed to the real party at issue, who is this Coach Rice, who is now terminated.

BANFIELD: And timing is everything, even when it comes to the letter of the law.

We're looking at four-to-five months between a suspension for three games and a $50,000 fine for what had come to light back then and stayed away from public view and now this very public video, this resulted in a termination.

Can a case be made that the termination is only because it became so public and not because it was the right thing to do in the university's mind.

JACKSON: You know, Ashleigh, when you have Governor Christie of New Jersey, the titan that he is, and he's saying that this is problematic and he's deeply disturbed by it.

You have the speaker of the assembly coming forward and saying something. You have people who have watched this, saying it's deplorable.

You have parents, right? You have children. You have coaches. You have athletes, as Pamela Brown alluded to with the Lebron James piece coming forward.

You know that it's the public position on this that he had to go. And as a result of that, I think they changed the school's mind, the public pressure, really quickly.

BANFIELD: All right, thanks very much, Joe Jackson. I know you're going to be around for further analysis throughout this program.

Thank you to you and also to Pamela Brown.

And also just into us this morning, the attorney who represented former White House intern Monica Lewinsky has died. He was such a familiar face.

William Ginsburg died on Monday at his home in Los Angeles from complications from cancer, this, according to his family. Mr. Ginsburg was 70-years-old.

A look at the Michael Jackson trial from someone he knew so well. We're going to hear from the man who defended Jackson in his sexual molestation case and find out how that case back then is factoring into this case now.


BANFIELD: The doctor at the center of the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial beginning this week in Los Angeles will not be going into the courtroom to speak about the case, but he does have a lot to say.

Conrad Murray spoke live last night with my colleague, Anderson Cooper, and he did so from his jail cell, a cell where he's serving four years for the involuntary manslaughter of Michael Jackson.

A civil trial that could be worth billions of dollars is pitting Michael Jackson's mom and kids against the concert promoters who hired and failed to supervise Conrad Murray.

The case comes down to whether Murray worked for those promoters, AEG Live, or whether Murray worked for Michael Jackson, and last night Anderson Cooper tried to put that question directly to Dr. Murray.


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "AC 360": At the heart of this trial, the AEG trial, it's a simple question. Were you an AEG employee, someone they had a responsibility, or were you an employee of Michael Jackson? Can you answer that question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via telephone): I don't want Dr. Murray to answer that question.

CONRAD MURRAY, MICHAEL JACKSON'S PHYSICIAN (via telephone): No, I cannot. Not at this time.

COOPER: OK. I understand that. Can I ask you, do you know the answer to that question?

MURRAY (via telephone): Absolutely.


BANFIELD: And later in the conversation, Dr. Murray seemed to make it pretty clear who was in charge of Jackson's health and welfare, especially when it came to the surgical sedative that ultimately killed him.

Have a listen.


MURRAY (via telephone): Yes indeed. I did order Propofol to his home, but I was not the one that brought Propofol into his home.

I met him with his own stash. I did not agree with Michael, but Michael felt that, you know, it was not an issue because he had been exposed to it for years and he knew exactly how things worked.

And given the situation at the time, it was my approach to try to get him off of it, but Michael Jackson was not the kind of person you could just say, put it down, and he's going to do that.


BANFIELD: Well, I want to bring in an attorney who knows Michael Jackson extremely well. Tom Mesereau successfully defended Michael in his child molestation trial back in 2005.

Mr. Mesereau, it's good to have you here. You were extraordinarily close to Michael Jackson and there's so much that's expected to come out about his behavior in this case when it all comes down to that effective essential question, who did that doctor work for?

Based on Conrad Murray's answers that you just heard, do you have an indication? Do you think you know the answer?

TOM MESEREAU, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I know the answer but it's not just based on anything that Dr. Murray says because he has no credibility whatsoever.

The fact of the matter is AEG, the concert promoter, had their lawyers draft an agreement, their lawyers sent that agreement to Dr. Murray and Dr. Murray signed it.

In law, the -- whether or not there's an agreement is very much affected by who drafts the document. They sent that document to him. That's the document they wanted him to sign.

The document said that they were going to employ him, they were going to pay him and had other terms and conditions.

They also sent e-mails to each other confirming that they had employed Dr. Murray.

I think to try to wiggle out now and say that actually Michael Jackson employed him is going to backfire.

BANFIELD: But they didn't sign it. AEG ultimately may have drafted it, sent it, talked about it, asked about it, pushed it, but didn't end up signing it.

Is there not a lot of value to that ultimate signature?

MESEREAU: No, there isn't because in law you can have an oral agreement or a written agreement and that oral agreement can be confirmed by various writings and documents that concern whether or not there was an understanding.

The fact that they had agreed to pay him, the fact that they sent him an agreement to sign with all of the conditions they wanted, the fact that he signed it at their request, they are not going to be able to get out of the idea that, well, we didn't technically sign it, so we didn't employ him. It's not going to work.

There's a lot of law to support the fact that all of these conditions, all of these documents, all of these e-mails show they were his employer.

BANFIELD: So I want to go right off the reservation here. It was something that I was trying to figure out whether there was a legal merit to this argument and that is this.

If they employed him -- let's just say for the sake of argument AEG employed him. They are not a hospital, so they're not the same in terms of extending a malpractice suit to the doctor right on to the hospital.

They are an employer and can you not make the argument that as an employer they did everything they could to ensure the safety and the health of Michael Jackson by hiring him a doctor.

And he didn't have any bad background. It's not like they went and hired a quack.

MESEREAU: Well, but they did not investigate him as they originally claimed they had.

My understanding is AEG said they thoroughly investigated him in an e- mail and now in sworn depositions have agreed they did not investigate him.

Furthermore, Murray requested, and I'm told that AEG agreed, to provide resuscitation agreement, to provide a gurney, to provide syringes, to provide saline and to provide a nurse assistant and in the end did not provide any of those items.

If that's true, I think they're on the hook and I think they're in trouble.

BANFIELD: Tom Mesereau, it's good to see you again. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today. Appreciate it.

MESEREAU: Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

BANFIELD: Conrad Murray did not just talk about Michael Jackson in Anderson Cooper's interview. He also talked a lot about Conrad Murray. And he didn't just talk. He sang.

He asked Anderson to indulge him with a song that he said best describes his very sad upbringing, a song called "The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot."


MURRAY (via telephone): He's the little boy that Santa Claus forgot, and goodness knows he did not want a lot.

He wrote a note to Santa for some crayons and a toy. It broke his little heart when he found Santa hadn't come.

In the streets, he envied all the lucky boys, but goodness knows he didn't want a lot.

I'm so sorry for that laddie who hasn't got a daddy. He's a little boy that Santa Claus forgot.


BANFIELD: I think Anderson's face may say it all there. I mean, that's just an unusual kind of answer to a live interview on television.

What a story it is. Before he shared it live with Anderson, Murray spoke on tape with CNN's Don Lemon. And Don Lemon is kind enough now to join me from Atlanta. Now I'm seeing the reaction on your face, Don Lemon, to that. That had people talking and not in a good way. What is your impression of your conversations with Dr. Murray?

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I think in a way a little bit of desperation, a little bit stir crazy. I asked him about the conditions where he was and I think he, in his mind -- and I'm not an attorney and not a judge and jury -- he believes that he is completely innocent for the death of Michael Jackson. Of course, he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

But here's the interesting thing, Ashleigh. He has a phone in his cell.

BANFIELD: What? In his cell?

LEMON: Yes. He can call but he has to use like a credit card; he can call collect and use a credit card and it says, "Do you accept this coming from the jail?" That's how he called his attorney. So when I was there conducting the interview with his attorney, he called. And I said, "Is that him?" She said, "Yes," and then she put him on the phone with me.

BANFIELD: And that must have been a surprise. Here's one thing I wasn't quite clear on, and maybe you've got insight, having had this personal connection with him. He spoke at length about his personal sense of loss in the death of Michael Jackson. They spent a lot of time together, just the two of them. He said he had a lot in common with Michael Jackson. And yet his defense is that Michael is his own man and Michael did this to himself and Michael has got a lot of problems, et cetera.

LEMON: Not just Michael. Not just Michael. He said also the family. He blames the family in some ways. He says the family ignored in some ways Michael Jackson's past drug use, his bizarre behavior, and that they were in denial, and he just happened to be the person that was there at the end of Michael Jackson's life.

But he talks about his friend. He says, "I love him. I loved him more than anything and I shared things with him, he shared things with me that he hadn't shared with anyone."

Listen to part of our conversation, Ash.


MURRAY: I've lost a friend, a great friend, a man who was imperfect like all of us are. He's had his dark sides and he's had his good sides and I know them both. And I truly will always miss him.


LEMON: So here's the interesting thing. As I sat in that courtroom back in 2011 behind the Jackson family, obviously they wanted someone to pay for their loved one's life and that was Conrad Murray. In this particular trial, Conrad Murray can help the family by saying, "I was hired by AEG." Or he can help AEG by saying, "I was hired by Michael Jackson."

That is the irony in all of this and, most likely, Ashleigh, he's probably not going to testify. He's going to take his Fifth Amendment rights because he does not want to ruin a retrial.

BANFIELD: Well, yes. Look, when you're appealing something, you keep your trap shut about the facts in the case. They can always come back to haunt you even when you don't take the stand.

Don, great reporting. Thank you, my friend, it's nice to see you.

LEMON: Thank you. You, too.

BANFIELD: So my next guest I guess you could say literally wrote the book about Michael Jackson's molestation trial and all of his other woes. She broke the entire story for the world. The book is called "Be Careful Who You Love: Inside the Michael Jackson Case."

Diane Diamond is also covering this latest trial as well, for "Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast". Also, I have worked with her for many, many years.

Diane, it's great to see you. You were the first person I thought of in this case in particular. But I'm not going to litigate this case with you; I think everybody knows that that essential question comes down to "Who's the boss?" And that's going to come out in evidence.

My question for you is since you have spent so many days and nights and months inside --


BANFIELD: -- years inside these Michael Jackson cases, juries in California, when it comes to Michael Jackson, are a whole other animal.

DIAMOND: Well, juries in California when it comes to celebrities are a whole other animal. We saw it in O.J. We saw it at the Michael Jackson 2005 criminal case.

BANFIELD: Phil Spector.

DIAMOND: Phil Spector. Lindsay -- well, Lindsay hasn't had a jury yet.

BANFIELD: But the benches, but no jury yet.

DIAMOND: You're right. You know what? I think that the picking of this jury is going to be really important. I would think that AEG does not want older people who would remember the days of the studio chieftans, where Marilyn Monroe, Rock Hudson, all those people, were given pills to go to sleep and pills to stay up. Because AEG sort of sounds like that now. They knew something was wrong with this man. Their inner office e-mails prove that, yet they still prodded and pressed, and that goes to Katherine Jackson's feeling -- her argument that they literally pushed Michael Jackson to death.

BANFIELD: And that would be the plaintiff's argument in the case. But if you're AEG, and again I don't want to litigate this until evidence comes out in this story, but if you're AEG and you're looking at Mrs. Jackson and she's terribly sympathetic, as are these children who very well could end up on the stand here, don't you want to say, "I'm sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Jackson. And Paris, Prince, and Blanket, but you can't ascribe a $40 million price tag to a man that could barely stand up. How could you assume that this is what his life would've been worth to you? How can you assume that you would've been due that money from that man?"

DIAMOND: That he could even have performed, had he lived.

BANFIELD: And if he did, would he have given it to you?

DIAMOND: Yes, there's so many questions surrounding this, but AEG has, according to my sources -- and I wrote about this in "The Daily Beast" this week -- they have been digging up stuff on Michael Jackson that is sure to make this trial very ugly.

BANFIELD: Did they tell you? Can you answer that?

DIAMOND: I'm not going to answer that.

BANFIELD: OK, I had a feeling you couldn't (ph) answer that.

DIAMOND: But they, I know, have gone back to outline his drug abuse, let's put it that way, and the family's attempts at intervention, at least three intervention attempts that Michael Jackson said, "Leave me alone; I'm going to be dead in a year anyway."

This all goes to AEG's side, which says he was a hot mess before we ever met him. He was living a self-destructive lifestyle that probably would have led to this in the first place.

BANFIELD: You now, love him or hate him -- and there are so many of both camps -- the man danced on cars at trials, showed up in his pajamas, was heard slurring on tapes, had so many issues and so many successes, it's just the classic American tragedy.

DIAMOND: He was a pathetic but a genius. He was a musical genius.

BANFIELD: It's not the last that I want to talk to you about this because you are a wealth of information it certainly appears when it comes to Michael Jackson. Diane, nice to see you again.

DIAMOND: Thank you.

BANFIELD: So listen, as usual, in the other case that's making huge news, Jodi Arias -- anything but an ordinary day in that courtroom. We're going to tell you why Travis Alexander's family and the woman who admittedly killed him were stuck in a small room behind closed doors. Yes, we'll explain


BANFIELD: Travis Alexander's family and the woman who killed him together yesterday in the judge's chambers. One side came out smiling; the other came out quite the opposite. Another day, another "Did that just happen?" moment in the Jodi Arias trial?

And joining me to explain what went down are Ted Rowlands and also "In Session" correspondnet Bethh Karas. Both of you are watching this trial in Phoenix. I'm sure both of you sort of had the jaw-drop moment when you saw this.

Ted, first to you, why were they all together in what I can only assume is a fairly small set of chambers with this judge?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I think the emotion that you see is probably two-fold. One that the decision maybe went against them and that decision was the bouncing of Juror Number 5. That's what they were doing back in chambers, deciding what to do with this juror who had said something that the judge inevitably thought was too much to have her continue on the panel.

They came out and they were crying. As you can see on the video, they were very emotional and, as you said, Jodi sure seemed pretty happy and so did her defense team coming out of there. And I think the emotion side from the Alexander sisters was two-fold. One, maybe they didn't like the decision about Juror 5, but the other had to be being so close to Jodi Arias for such a long period of time, over about two hours in this in-chambers situation. It had to be just very, very difficult for them to endure.

BANFIELD: I cannot even imagine. Beth Karas, I have only been in two judge's chambers before and essentially they look like offices. I don't know about Judge Sherry Stephen's chambers but can you tell me how -- if you know anything about this courthouse or chambers, would they literally have been within reaching distance of each other?

BETH KARAS, IN SESSION CORRESPONDENT: Well, probably. But it's my understanding that they were not in Judge Stephens's official chambers, because this is not her assigned courtroom. This is a courtroom that is sort of designed for high-profile cases and multimedia presentations of evidence, and there's a large public gallery and just all kinds of things in there for presenting evidence on screens and there's monitors all over the place.

So I understand that they were in a room that she uses basically as chambers when she needs to have private meetings and she'll go in the back with the attorneys, take a proffer of evidence sometimes from a witness out of the public's view. And I don't know the dimensions of the room, but I believe it is not a large room. But it's not her official chambers.

BANFIELD: So Ted, back to the juror issue, because there was a lot of concern, obviously, that this trial may have fallen apart because of Juror Number 5 talking in front of other jurors. Now that she's been dismissed and effectively her chair is empty, she obviously would have a lot of insight as to how this jury is reacting. Not to suggest that they're talking about the case; they're not supposed to. But has anyone been able to track her down or is the court protecting her?

ROWLANDS: The court is not protecting her but nobody has tracked her down and, believe me, a lot of people are trying to track her down because it would be fascinating to hear what she says. She was the one juror that took notes during every -- even tedious testimony, she took the most notes. She was clearly a personality on this jury and it would be fascinating for folks following this trial, and there are hundreds of thousands of them, to get her view, see what she was thinking. And I'm sure that she'll come out at some point. But as of now, no one has talked to her.

BANFIELD: It'd be fascinating to hear any kind of insight at this point, so many months into the trial. Ted Rowlands, thank you so much. And Beth Karas, stay with us if you would, please, because we're learning a lot from some tapes that have just come out, interrogation tapes. Not necessarily of Jodi -- her parents. The moment they were told, "Your daughter's a killer."

You're going to see that in just a moment.