tv CNN Newsroom CNN July 28, 2012 1:00pm-1:30pm PDT
hello again everyone. you're in the cnn newsroom. i'm fredricka whitfield. a significant new development in the mass shooting at a colorado theater. the suspect james holmes was seeing a doctor who specializes in schizophrenia. drew griffin is with cnn's special investigations unit. >> according to his attorney in colorado the 24-year-old accused of killing 12 and gunning down dozens of others was seeing a psychiatrist at the time of the shooting. it's a huge development that stems from that package that was
mailed to a professor at the university of colorado's aurora campus on monday. according to a motion filed in colorado, just yesterday, that professor was actually james holmes' psychiatrist, dr. lynn fenton the head of student medical health services at the university of colorado's aurora campus and according to holmes' attorney mr. holmes was a psychiatric patient of dr. fenton and his communications with her are protected. that attorney is now trying to get ahold of that package and the contents of which according to cbs news supposedly describe how holmes would kill people. the information is privileged according to holmes' attorney, confidential, and should not be in the hands of police. i want to tell you this, that on monday school officials including the campus police chief did answer some questions and i want you to specifically listen to this exchange i had with the police chief regarding the holmes interaction with
campus security. >> did your department or any of your officers have any interaction with this student whatsoever? >> i don't have any information on him at all. >> did you do a records check on him? >> yes. and as you already know, i think it was a traffic ticket from aurora. that's it for us, them, and everyone. >> nothing ever brought him to your attention in any way? >> we've had no contact with him on a criminal matter whatsoever as a police department. >> a spokesperson for the university told cnn yesterday that because of gag orders in place the chief wasn't exactly being forthcoming when he gave us that answer. here is the quote from the school. out of concern with violating the court order, the chief didn't answer those questions directly. now the question is what else did the school know? what did or did not get reported to authorities? and the fact that james holmes was seeing a psychiatrist at the time of the shooting only raises
more speculation. drew griffin, cnn, atlanta. >> all right. this development does indeed raise a lot more questions about what a medical professional like a psychiatrist can or cannot do in terms of a lerting authorities. our guest is a bioethicist at new york university and has just completed a project on ethics and mental health. good to see you. if a psychiatrist has reason to believe a patient is a potential threat to himself or herself or others can or should that medical professional tell law enforcement or a third party? >> well, there is a strong presumption of privacy. if you're in the mental health area you're going to hear a lot of people say some terrible things, maybe even make threats. but if you believe that your patient is a real risk and you have an identified person or persons or a place that he might do something, and you think that he's going to do something right away or soon, you do have a duty
to warn. we have a lot of court cases established over time. there's legal consensus. there is ethical consensus. you have to put safety first. >> even though you have things like hipaa, you know, federally sanctioned patient protections in place, oftentimes a patient will have to sign that this doctor's office or this medical professional recognizes and respects something like hipaa. >> hipaa is a very powerful law. it certainly creates a zone of privacy in dealing with information. but in the relationship, and it's not easy to do it. i don't want to pretend like it's easy to make this call. but if you really think that your patient is going to harm somebody or you think they're going to go down to a theater and shoot a lot of people and you know where that is then you do have the duty to warn both authorities and in the case of identified victims the victim. >> okay. so you use the word they do have a duty. so in the case and this is hypothetical if a doctor does hear something, very detail
oriented whether it's verbally or in a written form from that patient who says this is what my intent is, and that medical professional does not alert authorities, you mentioned there would be a duty. does that mean that medical professional then would be subject to some repercussions later? >> yes. because you definitely get into a battle over did they do their professional duty relative to their license whether a doctor or social worker, counselor, and you might even see civil litigation, people seeking money saying you knew something. it was specific. it was imminent. you were worried about it. you didn't do anything. >> wow. so apparently or reportedly there was a notebook sent to this psychiatrist, this doctor by the suspect mr. holmes. apparently we understand the doctor did not receive it but instead police intercepted it in the mail room. would that be protected by this kind of doctor/patient confidentiality since it was directed if it was indeed
directed to that doctor? >> it's more protected oddly because if you get it after the fact you're not really worried about protecting against what's already happened so to speak. however, this one is going to be battled out by the courts and i think i'm going to make a prediction. the defense attorney right now is saying don't release this stuff. i want it. down the road, there's plenty of evidence to convict this person who's been accused of this horrible crime. it may have to be introduced from the defense side as a way to say this guy was very disturbed as part of the sentencing process. so don't be so sure that what looks like it's hard to get now might not turn out to be a little easier to get as we see the litigation go on around this case. >> all right. a fascinating component of the overall investigation. thanks so much. bioethicist at new york university. thank you. >> my pleasure. now to the victims of that rampage. services today for threef the 12 people killed in the crowded movie theater just over a week ago. the victims include naval petty
officer john larimer from illinois, matt mcquinn from ohio who died saving his girlfriend from gunfire and aspiring sports reporter jessica ghawi from texas. powerful words from ghawi's brother during her service in san antonio today. >> i just want to leave you with two things. one is if this coward could have done this with this much hate imagine what we can do with this much love. and the other thing is if you're putting your dreams on hold, you stop that right now. you chase those dreams. you don't know how long you have here. >> all three of the victims memorialized today were in their 20s. tonight at 8:00 eastern time cnn's don lemon hosts a special report "madness at midnight the search for answers in aurora." all right. some of our big cities are saying, stay out to restaurant chain chick-fil-a because of its stance or the president's point of view on gay marriage. our legal guys will tell us if they've got a legal leg to stand on.
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one of the victims of the mass shooting in colorado is suing. torrance brown was not hurt but his best friend was one of t 12 people who died at the movie theater in aurora. according to tmz brown claims to be suffering from extreme trauma. let's bring in our legal guys avery friedman and civil rights attorney and law professor. good to see you. and richard herman a criminal defense attorney joining us from las vegas. this is the first lawsuit we understand to have been filed. this young man was not injured but he was along side his friend who did die and he says he is suffering from extremetrauma. but he is suing three entities. we're talking about the theater. he is suing the doctors of the suspected gunman and warner brothers, richard. is this just the beginning of what is likely to be a kind of litany of criminal and civil
cases? >> no, fred, three strikes and you're out. those three are out. they'll be dismissed. this lawsuit is ridiculous. i can't believe he has even brought this. you know, in the spirit of the olympic games if you bring a litigation in the united kingdom and you lose, you have to pay all the legal fees in a civil litigation. that's how it should be here to prevent frivolous litigations. suing warner brothers for making this movie is just plain stupid. suing the theater because the door did not lock when the door did lock and the issue really is foreseeability with respect to the theater is just ridiculous. lastly, suing the gunman because he didn't take care of himself and take his meds. >> or his doctors rather. >> i think he missed law the day he went to law school but this whole lawsuit is absolutely ridiculous. >> so, avery, what would be behind this type of lawsuit? >> well, it may very well be
jackpot justice. you know, there are going to be a torrent of cases but torrance brown who brought this case is thinking that because i feel terrible that i lost my friend that somehow that converts into legal liability. fredricka, i hate to do this, but richard's right on this. the fact is there are no claims of a friend or acquaintance against doctors or warner brothers or the theater because there has to be a connection. there has to be some level connection. and there is no basis. i can't come up with any legal theory, fredricka, that would warrant as much as this man hurts and i don't doubt that, there is no basis in the law for any claim whatsoever. you know what? i think he will be taxed legal fees because the case is so utterly frivolous. >> my goodness. >> the court has the discretion to penalize someone for doing that. >> do you suppose torrance brown may have had a better chance had it been part of a class action,
if there were others who kind of joined in, wait a little bit, is that the issue so he is not an individual taking on these three entities? >> i don't see it. whether it's individual or class. >> fred, you have to have grounds for liability. here they just don't have the grounds for this person. they may be in a zone of danger. there are some theories of law. but they don't fall in this particular case. there's no theory of liability. therefore they can't recover. >> okay. let's move on. >> that's the issue. >> let's move on now to chicago. it's really reaching out to other cities too but this involving chick-fil-a after the president of chick-fil-a dan cathy made comments against same sex marriage and the chicago alderman joe moreno is saying that he would block a chick-fil-a restaurant from being built in his district because of such comments. now we have the issue of moreno saying the company is carrying out discriminatory practices but then, richard, one might argue
is he likely to, you know, if he were able to blk this restaurant or this building permit, isn't he discriminating against a business? >> well, i cannot wait to hear what my colleague avery has to say about this one. but let me just say it's not only the alderman but the mayor rahm emanuel who threatens he is not going to allow chick-fil-a in chicago. that's ridiculous. >> right. >> if the president of the company states his opinion, this is my personal opinion, although when we conduct our business we treat everybody with respect. we invite everybody to our stores. we don't discriminate against anybody. why can't someone state their own opinion, fred? this is really ridiculous. i don't know what's going on here but this is really, truly ridiculous. >> instead of my paraphrasing how about if we hear what dan cathy had to say on the radio. >> i think we're inviting god's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you as to what
constitutes a marriage. >> avery, are we going to be 2 for 2 that you are in agreement with richard or do you see that this alderman does indeed have a pretty stable case by denying a permit if it comes to that? >> you know, i've been fighting discrimination for over 40 years, fredricka. i appreciate that if a restaurant denies service to an individual because of where they're from or what color they are, the orientation, that's where government steps in. that's where moreno steps in or rahm emanuel or, you know, officials in philly or boston. but you want to know something? this is alarmingly ignorant when it comes to politicians and their understanding of the first amendment. believe it or not, and it should be very clear to them, this is protected speech under the first amendment. mr. cathy can say anything he wants as long as he doesn't deny service. if these politicians are not alarmingly ignorant, then
they're clearly flouting what their obligation is under the constitution by swearing to uphold it and, frankly, it's really offensive that they're doing this. you want to fight discrimination, do it right. but speech is protected under the constitution. if that building permit is denied, watch out, chicago. you're going to get hit with big damages and that permit is going to be ordered by a federal judge to be granted to chick-fil-a. >> we heard at least one boston official chiming in kind of in agreement with chicago but then the new york mayor chimed in and said what you just said, avery, this is a first amendment right issue and it would be wrong for the city of chicago or boston or any other city to deny a permit based on such comments. don't forget you can watch our legal guys every saturday noon eastern right here on cnn. it's a shocker for phelps fans. the stunning results from his first event. but first, a sneak peek at what's coming up on the next list tomorrow at 2:00 eastern time.
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all right. a stunning victory and a stunning defeat. let's talk about the defeat first. michael phelps coming off that defeat. legendary swimmer didn't medal today. phelps came in fourth place in the 400 meter individual medley. his biggest rival u.s. teammate ryan lochte won the gold med a. he finished a full three seconds before phelps. phelps is trying to become the first ma swimmer to win the same event at three straight olympics. it won't happen for the individual medley but he still has a shot at a 200 meter and a
100 meter. we'll see what happens. track and field or athletics is one of the most watched olympics sporting events. an olympian who won his first two gold medals in the 1948 olympic games also happens to be my father. mal whitfield. he is 87 now. nothing will stop him from heading to london tomorrow 64 years after winning the 800 meters and the 4 x 400 relay and winning bronze in the 400 meters. he won't be alone. my brother lonnie and i will escort my dad who is anxious to reunite with a host of other 48ers like sammy lee, harrison dillard, herb douglas, all making the journey across the pond to london. we call them the '48ers. dad with his fellow olympians from that historic games are featured in a "new york times" beautiful photo gallery. you'll want to check that out. you can hear them in their own words as well at ny times.com. hear their stories of inspiration and how they now in
their 80s and 90s continue to keep that olympic flame burning bright. all right. mitt romney made his appearance at the olympics and now he's moved on to his next stop, israel. he's getting ready for some gh level meetings. inin t thehe b b. eveverery y titimeme o of f. ououtdtdoooorsrs, , oro. trtranansisititiononss® ls auautotomamatiticacalllly y fift ththe e ririghght t amamouountn. soso y youou s seeee e eveg ththe e waway y itit is memeanant t toto b be e ses. mamaybybe e evevenen a lilittttlele b betette. exexpeperirienencece l lifife e, asask k fofor r trtrananss adadapaptitiveve l lene. would you mind if to be i go ahead of you?omer. instead we had someone go ahead of him and win fifty thousand dollars. congratulations you are our one millionth customer. people don't like to miss out on money that should have been theirs.
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a place where innovation meets determination... and businesses lead the world. the new new york works for business. find out how it can work for yours at thenewny.com. mitt romney has left london and the olympic games and now landed in israel. during his visit in london the republican presidential candidate made a few gaffes and got a little heat. now he is scheduled to move on by meeting with israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu while in israel. that bruising visit in london is quite memorable including a bit of a scrap with the organizers
of the games after he appeared to question whether they were ready to host the games. meanwhile president barack obama is making his own appeal for the jewish vote. yesterday the president signed a pledge to increase military aid to israel by $70 million. the white house says it underlines the president's commitment to an important american ally. a new gallup poll shows registered jewish voters prefer obama. 68% to 25% for romney. all right. in syria a government forces are laying siege to the city of aleppo. rebel activists say there was nonstop shelling of the city this morning. residents have been fleeing to safer neighborhoods. they also said at least a hundred people have been killed in fighting around the country today. we'll have much more of the newsroom coming up later on with my colleague don lemon. right now i'm fredricka whit