Transcripts Available at Lexis.Com

June 8, 2002

Today Show, NBC

Skakel Attorney Mickey Sherman On the Trial and Verdict:

DAVID BLOOM, co-host:

Mickey Sherman is Michael Skakel's attorney.

Mr. Sherman, good morning.

Mr. MICKEY SHERMAN (Michael Skakel's defense attorney): Good morning.

BLOOM: I understand that Michael Skakel has been talking with family members since the verdict. What's been his reaction? Mr. SHERMAN: He's obviously shocked. But by the same token, he knew what the possibilities were, so he is--he's doing fine.

BLOOM: Mr. Sherman, did you ever ask Mr. Skakel directly, 'Did you do it?' And if so, what was his reaction?

Mr. SHERMAN: Many times. Many times. Contrary to what people think of criminal lawyers that we don't want to know, I've got to tell you, I do want to know, David, and I always ask. And he always told me he never committed this crime. He didn't know who did, either.

BLOOM: A lot of observers were stunned by this verdict. No physical evidence. No eyewitnesses. You clearly thought this case was winnable. What went wrong?

Mr. SHERMAN: I clearly thought this case was won. And I didn't--I shared that opinion with many people who watched the trial. And not having anything to do with my abilities or--or skills in the courtroom. The evidence simply wasn't there. There was no forensic evidence, there was no physical evidence, and the circumstantial evidence was so sketchy. The confessions were nonexistence as far as I'm concerned. I think we just couldn't get past the--the shock value of a very lovely young woman being murdered in the prime of her life.

BLOOM: You're saying that a jury of 12 people in Connecticut convicted your client solely on the basis of the shock value, not the basis that he made contradictory and incriminatory statements?

Mr. SHERMAN: No. No, not solely. I don't think the statements were incriminatory. Were they contradictory, yes? But by the same token, to build a bridge, to make that leap, from contradictory statements to proof beyond a reasonable doubt of a murder, where there was no physical evidence, no one ever showed how could pos--how Michael Skakel could possibly have cleaned up this murder, where was the blood? There were so many questions that were unanswered. More answers, more questions than there surely were answers.

BLOOM: You touched upon something that I want to ask you about there. You mentioned cleaning up the murder. The prosecutor...

Mr. SHERMAN: Right.

BLOOM: his news conference after the verdict seemed to suggest that others, perhaps Skakel family members or friends, helped to cover up the crime scene after the murder. What do you make of that insinuation?

Mr. SHERMAN: Well, you know, it's more than an insinuation. That was the problem. It was the theory. It was a story. And it was also a story that was repeated and put forth in books and a movie, and many articles, a hundred different programs. And that was the problem we had, is it made a good story. But there was no, zip, zilch, evidence to support that. And unfortunately the jury bought the story when they should have been buying the evidence.

BLOOM: Mr. Sherman, you said on Friday, 'As long as there's a breath in my body, this case is not over.' I presume that means you'll appeal. On what grounds?

Mr. SHERMAN: We'll appeal on every possible grounds. First of all, we have the initial issues back then. This case should never have been transferred from the juvenile court. Michael Skakel was 15 years of age when this crime was committed. There is no compelling reason whatsoever to treat him like an adult some 26 years later. Further, there are some issues during the trial which we'll deal with. I'm not going to start listing them now. But I think anyone who watched the trial saw that there may be some very fine appellate issues.

BLOOM: When...

Mr. SHERMAN: We'll take every step necessary.

BLOOM: ...when he's sentenced next month, Michael Skakel faces a minimum of 10 years, a maximum of life in prison. Presumably, you'll recommend the lighter sentence. Will you argue that if, indeed, he did commit this murder, he was only 15 at the time?

Mr. SHERMAN: Well, I'm not--I'll tell you, I'm not going to do a turnaround now. I'm not going to start saying, you know, 'He did it but let's be nice to him.' He didn't commit the crime. But certainly one has to make the argument that, 'Your Honor, if you believe as the jury apparently did believe that the jury committed his crime, look at his behavior since then. How many people have the opportunity to prove that they have rehabilitated themselves if indeed you believe he committed the crime?'

BLOOM: Mickey Sherman, thank you so much.

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