July 14th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Did the Casey Anthony trial alter your view of the criminal justice system?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Casey Anthony is scheduled to be released from prison on Sunday. As a free woman, she will reportedly live in a secret location, likely under a new name. According to some reports, Anthony is being advised to dramatically change her appearance.

While her attorneys are aware how hated she is, Anthony may not fully understand that until she gets out. While she's been sitting in a jail cell, she has become a celebrity of sorts, getting letters of support and cash from all over the country. ABC News reports Anthony has nearly $500 in her jailhouse bank account. The money has come in from at least 17 donors since May, mostly from men. What a surprise.

In the grand American tradition, Casey Anthony stands to make millions from telling her story. Not that it would likely be the truth. She's a stranger to the truth.

A producer associated with "The Jerry Springer Show" has offered Anthony $1 million for her first televised interview. However, “The Jerry Springer Show” denies the offer was made to appear on that particular program.

You can bet that at some point there will be an interview, a book or a movie. She stands to become a rich woman while the questions about what happened to her beautiful little daughter remain unanswered. For 31 days, a child is missing, and Casey Anthony parties while lying to everyone about the child's whereabouts.

The trunk of her car was later found to smell of death, her daughter's remains were eventually found tossed in a swamp like so much trash, and the jury found her not guilty of her daughter's death.

She was convicted of repeatedly lying to police. But why would you lie to police if you had nothing to hide?

Here’s my question to you: Did the Casey Anthony trial alter your view of the criminal justice system?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Law Enforcement
July 5th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

What role did the news media play in the outcome of the Casey Anthony murder trial?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Casey Anthony's defense team is slamming the media over its intense coverage of the case leading up to and during the high-profile trial.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/07/05/art.caylee.jpg caption="Caylee Anthony"]
Anthony's attorney Jose Baez applauded the jury shortly after leaving the courtroom today for doing what he said they are supposed to – finding their verdict based on evidence and not emotion. Baez said, "You cannot convict someone until they have their day in court."

The defense team believed the public and the media had already decided Anthony was guilty of killing her two year old daughter before the jury even heard arguments in the case. Baez and his colleagues pointed to the seemingly non-stop coverage of the case on cable television outlets, commentary by so-called "legal experts" on various pieces of evidence and testimony on television and in print, as well as the crowds that gathered outside the courthouse daily possibly as a result.

But despite what these and other defense attorneys perceive as a media bias in high profile cases– guilty until proven innocent– many juries simply don't buy in. Many very famous defendants in very high profile cases with the most media coverage have all gotten off. O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson, and William Kennedy Smith were all acquitted in trials that featured intense media coverage.

And while the defense slams the media, it might be worth taking a moment to think about why so many of these big cases have the same outcome.

Here’s my question to you: What role did the news media play in the outcome of the Casey Anthony murder trial?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Law Enforcement • News Media
July 5th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Why did the Casey Anthony murder trial captivate the nation?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Like millions of Americans, I got sucked into watching the Casey Anthony murder trial. Over the July Fourth weekend, I spent several hours engrossed in watching the closing arguments, fascinated by the skill of the lawyers, particularly of the prosecutors, as they practiced their craft at the highest level in pursuit of justice for a 2-year-old girl who couldn't speak for herself.

It was the stuff of high drama. And for six weeks, the country has been riveted by the goings-on inside the courtroom in Orlando, Florida.

Our sister networks, HLN along with Tru TV, have mined ratings gold from trial coverage, garnering some of the highest numbers in their history.

But why?

This isn't the first time a mother has been put on trial for the death of her child. This isn't the first time television cameras have been allowed in a courtroom. Or the first time a defendant has been caught in countless lies and cover-ups or been depicted as a less than stand-up person during testimony. Nor was it the first time a defendant showed little emotion throughout it all. But for some reason, the country couldn't get enough. It was almost like O.J. all over again. Right down to the outcome.

The verdict left a lot of people scratching their heads. After my weekend on the couch watching the proceedings, I would have bet on a guilty verdict. And I would have been dead wrong.

Here’s my question to you: Why did the Casey Anthony murder trial captivate the nation?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Law Enforcement
January 11th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Tucson tragedy enough to change gun laws?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It's a debate almost as old as the country itself: whether it's a good idea for private citizens to own guns.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/01/11/art.glock.jpg caption="A Glock 19 handgun."]
And when something like the Tucson massacre happens, the debate roars to life all over again.

It was remarkably easy for the shooter - Jared Lee Loughner - to get his hands on a gun in Arizona, which has some of the laxest gun laws in the country.

The 22-year-old passed an instant background check in a sporting goods store before purchasing a Glock 19 - a 9mm semi-automatic pistol. He also bought an oversized magazine that allowed him to fire 33 shots without reloading - instead of the standard 10. Some lawmakers want to ban these oversized magazines nationwide.

They're already outlawed in at least 6 states.

But not Arizona - where a recent law allows anyone over 21 to carry a gun without a permit. Guns are allowed almost everywhere in Arizona - including the state capitol, many public buildings, in places that serve alcohol and on school grounds.

Meanwhile, by many accounts, Loughner is being described as mentally unstable and someone who should have never been allowed to buy a weapon in the first place.

He failed the "drug screening process" for the military and was rejected. Loughner had five run-ins with his Community College police before he was kicked out of school for disruptive activity.

But instead of becoming stricter, the nation's gun laws have actually become more lax in recent years. Examples include the removal of Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban and an amendment to allow gun owners to carry concealed and loaded weapons in national parks.

Here’s my question to you: Should the Tucson tragedy be enough to change the nation's gun laws?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Firearms • Law Enforcement • Tragedy
August 23rd, 2010
06:00 PM ET

What if 22 states considering immigration laws like Arizona's?


A U.S. Border Patrol vehicle drives along the fence separating the U.S. from Mexico near the town of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

One day we may look back on Arizona as the state that led the way when it comes to doing something about the illegal immigration crisis.

22 states are now considering immigration laws like the one passed in Arizona, according to a group called Americans for Legal Immigration.

These include another border state, Texas, along with northern states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and New Jersey.

Some states - like Rhode Island and Colorado - are sending lawmakers to Arizona to figure out how to best craft their own immigration laws.

All this is happening, despite the fact that a federal judge threw out key parts of Arizona's law - including requiring police to check the immigration status of anyone stopped for another reason. That ruling is now under appeal.

Polls show a majority of Americans support Arizona's law. They want something done.

Meanwhile - there are signs that the violence from Mexico's drug wars is spilling into the U.S.

A shootout between drug traffickers and Mexican authorities in Juarez injured three police officers and left one gunman dead. Juarez is only 30 yards from the border at El Paso, Texas - and has become one of the deadliest cities in the world - more than 1,800 people have been killed there this year.

Authorities say a bullet from the shootout may have struck a building at the University of Texas. This comes less than two months after several bullets from a deadly shootout in Juarez hit the El Paso City Hall. It's no wonder Texas Governor Rick Perry keeps pleading for more National Guard troops .

Here’s my question to you: What does it say if 22 states are considering immigration legislation like Arizona’s?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Immigration • Law Enforcement
July 7th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

Fed. govt. suing Arizona instead of enforcing its own immigration laws?


Activists participate in a 24-hour vigil outside the White House to protest the imminent new immigration law in Arizona. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It's unlikely the federal government will do anything meaningful anytime soon about immigration; but that hasn't stopped them from suing Arizona for actually tackling this crisis.

The Justice Department lawsuit charges that the Arizona law cracking down on illegal immigrants is unconstitutional.

The federal government says that the state's immigration law conflicts with the federal law - that it would disrupt immigration enforcement and violate the rights of innocent Americans and legal residents.

Arizona's governor, Jan Brewer, calls the lawsuit "nothing more than a massive waste of taxpayer funds," saying the money could be better used against violent Mexican drug cartels. And she has a point.

Meanwhile despite President Obama's repeated calls for bipartisan immigration reform, senior Democrats say they see virtually no chance of Congress taking up such a bill before the midterm elections. No surprise here - wouldn't want to toss around a political hot potato and vote on tough issues before an election.

And - while the federal government twiddles its thumbs, the cost keeps piling up on us, the taxpayers.

A new study claims that harboring an estimated 13 million illegal aliens is costing $113 billion a year. That translates to about $1,100 for every "native headed" household in America.

The report - conducted by an outfit called the Federation for American Immigration Reform - shows the most money goes toward schooling the children of illegal aliens.

Critics describe the group - which aims to end almost all immigration to the U.S. - as "extremist" and they say the report is inaccurate.

Here’s my question to you: Why is the federal government suing Arizona instead of enforcing its own laws against illegal immigration?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Government • Immigration • Law Enforcement
June 3rd, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Police can give speeding tickets if they 'think' car is going too fast

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

In Ohio, if a cop says it looked like you were speeding, he can write you a ticket - no proof needed. Makes things so much easier for law enforcement if they don't have to be bothered with the burden of proof. True story.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/03/art.speeding.jpg caption=" "]
The state's supreme court ruled five-to-one that independent verification of a driver's speed isn't necessary... things like laser guns or radar or actually clocking how fast you're going. The court says an officer's visual estimate will work as long as the officer is trained, certified by a training academy and experienced in finding speeders.

Supporters say that officers undergo extensive training where they have to visually estimate the speed of vehicles within one or two miles per hour of the actual speed.

Nonetheless, law enforcement officials insist they won't be getting rid of their speed guns; and that it's rare for officers to give tickets based solely on their observations. But the state's highest court says if they want to, it's quite all right.

The case stemmed from the appeal of a traffic ticket issued near Akron, Ohio in 2008.

In that case, a police officer ticketed a driver because he said it looked like the driver was going too fast.

Without any technical assistance, the cop determined that the motorist was going 70 miles-per-hour when the speed limit was 60. The driver says the court's decision "stinks." The driver is right.

Here's my question to you: What else will police be able to do without proof if they can now give speeding tickets if they simply "think" a car is going too fast?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Law Enforcement
March 3rd, 2010
02:47 PM ET

Should gun control be up to state and local jurisdictions?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Chicago has had a handgun ban in effect for nearly 30 years. Yet despite one of the strictest laws in the country, parts of the Windy City resemble a shooting gallery.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/03/art.gun.jpg caption=""]
Now there's an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, and it seems like the conservative majority on the high court is ready to say that the Constitution gives individuals greater - or at least equal - power than the states when it comes to possessing certain firearms.

Two years ago the Court struck down a Washington, D.C. gun ban, and the plaintiffs in the Chicago case now want the justices to apply this ruling to cities and states around the country.

The four plaintiffs represent average Chicagoans - who say they should be allowed to protect themselves from gun violence.

They include a couple worried that burglars will return when the wife is home alone, a retiree afraid that drug dealers will try again to steal from him, and a former cop who wants to protect himself like he used to.

They claim the gun ban winds up hurting those who obey the law and makes them more vulnerable. See, the criminals generally ignore gun laws and carry whatever weapons they want.

Ironically, Chicago imposed the strict gun ban back in 1982 to try and fight gang and firearm violence. The city argues that handguns are used to kill in the U.S. more than all other weapons combined.

Mayor Richard Daley insists that cities and states should be able to decide how best to protect their citizens.

Here’s my question to you: Should gun control be up to state and local jurisdictions?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Government • Law Enforcement
November 10th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Should Congressman William Jefferson get 33 years in prison?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

When the feds found $90,000 in Congressman William Jefferson's freezer - you had to figure something wasn't kosher. And sure enough... this slime ball had turned bribery, fraud and money laundering into a fine art.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/10/art.wm.jefferson.jpg caption="Congressman William Jefferson (D-LA)"]
The former Democratic congressman from Louisiana was convicted in August on 11 federal corruption counts - including bribing a Nigerian vice president on a telecom contract.

Federal prosecutors now want Jefferson locked up for as long as 33 years - which would be the harshest prison sentence ever for a member of Congress.

The Justice Department insists that his "stunning betrayal of public trust" is deserving of what could be a life sentence for this 62-year-old. And they want him to start serving his sentence immediately after Friday's hearing. He's now free on bond.

Of course, Jefferson's lawyers argue he should get a prison term of less than 10 years. After all, what's eleven federal convictions among dirty congressmen?

They say the government's recommendation is out-of-line with previous sentences for congressional corruption; and that it doesn't take into account the positive side of Jefferson's life and career. Wonder what that is.

Former Congressman Duke Cunningham, Republican of California, was given an eightyear sentence in 2006 for taking more than $2 million in bribes - along with tax evasion and fraud.

Maybe if the system began to come down harder on jerks like Jefferson who violate the trust placed in them by the people, future would-be scoundrels would think twice about filling their freezers with ill-gotten lettuce.

Here’s my question to you: Should 62-year-old convicted Congressman William Jefferson get 33 years in prison?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Congress • Law Enforcement • prisons
September 2nd, 2009
06:00 PM ET

How will a recent kidnapping case affect the push to release prisoners early?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

California wants to delay an order requiring the state to reduce its prison population by more than 40,000 inmates over the next two years.

Jaycee Dugard was kidnapped at 11 and kept hidden for 18 years in a backyard compound.

Last month - a three-judge panel gave California 45 days to decide how to cut its prison population, saying that was the only way to improve medical and mental health care for the inmates.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says the courts can't order the state to release prisoners; and he is set to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. He says cutting the state's inmate population must be done in a responsible way.

His administration is backing legislation that would cut the number of inmates, now at around 170,000, by about 37,000 over two years... Part of the plan would be to send more convicts to county jails or home detention.

And it's not just California... Several states have been under pressure to reduce prison populations to cut costs as their deficits increase and the recession means less tax money coming in.

But wait just a minute. This all comes as details continue to unfold in that horrific kidnapping case that broke near San Francisco last week... where a paroled sex offender was arrested for abducting an 11-year-old girl, holding her for 18 years and having two children with her.

The outrage over this story just might shape the debate over the early release of prisoners - as it should. This creep was released early only to do more of the same.

Here’s my question to you: How will a recent California kidnapping case affect the push for states to release prisoners early in order to save money?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Law Enforcement
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