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Legal Issues in Trial for Michael Brown's Murder; "Washington Post's" Decision to Stop Use Word "Redskins" for Football Team; Emmy Awards Coming to L.A.

Aired August 24, 2014 - 06:30   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Has formed in the Atlantic. Rain and tropical storm force-winds battered Puerto Rico before this, so up to six inches of rain fell on the island, caused minor flooding, some landslides. The slow moving storm, though, expected to continue to gain strength as it moves north in the Atlantic. But again, Cristobal is officially formed.

Number four, Iceland has closed air space near the Bardarbunga Volcano because of rumblings that indicate an eruption is imminent. Now, if it does, scientists say, it most likely will stay underground. But the volcano is located on a routine route for Europe-bound flights. The ash is what poses a high risk for pilots here, not only reduces visibility but it can damage flight controls and jet engines as well.

And number five, thousands rallied in New York for Eric Garner, a black man who died when a white officer put him in a chokehold last month. Demonstrators marched from where he died to the Staten Island D.A.'s office. The officer seen on video choking Garner has been put on modified assignment and police are reviewing training procedures now.

Of course, everybody prepares for the funeral of Michael Brown tomorrow, Victor Blackwell is there in Ferguson, Missouri. And fortunately, Victor, you tell us it's been another quiet night there.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Six arrests overnight compared to just a few days ago 47 arrests in the night. So relatively quiet. There were some tense moments, but peaceful for the most part. As you mentioned, Christi, Michael Brown's funeral is tomorrow. We know that there will be three White House officials attending. But after the funeral the focus will be squarely on the investigation. Specifically, the grand jury process here in St. Louis County. And if they will determine if there is enough evidence to charge Officer Darren Wilson. We have with us HLN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson. Joey, let's talk more about the grand jury process. There's a lot we will not know about them because of the inherent secrecy of the process. But we know that the 12-member panel consists of three black members, nine white members. Is there -- I'll tell you that there is a concern, but is there a warranted concern, a valid concern because of the racial makeup of the grand jury? JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know what happens, Victor, good morning. I mean ultimately the grand jury as we know will be presented with all the evidence in the case and they'll have to make a decision. Now, understanding of course that of the 12 members of the grand jury, nine of them have to vote an indictment. And indictment would be accusation, it doesn't establish guilt, it doesn't say that you are, you know, automatically as a result of it culpable for anything. It says, let the trial process continue. And so, by virtue of the grand jury process, Victor, the first thing to - that we have to understand is that they are merely there to determine whether there is probable cause to believe that a crime was committed and that Darren Wilson committed it. In terms of the racial composition, yes, it is of concern and the reason it's of concern because it goes to the issue of relatability, right?

And so, many will say that although the actual county because the pool is drawn, the grand jury pool is drawn from the county it reflects that is the grand jury composition reflects the demographics of the county, but it doesn't reflect the demographics of Ferguson itself. And so, the question becomes if there are nine white jurors and three African-American jurors, it's an issue of relatability. Because, you know, different races may perceive, you know, threats differently, different races may perceive the police officers' conduct and that type of thing differently. But that's a system we have, and so we have to put the trust in the system that all of the evidence will be presented and that the grand jurors will get it right, whatever right means to them. Having heard and listened to the evidence.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about the process because I think people are used to hearing about sequestration for trial juries, but these jury members will go home and very likely watch the media coverage of this case. What could be the impact of that if any?

JACKSON: You know what, it is always a concern and, of course, the judge instructs them to evaluate the case based upon the evidence that they will have. And the evidence that they have, Victor, will be the eyewitnesses to the event, some of which, of course, are corroborating each other, some of which may be conflicting. They will have access to the autopsy report, they will have access to any toxicology, they will evaluate any forensic evidence with respect to the car itself and if there is DNA, if Michael Brown on the car, is there not, is that DNA on the gun, is there not. And so, they will take into account everything ultimately that is considered in that room. Now, is there always a chance that outside influence can creep in? That friends that they have, have issues and have concerns about the case and opinions about the case. That media and reporting it have opinions and comments, of course. But the instruction is by the prosecutor that listen, you are to evaluate this case based upon what we present you here, ideally Victor, that's how it's supposed to work and obviously we have to trust to that's how it will work so that there could be some justice at the end of the day for Michael Brown and his family.

BLACKWELL: You know, we had a defense attorney on yesterday, we were talking about Darren Wilson, the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown and I asked him, did he think that Wilson should speak out, and he said that he thought it would be a good idea to hear his side of the story, to do a television interview possibly. What do you think?

JACKSON: Well, you know, as it relates to that, Victor, from a defense attorney's perspective you never want your client saying anything. Why? Because what happens is, is then you're locked into a story. And that raises really two issues. One of which is whether or not Darren Wilson will testify in front of the grand jury. If he is invited to testify which presumably he will whether his lawyers will take the opportunity to put him in the grand jury. The concern if that happens from a defense attorney's point of view is that you are locked into an actual narrative there so in the event of trial there is any way shape or form, it's inconsistent you are attacked there.

And so, with regard to whether you should go into the grand jury and testify, you know, I never advise my clients to do it absent extenuating circumstances. And then, of course, this is the issue about whether he should go and he should testify in the media and talk about what happened. And that certainly is not advisable. His attorney should be talking for him but I think the larger issue here, Victor, is the public's right to know. The transparency of the process, what exactly happened, the releasing of information and obviously there are multiple sides and people want to hear his side. But if that side is divulged, it should be divulged by his lawyers, not him himself, at least from a legal perspective that would be the way to go.

BLACKWELL: A lot to weigh there. Always good to get your perspective. Joey Jackson, thanks for being with us this morning.

JACKSON: Pleasure and a privilege, Victor. Be well.

BLACKWELL: You too. Christi, you know, that's something that we are hearing about Dorian Johnson. And we've heard a lot from the eyewitnesses, they have done a lot of television interviews. And undoubtedly, if this goes to trial there will a defense attorney who tries to pick apart the differences even the subtle differences between what Dorian Johnson tells us, or another outlet and try to use that to discredit their story.

PAUL: Yeah. Very good point there, Victor. Hey, thank you so much.

There is a new twist to one of the most controversial stories in sports. The "Washington Post" editorial board says they will never again use the word Redskins when referring to the popular football franchise. And they might be kids, but they are giants on the field, people. A team from the windy city is a win away from a world championship.


PAUL: Update on your mortgages now. 30 year fix rates, we are fixed, they stay the same. Take a look.


PAUL: A 6.0 mega earthquake hit northern California early this morning. This is according to the U.S. Geological Service. And we want to throw this map up for you so you can see the location, because it's just north of San Francisco. I believe near Vallejo. But this is in American Canyon, California. Southern Napa County. Apparently they felt it all the way through San Francisco's Bay Area, but that is the latest. 6.0, in fact, somebody even tweeted me. And I think I might have seen something on Instagram as well. So, thank you for letting us know. Go ahead and tweet us and let us know what you're seeing if you're in that area and if you woke up from it because after all, it is so early in the morning there. It's 3:42 for you right now. But hopefully everybody is OK. We don't have any reports of injury or damage at this moment, but as soon as we get some more information we'll bring it to you. Just wishing the best for everybody out there.

Let's talk about this win. What a big one for the guys from the South Side of Chicago! The Great Lakes region champs, Jackie Robinson West, won the U.S. championship at the Little League World Series yesterday, beating Las Vegas 7-5. This is an all-African-American team that trailed before rallying in the fifth inning to take the lead. And now they are facing South Korea for the Little League World Series title later today. Good luck to you boys. We are cheering for you.

You know, you can now add the local paper to the growing list of those who want the NFL's Redskins to change their names. As of Friday the "Washington Post" editorial board made this call to stop using the controversial word Redskins when referring to the popular franchise. We're going to quote from the paper here. Well, we wait for the National Football League to catch up with thoughtful opinion and common decency we'd decided that except when it is essential for clarity or effect we will no longer use the slur ourselves. That's the standard we apply to all offensive vocabulary and the team name unquestionably offends not only many Native Americans, but many other Americans too." A "Washington Post" sports columnist Mike Wise joining me now on the phone for more. Mike, so glad to have you with us.


PAUL: Good morning to you. What was the final straw for you that made you all make this decision?

WISE: Well, I said I can't speak for the editorial board because I'm a sports columnist and they make their own decisions, and to be clear, the news pages of the newspaper, so if you open up the sports pages, they will still use it. Columnists are allowed - our opinion, I haven't used it in a year and a half in my own column, but the editorial board had come out against the name back in 1992. I felt like they couldn't write every -- get into all of the details but the bottom line is not only is it a dictionary defined slur, I also feel like they kept coming out against the name in their editorials, at some point to even use it was almost going against their own principles. That's my own feeling about it.

PAUL: Yeah, in fact, you even wrote that this quote four decade old controversy just now bubbling to the surface as it never has before. Why do you think now it's happening? WISE: A few reasons. One is, two years ago they drafted a

quarterback out of Baylor that was the Heisman trophy winner. Sensational rocky season, Robert Griffin III almost by himself single- handedly made the team part of the national conversation again. People who talk about this franchise under Dan Snyder's ownership talked about the fact that it had one playoff win in 15 years. Then all of a sudden this guy takes off and people start talking about it again. I also think there was a symposium at the National Museum of the American Indian in February that brought all scholars, Native American activists and a lot of other people together that filled up that conference room that got much media attention. And then a month later March of 2013 there was the court case, the trademark case was renewed and finally, the sovereign nations like the Oneida Nation got on board and started their "Change the Mascot" campaign and bought radio ads all across America and all of a sudden Native Americans have had a voice like they haven't in decades about this.

PAUL: Well, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder said he will never change the name. Do you think that - do you think that will ever change and what do you think it might take to convince him?

WISE: Christi, I'm going to digress just a second. I forgot to mention him saying never was like essentially putting a chip on his shoulder and asking people to knock it off. And I think, I have a low battery on the shoulder, I don't know if you are probably too young to remember the old Robert Conrad commercials, but he was inviting people to challenge him. It was the worst possible thing you can do, because people that were on the fence said wait a minute, this guy's not going to even meet with the offended? This owner's - this billionaire owner of a professional football team will not meet with the offended and he still hasn't to this day. So I'm sorry, the last part of it, that you asked when will this change? I wouldn't be shocked within two years if he doesn't change and develop an exit strategy on his own, he will be made to change by the commissioner of the NFL, or a patent court.

PAUL: All right, well, Mike Wise of the "Washington Post," we so appreciate your insight. And thanks for thinking that I'm younger than I am. I actually do remember ...


PAUL: That commercial. But I'll take it. Thank you.

WISE: Have a great day.

PAUL: You too.

So, let me ask you, I don't know if you ever thought about this before. But what does one wear to a red carpet event on a Monday? This is the first time in 38 years the Emmys have not aired on a weekend. There's a reason and we'll give it to you.


PAUL: All right. Remember this. I mean what could possibly top Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus's VMA performance from last year? We're going to find out tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern at the MTV video music awards. We know Beyonce leads the pack with eight nominations, including "video of the year" and she will perform. Others performers included Nicky Minaj, Maroon 5, Taylor Swift and Usher. Should be a good one. Now, the VMA's could be one of the reasons NBC decided to air the Emmys tomorrow, on Monday night this year. The first time the awards show ever has not aired on a weekend since 1976. So, is it going to make for a less star studded red carpet? What do you think? Nischelle Turner checked it out.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I demand a trial by combat.

TURNER: It may not be "The Game of Thrones," but the stakes are high for nominees hoping to turn an Emmy win into ratings gold.

PETE HAMMOND: The Emmys have always been a big help to newcomers. But in terms of what they are worth to the industry now, it seems like they've become a much, much bigger deal.

TURNER: Ratings aren't a concern for HBO show about death and dragons, it also earned the most nominations of any show this year with 19. But it's facing some tough competition in the best drama category. Many experts are saying "Breaking Bad's" final season makes it the favorite.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything is going to be fine, but we need to leave right now.

TURNER: Leading man Bryan Cranston is nominated for best actor in a drama. But he can lose out to the man who just won a best actor Oscar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our fate - down with a plan.

HAMMOND: I think this is the year of Matthew McConaughey, so I think it's natural that if he has a big Emmy contender we're all going to say he'll probably win that too like he won the Oscar.


TURNER: As the star of HBO's "True Detective" McConaughey would have to beat out not just Cranston, but a star-studded list, including his "True Detective" co-star Woody Harrelson and "Mad Men's" Jon Hamm who has been nominated seven times and never won.

JON HAMM: I worry about a lot of things. But I don't worry about you.

TURNER: "Modern Family" goes into Emmy night on a four-year winning streak in the best comedy category. The biggest obstacle to a record- breaking fifth Emmy, "A Newcomer." On Netflix.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks like orange is the new black, may be coming for Netflix could upset modern family.

TURNER: And if there was a theme this year it might be how the Television Academy has recognized so few shows from the networks that used to be in control.

HAMMOND: Remember the good old days of CBS, ABC, NBC, even Fox? Where are they in these Emmys? Really, they have been just overwhelmed.

TURNER: Best chances for a network win in the drama and comedy categories might be in the lead actress in a drama category where "The Good Wife's" Juliana Margulies is seen as one of the favorites.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of here, Alicia. You're fired.


TURNER: And all of the drama and comedy will play out Monday on television's biggest night. Nischelle Turner, CNN, Hollywood.


PAUL: Well, President Obama is going to be leaving Martha's Vineyard tonight to head back to work tomorrow. What's he coming back to? We know the crisis in Iraq, a potential airstrike in Syria, war still raging between Hamas and Israel, and new investigation into the militarization of local police forces. We are live from Martha's Vineyard, in just a few minutes.


PAUL: Tropical storm Kristobal has just formed in the Atlantic. It is official. Jennifer Gray, a CNN's meteorologist is looking at what this could mean. It's powerful. I'm assuming they are thinking it's going to gain more strength.

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGISTS: Yeah, it could gain more strength. Kristobal just formed within the last half-hour. So, this is a very new storm. And now that it's over open water it will have a chance to get its act together impacting Turks and Caicos, southern Bahamas, and then as it moves to the north-northwest it will have some small impacts on the southeast coast of Florida. So we're going to watching it very closely over the coming days, because there is a little bit of uncertainty in that track. That's why it's so important. Right now winds of about 45 miles per hour moving to the northwest at nine miles per hour. This is the track from the National Hurricane Center. And you can see, staying a tropical storm over the next couple of days. By Thursday or so possibly a category one hurricane off the outer banks, and then pushing out to sea. There has been a lot of variation in this track. That's why it is very important to stay updated, hour by hour, day by day, because this track has taken a lot of different twists and turns and variations, and so we're going to continue to monitor it. Of course, if it does keep on this track, we will expect higher than normal surf, we'll also expect rip currents along the East Coast, Christi, so something to watch over the next couple of days.

PAUL: Already. Hey, Jennifer, thank you so much.

And thank you for starting your morning with us. "NEW DAY" continues right now.