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Hannity

'Hannity' Special Investigation: Obama's Most Controversial Nominee Yet

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," June 22, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: The president has indicated he wants his judicial appointees to display empathy for those that come before him.

A "Hannity" special investigation reveals that one of his latest nominees to the federal bench did just that for a notorious serial killer.

Take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL ROSS, CONVICTED SERIAL KILLER: I'm a serial killer. I've killed eight women, six in the state and two in New York. I'm on death row for four of those women.

HANNITY (voice-over): Michael Ross is the most notorious serial killer in the state of Connecticut. Between 1981 and 1984, he raped and murdered eight young women.

ROSS: Serial killers like to strangle their victims, and that is, I guess, the most common form of killing, because there's more of a connection, it's more real, and it's not as quick.

HANNITY: In 1987, a Connecticut jury sentenced him to death. But as his execution loomed, Connecticut District Court Judge Robert Chatigny, set out to stop it.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, R-ALA.: I've never seen a circumstance in my experience in which a judge went so far in a case in which there is no doubt about the guilt to actually frustrate the lawful Connecticut sentence of death.

HANNITY: The president nominated Judge Chatigny to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on February 24, praising his ability, integrity and independence. But Chatigny's behavior in the case of serial killer Michael Ross reveals a man far different from the one praised by the president.

JUDGE ROBERT CHATIGNY, CONN. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE: I apologize for using words that call into question my character as a judge in that case. And —

HANNITY: After nearly 20 years on death row and several failed appeals, Ross agreed to accept that sentence and forego further litigation. That's when Judge Chatigny intervened and diagnosed Ross with sexual sadism.

SESSIONS: And he said he should never had been convicted, and then went on to say, or if convicted, he should — he never should have been sentenced to death because sexual sadism is clearly a mitigating factor, close quote.

Can you cite any authority in which sexual sadism has been defined as a mitigating factor?

CHATIGNY: No.

HANNITY: The judicial oath calls on judges to administer justice faithfully and impartially.

But did Chatigny have an axe to grind?

Well, documents revealed in hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee revealed that he was involved in the Ross case years before he presided over it as a judge. Chatigny and Ross had even exchanged letters.

SEN. TOM COBURN, R-OKLA.: You were actually involved in this case prior to it coming to you?

CHATIGNY: Technically, perhaps. But —

COBURN: Was that made evident to the people who were on both sides?

CHATIGNY: It wasn't for the simple reason that I had forgotten my prior involvement.

COBURN: In a serial murder case with eight people?

CHATIGNY: Had I remembered, I would have recused myself.

HANNITY: Chatigny was so bent on preventing Ross' execution that he took matters into his own hands. He picked up the phone and he called Ross' attorney, T.R. Paulding.

SEN. JON KYL, R-ARIZ.: You told him that he was facilitating the execution of his client. These are direct quotations. You said, "So, I warn you, Mr. Paulding, between now and whatever happens Sunday night, you better be prepared to deal with me because I'll have your law license."

CHATIGNY: I do regret that my words to Mr. Paulding were harsh.

HANNITY: After that call, Judge Chatigny stayed Ross' execution. The news reached the families of Ross' victims just two hours before the scheduled execution.

Edwin and Vera Shelley, whose 14-year-old daughter Leslie was murdered by Ross, were already gathered at the Connecticut prison where the events were set to take place.

EDWARD SHELLEY, FATHER OF ROSS VICTIM LESLIE SHELLEY: When the attorney then came in, you could just see he was devastated. He said, I don't know how to tell you folks, but it's been postponed.

VERA SHELLEY, MOTHER OF ROSS VICTIM LESLIE SHELLEY: I just wanted it over with, one way or another. I didn't care which way it happened. Just let it be over.

HANNITY: Ross kidnapped and murdered Leslie Shelley and her best friend April Brunais in 1984.

E. SHELLEY: The day Leslie went missing was Easter Sunday. She had come in with her friend April and asked if she could go to the movies. And I told her sure, but she to give me a kiss on the cheek before she left.

I heard on the news two young girls remains had been found in Preston. And my daughter looked at me, she's only nine and she said, "Dad, that's Leslie and April."

There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted him dead. It says: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life.

HANNITY: After 21 years spent seeking justice for their daughter, the stay of execution issued by Judge Chatigny came as a blow.

V. SHELLEY: I was tired of spending my life in the courtroom. I was just — I was tired of it. I was tired of living it, waiting for the phone to ring because there's another appeal coming up or this is happening or seeing him in the paper.

HANNITY: Days later, the Supreme Court overturned Judge Chatigny's ruling.

On May 13, 2005, despite Judge Chatigny's best efforts, the state of Connecticut executed Michael Ross.

E. SHELLEY: Thank God. Twenty-four years. We won't hear from him any more. We're not going to read his letters in the paper. We're not going to see him on Facebook, or walking with Michael any more.

In other words, he was out of our life.

HANNITY: But Judge Chatigny stands by his actions. The Senate vote on his nomination is pending.

E. SHELLEY: Chatigny showed his true colors as a judge that day.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HANNITY: All right. All of the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance Judge Chatigny's nomination to the full Senate. Let's hope the rest of the body will deny him a promotion.

— Watch "Hannity" weeknights at 9 p.m. ET!

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