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Arizona State Fraternities Under Fire; Controversy over Burial of Tamerlan Tsarnaev; Does Squatting Pay Off; Know Your Rights When Pulled Over.

Aired May 3, 2013 - 11:30   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Very, very distressing to see that video and to hear that call and know that we're talking about college kids doing their typically partying very atypically. Do you think this has been a grave mistake for the university to push all of those fraternities off campus or would that have made any difference at all?

JOEL NAVARRO, COUNCILMAN, TEMPE, ARIZONA: It's unfortunate. You kind of new this was coming. We tried to get a proactive approach on this before. Obviously, these things got out of hand. However, it is what it is now. The fraternities are off campus. They are in our neighborhoods. And we're trying to do everything we can and utilize all our best resources to mitigate the situation.

Now I can't say this is all fraternity related. Our real big push here to just to make sure that -- we're in a college area. Obviously, we're going to have these things happen. We just want to make sure people are safe, basically party responsibly but being respectful to the neighborhood. But --


BANFIELD: Yes. I went to my fair share of college parties, Councilman, and never was a gunshot fired or a baseball bat brought out. And I dare say that probably most of us watching right now would say the same thing.

I have a question for you though. I guess it was last year that they moved out to a Greek row into the neighboring communities. But as I understand it, and correct me if I'm wrong, the university plans to move those fraternities back onto campus this fall. Does that make any difference? Does that affect your proposed ordinances in any way? Might it change this unacceptable behavior, to say the least?

NAVARRO: You know, granted, if there was a Greek row established before they tore down the old one, yes, I think all of things would have not -- would have been under control and under a better watch. They have a temporary plan to try to get the fraternities back on a dorm-type of facility. However, I think it's just a short plan. In the long term, basically we need to get the students returned back on campus, get them to a facility that they're going to agree to be at. I think we all know that fraternities want their own identity. They want the Greek life and they want a Greek row. And we're still having sessions with Arizona State University on establishing that, hopefully, sooner or later to resolve that issue. BANFIELD: Well, good luck this weekend with the commencement parties and activities that are sure to be throughout the community. I hope everything goes well.

Thank you, Councilman. I do appreciate your time.

NAVARRO: I appreciate it. Thank you so much.

BANFIELD: Thank you.

So we also now know some new information in Boston. We know where the funeral for the Boston bombing suspect, named Tamerlan Tsarnaev, will be held. This is not sitting well with a lot of people. There's a heated debate about that young man, an alleged bomber's resting place and our legal team is going to join us with regards to what right out community has in all of this, coming up.


BANFIELD: Got some breaking news out of Boston that I want to give to you right now. We are learning that apparently the FBI is conducting further searches on the campus of University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. You'll remember that's where those three students who were arrested this week and are facing after-the-fact issues with regard to the Boston bombing, the lying to authorities and obstruction of justice. They went to that university, as did Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is the main suspect now awaiting terrorism and explosive charges, in federal custody. But very interesting that they are back and we're learning at least the fact, and searching now -- conducting more searches on the campus. Also what is campus, on campus, at least in one of the dormitories where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev lived, was a trove of information that would have been extremely valuable to the FBI had the allegations of three students going in there and removing things not changed things up again. Allegations that they done that, the complaint tells us.

Here's the other aspect that we're talking about today. The body that nobody wants, at least not in Boston anyway, the remains of the bombing suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, they became a pariah almost the instance he was killed in that fiery shootout with the police. A heated debate has now erupted over what to o with the body that is reportedly in that black truck, being transferred. The mayor's office in Worcester says that the funeral for Tamerlan Tsarnaev will be held in that city but he doesn't have a date. Certainly not telling anybody publicly if they do know. Our affiliate, WCB-TV, says Tamerlan's body was transferred in the black van to a funeral home outside of Boston. This happening yesterday. The body was then taken to another location. And a family spokeswoman says it was claimed by Tamerlan Tsarnaev's uncle.

OK, so a lot of issues now. Our legal team is going to join me to try to sort of exactly what everybody's rights are when it comes to this. Lisa Bloom is a civil rights attorney and a legal analyst with And also our legal analyst and law professor, Joey Jackson, is here with me live.

Lisa, I'm going to start with you.

People are outraged. People in Worcester don't even want this body to be stored near them. Do the people have any rights?

LISA BLOOM, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY & LEGAL ANALYST, AVVO.COM: Well, they have strong First Amendment rights to speak out, to protest and to say how they feel about this situation.

Remember the Westboro Baptist Church case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court -- case? That was a case of some people protesting at military funerals with the most hateful anti-gay slurs, and the Supreme Court said, as long as you're not interfering, as long as you're just expressing yourself, you have the right to do that. So every American has the right to speak out and protest.

But the family also has the right to bury the remains of this man. Nobody can interfere with that right.

BANFIELD: And citizenship. We're dealing with two brothers, Joey Jackson, one a citizen, one not a citizen. The citizen is in custody and is awaiting federal charges. The non-citizen is the body. And the family is not in this country. Does that play in to this at all?

JOEY JACKSON, ATTORNEY, LAW PROFESSOR & CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it certainly good because the family, the discussion about, Ashleigh, whether they're going to actually come here and do anything with regards of ensuring that there is a burial or what have you.

But as far as the community, I think the community has a lot of rights here, and it's a very sensitive subject, obviously. People are dead here. It's tragic. It's senseless. It should not have happened, and it did.

And I think the community, it's more of an economic right than a legal right. I don't know of any funeral home that, you know, certainly wouldn't be sensitive to the wishes of the community. Remember, communities vote with their wallet and they patronize each other and they support each other. And so I think, ultimately, any funeral home that undertakes this task of burying the body or ensuring a burial is going to have a huge economic price to pay. And --

BANFIELD: And just quickly, Joey, to that point, nobody can be forced to do this, right? There's no funeral home out there that can be forced to do this. But what about the M.E.'s office? May be forced to dispose of the remains some way?

JACKSON: Well, ultimately, what the M.E.'s office does is they hold the body. And in holding the body, they have to wait for instructions from his wife, Mrs. Russell, who has to weigh in on it and, of course, from his parents, who will weigh in on it. Until that time, they're obligation is just to have that body in a way that it's preserved for the family to do what they do when they ultimately do it. So what we're going to see is a funeral home -- and to your point, Ashleigh, they are not forced to do anything. And I think the funeral home who does do something is going to have a major backlash by the community, who is going to, you know, be not inclined to support them because of this horrific act.

BANFIELD: Right. Well, this story will continue.

Joey, thank you.

Lisa, thank you.

Another story that we're following as well, he moved into a vacant home. Homeless guy finds a vacant home, spends thousands of dollars to fix it up. Even puts up a "No trespassing" sign after he trespasses. Is he a squatter or is he now the homeowner? Steven DeCaprio is going to join me next to explain what he did, what he got, what comes next.


BANFIELD: This kind of sounds like an infomercial, but it's ain't. Own a house without ever buying it, especially when you're talking about one of the priciest real estate markets in the nation. Welcome to something called adverse possession. It is a legal concept with very deep roots in California, but one that you should know isn't for everyone. It has certainly worked for my next guest, so far, anyway.

Steven DeCaprio moved into this abandoned century-old duplex in Oakland 13 years ago and, literally, he has made it his own.

It all comes down to paying taxes. When he went in there, he started paying the taxes and he did so for years.

Steven joins us live from San Francisco.

I'm also joined again by our attorney -- legal analyst and attorney, Lisa Bloom.

Steven, I want begin with you, first of all.

This is from the files of "What? Are you kidding me?" You were homeless. You trespassed, moved into that house and then just started paying taxes, and after a certain number of years, that officially -- legally made that place yours? Do I have that right?

STEVEN DECAPRIO, FOUNDER & CEO, LAND ACTION: Ashleigh, first of all, thank you for having me.

And that is correct. In California, adverse possession takes five years of possession and paying the taxes and that's what I've done.

But I can give you more of a background on that if you'd like.

BANFIELD: Well, I suppose the background is this. A, did you know that? What this a strategy? And if that part is correct, maybe it's legally OK but isn't it kind of morally yucky?

DECAPRIO: Well, I guess, the -- well, first of all, I'll just let you know how this all began. Back in 1999, my band, Lesser of Two, was a punk, hardcore band. We toured all over Europe. And in Europe, there's squats all over Europe. They have libraries. They have social centers. They have all kinds of activities. And it was really inspiring for me. And then I came back to the U.S. and I lost my job, lost my house, and I started squatting houses. That was based on what I'd seen in Europe. And I've been doing this for about 13 years. I've been involved in a dozen or more squats in the Bay area. And we've established the nonprofit Land Action to take the strategies and tactics to help social justice organizers establish their own squats that have projects or housing. And this is something that's been going on historically for a long time. If you have abandoned properties and no one is claiming them, no one is using them, this is a way for people in a society to take back those properties and put them to beneficial use. And that's what we're doing here.

BANFIELD: So beneficially --


BANFIELD: I've got to interrupt you there, Steven, only because I hear what you're saying and I see that you're putting a positive spin on it, saying that this is something that's beneficial to the community. But I can't help going back to the idea that the owner of record on this house is the estate of someone named Henry Curry, who died in the early '80s. And I can't help coming back to this is just kind of just taking what isn't yours. How am I wrong?

DECAPRIO: Well, I think that you -- in what you just said, this is a person -- this property had sat abandoned even before that individual purchased it and it had been abandoned for as long as 40 years by some accounts in the neighborhood. And so an individual purchased it and that person died and no one came forward and claimed the property. So something has to happen. And, you know, if there's no one to take -- take responsibility for the property, then, you know, someone needs to take forward, and no one did. And so that's -- it's a particular type of situation that this is designed for. It's not just any vacant property. It's designed for properties --


DECAPRIO: -- in a state of abandonment --


DECAPRIO: -- that really there's no other solution.

BANFIELD: I want to bring Lisa Bloom into this because she is not only really smart and really funny, but she's also a Californian, so she knows a thing of two about California.


BANFIELD: Is there a benefit to this adverse possession? I like this guy. I think he makes a good point. He knows his law. But I can't help thinking that he's just taking something that doesn't belong to him.

BLOOM: Let me explain. This is actually a well-settled legal principle, going back hundreds of years, adverse possession. Real estate is different. We want homeowners to maintain their property and pay the taxes. And if somebody lives openly and notoriously -- those are the legal words -- on a property, as Steven did, for five years in California, and the homeowner doesn't step forward to say, hey, wait a minute, somebody is on my property, we know they really abandoned that property. And we want people to maintain properties and pay taxes on them. And that's the concept behind adverse possession.

And Steve, I have to tell you, you had me with the solar panels.


One I saw you installed those solar panels on the roof --


-- you got my vote, friend.

BANFIELD: All right, you two.

Steven, it's interesting. I think the story is fascinating. I like you and don't like you all at the same time but I think you make a very good point.

BLOOM: I'll bring you around, Ashleigh.


BANFIELD: And I do want you to keep --

DECAPRIO: Well, Ashleigh, I'm better neighbor than an abandoned property.

BLOOM: That's right.

DECAPRIO: I'm a better neighbor than having an abandoned property.

BANFIELD: It'll be interesting to see what comes out. It's still no completely settled. I know he can't sell the home at this point, or mortgage it. But, yes, interesting story, nonetheless.

Steven DeCaprio, thank you.

Lisa Bloom, both of you, thank you very much.

Stay with me everybody. As we all have heard by now, Reese Witherspoon got in a bit of a pickle. She was a little rowdy at her arrest last month. Very pretty mug shot, I might say. But just ahead, what you need to know about your rights when you get pulled over by the police, because everybody seems to say, hey, I have my rights, you know. Do you now?


BANFIELD: The celebrity news web site, TMZ, has obtained a video of Reese Witherspoon's contentious arrest in Atlanta two weeks ago. I want you to see if you can count how many things she did wrong in this traffic stop after a night on the town with her husband, who was in the process of being arrested. Have a look.


UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Ma'am, what'd I just tell you to do?

REESE WITHERSPOON, ACTRESS: I want to know what's going on.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: He's under arrest. If you don't get back --

WITHERSPOON: I'm a U.S. citizen. I'm allowed to stand on American ground and ask --


WITHERSPOON: -- any question I want to ask.


WITHERSPOON: You better not arrest me. Are you kidding me?


WITHERSPOON: I'm an American citizen.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: I told you to get back in that car and stay in there, didn't I?

WITHERSPOON: This is beyond -- this is --

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: You fight with me, I promise you ---


WITHERSPOON: -- harassment. You're harassing me as an American citizen.


WITHERSPOON: I have done nothing against the law.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Yes, you have. You didn't obey my orders.

WITHERSPOON: I have to obey your orders?



WITHERSPOON: No, sir, I do not.

(CROSSTALK) WITHERSPOON: Absolutely nothing.


WITHERSPOON: I'm now being arrested and handcuffed.


WITHERSPOON: Do you know my name, sir.


WITHERSPOON: You don't need to know my name?



WITHERSPOON: Oh, really? OK. You're about to find out who I am.


BANFIELD: You're about to find out who I am. And then everybody else is about to find out about that arrest, too. The actress has since apologized for this, saying that her behavior was embarrassing and disrespectful. But if does raise a very serious series of question. What are your legal rights when you get stopped either in traffic or somewhere else?

I want to bring in legal analyst, Lisa Bloom, who is with And also, CNN legal analyst, Joey Jackson.

As we were watching this, Joey, you should have seen Lisa's face. You were like, yes, that is harassment. And I astounded. I thought she would say, sorry, when the cops are at work, you can't bug them.

Lisa, why is that harassment?

BLOOM: You know what, all she did was ask the police officer a question and then she's getting handcuffed and arrested. I do think that is offense.

You know, on the scale of one to 10, 10 being Mel Gibson's anti- Semitic rants to cops years ago, I think this is about a two in terms of celebrity inappropriate behavior with police. Yes, she's a little bit obnoxious to say, do you know who I am. But I didn't think the police behavior was too terrific here either.

BANFIELD: That's interesting.

Joey, can you not also make an argument that the police are in the process of the beginnings of an investigation. There's an arrest underway. And this could be impeding their progress?

JACKSON: Lisa is wonderful at what she does --


JACKSON: -- and a fabulous attorney, but I must respectfully disagree --


JACKSON: -- as a defense attorney. It's all about complying now and grieving later, Ashleigh. What does it mean? Yes, we all know our rights. You have a right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you. Listen, what you want to do is comply with an officer, license and registration, absolutely, anything they ask. If you have grievances, you have Internal Affairs later. You have defense attorneys. You have prosecutors. There's so many forums. But what happens, Ashleigh, is that you could be charged with obstruction of governmental administration. When an officer is arresting someone, you don't interfere. You may not like it. You may not think it's just, that it's appropriate. But deal with it later --


BLOOM: But, Joey, how is she obstructing? How is she interfering?

JACKSON: Because --

BLOOM: She was asking a question about what was going on with her husband. That's all I heard on the tape.

JACKSON: Let me tell you why. Because it's a very dangerous job to be on the street. And when the officer is dealing with her husband and someone comes out of the car, it could decinerate (ph) very quickly. And when that happens, and then all types of things can go on, an officer's doing his job. Leave him alone. Let him do his job.

BLOOM: I agree.

JACKSON: If he says, I told you get to the car --

BLOOM: I agree but we're not robots.

JACKSON: -- step into the car.

BLOOM: I think people behave a lot worse --


JACKSON: Oh, they do.

BLOOM: That's all I'm saying.

JACKSON: Lisa, I agree with you.

BLOOM: It's a stressful situation. She asked a question.


JACKSON: And she made it more stressful. BLOOM: She didn't say anything that bad.

BANFIELD: Well, let me ask this, guys. Let me ask this.

Lisa, I'll jump to you first on this one.

What -- and Joey already alluded to this. You do have the right to remain silent but these are all the things you hear if you're about to be arrested. What rights do you have when you are being pulled over or stopped on the street by police officers? What rights do you have?

BLOOM: Well, you do need to give your name. You need to give I.D. And as Joe says, you do need to comply with reasonable directives from the police. You don't have to talk to them beyond that. You can say, I'd like to speak with an attorney.


BANFIELD: Can you ask questions?

BLOOM: You need to remain calm. Of course, you're allowed to ask questions. And he's right, you can't obstruct. But I interpret obstruct as really engaging in harassing behavior, certainly, putting your body in a place that they don't want you to be. And I think was getting towards that because --


BANFIELD: I have 30 seconds.

Joey, you've got to touch on this because I was not a U.S. citizen and now I am a U.S. citizen, and when she says, I'm an American citizen on American soil --


-- it doesn't matter, does it?


JACKSON: No, it doesn't. American or not American, you want to do the right thing. You know what, you have rights certainly as a citizen, a non-citizen. But an officer is doing their job. Let them do it. If you don't like it, address it later. And call a great lawyer like Lisa and she'll help you out.


JACKSON: Or I'll help you out.


BANFIELD: Look how you've gotten that out, baby.



BANFIELD: Lisa Bloom, Joey Jackson, what a lovely Friday way to end this. Thanks to both of you.

JACKSON: Thanks, Ashleigh.

BLOOM: Thank you.

BANFIELD: Have a wonderful week and thank you for your very bright insights. You'll both be back.

Thank you for watching, everyone. It's been a pleasure to be back on terra firma at the studio.

CNN NEWSROOM is going to continue after the break. Have a good weekend.