TB Passenger

CNN HEADLINE NEWS WITH ROBIN MEADE 6/01/07 ROBIN MEADE: Do you see any passengers who traveled with this guy taking him to court especially if they catch TB? KENDALL COFFEY: Absolutely, and as a personal injury lawyer himself, he ought to know a lot better than this. If his act of getting on the plane exposing other passengers causes somebody to actually contract TB, he’s in a heap of trouble with a civil lawsuit. Interestingly though, Robin, apparently no criminal law is violated even if you get on a plane knowing you’ve got tuberculosis. ROBIN MEADE: Isn’t it the same thing if someone had AIDS and knew they had AIDS and their partner didn’t know it-couldn’t they be prosecuted? Isn’t there a precedent here? KENDALL COFFEY: Different states have different statutes. But unless there is an order, as a general matter, unless there’s an order that’s been put in effect by a health authority telling somebody you’ve got to be isolated, you’ve got to be quarantined, they can go out, get on a plane, sit in a car and there is no criminal violation. It’s an interesting opportunity to look in whether there are some real serious weaknesses in some of the laws we have here because a lot of these things have not been modernized for decades in terms of exposure to disease. ROBIN MEADE: On his side, couldn’t he take it to the court then for this quarantine because civil liberty groups are saying -hey the county really shouldn’t have quarantined him? KENDALL COFFEY: Yeah, I think he does have some opportunities to argue the point in part because a lot of the laws are old-they don’t account for all the due process rights. And a lot of the basic structure for disease control is old laws, antiquated laws – some of the framework goes back to quarantines for the plague in the Middle Ages. In this global age of exposure to worldwide diseases, It is clearly time to modernize this system for disease control and prevention. ROBIN MEADE: Jack Kevorkian is going to be a free man today. Is it a probation violation if this guy still pushes for assisted suicide but doesn’t take part in them like he says he’s going to do KENDALL COFFEY: It absolutely could get him back in the slammer. While to many people he’s a champion of a cause, from the standpoint of law enforcement he’s a criminal, in fact, a murderer in the second-degree. So he’s got to walk on the straight and narrow if at age 79 he wants to remain at liberty. Related posts: Anna Nicole...

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Twins Paternity

CNN HEADLINE NEWS WITH ERICA HILL 5/23/07 ERICA HILL: Can someone really be forced to pay child support without proof he is the father? KENDALL COFFEY: Well, what a year for strange paternity suits. We all remember the Anna Nicole Smith battle for Danielyn where DNA answered the questions once and for all. Here, we don’t have an answer. We basically have two guys. But the law doesn’t say you can have a tie in a paternity contest, so brother Raymond is the winner except that he’s not exactly thinking of himself as a winner in this case. ERICA HILL: Is paternity being determined as it was pre-DNA on the mother’s word and what’s on the birth certificate? KENDALL COFFEY: That’s right and it’s an amazing thing in this day and age because we all talk about the CSI affect, about DNA, about all the forensic evidence, but you still have, in a whole lot of cases, a situation where if whoever’s deciding a case chooses to believe one particular witness, that could be enough to put you behind bars or put you behind the baby carriage. ERICA HILL: Does he have a case for appeal? KENDALL COFFEY: Oh, he’s got a very tough time in this situation because the system isn’t really interested in the blame game either, attacking the mom or even blame-gaming his own brother. The system is fundamentally concerned about a baby girl who deserves to be supported. And if the best we can do is to pick brother Raymond instead of brother Richard, that’s the one who’s going to get the payments and that’s what is needed to protect the child. ERICA HILL: Could both brothers ever be ordered to pay? KENDALL COFFEY: This has got to be one of those situations where common sense tells you one thing and the law tells you something else. You’ve got two men. One is assuredly the uncle, one is the dad. You don’t really know which is which. Why not have in effect two “dunkles” and a fifty-fifty split. But, Erica, the law doesn’t let us have a tie like that and when there can’t be a tie, the mom’s testimony is going to be the tie-breaker. ERICA HILL: So there’s no other way to determine the father here? KENDALL COFFEY: The law doesn’t allow you to do any better than they’ve done. We know that the DNA says it’s one of these two. We don’t know how to go beyond that and what the judge had to do is listen to the mom. And what she said is during the critical days it was only brother Raymond that was involved with her, not brother Richard. KENDALL COFFEY: One of the worst parts of this family feud is neither of these men is willing to step forward at this point to be some kind of a dad. They both are in a major state of denial and, until that’s resolved, this little girl is not going to have a dad. Related posts: IMUS Toys With Lead...

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IMUS

CNN HEADLINE NEWS WITH ERICA HILL 5/03/07 ERICA HILL: Do you think CBS is going to have to pay up? KENDALL COFFEY: Well, that’s certainly the argument Imus’s lawyers are going to make – “what do you expect from a Shock Jock.” Controversial, irreverent, you’ve got that and then more. CBS’s view is going to be “hey, controversial and irreverent is not a license to be racist and sexist”. Controversy means words that stir up debate not words of hate. The jury is going to have to sort it out at some point Erica. ERICA HILL: Who is going to win here because it’s such a tit-for-tat kind of issue it’s all how you read the contract? KENDALL COFFEY: And there are some things we don’t know. For example, we are hearing that there was one of these provisions that said you can’t fire the guy for a first offense. He gets a warning and we don’t know if he was a repeat offender or if this was a once in a lifetime thing. Meanwhile, it is going to be one of those cases, Erica, where jury selection could be everything. Imus wants a jury full of grouchy guys; the other side is going to want at least one member of the women’s basketball team. So this is going to be one of those things that could be a little too close to call and is going to have to develop before any of us start making a lot of predictions. ERICA HILL: Do you think this will actually go to a jury or is this something that could be settled out of court? KENDALL COFFEY: Well there are 40 million reasons why Imus is going to pursue this a very long way. How do most of these things wind up? A settlement at some point. But if you’re Imus your career is basically shattered. You’re feeling like you’ve got nothing to lose. And I could see him rolling the dice unless he gets a settlement with a lot of big dollar signs attached to it. ERICA HILL: This lawsuit – is that going to change the way radio hosts do their job? KENDALL COFFEY: Well, I think the reality is that his contract signed on for plenty of bashing and trashing. It’s just a question of “when does it go too far”? I don’t think that shock jocking is going to end but what I think what you’re going to see is a recognition that comments that are sexist, that are racist, that disparage minorities, have an ugliness that’s beyond the line of other kind of comments that are pretty controversial and outrageous and I think that’s where, frankly, the beginning of the end of this kind of controversy is going to go. You can get pretty outrageous, but there’s got to be someone that deals with things that dehumanize, that really disparage the basic essence of different human beings. Related posts: Twins Paternity Toys With Lead...

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Sean Bell

CNN HEADLINE NEWS WITH FREDRICKA WHITFIELD 3/17/07 FREDERICKA WHITFIELD: In this case, with these indictments, what needs to take place here to reassure New Yorkers that justice will prevail? KENDALL COFFEY: Well, I think we’ll find out Monday exactly what the charges are and what I think we’ll see is some very thoughtful well-reasoned charges fitting what appear to be the elements of the crime. You can’t overstate your case. When you do that, you undercut your chances for winning any conviction at all. FREDERICKA WHITFIELD: What do you mean you can’t overstate the case? KENDALL COFFEY: Well I don’t think you’re going to see murder charges. I don’t think, for example, when you come up with the most extreme charge you sometimes run the risk of not getting a conviction on any charge at all. What I think you’re going to see focused on is recklessness. Police officers have a responsibility to perform their awesome duties with a certain degree of responsibility. Absolutely overreacting in a way that was fatal, that was lethal, could not be justified. FREDERICKA WHITFIELD: So when you say no murder charges you are also including or excluding something like involuntary manslaughter or manslaughter. KENDALL COFFEY: I think what we will see will be manslaughter type of charges, negligent homicide type of charges, Fredericka, as opposed to a case some years ago in New York where 41 bullets were fired into an unarmed man. They charged murder, but the jury came back with no conviction at all. FREDERICKA WHITFIELD: That was the Diallo case right? KENDALL COFFEY: Exactly, the Diallo case. This time I think they are going to be more careful. They want to get convictions. They’ve done in effect a careful assessment. There were five officers involved initially. They’re just indicting three of them and they are going to focus the heavier of the charges on the two officers that seem to have the most culpability here. FREDERICKA WHITFIELD: While there may have been some knee-jerk reaction to think that race may have been involved in the shooting – the presumably white cop targeting these black victims – that argument cannot be made? KENDALL COFFEY: I don’t think that’s going to be the argument. I think what they’re going to focus on is how many bullets did each officer fire? The more bullets the more trouble because that really measures the extent of the reckless conduct. And with respect to one Officer Sonora, who double loaded, who fired away-he’s going to be in a significant amount of trouble. Another officer, who actually loaded a second magazine with bullets, he’s going to be in double trouble. I think that’s how it’s going to play out in front of the jury. FREDERICKA WHITFIELD: What about this witness who came out early in the week saying he thought he saw the firing of weapons from the vehicle where Sean Bell and his friends were in and perhaps that precipitated the exchange of gunfire between that vehicle and cops? KENDALL COFFEY: Well, we may see that witness at trial. I don’t think the grand jury was buying into that witness. He came up at the last minute. This case has been in the press, with a huge amount of controversy, for months. Why did someone come in right at the very final moment of an investigation like this? But if the witness shows up at trial and if he creates a reasonable doubt, you could get some acquittals. FREDERICKA WHITFIELD: Do you think this is a case in which so much is riding, perhaps more than any other...

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Anna Nicole Smith

CNN INTERVIEW ROBIN MEADE & COMPANY – 3/26/07 ROBIN MEADE: The medical examiner’s initial autopsy report was released one day after Smith died. How could this final report change based on the fact that they did have additional evidence though they didn’t say what that evidence was? KENDALL COFFEY: Well, they are looking at prescription drugs. The police have probably been trying to track leads to figure out whatever the source was of the drugs that were apparently found in the hotel room. In the meantime, the medical examiner received toxicology reports’ lab results that can hopefully enable him to pin down the cause of death. We’ll find out in about four hours. ROBIN MEADE: If the prescription drug overdose did cause her death would the person or the people who wrote those prescriptions be in trouble? KENDALL COFFEY: Well, if those prescription drugs got to her in some way that’s illegal and it contributed to her death, somebody is in a lot of trouble and, even if there was no crime committed, whoever was the enabler in this could be facing a big lawsuit for wrongful death at some point down the road. ROBIN MEADE: What are chances that this autopsy result is going to be any different than the preliminary one because some legal analysts are saying “hey if she died of something like the flu or high temperature we would have known by now”? KENDALL COFFEY: Well, I think natural causes would surprise any of us. Some of the delay may be the celebrity factor. The lives of the rich and famous get a lot more scrutiny and attention. So sometimes do their deaths. And, with the eyes of the world watching this medical examiner, I’m sure he’s wanted to take every test, pursue every lead and not take any chances about getting it right. ROBIN MEADE: What about the baby fight? In the eyes of the law, no matter what the autopsy results say, Howard K. Stern, is he not the father of this child because his name appeared on the birth certificate? KENDALL COFFEY: Well, under Bahamian law so far, he is presumed to be the father. He will continue in that status unless and until the Bahamian court says otherwise. Meanwhile, Robin, you alluded to the fact that some of the results could impact on that if there was something about the cause of death that suggests Howard K. Stern is an enabler that somehow in some passive or active way had something to do with Anna Nicole’s death. That could have a powerful role with respect to his fitness in connection with the ongoing battles over the baby Danielyn. Related posts: TB...

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Toys With Lead Paint

Prime News with Erica Hill 11/20/2007  3:17 pm ERICA HILL: There are names that parents know and trust especially around the holidays – names like Toys-R-Us, Mattel, Wal-Mart. Now those companies, along with dozens of manufacturers and retailers, were named in a lawsuit filed by California’s attorney general, Jerry Brown. That suit claims the companies knowingly exposed children to dangerous amounts of lead and failed to provide proper warnings after several major toy recalls this year involving lead-based paint on toys made in China. So is this lawsuit going to fly? Would anything change? Former U.S. attorney Kendall Coffey joining us now — Kendall, this one hits close to home for me. I’m trying to buy presents for my son’s first birthday on Sunday and everything is made in China. But is this lawsuit going to stop dangerous toys? KENDALL COFFEY: I think this lawsuit is definitely going to have a huge impact. What’s been happening amazingly Erica is 30 years ago we banned lead-based paints in homes and yet it’s being used in toys. Why, because so much of toy manufacturing is done overseas. But what this lawsuit is going to demonstrate is you can certainly globalize for profitability but that doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to minimize accountability. ERICA HILL: Well, let’s talk about accountability. You bring up a really great point – the fact that lead paint was outlawed here decades ago. How is it still okay though to import it on products? KENDALL COFFEY: Well, in theory it’s not if it reaches certain levels but a lot of products have been coming in and apparently haven’t been tested adequately. Obviously there has been 72 different products recalled, but in the meantime a lot of people are wondering if they have to go to the North Pole this holiday season in order to find toys that are safe for their children. ERICA HILL: That’s where the really good ones come from right? The tainted toys though, the fact that they’re manufactured overseas that we talked about, when they come into the country, is all of the onus on the toy companies or does the government bear some responsibility protecting here too? KENDALL COFFEY: Well, I think the government in a sense doesn’t have a legal liability but they can certainly do more. The manufacturers and the retailers do have the responsibility and I think that when we see a state attorney general’s lawsuit like this, where they can represent all of the victims of the community, all the victims of the state, can seek fines, it is a giant message to the toy industry. We all remember that the tobacco industry is paying over $200 billion in lawsuits for all the damages that resulted in settlements resulting from state attorneys generals. This may not be the only time the state attorney general steps forward so toy manufacturers had better get their act together in a hurry. ERICA HILL: Especially this time of year. You mentioned the fines. The California AG wants to fine companies $2500 per toy. That is million upon million of dollars here at stake. Is any of that money though really going to be seen?  KENDALL COFFEY: Well, I don’t think so but it is very daunting to a toy manufacturer. And the attorney general is the equivalent of a plaintiff’s super-hero they have special powers that allow them to sue for the damages of the whole state, seek fines and again they can basically leap tall building, down large companies in a single bound. What the companies will do in...

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