Published January 25, 2017
This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," June 25, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: A Massachusetts state representative goes on a shocking tirade on the statehouse floor against Jessica's Law. Now, Jessica's Law was first passed in Florida and has since been passed in other states, imposing a minimum sentence of 25 years for first offenders committing certain crimes against children.
A version of the law was being debated in the Massachusetts legislature last month, and clearly, Representative James Fagan didn't want it adopted. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES FAGAN (D), MASS. STATE REP.: When we face it in this situation, why is it so wrong? Let me tell you why it's so wrong. It's so wrong because in these situations, until and unless the lady in Shrewsbury and people of her ilk have the opportunity to do away with the right of confrontation, which I'm sure they'd like to, that 6-year-old's going to sit in front of me, or somebody far worse than me, and I'm going to rip them apart.
I'm going to make sure that the rest of their life is ruined, that when they're 8 years old, they throw up, when they're 12 years old, they won't sleep, when they're 19 years old, they'll have nightmares. And they'll never have a relationship with anybody.
And that's not because I'm a nice guy. That's because when you're in court and you're defending somebody's liberty, and you're facing a mandatory sentence of those draconian proportions, you have to do every single thing you can do on behalf of your client. That is your oath and obligation as a trial lawyer, to confront the witnesses against your client, which in this instance will always be a child, who will undoubtedly be permanently dreadfully scarred.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Jessica's law is named after Jessica Lunsford. In 2005, the 9-year-old Florida girl was sexually assaulted and murdered by a previously convicted sex offender.
Jessica's father, Mark Lunsford, joins us live from Boston. Nice to see you, Mark.
MARK LUNSFORD, DAUGHTER MURDERED BY SEX OFFENDER: Yes. Good evening. It's nice to see you again.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mark, how are you doing? We have not spoken in so long.
LUNSFORD: My parents often remind me of you and the picture you took with them. So we are always thinking about you. And we definitely appreciate all of the help that you and FOX National has done for Jessie's law over the last couple years.
VAN SUSTEREN: Go ahead. I am sorry.
LUNSFORD: I'm sorry, Greta, but it has just been overwhelming how good Fox has been an advocate for Jessica's Law, as so many other media has, too. But, FOX, I really need your help now. We have a problem here in Massachusetts.
VAN SUSTEREN: I certainly appreciate the kind words you said about FOX, and I did not necessarily need to elicit them. And, frankly, the work that you have done on behalf of your daughter is just extraordinary.
You have been pounding the pavement, doing everything you can so that other children do not have to face some of the things that they have to face in the system.
So, anyway, let's talk about this Massachusetts. Have you ever met this guy?
LUNSFORD: No, I have never met him. Today was the first time I have actually heard him say the things that he said. It had been given to me by reporters, and I had made statements about it, but to actually hear him say these things, I mean, he is adding insult to injury.
But he is telling the truth about defense attorneys. But my concern is that even he does not like the mandatory 25 years.
My problem is, why are we politicking our kids and debating their safety? We are talking about our children, the helpless ones, children under 12 years old. An 18-month-old baby who is molested, they can't testify either. But does that mean that they deserve to be stomped to death by their perpetrator?
These types of people are constantly repeating their crimes, and they get more and more heinous as they go. Was John Evander Couey not a good enough example for you?
VAN SUSTEREN: You mentioned him, and what a hateful guy, and I am not going to take you through the horrible details of that crime. I know that you do not forget them. We do not forget them.
But what is the status of his case? Is it pending appeal? He has not been convicted and sentenced to death, but is it on appeal?
LUNSFORD: Yes. I mean, the way the system works, he will be on appeal for a long time. But Florida is making more improvements as we go. There has been talk about maybe taking $10 million away from Jessie's Law for tracking devices, but I am not sure how far that will go. But even new legislation was going to be passed here recently for more punishable crimes for sex offenders.
But in Massachusetts here, the attorney general and the legislature had gotten together and drafted a piece of legislation that they felt like they could get passed, because here in Massachusetts, they don't want to pass mandatory sentencing, they don't want to pass 25 years, they just do things differently here, as each state does things different with their own language and their own way of doing things.
But my concern is for the children here in Massachusetts.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mark, thank you very much. Nice to see you, and your daughter would be immensely proud of you. Thank you, Mark.
LUNSFORD: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is Representative Fagan making a valid point, or is he just way over the line? Joining us live in New York is former Westchester County D.A. Jeanine Pirro; in San Francisco, criminal defense attorney Michael Cardoza; and right here with me in D.C. is defense attorney Ted. Ted, we'll start with you--Ted Williams.
TED WILLIAMS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Let me just say that Fagan is a wacko. He gives lawyers a bad name.
Defense lawyers have a right to zealously represent their clients. This is the day, Greta, that the Supreme Court ruled that a rapist cannot be put to death for the rape of a child. I do not think that is maybe a bad ruling, but I just wish that somebody would look out for the best interests of children.
And let me just make it very clear if you touch a child, as far as I am concerned, you should be castrated, as far as I am concerned.
VAN SUSTEREN: Jeanine, I understand the point that he was trying to make, but he made such a lousy, cold, horrible, rotten way that if that is what he wants, he has done himself a huge disservice, if that is the law he wants to oppose.
JEANINE PIRRO, FORMER D.A.: You look at this guy and you say who voted this guy into office? What constituency does he think he is serving?
And for your viewers, Greta, they ought to know that this guy is the chair of the House Ethics Committee in the legislature. He is on the board of directors on a Boys and Girls club, and he is a soccer or a basketball coach.
But here is the bottom line. If this guy thinks he is going to rip and tear apart six-year-olds and torment them and give them nightmares, then he has not been in a real courtroom, because that does not happen. It is called "badgering a witness." It is called you have to keep your remarks relevant.
And he has never really tried a case with children. And I have done this for decades. These kids are smart. They are going to stick it to him. The judge is not going to let him get away with it, and the jury is going to convict his client.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know Michael, the guy--forget what he is even arguing, he is an idiot. Number one, if he did this in the courtroom, the jury would hate him, absolutely hate him. There is no juror that would have any sort of affinity for him or his client.
And, number two, if he is trying to persuade people that this is a bad law, he has used the most hateful language. We finally have someone that makes Reverend Wright look a little nice.
WILLIAMS: That takes a lot.
MICHAEL CARDOZA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He really does. As you said, Greta, I understand the point he is trying to make. They want a mandatory law for 25 years. What I think he was trying to say is that is too much time. That is an awful lot of time. That is going to force a lot of those cases to trial that may plead if you had a little lesser penalty. Then you get into the penalty discussion.
I absolutely agree with you and Jeanine. This guy could never have been in a court room. He certainly does not represent me as a defense attorney, because what we do is vigorously represent ethically. And if you did what he said, a jury would convict him --
VAN SUSTEREN: But here is the problem--he is talking about having mandatory minimums. You do not have to have this law, and a judge could still give somebody 25 years on the bottom.
CARDOZA: No question.
VAN SUSTEREN: We are talking about whether the judges have discretion or not, not whether someone deserves this time and should get it. And instead you have him, who is the most ineffective advocate for his position. Anyway--
WILLIAMS: You have to wonder where this guy got his bar license from.
VAN SUSTEREN: Anyway, I took the last word on that one, I guess.
WILLIAMS: What a wacko.
VAN SUSTEREN: And Ted had the gratuitous remark from the sidelines. Anyway, panel, thank you.
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