Pulling the Plug

Many viewers are not happy that San Francisco Assistant District Attorney Jim Hammer won't be on our show anymore. I am not happy about it either.

Hammer's boss decided to "pull the plug" on Jim because the DA prosecuting Scott Peterson (search) -- Jim Brazelton -- did not like Jim talking about the case on our show. Apparently he complained to Jim's boss and Jim's boss bowed to the pressure. I am not sure why Brazelton objects, but I guess we should be flattered he is watching the show. Brazelton is the DA in a neighboring county and Jim Hammer's office is NOT prosecuting Peterson. Jim was very careful not to overstep ethical boundaries in his comments and I was careful not to lead him there with an improper question.

I appreciated having Jim on the show for three reasons:

No. 1: He is a California lawyer and thus knows the local California law and could constantly educate us.

No. 2: He is a CURRENT prosecutor and could give us the prosecutor's viewpoint (whenever you see lawyers on TV who are "former" prosecutors that means they are CURRENT DEFENSE ATTORNEYS, so it is a bit of a myth as to how we present their viewpoints. They try to give you the prosecutor's viewpoint but the truth is that the "former" prosecutors are now defense attorneys and thus, for the most part, think like defense attorneys).

No. 3: He has a great sense of humor and made the show fun. He does not have an inappropriate sense of humor -- laughing at things that aren't funny.

Here is what some of the viewers think about this:

E-mail No. 1:

I think Brazelton was worried that Jim Hammer's position on Scott Peterson was changing, since he did point out the weakness of the case on several recent occasions (including his opinion that the Peterson movie was unfair to Scott). Jim was being fair and honest, which is NOT what Brazelton wants the public to hear. Brazelton has no problem with Gloria Allred voicing her opinion on air. As Amber Frey's attorney, Gloria DOES have a personal interest in the outcome of the case! The difference is that Gloria is committed to portraying Scott Peterson as a guilty man, which indirectly helps Brazelton.

Note to Leah: You raise a good point about Brazelton not objecting to Gloria Allred's comments. Mark Geragos tried to get the judge imposed gag order to extend to her but he was not successful. Frankly, if Brazelton had joined in Geragos' effort, Gloria might not be able to talk -- would be gagged. Judges are much more likely to rule in a particular way if both parties -- defense and prosecution -- join in a request.

The next viewer is ambitious. She has written Jim Hammer's boss Kamala Harris:

E-mail No. 2:

January 17, 2004
Kamala Harris,
District Attorney Office of the District Attorney Hall of Justice
880 Bryant Street
Room 325
San Francisco, CA 94103

Dear Kamala:
I am a faithful watcher of the Fox News television show "On The Record". It was announced today that Jim Hammer has been told he can no longer appear on that show. Is that true? If so, you have quieted an advocate for the office of District Attorney.
I was excited to have seen you get elected District Attorney for San Francisco. If you cause your advocate to stay quiet instead of sharing his wealth of knowledge about the system, I feel you have done your office a great disservice. Too bad. I am hoping you will change your mind and not fold under undue pressure from outside groups or individuals.

E-mail No. 3:

What makes someone in Braselton's position so stupid when Jim Hammer, the best possible representative of District Attorneys, seems a threat?
I have really enjoyed Jim Hammer's appearances on your show. I haven't heard such a straight shooter of a D.A. as a guest. Guess that's not what Braselton wants to see on TV. Sure reflects badly on him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND WE WON'T FORGET THAT, WILL WE?

E-mail No. 4:

I can't believe the gall of DA Brazelton in his successful demand to "hush up" SF Asst DA James Hammer by contacting the new DA in San Francisco. I have watched Asst DA Hammer many times on CNN and Fox News and his commentaries regarding the Peterson case are usually just interpretations of the law. Your article states there is a gag order for trial participants, which includes Brazelton and yet he recently spoke to the media regarding the Peterson movie. So it is okay for Brazelton to make comments, but not Asst DA Hammer? In my opinion, DA Brazelton is envious of Hammer getting all the national attention of what he obviously feels is "his case". I am disappointed that the San Francisco DA would adhere to his demand, I, for one, am very interested in the justification he used for his demand and hope the "private document" is released to the media. Because of this, we have lost an excellent commentator. Mr. Hammer is only one of four or five lawyers appearing on these telecasts - is DA Brazelton going to contact their superiors with his demand to "hush up"?
Patricia B

Incidentally, if you think I "stacked" the e-mails to support my viewpoint on this, I did not. I actually randomly picked No. 4. In going through all my e-mails last night I don't think I had one e-mail that thought the decision to "pull the plug" on Jim Hammer was smart or a good idea.


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