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Michael's trial in 2003-2005

Before you start to reading about the trial, youhave to know, that is is a whole history about Michael Jackson's Child Molestation trail from years 2003 - 2005. Presentation is made day after day, starting from first statement of Mrs. Bain and Michael 'til the verdict. All materials are taken from late MJJForum's News archive.

Tuesday, 18 November 2003
Press Release Source: Stuart Backerman, Spokesman for Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson Responds to Media Uproar Over Search of Neverland Ranch
Tuesday November 18, 5:52 pm ET
And a Who's Who of Hucksters Preying on His Name

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- We cannot comment on law enforcement's investigation because we do not yet know what it is about.

We can comment on the malignant horde of media hounds claiming to speak for Michael on this and many other issues. A rogue's gallery of hucksters and self-styled "inside sources" have dominated the airwaves since reports of a search of Neverland broke, speculating, guessing and fabricating information about an investigation they couldn't possibly know about.

Michael himself said "I've seen lawyers who do not represent me and spokespeople who do not know me speaking for me. These characters always seem to surface with a dreadful allegation just as another project, an album, a video, is being released."

Michael will, as always, cooperate fully with authorities in any investigation even as it is conducted, yet again, while he is not home.

Wednesday, 19 November 2003
:idea: Press Release Source: Stuart Backerman, Spokesman for Michael Jackson

Statement on Behalf of Michael Jackson
Wednesday November 19, 4:00 pm ET

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The outrageous allegations against Michael Jackson are false. Michael would never harm a child in any way. These scurrilous and totally unfounded allegations will be proven false in a courtroom. Naturally, the implications are distressing to everyone who hears them, which is precisely the point.
We are disturbed by the levity of the environment surrounding the announcement of these very serious charges. When the evidence is presented and the allegations proven to be malicious and wholly unfounded, Michael will be able to put this nightmare behind him.

Michael through his attorneys, led by Mark Geragos, has already made arrangements with the District Attorney to return to Santa Barbara to immediately confront and prove these charges unfounded.

Friday, 21 November 2003
Mr. Backerman, Michael Jackson's Official Spokesperson, had this to say:

"The big lie against Michael Jackson is anchored in the most vicious allegation imaginable, one that resonates across every culture: the spectacle of harming a child. That spectacle invites outrage, and it should. But this spectacle is rooted in a lie.

"Michael said, 'Lies run sprints, but the truth runs marathons. The truth will win this marathon in court.'

"Michael is going to defend himself with the force of his spirit, as would anyone falsely accused of something so monstrous."

Friday, 19 December 2003
As was expected, charges were filed today against Michael Jackson in allegations 0f child molestation brought by Thomas Sneddon, Santa Barbara District Attorney.

There were 7 counts of lewd act upon a child under the age of 14 in violation of penal code section 288a and 2 counts of the crime of administering intoxicating agent in violation of penal code section 222. A total of 9 counts were charged.

Following the filing of these charges, Mr. Sneddon gave a press conference and answered a few questions from the press.

Tuesday, 23 December 2003
Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge, Rodney S. Melville has been selected to preside over the Michael Jackson alleged sexual molestation case. Judge Melville has been currently supervising the civil division that handles lawsuits. He is a former prosecutor and was appointed to the bench by former Governor George Deukmeijan.

He is described by court officials as having a no-nonsense attitude towards courtroom antics. “He’s very tight on the reins. He’s not going to let anybody do anything that’s going to affect the quality of justice that’s received by either side,” Assistant Public defender Jim Voysey added, who is in the same jurisdiction of the judge, which includes Judge Melville’s Santa Maria courtroom.

Mr. Voysey also said that this courtroom is across the hall from the courtroom where the civil case involving Marcel Avram suing Michael Jackson for backing out of two millennium concerts was held.

Mr. Voysey also included that he was glad that a civil division judge would handle the case because the criminal court judges already have heavy caseloads.

Tuesday, 13 January 2004
Reportedly 38 TV and radio networks from around the world including the BBC, Swiss TV, four Japanese television networks and others from Germany, Austria, Luxembourg and Denmark had planned to broadcast the arraignment to be held on Friday at the Santa Maria courthouse. Late yesterday, Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville listed 19 factors in his decision to ban cameras, including the "importance of maintaining public trust and confidence in the judicial system" and the privacy rights of all participants.

Judge Melville will allow closed-circuit television coverage that will be screened in a room provided for an expected overflow crowd, said Darrel Parker, the court administrator in Santa Maria. The courtroom has 120 available seats: 60 for the public and 60 for the news media.

Also on Friday, Judge Melville will rule on the following motions: Sneddon´s request for a gag order, and the media´s motions asking that search warrants and supporting affidavits issued be unsealed. Mr. Geragos opposes both motions.

Wednesday, 14 January 2004
Judge Rodney Melville ordered yesterday that the sealed warrant materials must be shared with attorney Mark Geragos. That would be the sealed warrant affidavits and transcripts of tape recordings that led to the Nov. 18 search of Mr. Jackson´s Neverland Ranch.

Mr. Geragos opposed the motion to unseal the materials on the grounds that he had not reviewed them to determine how they might affect the case. Search warrant affidavits are douments presented by law enforcement officials to a judge when seeking a search warrant.

Friday, 16 January 2004
Michael Jackson made his first court appearance today in the Santa Maria courthouse where he entered a plea of "NOT GUILTY" to charges of child-molestation. Both his attorneys, Mark Geragos and Benjamin Brafman were with him. He was wearing a dark suit with a white arm band.

Click on Read More
Unfortunately the proceedings got off to a difficult start as Mr. Jackson arrived 21 minutes late and was scolded by the judge. "Mr. Jackson, you have started out on the wrong foot here...I want to advise you that I will not put up with that. It´s an insult to the court."

Michael shook hands with some of the hundreds of fans who greeted his arrival. He was lent support from many members of his family including his mother and father, Jermaine, Jackie, Tito and sister Janet.

In addition to the business of the plea, Judge Melville also issued a gag order on all participants but said he would consider proposals to allow either side to answer reporters´ questions about rumors surrounding the case. The judge also said he would not unseal the search warrant used in the case.

Outside the court proceedings, security of Michael Jackson passed out invitations to a get-together at Neverland Ranch. The invitation read: "In the spirit of love and togetherness, Michael Jackson would like to invite his fans and supporters to his Neverland Ranch. Please join us Friday, January. 16, 2004, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Refreshments will be served. We´ll see you there."

Many hundreds of fans bused in from Los Angeles and Las Vegas had converged on the courthouse, singing as they waited for him to arrive and waving signs reading "Stay Strong Michael" and "We Believe in Michael Jackson. Leave Him Alone."

The next court session has been set for February 13th to set a date for a preliminary hearing, the proceeding used to determine whether there is enough evidenced to hold Mr. Jackson for trial.

Monday, 02 February 2004
The search warrant was issued by Judge Thomas R. Adams at 5:30pm on November 17th, the evening before the search of Neverland began.

Click on Read More for complete article.The documents were released to attorneys representing several news organizations that have asked Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville to unseal the search warrant, a list of items seized, and the affidavit filed by detectives seeking the warrant. The judge ruled last month that some of the documents would be released after heavy editing.

Computers, legal documents, videotapes, and a note and letter found on Mr. Jackson´s bedroom nightstand were seized, according to court documents released Monday. The items were not described in detail, and there was no indication what the written materials said.

A locksmith had to open the master bathroom and records note that the keys were ultimately found in a safe.

An envelope found in a briefcase, several computers, papers and a calendar found in the closet were removed from the master bedroom. Magazines were also seized, but only one, the financial publication the Robb Report, was mentioned by name.

Also records show that there was a transcript of a telephone conversation between Judge Adams and the investigators at Neverland in which Judge Adams agreed to amend the warrant so a storage locker could be searched.

Sheriff´s Department Sgt. Steve Robel told the judge the investigators were looking for items including letters, invoices, canceled checks, computers and computer records.

Thursday, 11 March 2004
Judge Rodney S. Melville has ruled that an audiotape, marked as exhibit 818, could identify areas of defense strategy and should remain secret while he ordered released what he called "innocuous" videotapes.

"The tape records an interview conducted by a defense investigator for attorney Mark Geragos in early 2003," the judge's ruling said. 'While the questions asked are of a general enough nature so as not to qualify for absolute protection, some prejudice to the defense would exist in identifying areas of general interest to it and in having its own investigative work turned over to the prosecution," the judge said.

Click on Read MoreIn his motion opposing the release of the tape, Mr. Geragos had said that a key issue in the case will be "the veracity and credibility of the alleged minor victim and his family."

"Given that the alleged minor victim and his family are potential witnesses, the defense has endeavored to make a record that would either establish or undermine the veracity and credibility of these individuals."

But he argued that interviews of these witnesses are the result of work product by an investigator and cannot be given to the prosecution.

The prosecution executed a search warrant on the office of investigator Bradley Miller. Numerous videotapes were taken as well as the audiotape. Before the gag order was placed on all participants, reports suggested that Mr. Geragos had audiotapes of interviews with the boy and his family in which they praised Michael Jackson and made no mention of molestation.

Judge Melville noted that the defense had argued evidence that might impeach prosecution witnesses is not discoverable by the prosecution before trial. "While this is not a standard applicable to seizures pursuant to a search warrant, it is a factor to consider in evaluating the question of prejudice," he said.

The videotapes were ordered to be turned over to the Sheriff's Department.

Sunday, 14 March 2004
Santa Barbara county´s jury selection process has been called "antiquated" by a legal expert.

"This is in a county whose whole system is under challenge and before the Court of Appeal right now," Said Laurie Levenson, professor at the Loyola School of Law. "The DA could put on a good case and get his indictment, but the defense could still get it all tossed because of the jury selection issue there."

Click Read MoreSuperior Court Judge Frank Ochoa recently ruled the selection process unconstitutional because Latinos are consistently under-represented. A constitutional challenge to how Santa Barbara County chooses its juries is now working its way through the courts and may impact the prosecution of the charges against Michael Jackson.

David Nye, attorney for Jury Commissioner Gary Blair, filed an appeal to the judge´s order which was heard by the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Ventura on Thursday. Justices Arthur Gilbert, Steven Z. Perren and Paul H. Coffee are expected to issue a ruling within weeks.´

Under the current system, Santa Barbara is one of 12 counties that still uses a two-step process. Eligible residents receive a questionnaire and if it is not returned, they are dropped from the list and never receive a summons. In his ruling, the judge wants the process streamlined so people only receive the summons.

The appellate justices supported Judge Ochoa´s ruling, but said the process is race neutral even though Latinos´ response rates are lower than non-Latinos´.

Appellate attorney Diane Matsinger argued that there is no proof that the process discriminates against Latinos and no law requires the jury commissioner to make sure people report for jury duty. Justice Gilbert said, "The trial judge is clearly saying let´s open our eyes and see what is happening ... On its face, it looks completely neutral and it´s not being done deliberately. But to me, it is clearly having the effect of freezing (Latinos) out."

Defense attorney Robert Sanger, who joined the Jackson team in January, suggested that the summons be bilingual and that follow-up notices be sent. Mr. Sanger raised a jury pool challenge last year in a murder case. About 50 cases, including that one, have been put on hold until the Court of Appeal resolves the issue.

Mr. Blair did not comment on whether he used the process under challenge or a different one to select the most recent grand jury pool. The court´s Web site states that grand jurors are drawn randomly from the court´s trial jury lists -- the ones under challenge.

Tuesday, 16 March 2004
Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon has sent a letter to Michael Jackson and his attorneys offering Michael the opportunity to voluntarily testify before a criminal grand jury, rather than respond to a subpoena.

"Rather than issuing a subpoena and having your client [Michael Jackson] decline to testify in front of the Grand Jury, I am offering him the opportunity to convey that decision to me in advance" stated the letter from Sneddon.

Please click Read MoreAccording to ABCNEWS Legal Analyst Kimberly Guilfoyle-Newsom, a former prosecutor, "It´s customary in any criminal proceeding where the DA opts to proceed by way of grand jury indictment that the defense is sent a letter inviting their client to testify," Newson said on ABCNEWS´ Good Morning America. "If they´re smart and they have a lawyer worth their salt they are not going to show up and testify," she said.

Sneddon´s letter also notes that the defense claims to have witnesses and documents that support their contention that the charges against Jackson are the result of a failed attempt to get money from the singer by the accuser’s family.

Sneddon writes, "You are invited to provide that information for Grand Jury consideration." Newsom says that the invitation that´s been extended to Michael Jackson and his team is just an attempt to see all of the evidence in the case.

"This is a cute way really for the DA to say ´we´d like to see all the evidence in this case and perhaps if we´re confronted with evidence that proves to be exculpatory we´ll re-examine the case and that´s also just not going to happen,´" Newsom said.

According to the letter, Jackson and his defense team have until April 7th to decide whether he will appear. Chief defense lawyer Mark Geragos could not comment due to the court´s gag order that prevents him from talking.

Saturday, 20 March 2004
In a story from Newspress.com, we have learned of the possibility that even more of the players from the 1993 investigation of Michael Jackson may be in the game again. News-Press reports that, according to their sources, key witnesses from that case, including security guards, a chauffeur and maids who worked for Mr. Jackson, may be called to testify before the latest Grand Jury in order to help establish a pattern of behavior that will strengthen the testimony of the current accuser. The accuser is also expected to testify. These witnesses would add to the list of those who are once again involved in this case: DA Tom Sneddon, attorney Larry Feldman, and therapist Stan Katz.

Click Read MoreHowever, the credibility of some of the witnesses was undermined ten years ago when it was revealed that several of them were paid for their stories by the tabloid press. News-Press also notes that several security guards who filed suit against Mr. Jackson, claiming they were wrongfully terminated due to their 1993 testimony, lost that civil suit. They were asked to pay Mr. Jackson $1.5 million in damages and eventually declared bankruptcy. This civil case also involved some of the same attorneys who once again represent Mr. Jackson today. They are Santa Barbara attorney Robert Sanger and Los Angeles attorney Steve Cochrane.

An identified former employee who had testified before the previous grand jury told News-Press that he expected to be called again and also knows of another employee who has already been contacted by authorities. This employee states that he has first hand knowledge about the alleged abuse in the prior case and will testify if called, but would “rather not go through all that again.”

The grand jurors will be randomly selected next week by Presiding Superior Court Judge Clifford Anderson. Twelve of the nineteen jurors must find probable cause that a crime was committed for the case to proceed to trial. If not, the DA may choose to continue the case by presenting his evidence again in a preliminary hearing. Unlike in a preliminary hearing, however, the members of this jury will be allowed to ask questions of the witnesses after they testify.

In recent interviews with News-Press, members of the former grand jury in Santa Barbara said they were never shown enough evidence to issue an indictment against Mr. Jackson and charges were never filed. Both the prosecution and defense teams declined comment, citing a gag order intended to control prejudicial pretrial publicity.

Some comments that have already been made are:

Ellie: guess if any of these old 1993 "witnesses" were part of the bunch that filed for bankruptcy, now Michael has actually been arrested and charged, they´re gambling on making some money this time around and getting revenge. Anyway, this mentioned the maid, but I doubt Blanca Francia would be called as she was not just paid by Hard Copy, she admitted to lying about it while under oath.

HOTWHEELS67: I thought the testimony of the alleged victim in 93 is not admissable due to the sodium amytal he was given? Isn´t Sneddon aware this kid was given this drug? If not he will be, if or when the boy gets his subpoena. This should be interesting, if it is even a story based on any facts. "A source said"???

Tuesday, 06 April 2004
Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville agreed to the request from Mark Geragos, to unseal the records. Melville ordered the records be released to both prosecutors and the defense. The school and psychiatric reports involving the accuser and his family were gathered for an unrelated 2000 lawsuit filed by the accuser´s family. The lawsuit was against two retail chains, in which the family alleged they were beaten by security guards while leaving a shopping centre. A J.C. Penney security guard had alleged that Jackson´s accuser had left the store with merchandise that was not purchased.

Click Read More Melville began the pretrial hearing by meeting privately with defense attorneys, and then told all parties in open court to make sure witness names are not released publicly. Also making a slight modification to a gag order. Attorneys are still forbidden from speaking about most aspects of the case. They will be permitted to give Judge Melville proposed written responses to media reports. The Judge will then decide if the statements may be released. Going on to say he would issue no further rulings on the gag order.

The earlier meeting with defense attorneys was regarding a mysterious audiotape, the content of which has not been disclosed. Attorneys were told not to publicly mention the names of the people whose voices are heard on the tape. Any mention of witness names throughout the case must be done only in sealed motions, said Melville.

Friday´s hearing wasn´t the only proceeding going on concerning the case. Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon has been presenting evidence to a secret grand jury.

Tuesday, 06 April 2004
Michael Jackson´s attorneys told a judge, they have material pointing to Jackson´s innocence. Evidence, which needs to be presented, to the grand jury investigating the allegations against the pop star.

Benjamin Brafman, Jackson’s attorney, told Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville that the defense would be turning a letter over to the prosecution. The letter lists 100 items that show Jackson did not commit the crimes with which he is charged.

The Defense will present school and psychiatric reports from a 2000 lawsuit against two store chains involving Jackson´s accuser and his family. Judge Melville ordered the records released to both sides, at Jackson’s attorney’s request. It was unclear what role the medical and psychiatric records could have in the case.

Sunday, 18 April 2004

Washington, D.C. ... There is erroneous information being disseminated in the media which states, in fact, that a travel agency in St. Louis reported that Michael Jackson’s trip to Africa (specifically Namibia) this weekend had to be canceled because he was denied a passport. This is a lie.

Click Read MoreFACT: Michael Jackson was never traveling to Africa this weekend. Members of the media who contacted us directly with regards to this rumor, were advised of the same. Michael Jackson has absolutely no business dealings with a travel agency in St. Louis, nor did he request his passport to travel to Africa this weekend.

Mr. Jackson has stated his concern about people misrepresenting him and making misstatements. All media should contact this office to clarify facts.

Mr. Jackson has received invitations to travel to Africa. However, these invitations are being reviewed, and will be handled in an appropriate manner.

Thursday, 22 April 2004
If the Grand Jury issues an indictment, on Friday, April 30, 2004, Mr. Michael Jackson will appear in court in Santa Maria, California at which time he will enter a plea of NOT guilty to the charges. Mr. Jackson and his attorneys remind the public that an indictment is merely a formal “accusation.” We also remind the public that Michael Jackson, like any other person accused of a crime, is “presumed to be innocent.”

To read complete article click Read MoreMr. Jackson and his attorneys are confident that after a trial on these charges, Mr. Jackson will be fully exonerated and that the allegations contained in the indictment will be shown to be patently false.

In this case, Mr. Jackson is not just “presumed” to be innocent but is in fact innocent. Michael is looking forward to his day in court and wishes to thank the millions of fans throughout the world who continue to support him during this difficult period.

Monday, 26 April 2004
Michael Jackson has replaced Mark Geragos and Benjamin Brafman as his legal counsel. Replacing them will be Thomas Mesereau Jr., a well-known criminal defense attorney who recently represented actor Robert Blake until they recently parted company, citing irreconcilable differences. "Based on recent developments and discussions with various persons in the Jackson camp, it became clear that it would be best if Mark and I decided to step down," Brafman said. "And that´s what we elected to do." When asked why, Brafman said, "For reasons we choose not to discuss publicly." He added, "We both wish Michael well." Mesereau, was reached leaving Florida after a meeting there with Jackson but declined to comment immediately and said he would speak late Sunday or early Monday.

Jackson´s spokeswoman, Raymone K. Bain, was unaware of the change when asked about it by a reporter.

Sunday, 02 May 2004
In a report on April 29th, ABCNEWS reportedly has viewed documents that could spell trouble for the prosecution of the child molestation allegations against Michael Jackson.

Click Read MoreDuring the entire investigation, Michael and his defense team have said that Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon has a vendetta against him and is determined to convict Michael at any cost. Mr. Sneddon denies this.

However, a memo signed by Thomas Sneddon dated last November says that Sneddon personally investigated aspects of the case. As was told to ABCNEWS by defense sources, these parts of the investigation are almost always handled by police investigators or junior prosecutors.

According to the memo, Sneddon drove to Los Angeles and met alone with the mother of the alleged victim in a parking lot behind a federal building. The memo goes on to say that Sneddon took pictures of the office of a private investigator who worked for Mr. Jackson. The memo claims that Mr. Sneddon handled all these matters by himself, without the presence of a law enforcement officer or an investigator. Sources close to Mr. Jackson told ABCNEWS that Sneddon also executed his own stakeouts.

In addition, a Santa Barbara County police report says that Sneddon met alone with the alleged victim´s mother on another occasion.

Linda Fairstein, a leading sex crimes prosecutor, said this alleged personal sleuthing by Mr. Sneddon was unusual. "It´s way too personal. It´s way out of line," Fairstein told Good Morning America. "If he does any substantive parts of an investigation, he may become a witness in the case."

In addition, Ms. Fairstein indicated that Sneddon´s close involvement in aspects of the investigation could be grounds for a mistrial and gives the defense team ammunition to attack the prosecution.

"It lets these very talented defense attorneys take him apart before the jury and explain that it´s not his place to do that," she said. "He creates trouble in and out of the courtroom for himself by taking on that role."

Mr. Sneddon cited the gag order and declined to comment on the memo and charges of a personal grudge against Mr. Jackson.

Legal experts believe jurors may question the case if they sense it is motivated by a personal grudge from the district attorney.

Sunday, 02 May 2004
Dr. Sandram is an Indian dentist in Santa Barbara County who in 1995-96 filed and won a lawsuit against the Santa Barbara D.A.´s office (winning over $300,000 in damages to date) for causes including Conspiracy, False Imprisonment, and several other civil rights violations, some of which were related to death threats and attempted homicide on both himself and his wife.

In 1994, Dr. Sandram attended a private fundraiser/dinner with Sneddon and members of his staff. Sneddon, along with Detective Timothy Rooney and Sr. District Attorney Magnacolo (sp.) discussed a plan directed at Michael Jackson to "run that (n-word) out of Santa Ynez". The discussion also involves several racially motivated prosecutions, payoffs, and conspiracy. Our discussion with Dr. Sandram includes Sandram´s contention that Sneddon and his staff "knew" Jackson was innocent of the crimes, and possible motivations as to why they may want to drive him out of the County. Also included in the discussion is info on an original grand juror in the recent case (who ended up not being a juror after the initial selection), and the use of cocaine (the illegal drug) by Sneddon´s Sr. D.A. (Magnacolo) during the same meeting.

Warning: There is mention of offensive racial slurs in this recording.

Saturday, 15 May 2004
The Defense team headed up by Thomas Mesereau have decided to agree with the District Attorney's Office of Santa Barbara to uphold the gag order in the child molestation case against Michael Jackson. Mesereau wrote that he and his client support the gag order and withdrew any objections to it made by Jackson's prior counsel.

Click Read MoreSanta Barbara prosecutors, Thomas Sneddon and Gerald Franklin, filed a motion on Thursday to the California Supreme Court to uphold the gag order in this case. He argued that the media was hoping to profit by pandering to a "gossip-hungry readership." He proceed to write in his letter, "Despite the perhaps inevitable leaks, the public knows little more about the facts of this case than that Michael Jackson has been indicted on serious charges and that a jury will be asked to consider the evidence that may be presented to determine his guilt or innocence based on that evidence. And that's the way it should be."

Mr. Sneddon's letter was a response to the media's attorneys that wanted the gag order lifted which was imposed by the sitting judge in the case, Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville. The gag order prohibits participants involved in the case to discuss any particulars about the case to the media.

Sneddon argued in his letter that the news organizations have no standing to challenge the gag order because it applies only to case participants, not the media. He also said that such an order is required in a case that has drawn sensational worldwide attention.
"What is reported as fact becomes the nucleus of intense speculation, conjecture and discussion among commentators, particularly in the tabloid media and the audience they appeal to," Sneddon wrote. "Gossip -- and the 'news' tidbits that are gossip's grist -- translate into income."

In court documents filed Friday, Attorney Theodore Boutrous, who represents the news organizations, criticized Santa Barbara County District Attorney Thomas Sneddon's condemnation of the intense media coverage.

"Eliminating the gag order will ensure that more accurate information will be disseminated, and will reduce the amount of rumors, speculation and gossip about which the District Attorney complains," Boutrous wrote.

The news organizations have been annoyed by Sneddon's clampdown on information about the case. They have asked the California Supreme Court to overturn the gag order on the grounds that it violates the freedom of speech guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

The Supreme Court has asked that both sides submit written argument by Friday, May 14th and to decide whether they will hear the matter.

Wednesday, 30 June 2004

Michael Jackson’s lawyers asked Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville to seal several motions in the case which includes their request that the indictment handed down by the grand jury against Mr. Jackson be thrown out. The defense is also challenging the search warrants and affidavits filed by authorities seeking the warrants.

Mr. Jackson's attorney, Robert Sanger, said in his motion that the documents would disclose “the testimony of witnesses or potential witnesses and disclose possible evidence” that may not be admitted at trial.

The latest request to seal documents is a continuing pattern in the case. The attorney for numerous news organizations covering the case, Ted Boutrous, said the defense’s challenge of the searches and the indictment could be key motions in the case. He argued the public has a right to see the sealed documents to decide if the court was being fair.

"So much of the material is under seal that that creates a vicious circle where the parties think that every document that gets filed must also be under seal," Boutrous said. "Sealing breeds more sealing."

Judge Rodney S. Melville denied more information to be made available to the public. In the June 25th hearing, he rejected Boutrous' request that he unseal 47 search warrants and the entire grand jury indictment against Mr. Jackson.

Melville told Boutrous he was keeping the evidence sealed to make sure that Mr. Jackson receives a fair trial.

"Mr. Boutrous, you know that everything I'm doing is according to the law," the judge said. "I'm being very careful in following the law. Please do not mislead the press about this. I support the First Amendment."

Friday, 02 July 2004

Judge Rodney S. Melville released a heavily edited warrant yesterday that he had signed on April 2nd allowing police to search a Princeton, N.J. Internet service provider.
Judge Melville said investigators had reasonable cause to believe a search of RCN Internet would yield evidence that "tends to show that a felony has been committed or that a particular person has committed a felony." The warrant did not indicate who was involved in the alleged felony.

Dozens of search warrant request forums were released today showing that authorities wanted to search banks, department stores and cellular telephone services. The forms, however, did not identify whose accounts were being searched, what was being sought or what was found. The banks and phone companies in the search warrant request forms had corporate headquarters in states including New York, New Jersey, Indiana, Texas and South Dakota.

Judge Melville said the actual search warrants contain summaries of evidence in the case, names of the persons involved and may include private phone numbers. He said they could not be meaningfully edited for release. As for the search warrant "returns," which itemize what was found, he said he would release only "a report of the number of pages of material provided to the sheriff."

Theodore Boutrous, the attorney who is representing a coalition of news organizations, said the judge´s rulings on secrecy are counter to legal precedents. "The Supreme Court of the United States has made clear that intense media scrutiny and public interest is not a sufficient ground for keeping judicial proceedings secret," said Boutrous.

Judge Melville indicated he wants to keep secret all evidence until he rules whether or not it is admissible at trial, saying it´s necessary to prevent potential jurors from hearing evidence through the media that shouldn´t enter into the case.

Wednesday, 07 July 2004

Santa Maria Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville released a heavily redacted grand jury indictment on Wednesday. Attorneys for Michael Jackson are asking that the indictment be thrown out, claiming that the prosecutors bullied and argued with witnesses during the hearings and "ran the proceedings as if they employed the grand jurors."

"There is no case in the history of the state of California that has condoned anything like the abuse of power demonstrated in this grand jury proceeding," detailed the 47-page motion signed by Robert Sanger on behalf of the entire defense team.

Prosecutors ran secret grand jury hearings "by innuendo and sarcasm, impugning Mr. Jackson by ridiculing those allegedly associated with him and even those who sought to legally represent him," accused the defense.

In a transcript of the testimony identifiable as that of Russell Halpern, the attorney who represented the father of the accuser in a custody dispute with the mother, quoted Halpern and District Attorney Tom Sneddon arguing about the attorney's efforts to get information from the prosecutor's office.

"I found the D.A.'s office to be hostile when I called," said Halpern. "I found the head D.A., that being yourself, to be very uncooperative."

He said he first inquired whether his client's son was the boy making molestation claims.

"You initially refused to tell me," he testified. "I asked you if my client's son was dying. You initially refused to tell me. It was only after I told you that I might have to tell the press of your reaction that you called back and then told me."

Sneddon shot back: "That is not the way that conversation went and you know it."

"You know it too," said Halpern.

The witness said he had a clear recollection of the events because he took notes.

"So did I," said Sneddon.

The testimony was given as an example of the prosecutor testifying rather than asking questions.

"Mr. Sneddon through bullying tactics, inadmissible evidence and his own personal vouching for his version of events, wanted to destroy this witness and establish to the captive grand jurors that he, Tom Sneddon, was the victor," Sanger wrote. "This was an outrageous display of power that would not be allowed before a judge in any open court."

Mr. Halpern was unable to comment on Wednesday because of the gad order. He stated that Sneddon is improperly using the gag order to silence him.

"Mr. Sneddon has misused his powers as district attorney to try to keep me from talking at all. I am not a potential witness, and his description of me as a potential witness is disingenuous. It is a poorly disguised attempt to keep me from exercising my First Amendment rights."

With regard to the charge of conspiracy, the defense details that the prosecution had failed to show this crime. "There is simply no evidence that Mr. Jackson had the specific intent to agree to conspire with anyone about anything," said the motion.

Friday, 09 July 2004

On November 18, 2003, a search of Bradley Miller's Beverly Hills office was done by police. Private investigator Miller was employed by attorney Mark Geragos. But the steps leading up to the search are particularly troubling.

A defense motion that was unsealed on Thursday stated that the district attorney of Santa Barbara personally conducted surveillance at the private investigator's office. It also cited a memo drafted by Mr. Sneddon said he had visited the building where Mr. Miller's office was located, photographed a list of offices there, and climbed the stairs to the second floor in an unsuccessful search for Mr. Miller's office.
Then Mr. Sneddon took several photographs of the building, went to a phone booth where he looked up Mr. Miller's number, and went to a meeting where he displayed driver's license photos of Miller and others. The name of the person who saw the pictures was redacted from the court records released on Thursday.

The defense said law enforcement officers used a sledgehammer to enter Mr. Miller's office and conference room during their search. The motion, filed on June 22, asked Judge Rodney Melville not to allow the evidence which included videotapes and computer hard drives, to be admitted at trial. The defense said evidence taken from Miller's office should be returned to Jackson's attorneys because police had no right to seize it under attorney-client privilege, which bars the prosecution from learning about communication between Jackson and his attorneys.

The prosecution denied knowing that Mr. Miller was working for Mark Geragos. They also said that the office of an attorney or private investigator could be searched if they had reason to believe there was evidence not covered by attorney-client privilege.

Also on Thursday, prosecutors filed a motion asking Judge Melville to clarify whether a statement made by Michael Jackson last month violated the gag order. This statement was in response to the leaking on national television of a confidential and sealed court document dating back to 1993.

Media attorney, Theodore Boutrous Jr. filed an appeal with the California 2nd District Court of Appeals on Thursday challenging the secrecy that has surrounded the case and included a long list of orders issued by Judge Melville that sealed such items as search warrants, grand jury transcripts and key sections of the indictment.

Friday, 09 July 2004

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Thomas Sneddon has been ordered to testify as to his knowledge of the relationship between Mark Geragos, Michael Jackson’s former attorney, and private investigator Bradley Miller. Mr. Miller´s office was broken into by officials and evidence was taken.

Mr. Sneddon stated "I have nothing to hide" and offered to testify immediately. Defense attorneys asked for a delay to study transcripts that had just been received last night. "It´s a transcript of a videotape, a law enforcement interview of the mother of the complaining witness," attorney Robert Sanger said. The interview was done on July 6, 2003, four months before Mr. Jackson was charged or arrested, he said.

Although the prosecution said they had a search warrant for Mr. Miller´s office, the defense said that the officers exceeded the warrant´s limitations and evidence should be returned to Mr. Jackson´s attorneys.

The hearing on this matter was scheduled for July 27, and Mr. Sneddon had a prepaid trip to Alaska planned for his 37th wedding anniversary. Mr. Sneddon was annoyed and threw his papers down on the counsel table and said, "I´ll be here."

However Judge Melville reconsidered and suggested the defense try to accommodate the prosecutor with a videotaped deposition or an appearance at a later hearing. Mr. Sneddon had brought witnesses to testify from Los Angeles and did not wish to wait. Judge Melville, after scolding the defense for not warning him of the request for a delay, agreed to postpone.

"I have been very concerned about the factual issue, whether or not the district attorney ... knew Mr. Geragos was working for Mr. Jackson and knew that Mr. Miller had been retained by Mr. Geragos," the judge said. "It is an issue that needs to be factually established," he said.

Robert Sanger said that Mr. Sneddon had approached him this week and told him that he was willing to concede that he knew about the relationship before a search warrant was executed on Mr. Miller´s office. But Mr. Sneddon denied that. He said he would explain the entire situation from the witness stand, saying "I have nothing to hide."

Additionally, Judge Melville ruled that Mr. Jackson does not have to appear personally for the August 16th hearing on suppression of evidence. The hearing is expected to last up to two weeks.

The gag order was violated stated Judge Melville, when Mr. Jackson commented on a leak of information to the media regarding an 11 old case. However he said he would overlook it because Thomas Mesereau Jr. was new to the case and was probably unfamiliar with the terms of the gag order. He told Mr. Mesereau to make sure his client doesn´t comment again.

Friday, 09 July 2004

The California 2nd District Court of Appeals in Ventura County, California has ordered the judge in the Michael Jackson child molestation case to reconsider whether The King of Pop's $3 million dollar bail is excessive and should be reduced.

In an order responding to an appeal by Tom Mesereau, Michael Jackson's defense attorney, the appeals court sent the issue back to Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville for "further proceedings and findings"

The court said in its two-sentence order, "The trial court shall have the discretion whether to hold a further evidentiary hearing."
Sending a message to Judge Melville?

"The appellate court, by sending it back to the trial court, is saying there’s something wrong with the judge’s decision,” said criminal defense attorney Steve Cron. Cron says the appeals court was sending a clear message to Judge Melville that he did not explain his decision to maintain Jackson's bail at what some legal pundits call, excessive.

The ruling from the California 2nd District Court of Appeals cited its own 2001 decision in a case involving a member of The Hells Angels. In that case, the court also asked a trial court to make more specific findings for a bail of $1 million.

Thomas Mesereau Jr., had petitioned Melville to reduce the singer’s bail to no more than $435,000, saying Jackson was not a flight risk and had appeared in court whenever he was ordered to do so, but the judge suggested Jackson’s wealth required the bail to remain at $3 million dollars.

“While there has to date been no significant issue with regard to the defendant’s appearance at scheduled court events, it continues to appear to the court that a … financial incentive to do so should be in place,” Melville wrote in his ruling.

Prosecutors said Jackson was likely to flee the country if his bail was reduced.

Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen previously said $3 million was comparable to what Jackson would spend in a weekend in Las Vegas and noted that the pop star has described himself as a billionaire.

Cron said the penal code section cited in the appellate order makes no mention of a defendant’s wealth as criteria for setting bail.

Because of a court imposed gag order, Mesereau and new co-counsel Brian Oxman said they could not comment.

Mesereau argued in his legal papers that Jackson’s bail should be lowered because of his charitable contributions, lack of criminal record and ties to Santa Barbara County, where the case was filed. He said there were no legal grounds for setting Jackson’s bail higher than normal just because of the singer’s wealth.

Friday, 16 July 2004

Michael Jackson´s attorneys have requested that the trial start-up date for Mr. Jackson be postponed. Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville sealed the defense´s motion on Wednesday. He gave no other reason to seal the motion other than a "good cause having been shown."

It is not publicly known what date the defense requested. All parties in the case are under a restricted gag order, therefore preventing them to comment when the trial may begin.

In May, Judge Melville set a target date of September 13th to start the trial. However, he did acknowledge that both sides might not be ready to present their case. The defense team claimed that the prosecution still had not given all of the evidence to them to examine on time.

The defense subpoenaed District Attorney Thomas Sneddon and six officers in connection to their role of the November 18th search of Private Investigator, Bradley Miller’s Beverly Hills office. The prosecution claims they did not know that Mr. Miller worked for Defense Attorney Mark Geragos, who was replaced in April by Defense Attorney Thomas Messereau. The prosecution claims they thought he worked for Mr. Jackson instead.

The defense filed a motion on June 8th that District Attorney Thomas Sneddon personally conducted a surveillance of Mr. Miller’s office. Then on November 18th invaded the office by using a sledgehammer to break down the door.

The defense said evidence obtained in the search should be returned to Mr. Jackson’s attorneys because police had no right to search Mr. Miller’s office due to attorney-client privilege. Prosecution has no right to learn the communication between the defendant and his attorneys under this privilege.

A defense motion on June 22nd asked that Judge Melville not allow the evidence, including videotapes and computer hard drives, to be admitted at trial.

The defense motion cited a memo drafted by the District Attorney that said he had visited the building where Mr. Miller’s office was located, photographed a list of offices there, and climbed the stairs to the second floor in an unsuccessful search for Miller’s office.

Mr. Sneddon proceeded to take several photographs of the building, then went to a phone booth where he looked up Mr. Miller’s telephone number. Afterwards he went to a meeting where he displayed driver license photos of Mr. Miller and others. The name of the person who saw the pictures was deleted from the court records released last Thursday.

Prosecutors responded that they had no evidence that Mr. Miller was working for Mark Geragos, who was Mr. Jackson’s attorney at the time of the search.

They also cited that the office of a lawyer or private investigator could be searched if prosecutors had reason to believe it held evidence not covered by attorney-client privilege.

In last Friday’s hearing, Judge Melville was ready for the defense to question the witnesses of the search, but Mr. Jackson´s attorney, Robert Sanger, said he didn’t have sufficient time to look over documents that the prosecution handed over the night before. Therefore they needed more time before they could question the District Attorney and the officers.

Judge Melville reluctantly agreed, and ordered the District Attorney to testify in an upcoming hearing on July 27th.

"Every time we set a hearing it upsets the whole court structure here," Judge Melville said, alluding to adjustments made by Santa Maria court officials to accommodate the masses of media who cover the case against Mr. Jackson. "You´re not being considerate of the demands of the court system."

Mr. Sneddon opposed the delay. He said "I´m prepared to testify in open court in front of everybody and get it done with. I have nothing to hide."

However, due to Mr. Sanger’s request for delay, Mr. Sneddon was miffed, shook his head, and threw his papers down on the counsel table and said “I’ll be here.” Mr. Sneddon had planned on taking a vacation to celebrate his 37th wedding anniversary.

Judge Melville at first appeared unsympathetic to Mr. Sneddon´s tantrum, noting that he himself had cut a July vacation short because of the case.

"If I can cancel my vacation, I guess you can cancel yours," he said.

Mr. Sneddon, visibly agitated about Melville´s decision, sat in his seat with his face reddening and finally said, "All right, I´ll be here."

Judge Melville later said that he didn’t want Mr. Sneddon to miss his vacation. "I´m sorry I´m upsetting you," Judge Melville said. "I don´t want to upset anybody."

Judge Melville changed his mind and said Mr. Sneddon could give his testimony after his vacation or through a taped deposition.

Friday, 16 July 2004

Attorneys for the media filed documents on Thursday, July 8th with the California Second District Court of Appeal. An appeal filed was not docketed by an appellate clerk inside Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville’s office.

The appeal by news media seeking access to court motions that have been strategically placed under seal by both parties at the behest of Judge Melville went unfilled for a week by an appellate clerk in the judge’s office. The clerk stated that “the court is not recognizing you as a party.”

Attorney Dominic Lanza, who is part of the legal team headed by Theodore Boutrous, Jr., filed the first notice of appeal on July 8th. He checked to make sure the matter had been docketed five days later.

Mr. Lanza said that it took until Thursday for the Court of Appeals to instruct the clerk that the notice of appeal should be filed.

The attorneys for the media have argued that Judge Melville has imposed extraordinary measures of secrecy in the case against Michael Jackson. The media including the Associated Press and eleven other news media organizations are suing for access to court files on behalf of the public.

“It’s clear that we have standing to appeal. So we were surprised to find out that our notice of appeal was not on the docket”, Mr. Boutrous said on Thursday.

Mr. Boutrous noted that in the hearings, “Judge Melville has allowed us to participate fully in arguing to unseal documents. We have briefed and argued more motions than anybody."

Mr. Boutrous filed the 27-page brief on Thursday asking the appeals court for an expedited schedule stating, “The public’s First Amendment right of access to judicial proceedings and documents is one that is exceedingly time-sensitive.”

He asked that the secrecy of issues be resolved before a major series of hearings begins on August 16th. The hearings will deal with the defense request to dismiss the indictment.

In the appeal filed, it notes that Judge Melville has ordered all documents in the case to be filed under seal for his consideration to be released later later. The judge has released only heavily edited portions of motions and search warrants and has kept secret key details of the indictment, the grand jury transcripts and the motion to change the trial date.

Mr. Boutrous does acknowledge that the judge justifies his stance on the unusual secrecy “based on Mr. Jackson’s fame and celebrity status and the intense public and media interest in the case”, and fearful that the publicity generated might taint the jury pool and prejudice a right to a fair trial for the singer.

However, Mr. Boutrous quoted a recent appellate court decision in New York in conjunction to the Martha Stewart’s case, which said that media coverage was not a sufficient reason to close proceedings.

"In general, openness acts to protect rather than to threaten the right to a fair trial," said the decision he quoted from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal.

Saturday, 17 July 2004

Former Santa Maria City Attorney Art Montandon has made a complaint to the State Bar of California against Mr. Sneddon, Assistant District Attorney Christie Stanley and Deputy District Attorney Kimberly Smith. His complaint was filed in May and has been assigned an investigator.

Organization spokesman E.J. Bernacki said that the State Bar does not comment on cases unless charges are filed.

"We do investigate all complaints that we receive with regards to the code of professional conduct," Bernacki said. "Whether or not it will result in charges or other State Bar action remains to be seen."

The state attorney general's office this week rejected a similar complaint made by Mr. Montandon against county prosecutors said Christie Stanley.

Mr. Montandon and Mr. Sneddon began having problems when the DA's office claimed Mr. Montandon proposed dropping prostitution charges against two Santa Maria sisters - April and Irene Cummings - in exchange for a video allegedly depicting former Police Chief John Sterling entering or exiting the women's massage business.

Mr. Montandon, as the city attorney, had no official authority to drop charges filed by the DA's office, and the alleged deal was called a possible "bribe" in the investigation.

Mr. Montandon filed a claim on June 28th against Santa Barbara County. He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in the matter and in his claim accuses the DA's office of obstructing an investigation he was conducting for Santa Maria. He stated that the staff at the DA's office engaged in a "conspiracy" to damage his reputation by distributing copies of the court documents to his co-workers and media.

"We're geared up to file a federal court lawsuit in the next two months," said Mr. Montandon, who retired from Santa Maria on June 30th. He now works as legal counsel and assistant general manager for the Cambria Community Services District.

Tuesday, 20 July 2004

In a motion signed yesterday by attorney Robert Sanger, he wrote "The interest in this case is more voyeuristic and entertainment related than it is in an interest of an audience concerned with matters of government or public affairs. One can imagine other cases which might have a direct impact on the public welfare, national politics or international relations. This is not one."

"The circus created by the news media in this case has defied all rationality," the motion said."...Mr. Jackson's innocence has been lost in the media need to generate ratings, sell newspapers and garner mass audiences."

The motion was presented to an appellate court asking them to refuse to expedite a hearing on a media access challenge. The defense maintains that no harm would be done if the information currently sealed was not released to the public until after the trial was over.

Appellate courts have consistently supported First Amendment rights of access to court cases, but the defense insists that this case should be treated differently because it involves a superstar. They also said that this case doesn't merit the attention of the appeals court.

First Amendment lawyer Douglas Mirell said that "old news is no news," and the U.S. Supreme Court has repeated held that prior restraint on the press is the most serious and intolerable infringement on First Amendment rights. "This bespeaks of a level of ignorance that, whether deliberate or inadvertent, is shocking," said Mr. Mirell.

Theodore Boutrous Jr., media attorney who filed the appeal, said "This brief shows a shocking insincerity to basic First Amendment values. The public has an interest in scrutinizing those briefs to test the allegations," he said.

The motion filed by the defense also complained that occasionally Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville allowed Mr. Boutrous to sit at the counsel table in court. They called this "an almost unprecedented accommodation of the press."

Additionally, the motion complained that Mr. Jackson, who "faces the fight of his life for his liberty ... is surrounded by wild rumors and salacious allegations. Because he is a celebrity, the press and entertainment media hang on every allegation and turn it into a lucrative entertainment venture." The defense lawyers said that Mr. Jackson "is still entitled to the same due process rights as anyone else who comes before the court in a criminal case."

Mr. Mirell said that "Jackson lawyers are seeking special treatment that the First Amendment does not allow to be granted to anyone."

Friday, 23 July 2004

Santa Barbara County prosecutor Thomas Sneddon said during a panel discussion at the National District Attorneys Association conference in Vancouver on Tuesday that he has not responded to inaccurate or misinformed information in relation to the Michael Jackson case in order to ensure a fair trial for the pop superstar.

According to Robert Matas of the Canadian "Globe and Mail," the panel was on how to handle the media in high profile cases, and the veteran district attorney used his allotted time to speak on how he has handled the Jackson case. He expressed his disdain for the media, and suggested prosecutors hire public relations firms should they become involved in high profile cases.

Sneddon also advocated the acquisition of court orders that would prohibit those involved with such cases from publicly speaking out. "We sent letters to some people saying we intended to call them as witnesses in order to keep them off TV," he declared candidly. "We were able to get some lawyers, if not off, at least more restrained."

The second half of the quote came courtesy of Matas, the only reporter allowed into the closed-door meeting, during an appearance on MSNBC's "Abrams Report" Wednesday. Matas claimed that Sneddon made reference to defense attorneys on television who would speak on matters of the case, and that as the prosecuting attorney, he felt "an ethical responsibility to the case...so he modeled this gag order to try and control things and level out the playing field."

Matas further added that the protective order was to apply not only to the offending defense attorneys, but to others involved on the Jackson defense team, including witnesses and persons with inside information on the case and its evidence. It was in this context that the court orders were mentioned.

"Abrams" host Dan Abrams questioned the legality of these court orders, asking if said actions could be considered prosecutorial misconduct.

When contacted by "Abrams" for clarification of Sneddon's comments, Susan Tellem of PR firm Tellem Worldwide offered that one could not be given due to the court imposed gag order.

"None of us can respond to untruths and innuendoes swirling around," she released in a statement.

The next hearing in the Jackson case is scheduled for Tuesday, July 27.

Saturday, 24 July 2004

Seven months following the launch of an investigation into allegations made by entertainer Michael Jackson that he was manhanded by Santa Barbara sheriff´s deputies, California state Attorney General Bill Lockyer still has not completed the inquiry.

Nathan Barankin, spokesman for Lockyer, stated that the investigation required that "it be one of the most exhaustive and thorough investigations" due to the serious nature of the allegations and the high profile manner in which they were made by Jackson. Barankin would not say when the investigation was expected to conclude.

Former Santa Barbara Sheriff Jim Thomas expressed surprise at how long the Attorney General´s office was taking to complete the probe. "It shouldn´t take this long to do this kind of investigation. They should have had it done in 30 days."

Thomas suspected difficulty tracking down inmates who were present during Jackson´s booking as a possible reason for the investigation´s prolongment.

In a December interview with CBS program "60 Minutes," Jackson alleged that sheriff´s deputies had manhandled him during his surrender November 20 on suspicion of child molestation. He claimed he suffered a dislocated shoulder and bruised arms when handcuffed by detectives. Jackson also said he was locked in a feces-smeared cell for approximately 45 minutes.

Though Jackson did not file a formal complaint with the Sheriff´s Department, Santa Barbara Sheriff Jim Anderson called for an investigation by Lockyer to determine whether Jackson´s rights had been violated during his arrest. Then Jackson counsel Mark Geragos also welcomed the investigation, encouraging a look into the entire case against his client.

In January, Lockyer had directed special agents from his law enforcement, civil rights, and criminal law divisions to conduct an independent investigation into Jackson´s claims. At the time, he expected his agents to interview 30 to 40 people and wrap up the inquiry within three weeks.

However, Barankin indicated that a number of the interviews had "led to the discovery of additional information requiring further investigation" and that "many more people have been interviewed than anticipated." He further added that those obligated to interview include representatives from the Sheriff´s Department and anyone who had been in contact with Jackson immediately before, during, and after his brief time in jail. Some of these persons include inmates.

Declining to answer questions about the investigation Thursday, Sheriff Jim Anderson instead issued a statement: "We are anticipating that the findings of their investigation will be discussed with us sometime in the near future. We have made numerous inquiries as well as to when the investigation will be complete and the findings made public."

Jackson´s defense team declined comment, citing the gag order in the child molestation case against the music icon.

Saturday, 24 July 2004

The controversial remarks made by Santa Barbara District Attorney Thomas Sneddon at the National District Attorneys Association conference in Vancouver earlier this week drew harsh criticism from attorneys Friday when the story was picked up by the Associated Press.

In comments to the Associated Press, criminal attorney H. Russell Halpern said should it be that Sneddon was stating outright that he "misused" his power to "shut people up...that is a big, big violation" that warrants an investigation by the California State Bar.

Halpern represents the father of Jackson´s accuser in cases not related to the Jackson case. He said he received a letter from the district attorney in January about being called as a witness, though he had no firsthand knowledge of the Jackson case. He has yet to be called.

Halpern is considering a lawsuit against Sneddon for violating his First Amendment rights.

In a response to queries by the Associated Press on Thursday, Susan Tellem of PR firm Tellem Worldwide said she understood the remarks were made in a closed-door meeting and she did not know how reporter Robert Matas of the Canadian "Globe and Mail" got inside. (Matas was the lone journalist at the meeting and was the one who reported on Sneddon´s remarks). Tellem also said she doesn´t know if Sneddon was accurately quoted.

Sneddon later contacted the Associated Press to clarify his remarks. He told the news organization he was not speaking about the Jackson case, which would put him in violation of the Court´s protective order. He also denied having sent a letter to anyone "telling them they were under the gag order and not subpoenaed them and not had them testify," adding that such action has never been used to prevent people from speaking publicly.

The district attorney insisted that his comments were taken out of context. He stated that it was his understanding that he was speaking at a "training session" which would not be covered by the media.

"It was a panel discussion on the subject of what to anticipate if one of these cases hits your jurisdiction," Sneddon said. "I was assigned the topic of how you preserve a fair trial for both sides and prevent a change of venue."

Reiterating that his remarks were misinterpreted, Sneddon stated, "We´ve never used that as a way to shut people up and keep them from talking. I would have to be criminally dumb to get up and say that. I may have some failings but that´s not one of them."

Sunday, 25 July 2004

Embattled Santa Barbara District Attorney, Thomas Sneddon, has interrupted his Alaskan vacation to defend himself against allegations that he abused his power during the ongoing investigation into alleged child abuse by pop superstar Michael Jackson.

The pressure stems from comments he reportedly made at a recent District Attorneys’ Association conference held in Vancouver. Veteran journalist for the Globe & Mail newspaper, Robert Matas, reported on Wednesday that Sneddon had made several remarks regarding the Jackson case during a panel discussion. Sneddon, and others involved with the case, is subject to a judicial gag order preventing him from speaking about it.

Sneddon is said to have told conference delegates how he had prevented certain people from speaking about Jackson’s trial by sending them letters notifying them they could be called as witnesses. He is also reported to have advised his audience to hire PR firms when dealing with high-profile cases.

Legal experts have expressed shock at the prosecutor’s alleged remarks saying that if the report was accurate, disciplinary action should be taken against him for abusing his power.

Interrupting his holiday to address the brewing legal storm, Sneddon telephoned an Associated Press reporter, claiming that he had been misquoted. He further denied speaking about Michael Jackson’s trial, saying his comments had been taken out of context.

But Matas, a journalist for more than 30 years, is adamant that his story is factual. Speaking to Santa Maria Times journalist Steve Corbett on Friday, he said: "It's definitely accurate. My notes are accurate. I was sitting there and taking notes as he spoke."

He said Sneddon had been introduced as the prosecutor in the Jackson case and had related several anecdotes regarding the case during his appearance. Matas also spoke with Sneddon following the panel discussion.

"I went up and asked him what he was most surprised about," Matas said. "He said that he's been accused of doing this in revenge."

"Prosecuting Jackson?" questioned Corbett.


“So he actually answered your specific question about the Jackson case?" asked Corbett.

"Yeah," confirmed Matas.

Corbett also spoke to Susan Tellem, the PR consultant assisting the DA’s office, shortly before Sneddon’s denial hit the news wires.

"So what kind of flak are you getting on this Globe and Mail story?" he asked.

"I'm not sure that I can answer that question," she replied.

"Have you talked to Sneddon about the story and about what's been attributed to him?"

"Briefly," confirmed Tellem.

"What did he say?"

"Mr. Sneddon was there for a conference and he was not talking about any case, he was talking about the process of working with media."

"So he's denying that he spoke specifically about the Jackson case?"

"It was about public relations, media relations, it wasn't about the case," she replied.

"Is he disputing (the newspaper account)?" questioned Corbett.

"I can't answer that."

"Did he deny (saying what the article attributed to him)?"

"I can't address that, either," she said. "There's a gag order. Whatever Mr. Sneddon and I talk about is really between the two of us."

"Do you believe Sneddon violated the gag order?" I asked.

"Now, see, that's something I can't really address," she said.

"Did you talk to him about it in your conversation?"

"The conversation is really not relevant to our conversation," she said.

"Did he call you or did you call him?"

"That's not relevant, either," said Tellem, who also mentioned that she did not have a contact number for Sneddon and was not able to reach him.

Attorneys for Jackson have not yet commented on Sneddon’s alleged remarks.

Tuesday, 27 July 2004

Santa Maria Times
Steve Corbett

Except for me and the mixologist, the bar at the Santa Maria Inn was empty early Monday afternoon.

Happy hour seemed a long way off.

In the lobby, the registration clerk said that some of the biggest names in the press contingent assigned to cover the Michael Jackson case had not yet arrived to check in.

But they were expected, she said.

Members of the press would indeed soon begin filtering into the historic downtown hotel on Broadway that has become the unofficial media headquarters for reporters and others assigned to cover the case.

Other hotels and motels also would soon increase business because of today's pre-trial hearing in the celebrity child-molestation case. Since the proceedings are expected to continue at least another day, members of the press will be hanging around.

The bar at the Inn should be packed tonight with people who normally do not find themselves in Santa Maria.

And if Jackson's jury trial comes off as planned, bar business will soar all over town - not just because of the press, either.

Lawyers drink, too.

So do some Jackson fans and tourists who might decide to head our way just to see what they can see. After all, people in America's smallest burgs saw televised film footage of Jackson dancing on the roof of his SUV.

Stranger antics could occur during the trial.

And I'm just talking about what goes on inside the courtroom.

The proceedings are already too weird - even without Jackson's presence at the pre-trial hearings from which he's officially excused.

Last Friday, Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville released an edited court document in which page after page appears as blacked-out blurs.

The midnight sky over Jackson's Neverland ranch shows more light.

Yet, as disheartening as Melville's continuing court censorship has become for people trying to learn about the case, the controversy is good news for people who live and work in Santa Maria.

Every aspect of the Jackson case tests the mettle of our public officials.

More than any audience world-wide, the people who pay their salaries deserve to see how they perform.

Of course, increased lodging and increased customers at area bars and restaurants are valuable to our community.

But the lasting benefits that come with news and commentary about how well - or how poorly - our public officials handle their sworn duties are priceless.

Members of the press who visit our town to work this story will continue to check into the people's business and report the results. They - and we at this newspaper - will report, analyze and comment on the people we put in public office and the public servants they hire to protect our rights.

Numerous stories about our guardians of the public trust have already appeared in newspapers, magazines and on television shows across the nation and the world.

A buddy back East who's a longtime judge and former prosecutor e-mailed me Monday after reading about District Attorney Tom Sneddon and the flap over remarks Sneddon allegedly made about the Jackson case during a prosecutors' conference last week in Canada.

My judicious friend wanted to know who has the responsibility to investigate whether Sneddon violated the gag order that presiding judge Melville issued in the case.

Good question, your honor.

I have a few questions of my own.

Will the appropriate authorities even bother to investigate the accusations?

Will Melville lecture Sneddon the way he lectured Jackson's lead attorney a few weeks ago over remarks Jackson once made about the case - remarks that Melville characterized as a violation of the gag order?

Will Sneddon demand a retraction or threaten to sue the newspaper?

Sneddon denies talking about the Jackson case, by the way.

The reporter stands by his story.

Television and print journalists should be falling over each other trying to find out exactly what Sneddon said.

Does a video of Sneddon's comments exist?

Will Sneddon's colleagues share their recollections about the panel discussion?

Will Sneddon recuse himself because of the mere appearance of impropriety?

Sober questions demand sober answers.

Until the people know the truth, happy hour is canceled.

Tuesday, 27 July 2004

Santa Maria, CA (AP) The first glimpse prosecutors gave of their case against Michael Jackson turned out not to be of child molestation allegations but a bizarre tale of a family's alleged imprisonment at the entertainer's Neverland Ranch.

Legal experts said the story outlined by Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss at Tuesday's pretrial hearing runs counter to public assumptions about what is alleged to have happened between Jackson and the 12-year-old boy authorities say he molested.

"It's not what we expected as the theory," said Loyola University Law School professor Laurie Levenson. "It seems backwards."

The case, meanwhile, is proving so complicated that Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville agreed to a defense request to delay the start of Jackson's trial 4 1/2 months, to Jan. 31, 2005.

Jackson, who did not attend Tuesday's hearing, is charged with committing a lewd act upon a child, administering an intoxicating agent and conspiring to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion. He is free on $3 million bail.

In the scenario described by the prosecution, Jackson met the 12-year-old boy, a cancer patient who would become his accuser, and decided to use him for the perfect "photo op" while doing a documentary with a British TV network.

The 12-year-old is seen holding hands with the entertainer in the documentary in which Jackson defends his practice of having boys sleep with him, calling it "sweet" and non-sexual.

But after "Living With Michael Jackson" aired, Auchincloss said Jackson panicked and launched into a bizarre attempt at crisis management.

"The fact that Mr. Jackson rationalized this behavior on national television was his downfall," Auchincloss said during the hearing on a defense motion to dismiss the case. "It represented the complete and utter ruin of his empire. ... It made him an international object of loathing and scorn."

The prosecutor then said Jackson gave the boy and his family luxurious gifts, flew them to exotic vacations where they met celebrities and took them to his Neverland ranch to make a "rebuttal video" in which they would say that nothing sexual happened between the boy and Jackson. But according to their timeline, nothing did happen until much later.

"The person Jackson perceived could put out this (public relations) fire was John Doe and his family," the prosecutor said, referring to the alleged victim. "If he could get them on tape describing Mr. Jackson as a wonderful person, it would quell this fire."

Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. ridiculed the assumption that the trips constituted false imprisonment, saying, "The idea that they were imprisoned and forced to fly on private jets to Florida, to socialize with celebrities such as Chris Tucker, is absurd on its face. It would be laughed out of court by a jury."

Auchincloss also suggested that two still-secret sections of Jackson's indictment "show the seduction of John Doe." But he did not reveal any details of molestation and the judge refused to release the documents that might explain more.

One trial observer, defense attorney Steve Cron, said of the story so far: "It would seem sort of weird that he would get this kid on tape saying he had not done anything and then he would go out and do it."

Cron suggested that Jackson's defense team may be pleased that the prosecution showed its hand in public.

"I would be thinking, 'If this is all they have, I want people to hear it. This is not the scandalous stuff that won't get into court."'

Levenson said, "This either portrays a faulty prosecution theory or a bold and reckless act by Jackson. ... There may be a fine line between whether he was committing a criminal act or showing the family a good time."

Levenson also noted that the judge may have created "false assumptions" by keeping all details of the case secret. The judge continued that pattern, turning down about a dozen more motions by a coalition of news media organizations to open the records.

The case's next hearing begins Aug. 16 when the chief prosecutor, District Attorney Tom Sneddon, is due to testify about his own role in conducting surveillance in the case.

Wednesday, 28 July 2004

Says Jackson held family at ranch against their will



A Santa Barbara County prosecutor said Tuesday that Michael Jackson lured a boy to Neverland Valley Ranch and kept him and his family there against their will until they made a video that portrayed the entertainer in a positive light.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss's arguments before Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville offered the first look at the prosecution's case against Mr. Jackson, who is accused of child molestation and conspiracy.

Lead defense lawyer Thomas Mesereau called the prosecution's allegations "absurd . . . and utterly ridiculous."

The lawyers sparred in Santa Maria before Judge Melville, who was hearing a defense motion to throw out the indictment.

The judge said he would consider the arguments and issue a written ruling. He granted a defense request to delay the trial and set a new date of Jan. 31.

Mr. Auchincloss argued that Neverland was "designed to entice and attract children."

"It's isolated, it's miles from the nearest town," he said. "There's security on the grounds. It was in effect used to commit each crime of false imprisonment, abduction and extortion."

He said Mr. Jackson and his associates kept the boy and his family at Neverland so they could make a video rebutting a BBC program that showed the entertainer holding hands with his young accuser and stating that he shared his bed with children.

The Jackson camp also hid the accuser and his family in hotels and whisked them to Florida, Mr. Auchincloss said.

The BBC video "ignited a fireball" that placed the entertainer's livelihood in jeopardy, Mr. Auchincloss said. "The fact that he rationalized his behavior on national television was his downfall. . . . The film was a driving force behind the conspiracy."

Mr. Mesereau scoffed at the prosecutor's narrative, saying that the accuser and his family received "free room and board," flew on comedian Chris Tucker's and Mr. Jackson's private jets, stayed in nice hotels and had access to Mr. Jackson's credit cards.

This is evidence of generosity, not imprisonment and conspiracy, Mr. Mesereau said. Family members were free to come and go as they pleased -- and they did, he pointed out.

Mr. Mesereau said inaccurate information was presented in a secret grand jury hearing that led to Mr. Jackson's indictment and that prosecutors also gave faulty jury instructions.

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon "intimidated," "bullied" and "threatened" witnesses to "poison the well," Mr. Mesereau said.

Mr. Jackson was not in the courtroom. He pleaded not guilty in April to four counts of lewd conduct, one count of attempted lewd conduct, four counts of administering alcohol to commit molestation, and one count of conspiracy to commit abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.

Next month, Mr. Sneddon; the accuser's mother; one of her civil attorneys, William Dickerman; and her son's psychiatrist, Dr. Stan Katz, are scheduled to testify. All were subpoenaed by the defense to answer questions about what they allege was an illegal raid of a private investigator's office.

Defense co-counsels Robert Sanger and Steve Cochran called several law enforcement officers to answer questions about that raid at Tuesday's hearing, the first time public testimony was heard in the high-profile case.

At issue is whether Mr. Sneddon knew or reasonably should have known that Bradley Miller was working as a private investigator for Mr. Jackson's lawyer, Mark Geragos, when he prepared the affidavit for the November 2003 raid. If so, the evidence seized could be ruled inadmissible because it would be shielded by attorney-client privilege.

Defense lawyers cited numerous memos sent among Mr. Geragos, Mr. Miller and Mr. Dickerman that were provided to authorities by the alleged victim's mother in July 2003. But the four sheriff's detectives insisted they did not know about Mr. Miller's working relationship with Mr. Geragos before the raid.

Sheriff's Sgt. William Caldwell said that just as he was finishing seizing evidence, Mr. Miller's lawyer arrived and said his client worked for Mr. Geragos. But the defense's last witness, District Attorney Investigator David Tonello, said under questioning by Mr. Sanger, "I'm sure we all realized that as an investigator he might be working for lawyers."

The 10-count indictment against Mr. Jackson alleges 28 overt acts that support the conspiracy charge. Judge Melville had ordered those portions of the indictment blacked out from public view and, despite arguments from media lawyer Theodore Boutrous on Tuesday, ordered that the indictment be kept sealed.

But Mr. Auchincloss summarized details from several of the overt acts, beginning with No.1, which alleges that Mr. Jackson contacted John Doe (the accuser) and his mother, Jane Doe, the day after the BBC video aired in England and "induced fear."

Act No. 2, he said, was that Mr. Jackson allegedly "told the family they will be safe only if John Doe agrees to do a press conference."

Mr. Auchincloss also alleged the family was forced by Mr. Jackson to do a rebuttal film "explaining what a wonderful, misunderstood person Michael Jackson is."

Acts No. 3 and 4 were "the beginning of the seduction of John Doe . . . Mr. Jackson provided the teen with alcohol and bribes . . . and welcomed him into a world of secrecy away from his mother."

Mr. Mesereau attacked the prosecution arguments. "The idea that a conspiracy was going on to imprison the family to get a film made is utterly ridiculous," he said.

The premise upon which the conspiracy charge is based, combined with faulty jury instruction, warrants that the conspiracy charge be thrown out, Mr. Mesereau said.

The others should be dismissed because of "the outrageous conduct" of Mr. Sneddon in his "mocking of witnesses," presenting inadmissible evidence to grand jurors, and allowing "so-called experts" -- referring to the accuser's psychiatrist and the family's civil attorney, Larry Feldman -- to testify about the credibility of the alleged victim and his mother.

Judge Melville did not say when he would rule on the defense motion to dismiss the charges.

Monday, 02 August 2004

Michael Jackson’s lawyers filed a motion to the court on Monday to seek whether the lead District Attorney Tom Sneddon violated the “gag” order.

“Mr. Jackson respectfully requests the Court for clarification as to whether the foregoing reported statements by Mr. Sneddon violated the Protective Order” in the case.

District Attorney Tom Sneddon’s reportedly made some remarks in regards to the case at a District Attorneys Association conference he attended in Vancouver on July 20th.

A Canadian journalist, who was attending the conference, reported on July 21 in his Globe and Mail newspaper article that the district attorney said to his colleagues, “we sent letters to some people saying we intended to call them as witnesses in order to keep them off TV.”

In the filed documents, the defense requests “whether Mr. Sneddon’s statements violated the order in that the statements were made for public dissemination as to the existence or possible existence of any document or any other evidence in regards to the letters to witnesses, or the admissibility of which may have to be determined by the Court.”

Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville has barred all case participants involved discussing it in public without his permission.

Many in the legal field have criticized the district attorney suggesting that his remarks were inappropriate. They suggested that he was using the power of the grand jury to silence people who he did not intend to call as witnesses so they would not publicly discuss the details revolving around this case.

Defense attorney Steve Cron, who has handled high profile cases, called Sneddon´s remarks "shocking" and "totally unethical."

Mr. Sneddon’s spokeswoman, Susan Tellem said in response to the court filing by the defense, "Mr. Sneddon has said publicly that he has not violated the gag order.”

Mr. Sneddon also gave an interview to the Associated Press’s Linda Deutsch. In her article on July 23rd, the district attorney said that his statements were taken out of context.

He also understood that he was speaking at a "training session" which would not be covered by the press.

Mr. Sneddon, who was on a panel with other prosecutors in high profile cases, said they were holding a panel discussion on the subject of what to anticipate if one of these cases hits your jurisdiction. “I was assigned the topic of how you preserve a fair trial for both sides and prevent a change of venue,” he said.

He acknowledged he had cautioned his colleagues not to expect the press to be fair and that other panelists agreed with him.

"Everybody said it´s the impact of cable TV and when they come to town it´s a feeding frenzy," Sneddon said.

But he reiterated that his remark about sending gag order letters to witnesses was misinterpreted.

"We have never ever sent a letter to someone telling them that they were under a gag order and not subpoenaed them and not had them testify," Sneddon said. "We have never used this to keep people from talking publicly."

"We´ve never used that as a way to shut people up and keep them from talking," said Sneddon. "I would have to be criminally dumb to get up and say that. I may have some failings but that´s not one of them."

However, Russell Halpern, the attorney representing the accuser’s father, said that he received one of those letters from the Santa Barbara district attorney’s office in January of this year. It stated that he could be called as a witness, though he had no firsthand knowledge of the child molestation case against the singer. He has not been called.

"He´s saying I misused my power as district attorney in order to shut people up. ... That is a big, big violation. I think the state bar should investigate,” he said.

Mr. Halpern said he was considering a lawsuit against Sneddon for violating his First Amendment rights.

"I have a lot of things I could say and I haven´t voiced them because I´ve actually been intimidated to some degree," he said. "I felt all along that he was (disingenuous) when he sent me a letter saying I was a potential witness. His real interest was to stymie any comments made about his case."

"I am just astounded. He is saying that he´s using the judicial process untruthfully and improperly," he said. "I´m not surprised someone would do it. I´m surprised he would think there is nothing wrong with it."

Sunday, 15 August 2004

Michael Jackson, along with members of his family, will be present at Monday´s hearing to witness testimony of the prosecutor determined to send the pop icon to prison on charges of child molestation, a pursuit dating back eleven years.

Santa Barbara District Attorney Thomas Sneddon will be taking center stage at the session, where defense attorney Thomas Mesereau will question him as to his knowledge concerning the employment of private investigator Bradley Miller by former Jackson counsel Mark Geragos. The defense intends to show that Sneddon knowingly violated the sanctity of the attorney-client privilege when investigators raided Miller´s office in November.

Though this and other issues on the docket is of major significance, emotional overtones may instead be the highlight of the hearing. Jackson has long since expressed his anger, frustration, and distaste for the prosecutor who tried to bring charges of molestation against him in 1993 in the song "D.S."

"It´s a faceoff between Jackson and Sneddon," said Laurie Levenson, a Loyola University law professor and former federal prosecutor. "And emotionally, it´s a big moment in the case. This is high drama."

She also said the hearing is important legally because prosecutors stand to lose key evidence should it be determined that said evidence was illegally obtained.

"This is the basis of the conspiracy count," she said.

Levenson also added that a finding of intentional interference by the prosecution with the attorney-client privilege could likely prompt a motion for the dismissal of the one charge of conspiracy.

The defense argues that any materials seized for Miller´s office should be duly suppressed from being entered in as evidence at trial. These materials are believed to be crucial to the prosecution´s case--among them, a videotape of Jackson´s accuser and his family praising the entertainer.

The prosecution theorizes that the tape was made under duress while Jackson held the family hostage at Neverland Valley Ranch. The case against Jackson would be severely undermined should the defense be successful in having it suppressed.

Monday´s hearing is scheduled to begin at 10am Pacific Time.

Monday, 16 August 2004

Hundreds of cheering fans greeted pop superstar Michael Jackson as he arrived at the Santa Barbara courthouse today. The supporters joined a massive media contingent in the hopes of witnessing a showdown with Santa Barbara District Attorney Thomas Sneddon.

Dressed in a white suit with a gold armband, the singer emerged from a silver double-decker tour bus alongside members of his family. Fans and media jostled for the best position to see Mr. Jackson as he made the short walk from the bus to the courthouse entrance. Supporters were laden with posters showing their support for the entertainer, who waved to the crowd and flashed

(AP Photo/Nick Ut)

peace signs, as his security staff escorted him into the court buildings.

One supporter, Olivia Baker, 20, of San Diego, said Sneddon has targeted the singer unfairly. "No human being deserves that, especially since he's given his whole heart to the world," she said, sporting a trademark black fedora. "His heart is honest. I don't believe he would ever hurt a child."

District Attorney Tom Sneddon was expected to be the first witness of the day. He will answer questions about a raid on private investigator Bradley Miller’s office, in which evidence was seized. Attorneys for Mr. Jackson claim the raid was conducted illegally, as Miller was employed by Mark Geragos, Jackson’s attorney at the time.

Commentators in the case pointed out a number of public relations moves ahead of today’s court hearings. Only hours before the day’s events, an attorney general’s report rejecting Mr. Jackson’s claims that he was ‘manhandled’ was leaked to CBS.
"The timing is amazing," said former federal prosecutor and Loyola University Law School professor Laurie Levenson.
"This means both sides are playing the public relations game. No matter who leaked it, prosecutors want the public to see Michael Jackson as a manipulator and a liar. And it gets some of the spotlight off Sneddon."
The report, sent to Santa Barbara Sheriff Jim Anderson, was published despite being sealed by Judge Rodney Melville.

In what was also considered by many to be a PR move, Mr. Jackson made an appearance yesterday at the AME church in Los Angeles, one of the city’s leading black churches. The singer was also joined in court today by many of his family, including his parents and siblings Jermaine, Janet, Jackie and LaToya. In a show of solidarity, the siblings dressed in white in support of their brother.

Commenting on Mr. Jackson’s appearance at the church, defense attorney Steve Cron said "Jackson has never been involved with the African American community in the past. I can't imagine why else he would suddenly get religion."

Today’s hearings will focus on Sneddon’s actions prior to charges being filed against the singer. The defense wants evidence seized in the raid of Miller’s office thrown out because of a violation of attorney-client privilege between Jackson and Geragos.
Santa Barbara County sheriff's officials have admitted to using a sledgehammer to break into Miller's office, where they seized videotapes and files relating to the Jackson case.
The prosecution maintains that they did not know Miller was employed by Geragos.

Sneddon’s personal involvement in the case may also receive attention from defense attorneys today. Sneddon had personally conducted a surveillance mission of Miller’s office. It is considered highly unusual for a district attorney to personally conduct any investigations. This has further fuelled claims that the prosecutor has a vendetta against Mr. Jackson.

A ruling to suppress evidence seized at the raid would severely damage the prosecution’s case for the conspiracy charges which have become the centrepiece of the case against the singer.

Tuesday, 17 August 2004

Sources claim that there were threats made against pop singer Michael Jackson, prompting authorities to maintain high security for Mr. Jackson’s appearance in court on Monday. The nature of the threats had to do with inflicting bodily harm on Mr. Jackson.

Mr. Jackson, who was there for a hearing that focused on the actions of Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon, arrived with some of his family members, including his parents.

At issue was the defense's claim that Sneddon violated attorney-client privilege between Jackson and his former attorney, Mark Geragos, when he conducted a search of the office of Brad Miller, a private investigator. However, Sneddon maintains he did not know that Miller was directly employed by Geragos.

On Tuesday, Santa Barbara County Sheriff's investigator Jeff Klapakis, the lead investigator on the Jackson case since February 2003, took the stand and testified that the sheriff's department did not know that Miller worked for Geragos, but was interested in finding out for whom he did work.

"It dawned on no one ... that Mr. Miller was an investigator hired by an attorney, namely Mr. Geragos?" asked Jackson defense attorney Steve Cochran.

"That is correct," Klapakis responded.

The investigator then proceeded to say that the department sought search warrants for Miller's office because the mother of the alleged victim, identified as Jane Doe, claimed that some items belonging to her may be there.

Mr. Jackson’s defense also dropped a bombshell when it was revealed that Dr. Stan Katz, the psychologist who interviewed the alleged victim and concluded that molestation had taken place, was linked directly to Brad Miller.

When Dr. Katz took the stand Tuesday and was interviewed by Jackson family attorney Brian Oxman, he stated that the first time he had heard of Miller was in a meeting with Feldman in June 2003.

"He just mentioned that an investigator named Brad Miller had made a videotape of the minor children," Katz said.

He said the next time he had heard Miller's name was in the media, in stories about a break-in at the investigator's office. Brian Oxman then proceeded to drop the bombshell.

"Bradley Miller is a very special patient of yours, isn't he, Dr. Katz?" Oxman asked.

Katz claimed doctor-patient privilege and said he couldn't discuss any of his patients. He then admitted that he knew Miller because he had worked on family law cases with the investigator.

Mr. Jackson’s attorneys also wish to question the alleged victim’s mother, in this series of hearings, but the prosecution told Judge Rodney Melville on Tuesday the woman could not appear in court until the end of September due to complications from a C-section she underwent to deliver a baby July 27.

Also, Jackson attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. told the judge that he must appear in Alabama the last two weeks of September for a death penalty case.

The next in this series of hearings is Wednesday, August 18.

Saturday, 21 August 2004

Neverland Valley Ranch managers testified Friday that Sheriff’s deputies overstepped the boundaries of their warrant in the search of superstar Michael Jackson’s California home.

In the continuation of the singer’s pre-trial hearings, Property Manager Joseph Marcus and Security Manager Violet Silva testified that authorities searched areas not listed in the warrant.

Defense lawyers, led by Thomas Mesereau, are contending that evidence seized in raids on Neverland and the office of private investigator Bradley Miller should be ruled inadmissible.

The warrant for the Neverland raid, conducted by some 40 officers on November 18, included a search of a building next to the main house. Described in the warrant as “security headquarters,” it housed a small security office as well as Jackson’s private office, an apartment and a video library.

Property Manager Marcus, who oversees Neverland’s 60 employees, testified that he initially cooperated with Sheriff’s deputies after studying the search warrant. He admitted to giving the deputies access to certain areas not listed no the warrant.

"They were doing an initial sweep of the buildings to secure the area and make sure no one was in the buildings,” testified Marcus. “They did the sweep, but then decided they wanted to search. I objected because it was not in the scope of the search warrant."

Marcus unlocked doors for the deputies, as "they were going to drill it if I didn´t open it, so I did." He further testified that Deputy Jeff Klipakis told him he would have the search warrant amended to cover these areas.

In his testimony, however, Lt. Klipakis denied having said this. "He told me he didn´t feel the warrant covered that office," he said. "I told him that was my decision, and we were going to make an entry into the office, and he used his keys to open it."

"Why would I be talking to (Jackson employees) about what my plans are going to be?" he asked.

Marcus further testified that he had asked Santa Barbara District Attorney, Thomas Sneddon, to allow Steve Cochran access to the ranch during the raid. Sneddon told him “that’s not possible.” Cochran is one of Jackson’s attorneys and had been waiting outside Neverland’s front gates.

Security Manager, Violet Silva, confirmed in her testimony that deputies told her the warrant would be amended.

"I shouted out ´did you get that addendum?´" Silva testified, saying the deputy shrugged her off, indicating the amendment had not been obtained.
She also testified that Lt. Klapakis later told her, "Just consider the whole building a security office."

During the proceedings, prosecutors portrayed Jackson as being obsessed with security and suggested he used his private office to personally monitor the ranch. They said Jackson’s bedroom had been set up with surveillance equipment and an alarm system.

Defense Attorney Robert Sanger also introduced a number police reports as evidence. The reports referred to Neverland employees being "detained" or "secured" for questioning.

Klapakis testified that employees were not forced into answering questions but were brought to the ranch house in order to determine who was on the property. "People were free to come and go once we identified them," he said.

Also on Friday, Judge Melville ordered the mother of Jackson’s accuser to testify on September 17. She had been unavailable to testify this week after giving birth in July.

A further hearing has been scheduled for Monday to conclude defense testimony on their motion to suppress evidence.

Melville said his rulings would be postponed until after this testimony.

Monday, 23 August 2004

During a crucial evidence hearing on Monday, the prosecution in the child molestation case against entertainer Michael Jackson wound up its presentation by calling on two law enforcement officers to counter testimony given by Jackson employees about the raid of Neverland.

District attorney Investigator Jalaine Hogue testified that during the search, she interviewed Joseph Marcus, property manager for Jackson. According to her testimony, Marcus never expressed an unwillingness to be interviewed, nor did he complain about the scope of the search.

Hogue also testified that Marcus never mentioned that Jackson attorney Steve Cochran´s demands for admittance during the search. Marcus had last week testified that the attorney was at the gate of the estate seeking entrance at the time.

Under defense cross-examination, Hogue acknowledged there were four teams of inquisitors assigned to interview those on the property, and that she was assigned to question Marcus and a maid.

Hogue added that before the search commenced, sheriff´s detectives gathered she and others and gave them a packet of information relating to the allegations, including a list of questions to ask Jackson´s employees. This material, defense attorneys indicated, has not yet been turned over to them.

Sheriff´s Lt. Russell Birchim, who is in charge of court security, was the second witness. He said he was involved in the 1993 search of Neverland and was consulted by District Attorney Thomas Sneddon prior to the 2003 search in order to determine the location of certain buildings.

Birchim testified that he helped Sneddon locate what he believed to be the security office, but acknowledged that his memory was vague after ten years. He also spoke of a report he had written ten years ago on the 1993 search, but did know where the report was now.

The prosecution is attempting to overcome defense testimony that implies authorities seized items from areas of Neverland, which were not specified in the presented search warrant. The disputed items are not publicly known since most search warrant affidavits have remained under seal.

The defense intended to show that Santa Barbara County officials exceeded the scope of the issued warrant on Jackson´s ranch. A final ruling on this issue is not expected until next month. However, Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville issued a tentative ruling to allow dozens of items seized from Neverland and the office of private investigator Bradley Miller to be admitted.

Melville said he had concerns about other items and could possibly suppress them. He would not be issuing a definitive ruling until September to give both prosecution and defense attorneys time to file written arguments.

Also on Monday, Melville ruled that Sneddon did not violate the court-imposed protective order when he addressed district attorneys during a conference in Vancouver, Canada.

Sneddon had been quoted as having said that he sent letters to people telling them they were potential witnesses in the Jackson case so that they would not speak to the media. The prosecutor later said he did not send letters to anyone who will not be called as a witness.

Melville cautioned all attorneys to turn down public appearances.

Wednesday, 01 September 2004

For the second time Judge Rodney Melville refused to reduce the $3 million bail in the Michael Jackson case after an appeals court asked him to revisit the issue.

Citing justification such as Mr. Jackson's wealth and his world travel, Judge Melville also wrote "The Grand Jury transcript provides detailed evidence that (the) defendant sought to arrange for the "Doe" family to travel to Brazil, and the statements of the "Doe" family are that this was being done against their will."

"Jackson has no prior criminal record, but this factor is at least partially offset by the allegation that he has previously engaged in similar criminal conduct - the prosecution of which may have been derailed by a private settlement with the alleged victim."

"Defendant has the financial ability to hire private jets and has frequently traveled beyond the borders of the United States," Melville said.

"While on bail, he received his passport back to travel to England. Although defendant subsequently returned his passport to law enforcement, he may request his passport again for international travel before the January 31, 2005 trial date."

"No amount less than $3 million dollars would provide a financial incentive to return and appear for hearings and trial."

Friday, 17 September 2004

Michael Jackson’s defense team questioned the 36-year-old mother of his teenager accuser today, hoping to discredit her as a witness and prove prosecutorial misconduct on the part of the District Attorney´s office.

Jackson - dressed in white along with other members of his family - arrived at the courthouse appearing confident. The famous family, including his mother Katherine and siblings Janet, LaToya, Jermaine, Jackie and Randy, arrived in a series of black SUV’s and were cheered by a large group of Jackson’s fans.

During the hearing, the superstar stared intently at the woman, identified only as Jane Doe, as she testified. Dressed in a black suit and white blouse, she avoided eye contact with Jackson for the duration of the hearing. Jackson occasionally wiped his brow with a white handkerchief while looking directly at her.

Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau questioned the mother about contradictions in sworn statements and other documents filed with the court. Having previously told the court he believed the woman to be a liar, he now suggested the lawsuit was indeed motivated by money.

"She made statements that her children can sue Michael Jackson after they turn 18," Mesereau noted. "She said she is not after money then she says she is after money.”

He continued, pointing out "she has hired numerous lawyers and used resumes for work that show she is sophisticated in investigation and prosecution and can supervise surveillance."

He told the court that the woman knew how to file lawsuits, saying she had once accused her ex-husband of molesting one of her sons and then imprisoning him in Los Angeles. She similarly stated that Jackson molested her teenage son and attempted to kidnap the family.

Jackson’s team are also aiming to suppress evidence seized in a raid on private investigator Bradley Miller’s office on November 18th. Mesereau suggested the woman was aware Miller worked for Mark Geragos, Jackson’s attorney at the time. He claims the prosecution knew or should have known of this relationship and that evidence seized should be inadmissible due to attorney/client privilege.

Mesereau referred repeatedly to a transcript of an interview between Miller and the mother from February 16th last year – only days after her son appeared on the ITV documentary, “Living with Michael Jackson”. He pointed out that Miller had clearly explained his relationship with Geragos and Jackson at both the beginning and the end of the interview.

He appeared frustrated as the woman seemed to not understand many of his questions.

Later she conceded, "he told me he was with Michael Jackson´s security team. It don´t matter what the transcript said. He said he was Michael´s PI (private investigator), or (somebody) said that. I don´t remember. I wasn´t paying attention."

Judge Rodney Melville asked her whether she believed the transcript to be false. She replied that "Frank" had told her of the relationship between Miller, Geragos and Jackson.

The combative hearing ended without a ruling being given on the seizure of evidence. Judge Rodney Melville said he would provide his ruling in writing at a later date. The next scheduled court date is October 14th.

Monday, 27 September 2004

Authorities searched the home of Michael Jackson's personal assistant September 15, cites a recently released court document.

The edited version of the court document reportedly has Michael Jackson's defense team filing an "emergency application" with the court seeking to have all the items taken in the raid by Santa Barbara County Sheriff investigators to be sealed. The defense's request was honored by Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville.

The prosecution continues their active hunt for evidence against Mr. Jackson in the child-molestation case a year after charges have been filed. This was the second raid that the defense has protested.
The Defense filed to place the seized items under seal on September 16, and was one of the issues heard by Judge Melville during a defense-only hearing the next day.

In the court document, Mr. Jackson’s defense attorney Robert Sanger described the assistant as being someone who "maintains Mr. Jackson's personal papers and files."

Mr. Sanger also stated that among the items taken were "a fax sent on behalf of the client to his lawyer regarding possible trial witnesses" and three folders labeled "Mesereau," referring to Tom Mesereau one of Mr. Jackson's other attorneys.

The defense stated that the prosecution might have violated the attorney-client privilege. This is not the first time that the defense accused the prosecution of a legal violation. The issue was heavily argued during recent evidentiary hearings.

Mr. Jackson's team has stated that all items seized in a raid last November at the office of private investigator Brad Miller should be thrown out because they were protected by attorney-client privilege. Mr. Miller was hired by Mark Geragos, a former attorney of Mr. Jackson.

A written ruling from Judge Melville addressing the legality and admissibility of the evidence taken during the Miller raid is expected before October.

"Law enforcement and the district attorney continue to attempt to use search warrants after a case has been filed, and after a client has retained counsel, despite being aware that they run the risk of invading the defense camp," Sanger wrote in the filed document.

Mr. Jackson's defense team asked that appropriate procedures be enacted to determine if the items seized are "covered by privilege and to fashion appropriate remedies."

On another topic, Judge Melville released a notice of intent that he plans to unseal a request by Mr. Jackson to make a statement on the recently aired VH1 television movie "Man in the Mirror." The Judge had a change of thought since the document was previously sealed.

Judge Melville stated that "upon further consideration" he has decided that Mr. Jackson's request should be made public. The purpose of Mr. Jackson's request being made public was not addressed.

If either side does not object, the document will be placed in the public file September 27.

The next court hearing in the Jackson case is set for October 14.

Saturday, 02 October 2004

On Thursday, a judge agreed to a postponement of the trial of a lawsuit brought about by Michael Jackson and his former attorney over the alleged unauthorized recording of them on a charter jet as the entertainer flew to Santa Barbara to be booked on charges of child molestation.

Xtrajet, Inc. was sued by Jackson and attorney Mark Geragos in November, their suit alleging they were videotaped without their knowledge during the flight. Over the protests of Xtrajet, Superior Court Judge Soussan G. Bruguera moved the trial start date from November 2004 to May 23, 2005.

The postponement was due to Jackson´s ongoing criminal case, which is set for trial in January, and Geragos´ representation of Scott Peterson, who is currently on trial for the murder of his wife and their unborn son. Geragos is no longer representing Jackson, but was his attorney when Jackson flew from Las Vegas to surrender to authorities in November.

The lawsuit against XtraJet alleges that the charter company "intentionally and surreptitiously videotaped and recorded" Jackson and Geragos, including the recording of "privileged attorney-client communications."

Lloyd Kirschbaum, counsel for XtraJet, referred to the suit as a "publicity stunt."

The tapes of the recording surfaced when XtraJet representatives screened the video to several news organizations, claiming that the tapes were found aboard one of their jets. They wanted to know of the legalities regarding the distribution or selling of them.

Geragos won a temporary restraining order against XtraJet barring the release of the tapes.

Judge Bruguera also granted a request by Jackson to have his claims of emotional distress removed from the suit. According to Brian Kabateck, lawyer for Geragos, the change prevents attorneys from questioning Jackson about his mental state.

Kabateck added that Jackson also wanted to avoid giving a deposition for the trial, but that request was denied by the judge.

Monday, 04 October 2004

Attorney Robert Sanger filed a motion on Monday to remove Santa Barbara County district attorney's office from the Michael Jackson child molestation case.

Mr. Sanger said the motion was filed under seal because "the content of the motion includes reference to details in under-seal material including discovery materials, grand jury transcripts, investigative reports, exhibits and identities of witnesses."

Much of the proceedings have been kept under seal by Judge Rodney Melville.

It has long been believed that District Attorney Thomas Sneddon had a personal vendetta against Mr. Jackson. Motions to remove a district attorney are based on claims of personal involvement and conflict of interest.

"The odds of being successful are very slim," said criminal defense attorney Steve Cron. "It would be highly unusual for a judge to take the whole district attorney's office off a case." Mr. Cron said that lawyers claim in such motions that the chief prosecutor is so personally involved in the case that he can't make fair decisions.

Loyola Law Professor Laurie Levenson said that if the motion were granted and upheld on appeal, the state attorney general's office would have to take over the case.

"This was a natural motion to file," she said. "Even if the chances of success are not great, it's worth taking a stab at it."

Friday, 08 October 2004

Defense lawyers for entertainer Michael Jackson have argued that District Attorney Thomas Sneddon and his team of prosecutors should be removed from the case due to a conflict of interest.

The motion, originally filed on October 4th, was unsealed on Thursday revealing further details of the DA’s alleged vendetta against the superstar.

Jackson supporters and members of the media have for some time speculated that Sneddon is too personally involved in the case following his failed attempt to prosecute the singer in 1993.

The 34-page motion, still partially blacked out, claims Sneddon is "blinded by his zeal to convict Michael Jackson" and should be removed from the case. The defense further states the DA’s office "have an actual conflict of interest . . . that is so grave it is unlikely that Mr. Jackson will receive a fair trial."

Much of the document’s content had previously been included in a motion to dismiss the indictment against Mr. Jackson. Both motions cite Sneddon’s bias during grand jury proceedings. Judge Rodney Melville has yet to rule on the motion to dismiss the grand jury indictment.

In the unsealed documents, defense attorney Steve Cochran points out that the accuser’s mother was allowed to refer to Mr. Jackson as “the devil” during her testimony to the grand jury. He further claims that she "prejudiced the grand jury with wild tales of 'killers' and secret conversations in 'code' despite a total lack of support for this version of events by other witnesses, including her own family."

Jackson’s team also contends that prosecutors "poisoned the well" during the hearings by allowing testimony about the 1993 case. It is also alleged that former county Sheriff, Jim Thomas, was allowed to leak prejudicial information about the case to the media.
This followed Judge Melville’s ruling that Thomas, now an NBC consultant, was not covered by the gag order preventing anyone involved in the case speaking publicly about it. The former Sheriff has said that while he does have a friendship with Sneddon, they do not discuss the current case and claims he did not leak information.

The tenuous relationship between the accuser’s parents was also highlighted during grand jury proceedings. Rocky relations between the two resulted in divorce and a restraining order being placed against the father.

At one point, it is revealed, he took photographs of his then wife as she came towards him with a stick. Prosecutors implied the boy’s father had sold this photograph to a tabloid newspaper. Jackson’s team claim this was an attempt by the prosecution to "sully the jurors' opinion" of the boy’s father. He still denies having sold the pictures.

The motion further points out that the investigation itself only began following the airing of a British documentary, “Living with Michael Jackson”. The program left a "misimpression that Mr. Jackson had slept in the same bed with (the victim.)" Mr. Cochran notes that both Jackson and the boy say in the documentary that the singer slept on the floor while his accuser used the bed.

Jackson’s defense team also attacked Sneddon’s public demeanor during a news conference held to announce the arrest warrant again Mr. Jackson late last year. Many felt his jovial behavior was inappropriate.

Cochran again pointed out that Sneddon overstepped his boundaries as prosecutor when he personally led surveillance of an office belonging to a private investigator working for then Jackson attorney, Mark Geragos.

In an unusual move, Sneddon was called to testify in August and claimed his decision to personally conduct the surveillance was made out of convenience, as he happened to be in the area that day.

Also in the defense spotlight is Court TV and former Hard Copy journalist, Diane Dimond, who has been reporting on Jackson since 1993. In the newly released documents, defense attorneys have requested copies of any notes Sneddon had made of meetings with Dimond.

Prosecutors have requested that the motion to remove Sneddon not be heard during the next pre-trial hearing on October 14th. It is not yet known which motions will be heard on this date.

Friday, 15 October 2004

Judge Rodney S. Melville rejected arguments that the indictment should be thrown out because of prosecutorial misconduct, improper legal instruction and insufficient evidence. Saying prosecutors had presented enough evidence of child molestation and an attempt to silence the alleged victim´s family for the case to go forward.

The decision came after perhaps the most unusual of a string of media restrictions in the secrecy-shrouded case against the pop star: Reporters and other members of the public were prohibited from talking in court, even before the proceedings. One fan of Jackson´s was tossed by bailiffs for talking to the person next to her moments after she entered the courtroom. As they questioned the legality of the restriction, reporters silently scribbled notes to each other, as if in high school. The rule was imposed after Santa Maria Times news columnist Steve Corbett spoke with Santa Barbara County Sheriff´s Sgt. Ross Ruth about a judge´s order barring reporters from conducting interviews during breaks and hearings. Corbett argued that it was hard to say what constituted an interview, and Ruth responded by ordering his deputies to keep everyone silent. The bailiffs rescinded the rule after a midmorning break in Thursday´s hearing, saying there had been a misunderstanding.

Reporters have complained about extraordinary secrecy in the child molestation case, including lack of access to hearings, the withholding of the identities of Jackson´s alleged conspirators, a sweeping gag order imposed on lawyers, and the sealing of all case documents under a judge´s order.

Additional rulings Thursday, prosecutors were ordered to give the defense the names of confidential witnesses in the case. However, the informants´ names are still to be kept secret. D A Tom Sneddon let one slip though. He revealed in court that the alleged victim´s stepfather is one of the witnesses. Sneddon realized his error and lightly hit a podium in frustration. Melville said he would not allow plans to begin the trial in January to be derailed by defense complaints that prosecutors are not sharing evidence quickly enough. "That would be punishing me for your failure. ... It´s not in the interest of anybody to prolong this litigation," Melville said. In addition the judge also set a Nov. 4 hearing on a defense request to have Sneddon removed from the case, and a Nov. 5 hearing for a defense request that Jackson´s bail be lowered.

Mr. Jackson maintains his innocence against these allegations.

Sunday, 17 October 2004

Steve Cochran took a "temporary leave of absence" from the team defending Jackson from child molestation charges but will continue to "collaborate" with lead attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr., Jackson said. "I would like to thank attorney Steve Cochran for all of the hard work he has done on my behalf," Jackson said in a statement released by his spokeswoman. "He continues to be my friend and close adviser." A reason for the departure was not released.
In a separate statement, Mesereau denied rumors that there was animosity between him and Cochran. He called Cochran a friend, "brilliant lawyer, and a great credit to our profession."

Sunday, 17 October 2004

Two paramount rulings in Jackson Case, Melville ruled Thursday that the criminal case against Michael Jackson will proceed and that raids of Neverland Valley Ranch and a private investigator´s office were ´legal.´ Mr. Jackson faces charges of child molestation and conspiracy. His defense team had filed motions to throw out the indictment against the entertainer and additionally, to bar evidence seized in the raids from being presented at trial. Judge Melville´s decisions, are the most significant rulings thus far. His rejection of the defense team´s allegations that the prosecution as well as law enforcement officers acted illegally. The defense made their intentions clear in an earlier hearing, stating that if the judge ruled against them, they planned to challenge his ruling in the Court of Appeal.

Judge Melville ruled that only 16 of more than 150 items seized from the Neverland raid will be barred from trial. Items including notes, photographs and at least one video and one audiotape, most of which the prosecution had already agreed would not be allowed as evidence. He rejected defense arguments that evidence seized from a private investigator´s office was inadmissable. Mr. Jackson´s lawyers had argued that because the investigator worked for Mr. Jackson´s attorney at the time, the evidence was taken in violation of attorney-client privilege. Melville did express concern about some of the issues the defense raised and characterized as "regrettable" the tone Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon used when questioning two witnesses -- identified by the News-Press as the accuser´s father and Russell Halperin, his divorce lawyer -- during the grand jury proceedings. But the judge indicated that Mr. Sneddon´s actions did not justify setting aside the indictment.
"There is nothing about the exchanges, unpleasant as they may be, which would appear likely to intimidate the grand jury members themselves or deflect them from a consideration of the large volume of other evidence presented," Judge Melville stated in his 12-page ruling upholding the indictment.

Judge Melville ordered the prosecution to turn over information about informants and other material generated during the investigation to the defense. Arguments on defense motions to remove Mr. Sneddon from the case and to lower Mr. Jackson´s bail were postponed until the next hearing, scheduled for Nov. 4 and 5. Although the judge ruled against them, defense attorneys have made some gains. Through public hearings on the motions, the defense team -- led by Thomas Mesereau -- was able to put Mr. Sneddon and the prosecution´s key witnesses on the stand. They locked prosecution witnesses into their testimony, laying the groundwork to challenge their stories at trial. In the process, defense lawyers presented their client´s side of the story to the public and potential jurors through the intense media coverage. Defense lawyers asserted that Mr. Sneddon abused his power during the grand jury proceedings by threatening witnesses. They also contended that grand jurors were not properly instructed on the law of conspiracy and that no evidence presented linked Mr. Jackson to the alleged conspiracy. For these reasons, the defense said, the indictment should be thrown out.

Judge Melville´s ruling describes the prosecution´s allegations of conspiracy, adding new detail to what has been reported in a case shrouded in such secrecy that the full indictment has never been released. His ruling offers the following account of the prosecution´s accusations:

"The theory of the prosecution seems to be that in the wake of a television documentary in which Mr. Jackson seeks to explain and justify having unrelated children sleep in his bedroom, he and his advisors determined to prepare a rebuttal video in which it was made clear that no appropriate conduct had occurred." They wanted the young cancer patient -- who appeared with him in the British documentary -- to appear in the rebuttal, the judge continued. Mr. Jackson called the boy and his family and invited them to attend a press conference in Miami, telling them travel arrangements had already been worked out, the summary said. "The family arrived in accordance with the plan. No press conference occurred. Mr. Jackson personally explained to the mother that her children were in danger and that to deal with the threats she should cooperate with the filmmakers, who later requested she sign the documents authorizing suit against the (British)." The family was then flown to Neverland where the boys were invited to sleep in Jackson´s bedroom, prosecutors allege. "The family´s movements were arguably constrained," the judge´s summary says. "They were not permitted to see the original documentary when it aired and they understood their phone calls were monitored. The rebuttal video was filmed in West Hills, and passports and visas were obtained for travel to Brazil."

The judge continued: "The family´s apartment was vacated and their belongings put in storage. The family left Neverland, but were encouraged to return. When the mother left again, her children stayed behind. It is reported that a written directive that one of the children should not leave Neverland Ranch was distributed to security personnel."

The judge also pointed out: "None of this testimony suffices to establish conclusively at his stage that crimes actually occurred or that a conspiracy actually existed or that Mr. Jackson had any direct involvement or did anything wrong. Innocent explanations are entirely possible, and controverting evidence may exist. Those issues remain to be resolved at trial."

Saturday, 23 October 2004

Santa Barbara Prosecutors are fighting back in response to accusations that District Attorney Tom Sneddon has misused his power, has a vendetta and should be removed from Michael Jackson's child abuse case. Jackson's lawyers have repeatedly questioned Mr. Sneddon's conduct, accusing the prosecutor of having a "vendetta" against Mr. Jackson stemming from the failure of a 1993 case. Senior Deputy District Attorney Gerald Franklin stated in his motion that it would be reasonable if Mr. Sneddon does "not have warm personal regard for" Mr. Jackson, since the prosecutor had substantial evidence that the entertainer molested at least one boy in 1993 and "molested another lad 10 years later." There is not "one scrap of evidence" to support the "vendetta" theory, Franklin stated in the response motion. Deputy DA Franklin added: "The defendant does not have a constitutional right to a District Attorney who likes him, nor to one who is indifferent about prosecuting him successfully. He has a constitutional right to be prosecuted fairly, by prosecutors who confine their zeal within legal and ethical limits." If Sneddon was removed, the Attorney General's Office would take over. The state office has submitted its opinion, which has not been released by the court. The attorney general is expected to have a representative at the hearing on the request to disqualify Sneddon, which will be held November 4.

As it states in the State Penal Code, requests to take cases away from a district attorney "shall not be granted unless it is shown by the evidence that a conflict of interest exists such as would render it unlikely that the defendant would receive a fair trial" which the defense has alleged but the prosecution insists they have no basis for the accusations. This is not the only defense motion alleging prosecutorial misconduct. Two additional motions have been filed, alleging that Mr. Sneddon "bullied" witnesses during the grand jury proceeding and that the DA crossed the line by acting like an investigator and violated attorney-client privilege during a search. Judge Melville denied the request to throw out the current indictment and bar evidence seized from Neverland and the former Defense attorney's private investigator's office. Thomas Mesereau, Jackson's lead attorney, will likely challenge those decisions with the Court of Appeal.

Responding to accusations that Mr. Sneddon is "overzealous," Mr. Franklin said that he is doing the job he was elected to do, "Just as the Santa Barbara District Attorney was duty-bound not to commence a criminal prosecution in 1994 without testimonial evidence to support it, he was duty-bound to charge Michael Jackson in 2003 when evidence warranted it." Defense lawyers had lambasted Mr. Sneddon for "bullying," "threatening" and "intimidating" witnesses during the grand jury proceeding. While Judge Melville found this was insufficient reason to set aside the indictment, he did characterize Mr. Sneddon's tone as "regrettable." Franklin stated that there may have been a "certain lack of cordiality," but the DA's "apparent impatience with two distinctly hostile witnesses of the 40 who were examined by one or another of the prosecutors in the grand jury proceeding is not evidence of a conflict sufficient to disqualify him as one of defendant's prosecutors at trial." Jackson's attorneys also attacked Mr. Sneddon's performance at a press conference Nov. 19, 2003, when a warrant was issued for Mr. Jackson's arrest, because he joked with reporters. Mr. Sneddon later apologized on national television for not having a more serious tone.

Saturday, 30 October 2004

The office of Attorney General Bill Lockyer has opposed a request by Michael Jackson to have the Santa Barbara County District Attorney´s Office removed from the case.

In a motion filed by the defense, they asserted that Thomas Sneddon is "blinded by his zeal to convict Michael Jackson" and that his personal bias and the conflict he has in prosecuting this case is "so grave it is unlikely that Mr. Jackson will receive a fair trial."

However, Lockyer´s office disagreed with their assessment and has requested for a denial of the defense´s motion at Thursday´s upcoming hearing.

According to the Attorney General´s opposition, which was filed on Thursday, defense attorneys failed to demonstrate that Sneddon has acted inappropriately, or that "that any conflict is so grave as to render it unlikely (Jackson) will receive a fair trial."

Additionally, Supervising Deputy Attorney General Steven Matthews stated within the motion: "Besides failing to specifically demonstrate prosecutorial misconduct, (the defense lawyers´) recusal motion has also failed to show generally that the District Attorney´s zeal in prosecuting the case was not born of an objective and impartial consideration of the case."

Matthews also wrote that it is the duty of a prosecutor to "prosecute with ´earnestness and vigor´ and ´to use every legitimate means to bring about a just conviction,´ and that he may accomplish this by striking ´hard blows´ but not ´foul ones.´´"

Should Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville grant the defense request, the prosecution of the case would be taken over by the Attorney General´s Office.

It is unclear how the state´s request will affect Judge Melville´s decision, for the Attorney General´s Office also opposed a defense motion for recusal of the District Attorney´s Office from another local case.

A California penal code states that a request for the disqualification of a district attorney should not be granted unless there exists a conflict that would "render it unlikely the defendant would receive a fair trial."

Jackson´s defense team accuses Sneddon of having a vendetta because he was unable to prosecute Jackson on charges of child molestation levied against the entertainer a decade ago.

The defense "claim the District Attorney has had a nearly decade-long grudge against him because he received ´sharp criticism´ for not filing charges against the defendant resulting from the 1993-1994 investigation," Matthews wrote. "But (Jackson´s attorneys) merely speculate that any of the District Attorney´s ´zeal´ was in fact a long-delayed reaction to any ´sharp criticism´ he may have received. In fact, such zeal is much more likely attributed to the deep and abiding conviction of the District Attorney in the strong evidence supporting defendant´s guilt in this case."

Matthews also elaborated, "A District Attorney´s general feelings of personal antagonism toward a defendant do not necessarily establish a reasonable basis for recusal of a prosecutor. To warrant recusal, the personal feelings of the prosecutor must be so intense and personal that they present a real danger that he is unable to perform his duties effectively in an objective fashion."

The Jackson defense accused Sneddon also of misconduct during the grand jury proceedings, claiming that he "bullied," "threatened" and intimidated witnesses, allegations of which the attorneys listed when asking Judge Melville to set aside the indictment against their client. That request was denied.

Judge Melville called Sneddon´s conduct "regrettable," but anything that rose to the level of prosecutorial misconduct.

Friday, 05 November 2004

Pop superstar Michael Jackson has not seen the last of nemesis Thomas Sneddon, the Santa Barbara District Attorney overseeing the prosecution.

In a ruling today, Judge Rodney Melville rejected a bid by the singer’s defense team to have Sneddon and his office removed from the case. They are claiming a vindictive Sneddon has been over-zealous in prosecuting the singer, compromising his rights to a fair trial.

In court papers, Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau accused Sneddon of being “motivated by personal animosity” towards Jackson. He further criticised the prosecutor for being “smug” and “jocular” when announcing Jackson’s arrest at a press conference.

Sneddon has denied having any bias towards Jackson and is supported by State Attorney General, Bill Lockyer.

In his ruling today, Melville said "I believe he (Sneddon) has not been excessively zealous and has not threatened the integrity of the case to this point." He went on to say the only way to remove the DA was “if a conflict existed where the defendant could not receive a fair trial."

"I find no disabling conflict,” he continued, “I also find there will be controls in this trial while the jury is present. If he (Sneddon) appears excessively zealous during the trial, I will see that it is taken care of."

Appealing to the judge, Mesereau pointed out that Sneddon’s office had spent more money pursuing Jackson than they had on cases of serial killers. He also claimed the prosecutor had misrepresented to grand jurors the potential motivation of the accuser’s mother.

Mesereau said Sneddon had brought attorney Larry Feldman before the grand jury and had him tell panellists that a criminal prosecution of Jackson would reduce the chances of the boy´s family winning compensation in a civil suit.

"It goes without saying that if you obtain a criminal conviction, that will establish liability," Mesereau said. "Every lawyer here knows that if Mr. Jackson was convicted of these allegations, the alleged victims could walk into civil court and get a judgment."

The defense also noted that Sneddon may be called as a witness during the trial due to his personal involvement with the case.

Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen and a representative of the state attorney general´s office suggested that this motion was not supported by law and Sneddon would not need to testify.

Jackson did not attend today’s hearings which are expected to continue tomorrow.

Friday, 05 November 2004

The quiet battle continues over what material will be allowed into evidence in the case against Michael Jackson.

Lawyers are still examining files seized by sheriff´s deputies from the Los Angeles home of Jackson´s personal assistant. Defense attorneys contend that at least some are covered by attorney-client confidentiality and cannot be used in the trial. Prosecutors agreed not to use some documents, and briefly joined defense attorneys in the courtroom to inform Judge Melville which ones.

Melville has appointed an independent special master to review files taken from three computers at the assistant´s home, and from another computer seized at the office of an investigator for Jackson´s former attorney. The special master will determine if the computers also contained privileged material.

Saturday, 06 November 2004

Judge Melville made it clear that Michael Jackson´s trial would begin in January, the attorneys were instructed to prepare for an intense round of hearings in the case. Melville told both sides to have all motions filed by December "if we´re going to go to trial by Jan. 31, and we are."

Jackson´s lead attorney Thomas Mesereau, Jr. said he planned on filing pre-trial motions attacking jury composition in Santa Barbara County, alleged improprieties in the grand-jury proceedings that led to Jackson´s indictment and evidence recently shared by the prosecution. While the prosecution stated it would be filing additional motions dealing with evidence supplied by the defense.

The Judge vowed to devote any time necessary from Nov. 22 until Jan. 31 to the Jackson case. however, Melville will be taking a two week vacation between now and Jan ´05. Attorneys from both sides of the case were interrupted by Melville when they apparently wanted to comment on his scheduling plans.

The judge´s orders came at the end of a hearing in which both sides argued over the admissibility of evidence seized from Jackson´s personal assistant, Evelyn Tavasci. Where Santa Barbara Police obtained Jackson´s phone records, schedule and documents found in files labeled "Mesereau" that the defense claims falls under attorney-client privilege. Santa Barbara County Sheriff´s Department deputies testified about the search on Friday, but the judge made no ruling.

A hearing is set for 2 p.m. on Monday, when Melville will hear arguments regarding the pace at which Jackson´s defense lawyers are sharing evidence with prosecutors.

Michael Jackson has maintained his innocence throughout these allegations. Pleading NOT GUILTY on all counts.

Saturday, 06 November 2004

Prosecutors contend that the defense organized rallies for the pop star shortly after he was charged with child molestation. Santa Barbara Deputy DA Ron Zonen says that during a raid on the home of Jackson´s personal assistant, authorities found material showing the defense had coordinated the demonstrations in a bid to "generate crowds, publicity and media coverage." "There is some indication that someone in January is planning to come to court and demonstrate in front of Sneddon´s office," Sanger said in reference to Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon. Jackson attorney Robert Sanger said that none of the entertainer´s current attorneys had anything to do with such activities and added that it was difficult to tell from the documents what the plans involved. This came as Jackson´s Legal team argued that the documents should be barred from his upcoming trial because they were not properly seized under a search warrant. Judge Melville agreed, saying organizing rallies on behalf of a defendant was not improper.

Friday´s proceedings offered a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the public relations battle in the Jackson case, which has attracted worldwide media coverage because of the fame and adoration of Mr. Jackson. It is that adoration that sparked the Candle light vigils that took place following his November 2003 arrest.

Jackson is charged in a 10-count indictment with child molestation and conspiracy and is set to stand trial next January.

Tuesday, 09 November 2004

The judge presiding over the trial of entertainer Michael Jackson is determined to avoid delays and aims to begin jury selection as planned on January 31st.

Lawyers for Jackson had previously noted they would have difficulty preparing for the scheduled trial date as the bulk of evidence had been received from the prosecution in the past three weeks.

In a quiet pre-trial hearing held yesterday, Judge Rodney Melville ordered prosecutor Thomas Sneddon to hand over all remaining evidence to the defense by December 6th. Also to be turned over is a complete witness list as well as any materials that may exonerate the superstar.

On Friday Melville ordered the defense, led by Thomas Mesereau, to hand over any legally required materials to the prosecution by the same date.

Defense co-counsel, Susan Yu, said her team are particularly interested in reports from the Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties’ child protective services. These reports, said Yu, would provide a chronology of the alleged incidents of abuse. Judge Melville said if prosecutors had a chronology that would exonerate Jackson, it should be presented to the defense.

Authorities had originally charged Jackson with seven counts of lewd acts on a child and of giving the boy an intoxicating agent. These incidents were alleged to have taken place between February 7th and March 10th. But these dates were later changed with the April indictment, which alleged only four lewd acts between the dates of February 20th and March 12th.

The original date of the first alleged incident on February 7th corresponds with the screening of the “Living with Michael Jackson” documentary. The amended date of February 20th corresponds with the screening of Jackson’s rebuttal, screened on Fox.

"The chronologies are critical to the defense because the dates of the alleged molestations in the original complaint (in December) are different from the dates in the indictment (in April)," Yu said. "These dates are different because the (accuser's) family changed their story. They changed their story because they are not telling the truth."

When Los Angeles child protection authorities interviewed the plaintiff and his family in February, they indicated no wrongdoing. The allegations first appeared four months later during therapy with a psychiatrist.

Yu noted the discrepancies in these dates "goes to the credibility" of the accuser's family and showed "inconsistencies in their stories and could determine the outcome of this case." "This shows the (accuser's) family lied, that this case has been set up and that Mr. Jackson is innocent," she argued.

Sneddon responded to defense arguments, saying “"they are basically the same --- they are just scoped down within a few days."

He added that a new piece of forensic evidence had come to his attention last week but did not elaborate on the item but discussed this briefly with defense lawyers.

Tuesday, 16 November 2004

by Dr. K. C. Arceneaux
November 13, 2004

The release of redacted documents, on November 12, 2004, that are among the evidence in the child molestation case against Michael Jackson could collapse the case, or at the very least, cast serious doubt on the conspiracy charges against him. The documents include correspondence between then Jackson attorney Mark Geragos and William Dickerman, attorney for "Jane Doe," the mother of Jackson's accuser. The letters were sent immediately following the period during which Ms. Doe said she was imprisoned by Jackson employees and was fearful for her life. However, the letters are very mundane, if combative, and concern the return of household belongings. There is no mention of events remotely resembling the accusations made in the Grand Jury indictment.

The letters reveal a prolonged and acrimonious exchange between the attorneys, beginning on March 26 and ending on May 17, 2003. The letters concern return of items that had been removed from Ms. Doe's home and placed in storage. In the letters, there is squabbling about when and where to deliver the belongings, and concern about who would make payments on a storage facility. And yet, this exchange occurs immediately after the period that Ms. Doe claims she and her children were falsely imprisoned by Jackson's staff. The question here is simple. If Ms. Doe thought she and her children had been imprisoned and her life threatened, as she later claimed, why did she not tell Dickerman, her attorney? Kidnapping is a much more serious issue than who will pay for the storage of furniture.

Ms. Doe's accusations against Jackson are similar to charges she made against her now-ex husband in a divorce dispute. About the Jackson case, Ms. Doe said in a police interview leaked to the media in September, 2004, that she felt that "Somebody was going to kill the kids and me. Mostly the kids." In the divorce dispute, she accused her husband of molesting their daughter, kidnapping, and threatening her life. In judge's chambers, the daughter recanted statements she had made earlier, and said that the father did not make death threats. Russell Halpern, attorney for the boy's father, said that he believes the mother scripted her children. Halpern said the father once showed him a script his wife had allegedly written for their children to use when they were questioned in a civil deposition. "She wrote out all their testimony. I actually saw the script. I remember my client showing me, bringing the paperwork to me."

The charges against Michael Jackson are not the first time Ms.Doe has leveled charges of sexual abuse against someone. It is the third. In addition to the charges made against her husband, Ms. Doe also accused security guards of sexually abusing her by fondling her breasts and crotch in a parking lot. The guards had followed her son and husband from the store and accused them of shoplifting. The boy reportedly was carrying a stack of unpaid-for clothing. Ms. Doe alleged that the abuse went on for seven minutes, as her family apparently looked on helplessly. As in the Jackson case, there was a memory delay before accusations were made. Ms. Doe remembered two years after the parking lot incident that she had been (allegedly) sexually abused; these accusations were added to her three million dollar civil case against J.C. Penney.

Tom Griffen, Penney's attorney, said in an interview by Mike Taibbi on the Abrams Report, March 4, 2004,"It became readily apparent that this was an incident, in my opinion, a scam to extract money from J. C. Penney." The case was settled out of court, for a reported $137,000. According to Griffen, the settlement was to avoid the risk of losing in a jury trial. One also assumes that the negative publicity would not have been desirable for the company. The psychiatrist retained by Penney to examine Ms. Doe said that he felt she scripted her children's stories to match hers.

Veracity seems to be a serious problem with this family. In the first indictment Jackson was charged with seven counts of child molestation. In the second indictment, by a grand jury presided over by Santa Barbara prosecutor Tom Sneddon, the instances of molestation had declined from seven to three, with one alleged molestation attempt. Where did the other three molestations go? Did the boy in question, now a mature teenager, testify to seven instances of molestation and then remember that three of them did not happen? Or, now that he is older and wiser, is he less cooperative? Inexplicably, the grand jury indictment added charges not present in the first indictment. Jackson now has been accused of conspiracy to commit twenty-eight felony acts, including conspiring to commit child abduction; false imprisonment; extortion; committing lewd acts upon a child; attempting to commit a lewd act; and administering an intoxicating agent to a child.

The timeframe of the alleged molestations has changed, as well. In the first indictment, the dates were given as from February 7, 2003, to March 10, 2003. These dates were changed in the grand jury indictment, from February 20 to March 12. In a pre-trial hearing on November 8, 2004, Jackson attorney Susan Yu said, "The chronologies are critical to the defense because the dates of the alleged molestations in the original complaint (in December) are different from the dates in the indictment (in April)." Yu said, "These dates are different because the (accuser's) family changed their story. They changed their story because they are not telling the truth."

Saturday, 20 November 2004

Prosecutors in the case against Michael Jackson claim in a recently filed motion that defense attorneys have "grossly abused the process of the court" when issuing subpoenas and have gone overboard by requesting information the prosecution finds irrelevant to Jackson´s defense.

The information of debate is over confidential records of the accuser and his family, which include psychological, gynecological, and other medical records. Senior Deputy District Attorney Ronald Zonen pointed out within the motion that defense attorneys are demanding records for every member of the accuser´s family, including his months old half-brother, and that no dates were specified to limit what records they could receive.

"The demand is for actual copies of X-rays, lab tests, MRI film, ultrasounds, gynecological records, billing records, examinations, medical diagnosis and history of medications," Mr. Zonen stated. "There is nothing a medical institution can do to a patient or for a patient that is not demanded by the defendant´s subpoena."

In addition to the medical and psychiatric records, the defense also subpoenaed financial documents, including information on bank accounts, deposits, withdrawals, 401(k) accounts, retirement accounts, trusts, corporations and joint ventures.

Lead defense counsel Thomas Mesereau has earlier attacked the credibility of the accuser´s mother in court and has repeated said that the child molestation allegations came about only after her botched attempt to get money from Jackson.

In the motion, Zonen further stated, "I have been asked by Mr. Doe, the victim´s stepfather, to seek the court´s intervention to curb what he rightly believes to be (the defense´s) unlimited and unrestrained access to personal and private records and materials, without judicial review of the documents . . . and without regard to whether such materials are relevant to the defense of the pending charges."

The prosecution is also questioning the legality of the defense instructing persons who have been subpoenaed to not inform prosecutors about it. They want Judge Rodney Melville to review materials subpoenaed to determine their relevance to the defense of Jackson, and for the court to also order defense counsel to end their "everything but the kitchen sink" approach to attaining said materials.

Response to the prosecution motion by the defense has not yet been made available.

The matter will be addressed on November 29 at the next pre-trial hearing.

Sunday, 28 November 2004

The defense attorneys for Michael Jackson have asked Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville to order mental evaluations for the family that is accusing him of child molestation. In court documents released Wednesday, November 24th, they allege that they could not effectively cross-examine the psychologist, Dr. Stan Katz, if denied access to his own evaluations of the family.

In the motion seeking the psychological evaluations, the defense argued that details of the alleged abuse contained in the complaint filed by the prosecution vastly differ from those contained in the grand jury indictment.

In the original complaint filed in December 2003 by the Santa Barbara County prosecutors, they charged Mr. Jackson with seven counts of lewd acts with a child and two counts of administering an intoxicant to a minor. They also alleged that the abuse occurred between February 7, 2003 and March 10, 2003.

Contrary, the grand jury indictment in April 2004 no longer resembled the first set of charges. The new charges against Michael Jackson were now four counts of lewd acts with a child, one count of attempted lewd acts with a child and four counts of administering an intoxicant in commission of a felony. According to the motion, the timeline of the alleged abuse changed between February 20, 2003 and March 12, 2003.

Therefore, the previous charges of seven counts of lewd acts with a child were reduced to four. One count of attempted lewd act with a child was added to the new set of counts. The previous charge of administering an intoxicant to a minor changed from two counts to four counts. Then the prosecution added another charge that alleged Mr. Jackson and five “unindicted” individuals of conspired to commit a crime. At this time, none of the five “unindicted” co-conspirators have been charged with a crime.

“Somewhere, the perception of the facts in this case was significantly altered, and the indictment no longer followed the details and chronology recounted by" psychologist Stanley Katz, who interviewed the teenage boy and his family and told authorities about the alleged abuse” said the attorneys representing Michael Jackson in court documents.

Mr. Jackson’s attorneys also argued that “the prosecution opened the door to permit a mental examination” of the family, because they allowed Dr. Stan Katz to interview the boy and his family. The motion asks for a psychological evaluation of the boy making the accusation against Mr. Jackson, his brother and their mother.

A hearing involving the motion for the psychological exams was scheduled for Monday in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.

Monday, 29 November 2004

The judge in the Michael Jackson case shot down attempts by the defense to have the accusing family undergo psychological examinations.

Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville made his ruling in today´s pre-trial hearing, not attended by Mr. Jackson, without entertaining arguments from either side.

However, a defense request to release transcripts of the grand jury selection was granted, provided grand jurors´ names remained confidential. The defense has previously argued that prosecutors had held too much sway over grand jurors, and that their indictment of Jackson was improperly reached.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen attacked Mr. Jackson’s legal team, saying subpoenas issued by the defense were too broad in their scope. The defense, led by Thomas Mesereau, has requested medical and banking records involving the accuser´s family that prosecutors claim are irrelevant.

"There are clearly records that are out of bounds such as the gynecological records of the victim´s sister or mother," said Zonen.

He went on to complain that the defense had asked to see 23 years of military records for the alleged victim´s stepfather. Zonen also noted that an attorney for the family objected to a subpoena for "medical records from UCLA."

Defense co-counsel Robert Sanger accused Zonen of dropping "sound bites" by referring to the gynecological records.

"There´s a very good reason for requesting those [gynecological records] and I don´t want to go into that right now," he said.

Prosecutors further objected to the issuing of defense subpoenas to banks, medical facilities and others without informing the prosecution or the people referenced in the records in question.

The defense replied that if the prosecution were notified of each subpoena, their defense strategies could be revealed.

Judge Melville said he wanted to protect both Jackson and the people named in the records. He ordered Jackson’s team to notify the individuals involved, saying those people would have five days to file any objections to the release of records to the defense.

Melville said, however, that the defense would not be required to notify the prosecution about issuing subpoenas.

Defense attorney´s were due to meet with Melville after lunch for a closed camera hearing.

Jury selection for Jackson’s trial is expected to begin on January 31st.

Tuesday, 30 November 2004

Lawyers for superstar Michael Jackson are preparing to attack the credibility of his accuser’s mother.

More information has come to light which may cast further doubt over the charges filed against Jackson, indicating the mother had previously used a similar method for financial gain. However, prosecutors have repeatedly denied the family is after money.

During a pre-trial hearing yesterday, Judge Rodney Melville granted a defense request to subpoena psychological, financial, medical and military records relating to the accuser’s family.

The judge also denied a defense request to conduct psychological examinations of the family. Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen objected to the widening scope of defense subpoenas, labeling these as "undue invasion of privacy, confidentiality and privilege."

Judge Melville, however, said that the prosecution did not represent the family and could not ask that any documents remained confidential.

The documents sought by Mr. Jackson are believed to include psychiatric reports from a civil suit previously filed by the accuser’s mother - against retailer J.C. Penney.

The suit was filed after her son was detained for allegedly shoplifting in 1998. Following charges being laid against her son, she filed a $3 million countersuit, claiming a security guard at the store attacked her and her children and also sexually molested her. The company dropped the shoplifting charges and paid the family $137,000.

The psychiatric reports in question, now obtained by a number of news organizations, were compiled in 2001 by Dr. John Hochman, an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurology at UCLA.

The reports describe the mother as delusional and draw the conclusion that she may have fabricated the allegations of abuse. Dr. Hochman, quoting the mother, said that following the J.C. Penney incident she “saw a gynecologist due to irregularities in her menstruating and she was this way because her body was traumatized and 'every hormone in her body was being released.' There is no evidence confirming [the mother's] testimony she had to get her hormones straightened out due to the mall episode."

Amongst other records, the defense has requested gynecological records, thought to be from this incident. An attorney for the family filed an objection to the release of medical records. It is not clear if these are the records referred to.

Following the J.C. Penney incident, the family complained of headaches and nightmares. The children were scared that "the bad people from J.C. Penney’s” would hurt them, said Dr. Hochman.

He also noted that the mother frequently claimed memory loss about her life prior to the incident. "She said she didn't want to remember anything about her prior psychiatric treatment. She didn't remember where (her son) took dancing lessons.”

Dr. Hochman also reported "she was far more upset talking about the mall episode than about her son's bout with cancer. Her general demeanor alternated between a blunted state and tearful hysteria."

The boy also indicated that the incident was “more frightening” than his battle with cancer, while his brother described it as “worse.”

The doctor stated that he thought the interviews with the children were rehearsed and pointed out "doubtful aspects" of their testimony, saying it was “impossible” for the whole family to have "identical stories years later."

Following the incident, police and a doctor stated that they saw no injuries and were not told of any sexual molestation - those charges were added two years later.

Dr. Hochman said the mother insisted that "prior to the mall incident she was living an ideal and extraordinarily virtuous life,"

The grand jury process is also expected to suffer an attack from Jackson’s defense team who have claimed the proceedings were flawed and biased.

Granting a defense request, Judge Melville ordered that transcripts of the grand jury selection process as well as written communication between grand jurors and prosecutors be handed to the defense.

Also subpoenaed were materials used by the county jury commissioner to select the jurors. The jury selection process is currently under review by the California Supreme Court.

Tuesday, 07 December 2004

Is there a possible rift in the prosecution team against Michael Jackson? After last Friday’s eleventh hour, second “raid” on Neverland, it has people starting to wonder about the team that is trying to convict the King of Pop of child molestation. Citizens and potential jurors of Santa Barbara are scratching their heads over the latest ramblings in this case.

“Celebrity Justice”, a court television station in the United States, talked to locals about the latest raid. Maurice Sourmany, a Santa Barbara florist, who was once in the Junior Chamber of Commerce with District Attorney Thomas Sneddon said, “I don’t want to judge Tom Sneddon because he’s a personal friend of mine, but by the same token, people are starting to talk.”

Officials from the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department and members of the Prosecution went to Michael Jackson’s sprawling Neverland Ranch to conduct a DNA test on Michael Jackson. It was reported that Mr. Jackson left with his children after being advised by his attorney Thomas Mesereau to leave. Mr. Mesereau didn’t want Mr. Jackson to deal with the authorities without his lawyer present. The entertainer came back the next day to voluntarily give a sample of his DNA from a swab to his mouth.
"Why now? Why so late in the game?" Mr. Sourmany asked. "These are things I thought he should have done a long time ago."

Meanwhile, one of the entertainer’s prosecutors, Gerald Franklin, spoke to “Celebrity Justice” outside the District Attorney’s office. He stressed that the gag order prevented him from discussing details. However, sources are privately pointing to a possible rift within the District Attorney’s office. There is one faction saying they are ready for the trial to begin on January 31st, while others insist the last-minute raid shows they need to buy more time to get their case ready.

”Celebrity Justice” also spoke with Mr. Jackson’s defense attorney Robert Sanger, who also cited the gag order prohibiting him to discuss anything in the case. However, sources are saying that the defense might not ask for a delay. They sense the prosecution might not be ready with their case, even as the deadline for the prosecution to turn over discovery approaches on Monday.

"What will be, will be," Franklin said regarding discovery. "I don’t have any expectations. I imagine there will be the odd document."

The defense’s strategy to exonerate their client may fall upon attacking the credibility of the accuser’s mother. Published reports say the defense will question whether or not the mother appropriately used money raised at the Laugh Factory in 2000 by comedians like Chris Tucker and George Lopez. The funds were earmarked for the accuser’s medical expenses due to his illness with cancer at the time. A source close to the Los Angeles comedy club said that he thinks the money went to the accuser’s father. However, the attorney for the father scoffed at the claim and said he never heard of any money from any fundraiser going to his client.

Tuesday, 14 December 2004

Attorneys for Michael Jackson have again filed a motion to dismiss the charges of child molestation against their client on grounds of "vindictive prosecution and outrageous government conduct."

They are also seeking to have the January 31, 2005, trial date pushed back. The motions, filed December 10, were made available on Monday. They are to be argued in hearings that are to begin December 20.

Defense attorneys are asking Judge Rodney Melville to suppress all evidence that may have been seized under the latest issued search warrants. The motions are believed to have stemmed from the unexpected search of Jackson's Neverland Valley Ranch on December 3 and 4, during which time authorities secured Jackson's DNA.

Due to the court's protective order, lawyers in the case were unable to comment on the newly filed motions.

Thursday, 16 December 2004

In what has turned out to be an eventful week in the Michael Jackson case, prosecutors are attempting to admit evidence from a previous allegation against the singer.

The Santa Barbara District Attorney’s office, labelled earlier this week as “vindictive” by the defense team, want to bring in evidence from a 1993 investigation to show Mr. Jackson’s alleged "propensity” for committing sexual abuse.

In a 65-page motion filed on Monday and partially released yesterday, prosecutors argue that material generated from the previous investigation will show a similarity in the "defendant's motive and intent" and "demonstrate how the defendant created the opportunities to achieve his goal."

Charges were never filed in 1993 when the accuser refused to testify following an out-of-court settlement. However, the law does allow for previous uncharged accusations of sexual abuse to be entered into current sex-abuse cases to show a pattern of behaviour.

The response by defense attorneys has not yet been released. However, lead defence attorney Thomas Mesereau said in a September statement that “many years ago, [Michael Jackson] did pay money, rather than litigate two false allegations that he had harmed children. . . . Mr. Jackson now regrets making these payments.”

Earlier this week the defence sought to have all charges dismissed on grounds of "vindictive prosecution and outrageous government conduct."

Also this week, defence attorneys requested a six-week delay in the trial, saying prosecutors recently turned over 22,000 pages of discovery material, making it impossible for them to prepare a defence ahead of the January 31st trial date. They also noted that prosecutors had supplied a witness list that included people who don’t exist.

In papers also released yesterday but originally filed on December 10, defense attorneys argued that prosecutors were still actively investigating the case, citing the recent raid on the singer’s Neverland ranch.

"The defense is hesitant to, in essence, give the district attorney what he wanted by requesting a continuance," they wrote. "However, given the facts articulated below, it has become clear that a continuance is necessary to protect Mr. Jackson's right to a fair trial."

Judge Rodney Melville has also ordered a member of the defense team, Brian Oxman, to appear in his courtroom next week. Oxman may be held in contempt of court if Judge Melville rules that his remark’s made to a New York newspaper were in violation of the gag order. Oxman has said he was misquoted by the paper.

The judge is due to hear arguments on a number of motions on Monday.

Monday, 20 December 2004

Defense attorneys for Michael Jackson plan to ask the jury in his child molestation trial to visit his Neverland ranch in efforts to show that he is a protector and benefactor of children and that he uses his home to entertain children, not lure them.

“Ultimately, the jury needs to understand he's [Jackson] about children but about children in a positive way," said ABC News legal consultant Dana Cole.

Prosecutors have suggested that Jackson seduced his alleged victim with wine and pornographic material. Jackson's defense, plans to present witnesses who will testify that the alleged victim and his younger brother — who has said he witnessed some of the alleged molestation — were "guests from Hell," who roamed Neverland at will. This, sources said, is designed to explain fingerprint evidence from the boys on pornographic material recovered from Jackson's home.

The above mentioned witnesses will testify that both boys were seen looking at pornographic materials when Jackson was not around. Witnesses also will testify that the boys got into Jackson's wine cellar, which would explain why investigators found their fingerprints there, sources said. Jackson's defense also plans to claim the alleged victim is having trouble in school and is aggressively pursuing his records.

Last Friday, Jackson made a rare public appearance at Neverland and welcomed about 200 underprivileged children — including some from the jury pool area of Santa Maria, Calif. — who were invited to play in his amusement park.

"I hope you have a wonderful day," Jackson called out to the children from the driveway of Neverland. "Merry Christmas. I love you."

Jackson spokesman Raymone Bain has said in reports that the pop star chose to make the personal appearance as a surprise to the last group of children touring Neverland before Christmas,

Jackson's public appearance with children at Neverland came weeks after investigators conducted multiple searches of the estate, focusing on Jackson's bedroom and taking a DNA sample from him. The pop star's lawyers have called the raid unnecessary and said that prosecutors abused the search warrant and overstepped their boundaries.

In a set of pretrial hearings set to begin today, prosecutors will push to admit evidence of Jackson's alleged past wrongdoing. The prosecution argues that Jackson has committed other sex crimes over the years for which he was never charged — including the 1993 child molestation scandal — and they argue that these alleged acts show a pattern of behavior.

Jackson's attorneys will try to delay the beginning of jury selection, which is now set for Jan. 31. They said they need an extra six weeks to review 14,000 pages of evidence filed by the prosecution in the past two months.
Jackson has pleaded not guilty to 10 charges that include felony conspiracy with 28 overt acts involving child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.

Tuesday, 21 December 2004

Potential jurors for what has been labelled the trial of the century will be receiving summonses alongside their Christmas cards this year.

In a pre-trial hearing held yesterday, a judge ruled that jury selection would proceed as planned on January 31st. A defence motion to drop the charges against the singer was also denied.

Judge Rodney Melville denied the continuance despite an objection from the singer’s defence team, who are still wading through thousands of pages of evidence only recently handed in by the prosecution.

Defense lawyer Robert Sanger claimed the DA’s office had “sandbagged” them by providing badly misspelled names of potential witnesses.

But Santa Barbara District Attorney, Thomas Sneddon, opposed the motion to postpone the trial, saying "it doesn't appear to me that there's any appetite for the defense to get this to trial."

Judge Melville denied the motion, saying "If I continue (the trial) two months, 90 more search warrants will go out and 90 more motions will be filed. To grant a continuance would be a huge step backward."

He added that "things remain problematic, I know, but I'll deal with problems as they come.”

Jury questionnaires are to be submitted by both sides before January 10th. The selection process is expected to take up to a month and will involved residents living north of Santa Barbara, where Mr. Jackson’s home is located. The trial itself is estimated to last another four to five months after that, as over 100 witnesses are expected to be called to testify.

Thomas Mesereau, the entertainer’s lead defence lawyer, accused Mr. Sneddon of having no case and petitioned the judge to drop the charges. He claimed the accuser’s mother had made up false allegations for financial gain in the past and he questioned her credibility. Referring to her allegation that she was held against her will at Neverland, Mr. Mesereau said that "she left and went back every time.”

“She also said she was falsely imprisoned at the Calabasas Inn while she got a full body wax and shopping privileges courtesy of Mr. Jackson," he continued.

The enigmatic lawyer said that Mr. Jackson was "one of the most non-violent human beings on the face of the Earth". He accused the DA of conducting a “vindictive, nasty, evil exercise in revenge” on Mr. Jackson.

"Sneddon wants glory and doesn't like Michael Jackson, that's clear,” he told the court.

Prosecutors returned fire, claiming Mr. Jackson’s team had no defence against the child molestation allegations and were instead attacking the prosecution.

"We have heard frantic bleating of the defense throughout the entire process of outrageous government conduct and it's getting tiresome," said Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss.

Judge Melville denied the motion to drop the charges. The Appeals Court Friday also denied a defence motion to drop the grand jury indictment.

Also on Monday, Judge Melville denied a defense request to throw out any material seized during the latest raid of Mr. Jackson's home which took place only weeks ago. The defense said the raid had been unnecessary and prosecutors could have asked for a court order to obtain a saliva sample from the singer.

A crucial decision on whether prosecutors will be allowed to bring in evidence from the 1993 allegations against Mr. Jackson was set for January 12th. Prosecutors asked that the singer attend this hearing "given it is one of the more critical motions." However the judge saw no reason for Mr. Jackson to attend.
Charges were never filed in the 1993 investigation following an out-of-court settlement. Mr. Jackson has indicated previously that he regretted making the settlement.

Also starting January 12th, Judge Melville will decide on what expert testimony and evidence should be allowed at the trial. These proceedings are likely to take more than a week.

Thursday, 23 December 2004

Santa Barbara citizens will be introduced to the county's new "one-step" jury selection system next week in the child molestation case against Michael Jackson.

The new system will generate at least 4,000 jury summons letters to the citizens. This will be one of the largest jury pools in the county's history, said Darrel Parker, assistant executive officer for the county courthouse in Santa Maria.

Mr. Parker said the court is making special preparations to handle hundreds of potential jurors who will be ordered to appear for questioning by Judge Rodney S. Melville.

"There just hasn't been a case with this much media attention involving someone with this kind of international recognition," Mr. Parker said.

Mr. Parker also said the court will work to shield jurors from potential harassment by members of the media.

"I don't expect problems from the local media," he said, "but there are other publications with less regard for our system."

The new selection process gets rid of a preliminary mailer sent to potential jurors that - if not filled out and returned_ often meant they would be scratched from the jury lists. The new system will include updated mailing lists from voter registration polls and the Department of Motor Vehicle records.

Those who do not respond to the summons letters or fail to appear for jury selection could be fined $1,500.

One of Michael Jackson's defense attorneys, Robert Sanger, challenged the constitutionality of the old system last year on behalf of another client. He argued that Hispanics were consistently under represented in the jury pool. Data presented to the court showed that about 50 percent of Hispanics didn't return the questionnaires, compared with 36 percent of non-Hispanics.

Any ethnic underrepresentation is a violation of the requirement under state and federal constitutional law that jury pools be a fair cross-section of the population. An appellate court said the old system was not unconstitutionally biased.

Several other counties in California have already adopted the new system.

Although the number of potential jurors being summoned is large for the size of Santa Barbara County, it's only about half the number contacted for Scott Peterson murder case in Northern California.

In that case attorneys had more opportunities to exclude potential jurors, including anyone who opposed the death penalty.

Tuesday, 04 January 2005

"Celebrity Justice" continued today with reporting on the possibility that the mother of Michael Jackson's accuser may have used funny men George Lopez and Chris Tucker as pawns in a scam to solicit money to pay of hospital bills related to the boy's cancer treatments.

In a prior article, "CJ" reported that any incurred medical costs for the boy were 100% covered by his father's insurance, so not a cent came out of the family's pocket.

Lopez is said to have strong ties to Los Angeles' comedy club circuit, including The Laugh Factory, where he met the boy at the club's summer came for underprivileged children. When the boy was diagnosed with cancer in 2000, Lopez, Chris Tucker, and others joined forces to raise money for him. "CJ" reports that the family got tens of thousands of dollars from donations and various fundraisers held at The Laugh Factory.

"CJ" also learned that a Los Angeles weatherman and stand up comedian Fritz Coleman was recruited by the family to do an on-air plug for a charity event held on behalf of the boy at The Laugh Factory. This event took place on October 26, 2000. Though Coleman was not reached for comment, the show as told that Coleman believed that the money raised was for the child's medical expenses and that the probability that he was misled has him extremely upset.

The Jackson defense team believes that Lopez and Tucker were used as well.

Despite the fact that the boy's medical costs were being covered by insurance, The Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada had been quoted by the Santa Barbara News-Press on December 2, 2004 as having said, "Anything we raised we gave directly to the hospital, except for a couple of checks I wrote myself, which was for her apartment."

When asked to comment on the above statement, "CJ" says that he would not give one. Lopez, Tucker, and Coleman would not give comments either, but according to "CJ," Jackson’s defense team has contacted the three.

Saturday, 08 January 2005

Details of the legal case being made against pop superstar Michael Jackson were revealed in detail yesterday on website ‘The Smoking Gun’.

The documents are almost entirely based on accounts from Mr. Jackson’s teenage accuser and members of his family. While these accounts are often highly detailed and explicit, the authors expressed some incredulity at many of the claims.

Quoting confidential law enforcement reports as well as sealed court records, the site provided a detailed prosecution account of events leading up to the singer’s grand jury indictment.

However, despite the detailed descriptions there are virtually no dates or times mentioned in the documents. The accuser’s family explained this by saying there are no calendars or clocks at the singer’s Neverland ranch and that keeping track of dates and time was “not allowed”.

However, as the authors point out, there is a large clock at the very center of the estate which is even clearly visible from the air. There are also numerous clocks within the buildings and Mr. Jackson once gave the boy a watch as a gift. The family have also stated that they did have access to laptop computers which could have provided both the date and time.

“However, as with many of the family's allegations, there could be room for defense counsel to question this claim,” writes The Smoking Gun.

Mr. Jackson has also been indicted on conspiracy charges which were also detailed in the report. Following the airing of the ITV interview “Living with Michael Jackson,” the family was allegedly held captive at Neverland for a month. In a November 2003 report, Detective Paul Zelis noted the family were being held as “virtual prisoners”.

However during the middle of the alleged imprisonment, it is recorded that the entire family was driven to their Los Angeles home in a black Rolls Royce. The mother also came and went from the ranch numerous times during this period. However the family had told investigators that they were told they could not leave the ranch unless they took part in the singer’s rebuttal video which later aired on Fox.

The accuser’s mother said all telephone calls from Neverland were monitored and she could not call for help. However, records from the Santa Barbara Police Department show that she apparently had a cell phone at her disposal. Her then boyfriend, Jay Jackson (they are now married) called police to report that she was being held against her will at Neverland. However while on the phone to police she phoned Jay, from her cell phone. The policeman told Jackson that if his girlfriend apparently had access to a phone, that she could call 911 directly. Days later, during a follow-up, the policeman was told the situation was resolved and she was back in Los Angeles.

Other details revealed in the report include accounts of how the singer allegedly gave alcohol to the boys and showed them pornographic materials.

Inconsistencies in the family’s testimony are expected to form a foundation of Mr. Jackson’s defense. Jury selection in the trial is scheduled to begin on January 31st and is expected to take up to a month.

Saturday, 08 January 2005

With jury selection only weeks away, prosecutors in the Michael Jackson case are still searching for more alleged victims.

Officials from the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department questioned Mr. Jackson’s nephew on Tuesday. Jeremy Jackson, son of Jermaine Jackson, was questioned about whether his uncle molested him over a decade ago.

According to Jackson family friend, Stacy Brown, the 18 year old was asked whether the singer had ever touched him inappropriately and quizzed about how many times he had been alone with his uncle. He denied his uncle had engaged in any inappropriate behavior.

"I understand what triggered the prosecution into looking into Jeremy is that his name had come up around the time of the 1993 investigation and that, yes, they're getting all of that information together for the hearing next week," Mr. Brown said.

The boy’s name had been mentioned in a deposition from a Neverland employee during the 1993 case. Prosecutors never found any evidence to support the allegations which were denied by the boy.

According to “Celebrity Justice,” prosecutor Thomas Sneddon is also investigating whether Mr. Jackson molested a boy in the late 1980s during the singer’s acclaimed “Bad” tour.

"It's pretty stunning that, literally at the 12th hour, the police are out in full force in Southern California, trying to dig up other alleged victims. You would think, at this point, prosecutors are working on opening statements," said the show’s executive producer, Harvey Levin.

The District Attorney is acting on reports at the time that Mr. Jackson met and shopped for toys with another boy from California, then about 10 years old.

A private detective told “CJ” that he was contacted by Santa Barbara detectives looking for information on that boy’s family. He sent the investigators several pictures of the family and their home. Police are investigating rumors that the entertainer bought the family’s home to keep them quiet.

"Relatives of this boy are saying it is absolutely untrue that Michael Jackson gave this family hush money in any form," said Levin.

"To me, this is further evidence that the prosecutor doesn't have the physical evidence it needs to nail Michael Jackson," noted Levin.

Thursday, 13 January 2005
A ruling on whether previous unproven allegations of abuse can be used in the trial of pop star Michael Jackson has been postponed.

Prosecutors in the case had requested that evidence of previous "uncharged acts" of sexual misconduct could be used against the singer. Defense attorney Robert Sanger argued in a reply to the motion that this evidence was based solely on testimony given by "disgruntled former employees, paid tabloid informants, and other disreputable characters."

Sanger also noted that witnesses from previous cases had “axes to grind." He said that any similarities between the current case and past allegations were not coincidental. He attributed the striking similarities to the fact that the current accuser as well as the 1993 accuser both sought assistance from civil attorney Larry Feldman and forensic psychiatrist Stan Katz.

Explaining his ruling, the judge said "the reason I feel strongly about this is because of one bad experience I've had as a judge when I allowed evidence of this type to come in and did not require the prosecution to put on the (current) evidence first."
The current evidence turned out to be "so miniscule" that he declared a mistrial, he said. "I need to have a full understanding on what this case is about . . . before I rule on the other one," he added.

The judge said he wanted prosecutors to first prove their charges against Mr. Jackson before he would allow in old allegations.

He further denied a defense request to hold the hearings about previous allegations in private. Attorneys for Mr. Jackson requested closed door proceedings due to the “overriding interests of Mr. Jackson’s rights to due process and a fair trial." Lawyers for the prosecution and media groups opposed the application.

However, the judge said that Californian law did not allow for such proceedings to be held in secret. He said he was not inclined to hear any such evidence until the bulk of the prosecution’s case had been presented.

The next pre-trial hearing is scheduled for January 21st.

Thursday, 13 January 2005

The Michael Jackson case has understandably been labeled the trial of the century and has already received unprecedented interest from both the media and the public.

Important questions about Mr. Jackson’s rights to a fair trial have been brought to the fore by his defense team. Leaks such as the recent ‘Smoking Gun’ article detailing the prosecution’s case have been broadcast internationally and could negatively affect Mr. Jackson’s rights to a fair trial.

Today MJJForum released a statement saying “the fans believe that these outlets are releasing and/or producing inflammatory material aimed at polluting the jury pool in Santa Maria, California -- the place where Michael Jackson will ultimately face trial.”

Court TV and former tabloid journalist, Diane Dimond, has often been criticized for being too closely involved with prosecutors and has leaked a number of confidential reports, including the 1993 settlement agreement.

Dimond, who will also provide commentary on the case for NBC’s Today show, again made a number of inaccurate on-air comments following yesterday’s pre-trial hearings.

She claimed that the defense team were discussing accepting a plea bargain and that defense attorney Thomas Mesereau said he would accept a few years imprisonment for Mr. Jackson. Not only is this inaccurate but it is blatantly untrue and was never said by Mr. Mesereau.

Dimond also repeated her allegations that children attending a recent Christmas party at Neverland were not really from charitable groups as listed by the singer’s team. She claimed to find no record of any of the groups listed. However, after less than an hour’s research, a member of MJJForum found the full details of each group.

She further claimed that previous alleged victims of the pop superstar did not want to testify because they feared the singer’s fans. Prosecutors have indicated that there are seven instances of alleged abuse by Mr. Jackson, yet they have only listed one of these as a witness. Dimond’s reason for this lack of witness availability is also incorrect. In fact, according to media reports, at least five of these alleged victims are willing to testify on Mr. Jackson’s behalf.

Dimond further added that she and the alleged victims were constantly receiving abuse on websites supporting the superstar.

In another baffling statement from the reporter, she claimed that Mr. Jackson had a very specific pattern of molestation that he follows to the letter. She then noted that there were no accusations of alcohol or pornography in the previous allegations, although they play a major part in the current case.

In response to the onslaught of perceived media bias against the entertainer, Michael Jackson's fans are planning various actions such as boycotting the sponsors of Court TV, VH-1, and E! Entertainment Television.

Friday, 14 January 2005

According to Santa Barbara News-Press, attorneys for Michael Jackson have subpoenaed employees of Neverland Valley Ranch to help paint a picture of their client's accuser as an unruly child, who is out of control.

At the upcoming trial, the employees are expected to testify that the boy assaulted them verbally, broke into Jackson's wine cellar, and was caught with another boy masturbating in the singer's room while using porn magazines.

Thus far, the defense's primary tactic has been to attack the boy's mother's credibility. They say the woman fabricated the molestation allegations after a botched attempt at getting money from Jackson. The attorneys intend to point to other instances where the mother used similar tactics for financial benefit.

It now appears that the defense is looking to also destroy the credibility of the accuser with testimony of the subpoenaed employees.

Both defense and prosecution attorneys have recently sent out dozens of subpoenas in preparation for what's foreseen to be a courtroom battle that will last an estimated six months. The trial begins with jury selection which is currently set for January 31st. Jackson is to be present.

It is expected that prosecutors will argue that allegations put forth by the defense against the boy and his mother are beside the point. They maintain that Jackson intoxicated the boy and then molested him.

A number of the prosecution witnesses who testified in front of grand jury are believed to also be testifying at trial, including the boy, his brother, their parents, the psychologist who reported the abuse, and the family's civil attorney.

Martin Bashir, of "Living with Michael Jackson" documentary fame, has also received a subpoena from the prosecution. It is this program which sparked the current litigation against Jackson, for the boy who stands as his accuser was featured in the video.

Jackson's defense team contends that the mother of the boy wanted money from their client for her son's appearance in the documentary, and it was only after Jackson refused to pay did the allegations surface.

The prosecution theorizes that the firestorm following the documentary is what sparked a conspiracy carried out by Jackson and five unindicted others to kidnap, falsely imprison, and force the boy and his family into making the rebuttal video, otherwise known as "Take 2."

The rebuttal aired on February 20, 2003, without the family's contribution. It is on this very day that the prosecution alleges the molestation began, a date pushed back from the initial date of February 7, 2003, one day following the airing of the Bashir documentary in the United States.

However, the defense has said that no one was held against their will. They say that the mother left and returned to Neverland on three different occasions by choice. Additionally, Jackson wasn't home during some of the time that the boy was present at Neverland. Employees are expected to testify that in the absence of their boss, the boy ran wild.

In related matters, ABC's "Primetime Live" yesterday aired excerpts of testimony given during grand jury proceedings in the Jackson case. The defense has denounced the leak and has stated that they do not intend to try the case in the press.

This isn't the first time that "leaks" have occurred in this case. Most recently, "The Smoking Gun" snuck a peek at police reports, inventory of items seized from Neverland, and affidavits of the claims made by the family. Details of the documents were promptly plastered on their website.

Many are rather amazed at how much of the prosecution's case continues to be leaked out to the mass media without incident or reprimand. Is there not a gag order in this case? Was all this information not filed under court seal? How then is it that such acts are taking place without sanction from Judge Rodney Melville?

The next court hearing is scheduled for January 21st.

Wednesday, 19 January 2005

According to District Attorney Tom Sneddon, the courtroom in Santa Maria, California should be cleared when children take the witness stand in the Michael Jackson case.

Court documents that will be released today did not specify which children Sneddon wants to shield from public and media scrutiny; however it more than likely applies to the accuser and his siblings.

It is expected that the accuser, along with his siblings, will testify that the accuser was molested at Neverland Valley Ranch, Jackson's estate near Los Olivos, California.

Laws in California permits judges to use their discretion and close the courtroom under certain circumstances if it protects the welfare of the alleged victim, said Loyola Law School Professor Laurie Levenson in an interview with The Santa Maria Times.

The judge also must consider a variety of factors, including the witness' age and psychological maturity before agreeing to close the courtroom.

Professor Laurie Levenson: "It's an extreme move. There's no blanket rule that says anytime a victim testifies about a sex offense the courtroom is closed."

Professor Levenson said the law likely would not apply to the accuser's siblings, and that only alleged victims would likely be covered by the law.

In other MJ case news:

Television reporter Martin Bashir asked that he be shielded from testifying in court about the Jackson case.

A subpoena issued by the prosecution ordered Bashir to appear on 3.01.05 at Superior Court in Santa Maria to answer questions about his documentary, "Living With Michael Jackson."

In this controversial documentary, Michael Jackson is seen holding hands with the boy who would later become his accuser. In March 2003, Michael Jackson released the rebuttal video “Michael Jackson Take 2: The Interview They Wouldn't Show You.” In that video, Martin Bashir was shown to be duplicitous -- praising Jackson's care for children, his skills as a parent, and literally befriending the pop superstar. This could very well be the reason why Martin Bashir wants shielding from testifying -- as Mr. Bashir is an impeachable witness.

According to media lawyer Doug Mirell, the prosecution must prove that Bashir's testimony is essential to the case and could not be acquired any other way

Wednesday, 19 January 2005

Judge Melville, the judge in the child molestation case for Michael Jackson has given the entertainer permission to make a televised response regarding the leak of grand jury testimony given by his teen-age accuser.

The Fox News Channel has confirmed on Wednesday that Judge Melville had approved a televised statement that Jackson gave to Fox correspondent Geraldo Rivera.

According to Fox News executives, the Cable News Network had not yet seen Jackson's prepared statement and the accompanying interview that the singer gave Rivera. Further, a Fox News spokeswoman said that no decision had been made to how and when the material would be aired.

A source stated that the interview dealt with Jackson's 'family and personal relationships and not the criminal case.'

Last week ABC Primetime Live program carried a report about the Jackson case that focused on verbatim grand jury quotes from Jackson's teen-age accuser. The accuser described Jackson molesting him when he was 13 years old. The Grand Jury testimony had been sealed under court order by Judge Melville.

In the past, Judge Melville has allowed Jackson to issue approved statements in advance. But the court sanctioned statement Jackson gave Rivera would be the first time that the Judge has allowed Jackson to go on national television to comment on the case.

Last week, the fansite MJJForum.com released a statement decrying media irresponsibility regarding various leaks in this case.

Thursday, 20 January 2005

Michael Jackson's attorneys will discuss how to choose jurors on Friday, January 21, 2004.

Jackson's lawyers and prosecutors from The DA's office have submitted information to a joint questionnaire that all potential jurors must complete, Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville detailed at a hearing last week.

At last week's hearing, Melville indicated to both prosecutors and defense lawyers that he was still finishing the questionnaire jurors will see. The judge will use his discretion to exclude questions by either side that he deems intrusive or irrelevant.

Documents are likely to include likely questions on potential jurors' education, past arrests, opinions of law enforcement and racial prejudices. Court officials sent about 4,000 summonses for the Jackson trial in late December.

The Santa Maria Times interviewed veteran Santa Barbara County defense attorney Steve Balash and here's what he had to say about the type of people who would serve on a jury in Santa Barbara:

"People likely to serve in this lengthy proceeding include retirees, homemakers, government employees and those working for companies who continue paying them while they're in court," Balash said.

Jurors in the Jackson case must be Santa Barbara County residents who live north of the Gaviota Tunnel. Potential jurors were summoned from a combined list of registered voters and licensed drivers. In order to qualify for jury duty at Superior Court in Santa Maria, a person must be a US citizen, at least 18 years old and conversant in English.

Mr. Balash’s opinion about the jury questionnaire:

"The most important question posed to potential panelists is whether they can be impartial."

More information on the jury process:

After the questionnaires are analyzed by parties in the case, the judge will likely ask both sides which potential jurors they agree should be eliminated. Attorneys will then be permitted to request an unlimited number of jury dismissals, provide they can give good cause. Once those jurors are removed by the judge, each side will then be permitted to exclude 10 potential jurors for no stated reason.

More MJ Case news:

Melville is considering whether to allow a prosecution expert on child abuse. This expert will testify at trial on how youth can behave after being molested. Jackson's defense filed a motion asking the judge to postpone consideration of that issue.

Friday, 21 January 2005

Michael Jackson's defense attorney, Tom Mesereau, came out swinging today in court to object to motions filed by the prosecution to allow an expert witness to testify regarding how children behave after child abuse.

Judge Rodney S. Melville granted the motion this morning, however Melville said there will be strict limits that will be discussed before the expert testifies.

Tom Mesereau argued that the prosecution is making a desperate attempt to bolster what he described as a "horrific problem" with their case.

Here are some of the more colorful quotes that came from Tom A. Mesereau today regarding the accusing family:

"What if they are flat out liars?" Mesereau said of the witnesses. "What if they have a history of lying? What if the boy lied in the past to help his mother obtain money through the legal process?"

Tom Mesereau on cross examining the accusing family: "We're quite confident of what they're going to look like after they're subjected finally to cross-examination," Mesereau said.

Mesereau also said the defense would show the family had lied "in their community, in their school, in their acting school" and "aren't victims at all." Mesereau repeatedly referred to the accusing family as "flat-out liars."

In more MJ case news, Melville used his judicial discretion today and decided to keep the jury questionnaires out of public view. The judge also conveyed his dissatisfaction with the lengthy questionnaire that both the prosecution and defense submitted.

"Quite frankly I've gutted it," Melville told attorneys. "I don't know how many pages you gave me. But there is about seven pages left."

Stay tuned to MJJForum for more details about the MJ Case, and other Michael Jackson news and information!

Tuesday, 25 January 2005

In a court hearing on Friday, January 28, 2005, a number of motions regarding the ground rules of the upcoming trial of Michael Jackson will be discussed, including whether or not to allow the accuser and his brother to testify behind closed doors.

The prosecution wishes to prohibit the defense from attacking the credibility of the witnesses or questioning the way the allegations have been handled by the District Attorney’s office, including the motives of D.A Tom Sneddon, the extremely and unusual high number of search warrants, or the cost to the county for the trial.

Defense on the other hand, asks that past allegations against Mr. Jackson not be allowed in trial, including past civil settlements. Furthermore, they ask that prosecutors do not use witness statements about former business associates of Mr. Jackson, believed to be un-indicted co-conspirators.

Both parties will be able to argue the motions on Friday, at one of the last pretrial hearings in the case.

According to dozens of documents filed by both parties, prosecutors say they ask for a level playing field, whereas the defense is crying out for their client’s right to a fair trial.

Monday will be the starting date of jury selection. The trial is expected to last up to six months, and motions may be filed throughout the month jury selection is expected to take..

Mr. Jackson has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

One of the key motions will be regarding the presence of the public in the court room for the testimony of the 15-year old accuser and his 14-year old brother. The prosecution argues that “the defense has announced their desire to destroy any witness who dare accuse the defendant at trial … the harm presented to these children by public presentation of their trial testimony would be immeasurable” referring to the trial as what “may be the most reported criminal trial to occur in our lifetimes”.

Prosecution suggests that an audio feed be placed in a separate room for the media to be able to follow the testimony, however Theodore Boutrous, media attorney, disagreed.

“The testimony of both witnesses, especially the alleged victim, is crucial to this case. Their demeanor is a key aspect of the upcoming trial testimony, and the jury’s determination of their credibility will largely determine the outcome. If the public cannot observe these proceedings, a cloud of public doubt will hang over any verdict because the public will have been barred from observing the most important part of the trial”, Mr. Boutrous states in his response of the prosecution request.

Other motions from both prosecution and defense contain requests that much information be kept out of admissible evidence, most of which has already been presented in open court and extensively reported upon in the media.

Lawyers for the defense have repeatedly attacked the credibility of the accuser, calling the accuser a “flat out liar” who has lied to back up similar allegations in an unrelated civil suit. They plan to show that this is a part of a pattern of the accusing family, making up claims for financial gain.

The Defense has also accused District Attorney Tom Sneddon of “outrageous government conduct” by among other things, serving more than 100 search warrants, a number which exceeds what is usually served in death penalty cases.

They also accuse the District Attorney of having a vendetta against Mr. Jackson after a 13-month investigation in 1993 into allegations of child molestation crumbled. The accuser in that case accepted a financial settlement in a simultaneous civil suit and refused to testify against Mr. Jackson. Two grand juries refused to hand down an indictment and Mr. Jackson was never charged.

Prosecutors wish to admit what they deem as “erotic material” seized from the bedroom in the November raid of Mr. Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.

On Friday, Judge Melville will also decide whether or not to approve the request by the prosecution to put a forensic accountant, entertainment expert, and an expert on battered woman’s syndrome on the witness stand. Prosecution claims the two first experts will explain the conspiracy charge and why Mr. Jackson was financially compelled to abduct, imprison and extort the boy and his family till they participated in a rebuttal video in response to the documentary by Martin Bashir, entitled “Living With Michael Jackson”

The British journalist, Martin Bashir, has asked that the judge bar the prosecution from calling him to the stand, arguing that the California Shield Law grants journalists absolute protection from compelled disclosure of sources or any unpublished information gathered while searching for a story.

In Other News:

Monday the Santa Barbara Country District Attorney and Sheriff released a statement claiming not to be responsible for recent leaks of highly confidential and sealed material. Included in the leaks were Grand Jury transcripts and search warrant documents.

The statement also said that the District Attorney and Sheriff have started an investigation into the leak of the documents, something they consider a violation of law.

“Recently there has been a noticeable increase in the release to the public of highly confidential transcripts, investigative reports and documents about the Michael Jackson case. Some media commentators have alleged that we are responsible for these leaks, we are not. These accusations are irresponsible, unfounded and untrue” District Attorney Tom Sneddon and Sheriff Jim Anderson said in the release.

Friday, 28 January 2005

Michael Jackson's lawyers are poised to target the credibility of his accuser by portraying his mother “Jane Doe” as a financial predator during the singer's trial. They will also portray the now 15 year old boy as a puppet of a grifter mother who coached him in making false accusations against the star.

Since his November 2003 arrest, Jackson's lawyers have alleged that Jane Doe is a greedy opportunist with a history of launching questionable lawsuits to profit from the financial settlements.

In one of those alleged schemes, they say, she won a 137,500 dollar settlement from a US department store which she sued in 2001, claiming security guards had assaulted her and her sons.

Also last May, the family sued Los Angeles child welfare officials seeking financial damages over the leak of a confidential memo which said a departmental investigation had found there was no evidence to suggest Jackson had sexually assaulted the boy, according to court documents.

And the Celebrity Justice television show reported that the mother allegedly tricked a newspaper into printing a story in 2000 that sought donations for her son's cancer treatment which was fully covered by insurance.

"She made statements that her children can sue Michael Jackson after they turn 18," Jackson's lawyer Thomas Mesereau said in court last September. "She said she is not after money then she says she is after money."

About the trial itself, it has been learned that Howard Varinsky -- known for helping the prosecution pick the jury that convicted Scott Peterson of murder -- will help Santa Barbara County prosecutors select jurors who would be likely to convict Mr. Jackson of child molestation and conspiracy. And J. Lee Meihls will assist defense lawyers to identify the jurors most likely to believe their client is innocent.

Mr. Varinsky is known through the high-profile cases on which he's worked, including those involving Martha Stewart, Timothy McVeigh, so-called subway vigilante Bernhard Goetz and Dr. Jack Kevorkian; while Ms. Meihls has consulted for the defense in both the John E. du Pont and Robert Blake murder cases.

On Monday, jury selection will begin with groups of 150 brought into the courtroom. For three days, Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville is scheduled to consider whether jurors who plead hardship will be dismissed.

The potential jurors who remain will each fill out a seven-page questionnaire. Attorneys will review the documents Thursday through Feb. 7. Attorneys for both sides will begin questioning jurors on Feb. 8 about their ability to be fair and impartial. The pool will ultimately be whittled down to 12 jurors and eight alternates.

Tuesday, 01 February 2005

The critical process of selecting the jurors in the Michael Jackson case began yesterday after months of legal maneuvering and tabloid hysteria. The painstaking process is expected to take a month and the rest of the trial up to five more months.

Jackson, wearing white and shielded by an umbrella, waved to supporters as he walked into the courthouse.

After more than an hour's wait, Jackson and his attorney stood and faced the first group of prospective jurors filing into the courtroom.

Potential jurors were brought into the Santa Maria courtroom and introduced to Mr. Jackson, who was seated at the defense table surrounded by his high-powered legal team.

Today through Wednesday, five groups of 150 people each will be brought before Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville, who will decide if potential jurors who claim hardship will be dismissed. Those who survive his scrutiny will be asked to fill out a seven-page questionnaire.

Then the real work begins. Prosecutors and defense lawyers, and their jury consultants, will pore over several hundred questionnaires in an attempt to sift out people who appear to be biased or who have links to the case.

Those who remain will be called back to court next week to be questioned by the attorneys. The process will end only when 12 jurors and eight alternates acceptable to both sides are selected. About 4,000 North County residents have received jury summonses notifying them they could be called for the trial.

"The prosecution may be looking for single mothers, people who identify with the mother and her child, who will understand why she allowed him to be in the presence of Michael Jackson," said Joseph Rice, of Jury Research Institute in Alamo.

"They'll also be looking for parents who are going to respond with horror to some of the allegations and claims being made here. Parents who are involved in PTA or children's after-school activities are the kind of juror the prosecution would love."

On the other hand, the defense may be seeking out the strong libertarian constituency in the North County, people who might question Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon's motives in going after Mr. Jackson and the blue-collar types who could be put off by a woman who has received welfare and is allegedly out for money.

"These people may think she's an example of someone who is milking the system and filing frivolous lawsuits," Mr. Rice said. "And they'll be more critical of her failure to watch over her own child."

Jury selection is expected to take up to a month simply because the case is complicated.

"Even the selection of the O.J. Simpson civil case took six weeks," Mr. Rice said. "The privacy and publicity issues in the Jackson case may require some questioning of jurors individually -- to not contaminate other potential jurors -- which could slow it down."

Choosing a jury is more art than science. This was shown in the Peterson murder trial when several jurors characterized as favorable to the defense ultimately decided to convict him and sentence him to death.

"Juror selection has some science to it and we work very hard to do research to collect data in such a way that the results are valid and reliable," Mr. Rice said.

"But it's difficult to take data assembled from a group of people that you have done research on and apply it to any particular individual.

"It's all a probability statement. It never gets much better than looking at someone and saying there's a 70 percent chance that person would be pro-plaintiff or pro-defense juror -- but the 30 percent chance remains that you are wrong."

Jury selection is scheduled to continue today and Wednesday. Then resume next Tuesday.

Tuesday, 01 February 2005

On Tuesday, the judge in the case against entertainer Michael Jackson ended hardship screening of summoned potential jurors a day early, stating that there were about 250 persons willing to serve. Both prosecution and defense attorneys will begin individual questioning on Monday.

The initial screening process had been set to continue through Wednesday and was planned to include approximately 750 prospects, but Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville ended the process after about 430 were screened.

Lawyers are to spend the rest of the week reviewing the questionnaires of potential jurors to see if both sides would jointly come to a consensus on further reducing the pool's size by agreeing on which prospects should be eliminated.

In addition to the 12 jurors to be selected, the judge wants eight alternates.

Three hundred prospective jurors were screened Monday, with 138 asking to be excused. Prospects for Tuesday were also 300, the process ending after Melville spoke with the first group, which numbered just under 150.

Jackson arrived for court surrounded by a small entourage of four bodyguards and his attorneys. He was dressed in a red shirt, white vest, and dark jacket and slacks, which was adorned with red and gold stripes down the sides. There were a number of fans present, many of whom wore white, who turned out to offer their support.

The next scheduled court date is Monday, February 7. Jackson will be present.

Thursday, 03 February 2005

Phase One of jury selection in the case against Michael Jackson wrapped up Tuesday morning when the judge overseeing the proceeding unexpectedly announced that he has enough of a pool of potential jurors for the trial.

Of the approximately 450 North County residents who filed through the Santa Maria courtroom, 250 were ordered by Judge Rodney Melville to return on Monday for questioning by attorneys. A majority of dismissed prospects cited financial hardship should they have to sit on the jury for the estimated six month length of the trial.

The remaining pool appeared to be made up of majority working people, with Latinos making up one third and blacks about two percent.

Legal experts are stunned at Melville's decision to start with a jury pool of only 250 individuals.

"I'm surprised," area defense attorney Steve Balash said. "I would imagine that at least half of those people have already formed opinions on the case. Just the people I've talked to -- and I don't mean just lawyers, but regular people who watched coverage of the case -- have already formed some sort of opinion.

"Unless you've been living in a cave, you've got to know about this case -- and unless you don't think at all, you form an opinion. The issue is whether or not you can put that opinion aside and decide this case on the facts. That's the tricky part."

In typical cases, lawyers have roughly 100 people from which to choose a jury. That number can be as high as 250 in death penalty cases. Balash stated that he would prefer a pool of up to 500 in the Jackson case.

An additional 300 prospective jurors for this case are on-call should they later be needed.

As potential jurors filed into the courtroom on Tuesday, Jackson and his attorneys stood up and are said to have smiled politely. As questions were asked of the prospects by the judge, Jackson appeared to be taking notes on a yellow pad.

The next phase of selection is critical, in that each side will try to weed out persons who could prove detrimental to their case. Prosecutors and defense attorneys must come to an agreement on twelve jurors and eight alternates.

Inquires of potential jurors will likely include their thoughts about the entertainment industry, celebrities, plastic surgery, and the pre-trial publicity in this case. Attorneys will also likely ask if potential jurors hold any preformed opinions on past allegations of child molestation brought against Jackson.

Attorneys on both sides will have unlimited dismissals for cause, meaning that either can ask that Melville dismiss a juror due to obvious impartiality and an inability to be fair. Each side will have 10 challenges to dismiss without justification for the decision to the judge or the opposing side.

Prospective jurors have already completed a seven-page questionnaire, which will be reviewed by attorneys over the rest of the week.

The next scheduled court date is Monday, February 7.

Thursday, 03 February 2005

Jury in Jackson Case Probed on Bias Issues

Prospective jurors in the case against Michael Jackson are being screened with a questionnaire which asks if they've ever had cancer, about their opinion on people of different races, and even about whether they followed the 1993 molestation allegations against the entertainer.

Designed to screen for and eliminate jurors who may have strong feelings that could hinder them from being fair and impartial in the case, the questions were among several in a scaled-down questionnaire released to the public on Wednesday.

Jurors were told by note that the questionnaire was designed on their behalf to prevent embarrassment from speaking on personal issues in open court. Jurors completed the questionnaire on Monday and Tuesday, and attorneys on both sides are scheduled to begin quizzing the approximately 250 prospects this coming Monday. Lawyers will attempt to detect among those willing to serve who may have hidden agendas.

Of the 41 questions asked, roughly half focus on biographical data: age, education and occupation.

Other questions in the questionnaire included religious beliefs, medical issues, if they had ever experienced or been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior, if they had ever advocated for abused children, if they had ever visited Jackson's Neverland Valley Ranch, and how closely they may have been following the case.

Several specific issues likely to be key at trial were grazed over, such as if jurors or their families had ever been involved in making any claim for monetary damages. Jackson's attorneys are expected to paint the accusing family as using this case for financial gain. The defense is likely to cite the family's past alleged scams for money, and their suit against and eventual settlement with JCPenney.

Because prosecutors intend to use past allegations in an attempt to establish a theorized pattern of abuse, jurors were asked about what they knew of the 1993 accusations against Jackson.

Although the questionnaire touched upon a number of issues, Loyola School of Law professor Laurie Levenson believes that it did not delve enough into the type of detailed information that would help lawyers eliminate jurors they believed were sympathetic to the opposing side.

"This is the most bare-bones questionnaire I've ever seen," Levenson said. "It's very superficial. The judge obviously did not want a sociology study, but this will make it more difficult for the defense to find the kind of jurors they want."

Prosecution and defense attorneys submitted a longer questionnaire, which had been "gutted" by Judge Rodney Melville, who said he preferred that most questions be asked in open court.

On Monday, the judge is to hear arguments from a media attorney about unsealing the completed jury questionnaires, which are considered public documents.

Saturday, 05 February 2005

This forthcoming Monday was to be the start of individual questioning of potential jurors in the case against Michael Jackson. However, the trial will not proceed as scheduled because the sister of lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau has fallen gravely ill, according to a court announcement released on Friday.

From the release: "Due to the grave illness of Mr. Mesereau's sister neither he nor the defendant will be in court on Monday."

The announcement stated that potential jurors will have to still report to court as scheduled, when they are expected to receive new jury numbers as part of the administrative process, and then be relieved.

Judge Rodney Melville intends on holding a previously scheduled hearing on media issues, but stated that no sessions will be held on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Friday. It is unknown whether there will be a court session on Thursday.

MJJForum would like to extend our well wishes and prayers to Mr. Mesereau, his sister, and their family.

Sunday, 06 February 2005

Due to the sudden and untimely passing of the sister of Mr. Thomas Mesereau, lead defense attorney for Michael Jackson, the next court appearance in the child molestation case has been postponed.

Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville granted a continuance until Monday, February 14, 2005. Jackson will appear in court on this date with his attorneys.

The MJJForum community would like to extend our condolences, deepest sympathies, and prayers to Mr. Mesereau and his family.

Tuesday, 08 February 2005

On Monday, Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville gave a warning to the 250 jurors that volunteered for a space during the Michael Jackson trial about their outside conversations. All discussions of the case may not be uttered in or around the courthouse unless in session amongst their selves.

The jurors met with the Judge in the gymnasium near the Santa Maria Courthouse due to the large number of participants. In addition to the warning of not talking, the potential jurors cannot look at any websites, court documents, or movies concerning Michael Jackson or the case.

Anyone who asks the jurors about the case are to be told that no comment can be told to them; if the person persistent, their name is to be reported to the court. But this phase of the selection of jurors has been postponed one week due the death in the family of Defense Lawyer Tom Mesereau.

On February 14, the Judge has ordered 113 of the original 450 applying jurors to return back to the court for one on one questioning. Such questions will include their knowledge on the case and the participants will also be subjected to a screening for any suspected bias-ness.

New In The Case

New Developments in the case show that Defense Attorney’s for Michael Jackson may speak on some alleged usage of medication by the mother of the accuser during the time she supposedly witnessed inappropriate behavior on the premises of Neverland Ranch.

In a motion released by the court, the Judge was asked to limit the reference of the mother using any kind of medication by Senior District Attorney Ron Zonen. The motion also includes the quote, “she saw improper behavior, but at the same time, thought it may have been a hallucination,” from a previous defense motion where the mother testified to this statement.

In his motion, Mr. Zonen voiced that during contemplation of whether it is of relevance that the mother was on medication or not, it is said that she will testify that she was neither, on any medication of any kind during her stay in Neverland, nor on any in this present time.

Thursday, 10 February 2005

Around 10 a.m., Feb. 9th, the answers from the potential jurors list of questions were released to the media. These questions asked the participants of their knowledge about Michael Jackson and facts surrounding the case.

Some of the questions included were: How much news have you read or heard about the current Michael Jackson case? Do you know, or have you read, seen, or heard anything about the publicity regarding the 1993-1994 investigation against Michael Jackson? Do you or any of your family members or close friends know Michael Jackson?

It seemed that there were several members of the participating group that either, had a friend which worked for Mr. Jackson, or knew him personally. One particular participant claimed that a niece-in-law’s sister dated Mr. Jackson’s cousin and attended gathering’s. It was a unanimous response from the potential jurors that they all had heard some bits about the current trial against Michael Jackson, and most stated that they had at least heard “a little” about the 1993-1994 case.

It was noted that the potential jurors who volunteered for the spaces were from a variety of backgrounds such as computer analysts, janitors, etc. Some of the members’ children had visited Neverland Ranch before.

There were several hand-written comments from a select few which left indents upon the questionnaires. A local school teacher commented, “I went to Neverland with Special Ed for my school district.” And, a mother and risk analyst wrote, “My disabled daughter was allowed to go to Neverland, but Mr. Jackson was not present during her school’s visit.” These comments were fair and positive. One man, a 48-year-old pastor commented that Michael Jackson’s cousin is in his church and one of Mr. Jackson’s employees “is my son’s best friend.”

The participants were mostly female (55%). The majority of the potential jurors solidified their answers as to if their feelings and/or experiences with different races of persons affected their ability to serve as an impartial juror, yet nine admitted that their convictions and experiences would affect their judgment, and seven were not completely sure.

On another question, several stated that they had a relative or a close friend which were victim to “inappropriate sexual behavior of any kind.” It is quite evident that the questionnaire was made to ‘weed out’ the persons who might have sympathy for Mr. Jackson, or ones who might have ties with any law enforcement who would be for the prosecution. The only way to be on the panel is to be in the middle – a neutral; neither for Mr. Jackson, nor the prosecution.

From the questions and screening of the variety of volunteering jurors, it is clearly seen that much precaution has been taken to make sure a fair trial will be given to Michael Jackson.

Saturday, 12 February 2005

Corey Feldman has been subpoenaed by the prosecution in the Jackson molestation case. The now, 33 year old actor told Martin Bashir that Jackson showed him nude pictures in a book found on top the pop stars coffee table when the actor made a visit to the singers house as a teenager.

Martin Bashir, infamous for his documentary on Jackson titled, 'Living With Michael Jackson,' which is said to have sparked investigations of child abuse against the singer, sat with Corey Feldman for an interview.

Feldman claims he was 13 or 14 years of age at the time and went on to elaborate, "And the book was focused on venereal diseases and the genitalia. And he sat down with me and he explained it to me, showed me some different pictures and discussed what those meant".

The actor who has starred in a few hit films in the early 80s was arrested for heroin possession in 1990.

However, all this influx of information from Corey Feldman comes after he repeatedly denied any sort of inappropriate behavior by Michael Jackson when questioned by the Santa Barbara sheriffs in 1993, when a similar child molestation allegation plagued the King of Pop.

In an exclusive audio received by Celebrity Justice, Feldman is heard saying to Santa Barbara sheriffs, "Nothing ever happened with Michael and me, believe me, if there was something that I'd been hiding for all these years, then I would want nothing more than to bring it out right now, to make sure that Michael got the help that he needed."

With regards to him stating on a numerous occasions in 1993 that there was nothing improper in Jackson's behavior, Corey Feldman had this to say to Martin Bashir, "I did what I believed was right as a friend — I defended him up and down. I did so publicly and I did so behind closed doors with the police."

Tuesday, 15 February 2005

Day three in the Michael Jackson trial was underway Monday in Santa Maria after a one-week continuance. Jury selection entered its second stage of voir dire, where attorneys from both sides launch a variety of question at prospective jurors to determine if they would be able to be fair in their judgment of the case.

Wearing a black suit with a red satin shirt, a red and gold brocade vest, with a sunburst pin on his jacket pocket, Jackson stood and smiled as the potential jurors entered the courtroom.

Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville started the day off by urging the 240 potential jurors to relax and remain open-minded. He relayed that the greatest fear of a litigant is that a judge or juror in the case against them has been "bought and paid for."

"I can assure all of you there will be a fair trial here, based on me being the judge," Melville addressed the court prior to the start of attorney questioning of the prospects on their possible links to Jackson.

"I'm not bought and paid for," the judge added. "I have not made up my mind in this case and I want to select a jury that feels exactly the same way.

"We expect the same honesty from you (that) we expect from witnesses once the evidence part of the trial gets going," he said.

Melville read a shortened version of the ten-charge indictment against Jackson to potential jurors, warning that the fact that charges exist did not mean the singer was guilty.

On each of the counts, the judge told the prospects: "You'll have to decide if the defendant's guilt has been proved beyond reasonable doubt. The fact he has been charged is not evidence of anything."

Melville elicited laughter when he suggested jurors might be able to better relax if they thought of the selection process as "a job interview."

Upon speaking with the prospects, lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau read off a star-studded defense list of celebrity witnesses, which included reporter Martin Bashir, illusionist David Blaine, journalist Ed Bradley, relatives of Marlon Brando, LA Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant, pop stars Nick and Aaron Carter, "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno, actress Elizabeth Taylor, and musicians Diana Ross and Stevie Wonder, as well as two of Jackson's three young children, Prince and Paris Jackson.

The list also included Jackson's accuser and members of the boy's family, singer Barry Gibb, comedians Steve Harvey and Chris Tucker, talk show hosts Larry King and Maury Povich, and lifestyle guru Deepak Chopra. It had been previously reported that directors Brett Ratner and Brian Michael Stoller, comedian George Lopez, L.A. weatherman Fritz Coleman, and Fox News reporter Rita Cosby also appear on the defense list.

Relevance of the potential witnesses was not disclosed to the prospective jurors. A number of the celebrities on the list are friend of Jackson and others may have met his accuser.

The prosecution has Debbie Rowe, Jackson's ex-wife and mother of two of his children, listed as a witness, as well as Jamie Masada, owner of the Los Angeles based "Laugh Factory" comedy club.

Prosecutors said they might call on two others who claimed at one time to have been molested by Jackson, one being a man from Los Angeles and the other the son of a former Jackson maid. Settlements were reportedly reached in both instances.

The defense and prosecution together submitted nearly 400 names of potential trial witnesses.

Jury selection continues on Tuesday, February 15, 2005. Jackson will be present.

Wednesday, 16 February 2005

For the second time in two weeks, the trial against entertainer Michael Jackson has once again come to a grinding halt. Early Tuesday morning, Jackson was rushed to a Santa Maria hospital where he was admitted with "flu-like" symptoms.

The singer was on his way to court for continuance of the voir dire portion of jury selection when he became too sick, and his destination was diverted to the emergency room of Marian Medical Center in Santa Maria.

During a brief press conference, Dr. Chuck Merrill nonspecifically informed press representatives of Jackson's illness, characterizing its presentation as "flu-like with some vomiting."

The whole statement: "Mr. Jackson has been evaluated in our emergency department today for a flu-like illness with some vomiting. He is undergoing testing and is being treated with intravenous fluids right now. He is in stable condition and we expect a full recovery. His release from the hospital will be when he is stable and well enough to go home."

Dr. Merrill did not answer any questions, and because of confidentiality laws, he could not get into specifics as to what from which the pop star ails. Jackson was admitted and his release was not immediately known.

Hours earlier, many wondered why Jackson had not shown up for court that was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. PT. Approximately 20 minutes past start time, Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville informed the media of the situation, and decided to wait on dismissing potential jurors until more was learned.

Lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau told the judge that Jackson had been feeling ill Monday and that the symptoms continued the following morning en route to the courthouse. Court observers reported that Jackson had been constantly wiping at his nose when he arrived on Monday, the first day of questioning the potential jurors.

Judge Melville later said Jackson would need up to four days to recover, noting that several members of the selected jury pool were also out with the flu, which seemed to be going around.

Trial was continued until Tuesday, February 22, 2005.

Jury selection for the case had been delayed two weeks earlier due to the illness and subsequent passing of the sister of lead attorney Thomas Mesereau.

During Monday's proceedings, defense attorneys had provided a peak into their witness list, where a great majority were well-known celebrities. Among the high-profiled possible witnesses were journalists Martin Bashir, Ed Bradley, Larry King, and Rita Cosby, illusionist David Blaine, LA Lakers star Kobe Bryant, singers Aaron and Nick Carter, Barry Gibb, actor Corey Feldman, Uri Gellar, Brett Ratner, and Chris Tucker.

Also on their list were Santa Barbara District Attorney Thomas Sneddon, defense attorney Mark Geragos, and the singer's youngsters Prince and Paris Jackson.

During an appearance on MSNBC's "The Abrams Report," reporter Mike Taibbi commented on two witnesses on the defense's list: Santa Barbara County investigators who were reassigned when they concluded that there existed no reason to go forward with the pending case against Jackson. One of the two reportedly now works for another local police department.

Taibbi also noted that eight members of the accuser's family also appear on the list, which include two who "have a story to tell...about the motivations of the family in going forward with this case."

No names are mentioned in either instance.

Prosecutor Ronald Zonen told the court that some of the government's prospective witnesses overlap with those on the defense's list, before proceeding to read about 115 additional names, which included many police officers and investigators who put together the case against Jackson.

All listed witnesses are not likely to be called at trial.

Wednesday, 16 February 2005

Forty-five minutes after Dr. Todd Bailey announced that Michael Jackson would remain under observation and treatment for his flu-like symptoms, came reports that Mr. Jackson had left the Marian Medical Center in California.

Less than an hour earlier, Dr. Bailey stated, “Mr. Jackson continues to be in stable condition and remains under observation at this time. He continues to need care for some persistent viral symptoms but otherwise is in good spirits.”

Two black SUVs were seen backing into a loading dock, paused for 10 seconds, then race away. Mr. Jackson was seen earlier in the day waving from his 4th floor room window at fans and the media below.

Mr. Jackson’s trial was suspended Tuesday after he became ill on his way to court.

A statement was released through The King of Pop's website, MJJSource, which stated, “Mr. Jackson has been discharged from the Marian Medical Center in Santa Maria, California to continue his recovery at home. Mr. Michael Jackson would like to thank the doctors and staff at the Marian Medical Center for the care they extended to him.

Friday, 18 February 2005

In a motion filed in court on Thursday, Michael Jackson's defense asked presiding judge Rodney Melville to allow the family’s past litigation history to be told to the trial jury.

The accuser's family was involved in a 1998 case against a US department store, JC Penney, where the family was detained for allegedly shoplifting. The store "found itself the target of a fraudulent lawsuit orchestrated by professional plaintiffs” said Jackson defense attorney Robert Sanger. The accuser’s mother later went on to change her story adding that the security guards in the store sexually assaulted her.

The store decided against a trial and instead settled for $150,000 fearing that the accuser who was then suffering from cancer would attract sympathy from a grand jury.

Defense attorney Robert Sanger said the lawsuit demonstrates that the woman has a "pattern and practice of using her children to commit frauds".

Jackson's defense team also accused the woman of fraudulently concealing revenues when applying for state welfare. The defense went on to state that the accuser's mother coached her children to receive trust and empathy from people in order to eventually solicit money from them.

Only a few months before accusations against Jackson were brought forth, the woman made a video showering praise upon the entertainer and even said that Jackson was like a father to her children and said she never witnessed any inappropriate behavior by him towards her children.

Yet another leak this time, the transcripts of the April 2004 grand jury which indicted Michael Jackson are made available at thesmokinggun.com. The leak comes at a crucial time in the Jackson trial when grand jury selection has already commenced and the trial potentially only a few weeks away.

Although the presiding judge has warned prospective jurors against viewing news on the case, the transcripts could create a bias if the prospects do take a peek. “A grand jury hearing is just one side of the story that hasn't been tested by any cross-examination,” a local defense attorney Adrian Andrade said. “I think it's unfortunate that it's coming out at this point”.

In another court document filed on Thursday, Jackson’s defense requested that the District Attorney Tom Sneddon be recused of prosecuting the case due to being a potential witness. The defense asserts that the DA was personally involved in investigating the current case.

After a one week delay due to Jackson taken ill with the flu, court will resume on Tuesday.

Saturday, 19 February 2005

Superior Court judge Rodney Melville wanted the April 2004 grand jury transcripts sealed until a trial grand jury is convened in order to protect tainting the jury pool. Ironically though, the now leaked indictment before the prospective jurors have been chosen reads testimonies from Jackson’s accuser, accuser’s family members, ex-employees of Jackson, a Guadalupe police officer and even a flight attendant.

The accuser gives accounts of the singer molesting him a number of times while the accuser’s younger brother states that he witnessed Jackson fondling his brother on two occasions while his brother was either sleeping or passed out.

All these testimonies stand to corroborate the prosecution’s charges against Jackson to be orchestrating an elaborate conspiracy to hold the boy and his family against their will while trying to hoax the family into recording a video lauding the pop star.

The grand jury however, was under the sole discretion of the prosecution and the defense was not present to cross examine the witnesses.

Despite the fact that British journalist Martin Bashir is being called as a witness in the current case, and is under a strict gag order, Judge Melville ruled in favor of and did not think the journalist should be held in contempt of court for two television programs he did on the case for ABC.

Defense attorney Robert Sanger argued that Bashir violated the gag order imposed by the judge while interviewing another witness, actor Corey Feldman, and by also doing another two-hour special titled, ‘Michael Jackson’s Secret World’. Judge Melville however stated that Bashir can report on the case like any other reporter.

In a strange twist, the prosecutors now accuse Jackson for the first time of having financial motives in his actions towards the accuser and his family. Prosecutors in their new motion wanted to subpoena the entertainer’s financial reports in order to prove that his actions were provoked in trying to minimize the effects of a documentary titled "Living with Michael Jackson" and to "preserve both his fortune and his reputation”

Michael Jackson’s defense argued that this information is irrelevant and stand to breach the defendant’s privacy. The defense went on to elaborate that Jackson "is an international recording artist and a man who has varied and complex business relationships with numerous individuals and entities. The very nature of these types of business relationships is that the parties honor a commitment to their respective privacy” and that this subpoena will harm the singer from doing business in the entertainment industry.

Wednesday, 23 February 2005

The boy accusing Michael Jackson of child molestation had previously accused both of his parents of abuse. It has been recently revealed that he also has a history of changing his story concerning abuse claims.

At the age of seven the accuser became sick at school but became very upset when a school official tried to call his mother. He said his mother had beaten him and he was afraid she would beat him again if she were notified, according to Russell Halpern, the attorney for the accuser’s father.

Recently revealed documents show that Family Services had started an investigation into alleged abuse of the boy by the parents in 1996. But, the boy recanted what he had said earlier to the school official, stating that he had never been beaten by either parent. Therefore, the allegations were declared “unfounded.”

The accuser and his siblings, including a younger brother who is also a prosecution witness in the case against Jackson, have other instances where they have changed their stories.

One apparently suspicious testimony given by the accuser and his siblings occurred when the mother claimed that she was beaten and sexually abused by a JC Penney’s security guard after a shoplifting incident. Her children backed her story. Although a defense psychiatrist called their statements “clearly rehearsed testimony.”

The next year, police were called to the family’s home during the parent’s bitter divorce. Without their mother present, Jackson’s accuser and his siblings told a social worker that they had witnessed “no hitting, just yelling and not a lot of yelling” by the father over the years.

However, days later, with their mother present, the children changed their story. Instead they claimed they were subjected to daily beatings from their father that included punching, kicking, breaking bones, holding their mother's head under water and constant threats to kill them all.

Jury Selection

Jury selection resumed Tuesday after being postponed due to Michael Jackson becoming ill with flu symptoms last week.

While some cable news television commentators have speculated that Mr. Jackson’s absents from court was a ploy to build sympathy and delay the trial, Judge Melville stated in court, “Mr. Jackson really did have the flu. I talked to his doctor,” Melville also added that he wanted to “stop any speculation that this is something that is being done to us. Mr. Jackson and Mr. Mesereau need to know that is not what’s going through your minds.”

Melville also disclosed that he has cancelled two personal events as a way of speeding up the proceedings.

The prosecution and the defense questioned jurors Tuesday morning during voir dire. The decision of who should stay and who should go is a key element in choosing an acceptable jury for both sides. Defense attorneys and prosecutors also have 10 peremptory challenges to dismiss jurors without cause. More than half were used by both.

Without giving a reason, prosecutors dismissed a man who stated he was a fan of Michael Jackson’s and a woman who said she felt sympathy for Mr. Jackson because of molestation allegations involving her relatives.

The defense also, without noting any reason, dismissed a woman whose mother works for the district attorney’s office and a male juror who said he had three friends who worked for the Sheriffs Department.

In addition to jury selection, the judge stated that new names have been submitted to the witness lists for the defense and the prosecution. Among the new names were actor Macaulay Culkin, actor Eddy Murphy and singer Smokey Robinson.

Being on a witness list does not guarantee that a person will be called to testify.

Thursday, 24 February 2005

In what seemed like record time, juror selection in the Michael Jackson case was complete. With each side limited to ten minutes of questioning by Judge Rodney Melville, what was expected to take weeks took only days.

The twelve jurors were sworn in on Wednesday morning the selection of alternates to continue today.

There are eight women and four men who range in age from 20 to 79 years old. Four are Hispanic, one Asian, and seven are white. There are no African Americans on the jury.

The jurors are referred to by numbers as their names are kept confidential. But a brief description of each is revealed through questioning by the prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Juror 1 said he "avoids Geraldo (Rivera)" when watching news. He said he tries to overlook differences in people's lifestyles. The retired painter, who owns a home in Santa Maria, said of child witnesses: "You have to look at each individual case and make a judgment. You can't generalize."

Juror 2 does bronze casting, clay molds and is interested in Western art. He watches sports and coverage of the Iraq war and reads the local newspaper classified sections for garage sales. "I don't put celebrities on a pedestal," he said. "I would look at (Mr. Jackson) as just another person who needs a fair trial."

Juror 3 has been training horses and teaching riders for 31 years. Her first impression of Mr. Jackson in the courtroom: "He's a very small man with big energy."

Juror 4 teaches high school math and likes art galleries, "although there's not too many in Lompoc."

Like most of the jurors, she said she's critical of the media. "(High-profile) cases are covered too much. Everyone's an expert. . . . In order to get a fair trial, opinions shouldn't be put out like that."

Juror 5 is the oldest at 79. She watches only the last part of the "NBC Nightly News" while waiting for "Jeopardy!" to start: "I'm a 'Jeopardy!' freak, not a news freak. I'm an old-movie buff, and I like things that make me happy."

Her grandchildren emulate Mr. Jackson's dance moves, and she said, "I heard more about him in Russia than I do here."

She said a young relative had been arrested on a misdemeanor sex offense and was in therapy. "It really opened my eyes. . . . It ended up being a positive thing. It will actually make me more fair."

Juror 6, a physical therapy aide who works in a nursing home, plans to enroll in an licensed vocational nursing program in the fall. The 22-year-old said Mr. Jackson's music was "long before her time."

She said she hopes Mr. Jackson "finds a fair jury" despite all the press coverage.

Juror 7, a 42-year-old special education aide, said her four kids don't leave her time for hobbies and that she "believes in making her own decisions about things."

Juror 8 has a relative who is retired from the New York City Police Department. Even though her husband is a reporter, she said she's skeptical about the media. "I would like to think the media wouldn't affect jury decisions. But it might affect other people watching it."

On child witnesses, she said, "I think children do lie. . . . But on the other hand it's easier to get things out of a child than an adult."

Juror 9 said her hobby is cooking. She said she never followed Mr. Jackson's career but grew up with his music: "I think he's a wonderful entertainer."

Juror 10 is the youngest juror at 20. He said he hasn't been paying attention to the news recently. But he normally watches it on Fox and KCOY and is a fan of "The Simpsons" TV show. In high school, he liked crafts, drawing and ceramics. When asked if he could keep an open mind, he said, "Definitely."

Juror 11, a 21-year-old who uses a wheelchair, wants to be a motor sports journalist. He visited Mr. Jackson's Neverland Valley Ranch in the sixth grade with the United Cerebral Palsy Group. He said the media coverage "is way too much for something like this."

Juror 12 has a close friend who is an officer with the San Luis Obispo Police Department and another who works in probation. She's a supervisor with the Santa Barbara County Department of Social Services and likes museums and theater. She would be "cautious" with child testimony and said she thinks "the justice system prevails, despite the media."

Friday, 25 February 2005

In a correspondence with Mr. GaryDunlap, he has confirmed to us that he has been officially retained by Mr. Michael Jackson and his defense as a new member of the attorney team.

Saturday, 26 February 2005

On Friday, the judge in the case against Michael Jackson ruled that jurors can hear evidence that the accuser's mother had accused store security guards of improperly touching her.

Jackson's lead attorney Thomas Mesereau alleged during arguments on whether the family's lawsuit against J.C. Penney could be admitted as evidence, he said that the accuser's mother had given conflicting court testimony, masked settlement funds to collect welfare, and used money raised and given by celebrities and others intended for payment of her son's cancer treatments for cosmetic surgery.

The family claimed in the J.C. Penney case that security guards beat them, detained them against their will, groped the mother following an altercation that ensued after Jackson's accuser and his younger brother had walked out of the store without paying for the merchandise.

Mesereau further stated that following a $150,000 settlement from J.C. Penney and Tower Records, a second defendant in the matter, she immediately accused her then husband of abuse and filed for divorce. She also alleged that her ex-husband had inappropriately touched their daughter.

This came after the woman had testified in the J.C. Penney litigation that her former husband had never battered her, but changed her story during their divorce, stating that he had beat the entire family for years. Mesereau said this was perjury.

Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville agreed to allow testimony about the lawsuit, particularly as it pertains to the mother's credibility. Jackson's defense team, however, are barred from referring to the boy as a "shoplifter."

Mesereau also said the mother had her son ask celebrities, including Jay Leno, for money, and spent some of the funds on plastic surgery. As has been previously reported, several celebrities had raised funds on behalf of the boy to go towards payment of his cancer treatments. It has since been learned that 100% of his medical expenses were covered by insurance.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen contested that the matter at bar was how the mother acquired the funds, not on what she spent it, and the issue is largely irrelevant.

Zonen said, "The question is whether a man who admits to sleeping with children was sleeping with this child, and what he did with this child. That's what this case is about."

This statement by the prosecution about the focus being on child molestation lies in contrast to some of their more questionable requests, such as has been revealed by a recent motion that they are seeking information relating to invoices and statements of Jackson's Sony/ATV and MIJAC music catalogues dating back to December 1999. Many would ask what music holdings have to do with a child molestation case.

Mesereau argued in response to Zonen that the mother's actions showed a pattern of fraud.

"She got a breast enhancement and a tummy tuck and then told Mr. Jackson and all these people that she was destitute," he said.

Judge Melville criticized Mesereau on how much he was divulging about his defense prior to opening statements, saying that the attorney "almost laid out [his] whole case" not for the court, but "for other people," referring to present reporters and observers.

Opening statements in the case are set to begin Monday.

Jury selection for the case completed on Thursday with the swearing in of four male and four female alternates would replace any of the twelve primary jurors should any problems arise. The jury mostly comprises of whites and Hispanics, with there being one black man in the alternate panel.

The judge also ruled on Friday that attorneys may only use a clip of the documentary "Living with Michael Jackson" during opening statements. The prosecution, after wanting to show the program in its entirety, said they intend to show a two-minute segment. Their first witness is expected to be the documentary's creator, now ABC News reporter, Martin Bashir.

Judge Melville did not immediately offer a ruling on a defense request to take the jury to Jackson's Neverland Valley Ranch, but expectedly denied the defense's second attempt to recuse the Santa Barbara District Attorney's Office.

The judge also tentatively denied the admittance of the rebuttal video to Bashir's documentary, and ruled that defense attorneys will not be allowed to get into alleged extramarital affairs in which the accuser's mother had engaged.

The defense team had wanted to show that the boy's mother had been in contact with a Los Angeles police officer and her Army officer boyfriend during the time of her alleged captivity by Jackson. The defense contends the woman could have asked the Army major for assistance if she had been held against her will.

Jackson's attorneys also alleged that the mother might have been delusional at the time she claims she was held hostage because she wasn't taking her prescribed drugs. Lawyers, however, were barred by Judge Melville from mentioning these drugs unless they can show that the woman was supposed to be taking them but had not.

Further Developments

The prosecution and the defense agreed to meet on Saturday to jointly interview an attorney who represented the accuser's mother during the J.C. Penney suit. Such a weekend session is said to be rare.

Though what might be discussed was not disclosed in court, ABC News reports that they've learned through their unnamed sources that a paralegal is the "mystery witnesses" to be interviewed. Allegedly, the woman worked for the attorney who represented the mother in the J. C. Penney lawsuit.

ABC sources say the paralegal claimed to the Jackson defense that the accuser's mother lied under oath and fabricated charges against the company's security guards. These sources also claim that the woman also alleged that bruises the mother says were inflicted by the guards were actually done at the hands of someone else, and that the mother had told her that she coached her son to lie during his deposition on the J.C. Penney matter.

The defense remarked in open court on Friday that this witness speaks directly to the heart of the case against Jackson, and that she will testify that the mother had lied under oath during that civil case, and had done so for money.

ABC cited a source close to the boy's mother who says that she will deny accusations that she had lied or fabricated evidence in the J.C. Penney litigation.

Judge Melville will review deposition of this witness by both prosecution and defense attorneys prior to the start of opening statements on Monday.

Saturday, 26 February 2005

Defense attorney Gary Dunlap is the latest addition to superstar Michael Jackson’s defense team.

The lawyer and his new client will both be facing an all too familiar adversary. Mr. Dunlap claims that he too was once wrongfully pursued by belligerent prosecutor Thomas Sneddon, with whom he is currently embroiled in a legal battle.

In an interview with US television network CBS in 2003, Mr. Dunlap said "[Sneddon] said he had a very strong case against me. The problem was that his whole strong case was manufactured.”

The lawyer, who was later acquitted of all charges in a jury trial, added that “[Sneddon] lost his opportunity against Michael Jackson in 1993, and he doesn't want to leave office without paying that score back."

His addition to the Jackson defense is thought to be a huge boost for the entertainer, who is similarly alleging prosecutorial misconduct in his child abuse case. His experience facing the “overzealous” District Attorney will undoubtedly be of value to lead attorney, Thomas Mesereau.

In November 2003 Mr. Dunlap filed 22 counts against the DA, including charges of malicious prosecution, racketeering and witness tampering. He is suing for $10m.

Earlier that year Mr. Sneddon had charged Mr. Dunlap with perjury, witness intimidation and filing false documents. The lawyer was acquitted on all charges and claims that filing multiple charges in the hopes of obtaining at least one guilty verdict is one of the prosecutor’s regular courtroom ploys.

Joe Freeman, a civil rights attorney representing Mr. Dunlap, called for an investigation of Mr. Sneddon last year. In a letter to the California Attorney General, the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury and the California State Bar Association, he wrote: “In my opinion, the matters to be investigated are the possible criminal violations of several felony and misdemeanor statutes, including conspiracy, illegal taping, deceiving a court and a prosecutor illegally assisting the defense of a case.”

Opening statements in the Jackson case are expected to be heard Monday.

Monday, 28 February 2005

Foundations were laid today in the Michael Jackson trial when as customary the prosecution presented their opening argument followed by the defense, paving the way for a more decisive view of the way both sides may tackle the case. The prosecution attempted to paint Jackson as a perverted, pedophile, luring young boys, plying them with alcohol and using them to assist him in his whims. The defense on the other hand, portrayed the family to have a history of lying while scamming an array of other celebrities, some who turned down the accuser’s mother's requests for financial support but that the humanitarian in and sympathy felt by Jackson lured him into "a trap" by the Arvizo family.

Before the start of opening statements Judge Melville read out the, indictment to the jury, twenty eight overt acts allegedly committed in a conspiracy charge and also introduced the names of five unindicted co-conspirators who were all allegedly plotting to keep the accuser and his family silent and under duress while Jackson was using the family as damage control measures. All of the co-conspirators are Jackson employees.

After a request by prosecutor Thomas Sneddon to use the accuser’s name citing the difficulties in having to redact names in a bid to secure anonymity, the judge allowed Jackson’s accuser be referred to by his name, Gavin Arvizo.

The Prosecution

Tom Sneddon in his opening argument stated that Jackson after the airing of a damaging documentary, when "Jackson's world was rocked" (not in a musical sense of course but in a damaging real life sense), used the entire family to rebut negative publicity brought forth and also went on to state that Jackson at the time was “heavily in debt” for about one year before hand. This drew an objection from defense attorney Tom Mesereau which was sustained by the judge stating that he had not ruled on whether to allow financial disclosures as evidence.

The prosecutor stated that the infamous documentary by Martin Bashir was an attempt by Jackson to rekindle his ailing career but that the airing of the program turned out to be “a train wreck" and against what Jackson thought it would be. This according to the District Attorney is when Jackson painstakingly sought the assistance of the family and especially Gavin Arvizo to paint a beautiful picture of Jackson as someone who is sensitive towards the plight of a cancer patient.

Sneddon went on to say that upon inviting the accuser and his family to Jackson’s sprawling estate, Neverland Ranch, and on that very first day of the boy’s arrival, the singer wasted no time in introducing sexually explicit material to the boy by taking him on tour of web sites with naked bodies. All this was while in the presence of Frank Tyson, one of the five unindicted co-conspirators and also Jackson’s own son, Prince Michael.

The prosecutor said the molestation occurred after those events, in February or March 2003, when the boy was 13. He described two specific incidents of molestation, including one when Jackson reached into the boy's underpants and masturbated the boy and himself. Sneddon went on to state instances of pornographic material found in various places in Neverland and also said that there were witnesses to corroborate the fact that Jackson plied the young accuser with alcohol. The explicit material seized after the barrage of search warrants issued for the entertainers ranch, have the finger prints of the accuser, his brother and in some both Jackson's as well as the accusers.

Sneddon, also did a cursory mention of other celebrities that the accuser had met through the laugh factory owned by comedy club owner Jamie Masada.

The indictment which had not been made public up to now, stated that Frank Tyson (or Frank Cascio), threatened the accuser, telling him that “Michael could make the family disappear” and also went on to say that “I could have your mother killed”. Making the family disappear may have been an agenda when in a bizarre tale recounted by the family state that allegedly Jackson’s employees tried to transport the entire family to Brazil in a panic stricken attempt. Also named as co-conspirators were Ronald Konitzer, Dieter Wiesner, Marc Shaffel and Vincent Amen.

Sneddon admitted at the end of his statement that the case would appear to be complicated and would require the testimonies of many witnesses to relay the story.

After a three hour opening statement by the prosecutor who over a decade ago was unsuccessful in pursuing Jackson of child molestation let defense attorney Thomas Mesereau proceed with his opening statement.

The Defense

Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau noting that it was an honor to represent Jackson did an excellent job portraying the accusing family as scams, the accuser’s mother as an opportunist using her son’s illness as means of extorting money off a host of celebrities (Jay Leno, comedian George Lopez and an actress who appeared in the television show ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’) as well as counteracting statements made by Sneddon in his statement read earlier on.

Mesereau reeling off a list of financial scams brought forth by Janet Arvizo or now Janet Jackson (the accuser’s mother) in his own admission “goes on and on” recounted to the jury of a numerous incidents where the woman tried to extort money off celebrities and at failed attempts threw frivolous law suits at these celebrities. Some of these celebrities refused to pay heed to the woman's plea for financial support while Jackson was sympathetic towards the then cancer stricken accuser's plight.

In one instance the accusers mother received $ 20,000 from one comedian claiming the funds would be used for her son although she went ahead and spent the money to bask in TVs, CDs, and home entertainment systems. The woman also once spoke with 'The Tonight Show' host Jay Leno over the telephone who later denounced the woman’s requests for financial support and told the Santa Barbara police that the woman was looking for “a mark”. The accuser’s mother also approached celebrities like Mike Tyson, Jim Carrey, and Adam Sandler. But, Mesereau noted, "The best known celebrity became their mark, Michael Jackson."

Dispelling the prosecutions assertions of Neverland, Mesereau went on to say, "We will prove that Neverland is not a haven for criminal acts, a lure for molestation, a magnet for crime." The singer's intentions toward the teenage accuser were honorable, Mesereau said, noting that Jackson took time from his career to help the child, unaware that "a trap was set" for him by the boy's family. In describing the kind of help Jackson provided when the child was ill, Mesereau said the performer counseled the boy to visualize that he was playing Pac-Man and that cancer cells were being gobbled up.

Mesereau also referred to a newly added witness to the defense list but an extremely strong one none the less, who worked as a paralegal for the lawyer representing the family in the JC Penney case, another one of the family’s financial settlements. The witness claims that the mother fabricated her allegations in this particular civil case and that she was hesitant to come forward because the mother once laid threats stating that she has relatives in the Mexican Mafia.

The defense attorney also questioned the logic in molesting the young boy after the damning documentary was aired after which the pop star was under intense public scrutiny challenging perhaps the timeline of the abuse also. He also went on to dispel hostage stories by the mother stating that the guest house in which the family was apparently held against their will was also incidentally the suite requested personally by Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando upon visits to Jackson's Neverland Ranch. The family's exorbitant shopping sprees under Jackson's account while allegedly being held hostage was also pin-pointed by the defense attorney.

Mesereau's statement was halted at the end of session late Monday afternoon but will be continued at 8.30 am Tuesday.

Tuesday, 01 March 2005

8.30 am Tuesday, defense attorney Thomas Mesereau resumed his fiery opening argument. The attorney said that Jackson would tell the jury that the accuser although at first seemed well behaved, later ran amok at Neverland Ranch misbehaving, sneaking into Jackson’s bedroom, looking at porn and drinking wine.

He went on to state that many of the days as outlined by the prosecution, during which alleged abuse took place, Jackson “wasn’t even near the place” and quizzed the absurdity of the pop star preying on the teenage boy after the” Living With Michael Jackson” documentary aired which invited heavy scrutiny upon Jackson and even sparked investigation from a family services department.

Mesereau on many occasions during his statement hinted on the possibility of Jackson taking the stand. One time, addressing the explicit material found in the entertainer’s bedroom, he said, "Mr. Jackson will freely admit that he does read girly magazines from time to time." Yet at no time did Jackson show these to children rather kept them locked in a briefcase. In another instance Mesereau stated that “Michael Jackson would tell you that”, he eventually grew suspicious of the family’s increasingly bizarre behavior when one time the mother said that they should all pray together with “Daddy Michael”.

Highlighting the accuser’s mother’s scheming ways, Tom Mesereau said that the woman deposited illegally obtained welfare checks into an account opened by her then boyfriend now husband, Jay Jackson who is an army reserves major earning $ 8,000 a month. Countering Sneddon's claim that the woman was not seeking money from Jackson, Mesereau said that he will prove that her lawyer, Larry Feldman, told CNN's Larry King (during a lunch) that "she wants money." Continuing his portrayal of the woman, Mesereau said that, on numerous occasions she had the opportunity to contact law enforcement officials had she felt threatened or unsafe yet took no such action.

Concluding his compelling statement, Tom Mesereau stated that Jackson was the naive victim of an elaborate scheme to extort money, that there was no DNA evidence to suggest that any abuse took place and that the defense is extremely confident that once all evidence is introduced to the jury, that the jurors “are going to find Michael Jackson absolutely not guilty of any of this”.

The jurors were shown the forty-five minute “Living With Michael Jackson” documentary which was followed by the interviewee of the program, Martin Bashir taking the stand as the prosecution’s first witness.

Tuesday, 01 March 2005

On the second day after the start of the Jackson trial, the prosecution called its first witness: Martin Bashir, the man behind 2003’s TV documentary Living With Michael Jackson. The documentary, showing the accuser with Mr. Jackson, was shown after defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. finished an opening statement in which he suggested the entertainer may testify and said authorities found no DNA evidence in the entertainer's bedroom to support the charges. However, Mr. Jackson is not on the defense witness list.

As the jurors watched on a large screen in the hushed courtroom, some leaned forward in their seats, a few smiled or laughed when Mr. Jackson said humorous things, and a few bobbed their heads along with Jackson's music. Some smiled when the video showed Mr. Jackson singing "smile while your heart is breaking" as he left a hotel. The documentary shows Mr. Jackson racing go-carts and climbing trees, as well as teaching Bashir how to "moonwalk."

After the jurors watched the documentary, Bashir was questioned by defense attorney Thomas Mesereau, but his attorney repeatedly invoked California's shield law for reporters and the First Amendment, saying that as a journalist Bashir did not have to answer questions about unpublished materials. Bashir refused to answer about 30 times

Mr. Jackson appeared agitated when Bashir was on the stand, at one point putting out his arms as if to tell him to speak up. Bashir was testifying in a near-whisper.

As Mr. Jackson left court, reporters asked him how he was feeling. He said "good," then added "angry." He thanked reporters and walked away.

Court is adjourned until tomorrow.

Wednesday, 02 March 2005

An allegation that Michael Jackson’s record label placed a spy in the singer’s camp was the most interesting revelation in an otherwise uneventful third day of the superstar’s child molestation trial.

The day was dominated by testimony from Ann Marie Kite, a publicity specialist hired briefly for the singer in the aftermath of ITV’s “Living with Michael Jackson,” said by some to be a publicity disaster.

Kite was called to the stand by prosecutors to testify about the conspiracy allegations made against Mr. Jackson and a number of unindicted co-conspirators.

She claimed there had been panic in the Jackson camp when the accuser and his family left Neverland in the middle of the night following the broadcast of the ITV documentary.

She said that one of the unindicted co-conspirators, Marc Schaffel, told her that their leaving the ranch made him “uncomfortable.” She further testified that, later the same day, he told her “the situation has been contained” and the family had been brought back to the ranch.

“I didn't understand why he would be upset about them leaving the ranch," she said, adding that she was told defense lawyers would portray the accuser’s mother as a “crack whore.”

Kite’s testimony was undermined under cross-examination when she confirmed that she had never actually met the family or Mr. Jackson and that her knowledge of events was mostly third hand. She further acknowledged that she had only worked for the entertainer for six days, between February 9th and February 15th, 2003. Kite had been hired by her ex-boyfriend and Jackson attorney David LeGrande.

She further alleged that, following her dismissal, she refused a request from then defense attorney Mark Geragos to sign a confidentiality agreement.

"I believed it would negatively impact me. I believe it was designed to shut me up," she said.

Record Label Spy

The most intriguing testimony came when Kite hinted that a spy had been placed in the Jackson camp by the star’s own record label, Sony Music. She said she had learned that one of Mr. Jackson’s advisors, Ronald Konitzer, may have been working behind the scenes in an attempt to allow Sony to take ownership of the Sony/ATV music catalogue, which is half-owned by the reclusive superstar. Konitzer is also one of the unindicted co-conspirators.

"You said that Mr. Konitzer was hired to isolate Michael Jackson and let him create his downfall so that Sony could get the catalogue back, isn't that correct?" asked Mesereau.

"Not in those words," she replied, adding that she was aware of the importance of the catalogue and that "Sony was waiting for the opportunity to get the Sony catalogue back."

There has been much public animosity between Sony and Mr. Jackson, arguably their biggest star. He spoke out against then chief Tommy Mottola who resigned shortly afterwards.

Kite further alleged that she was also suspicious of other members of Mr. Jackson’s team. In an earlier interview with police investigators, she said she felt some of the singer’s team were not acting in his best interests. She named Schaffel, Konitzer and financial advisor Al Malnik and said she got her information from the internet and from Le Grande.

"The ones you are most suspicious of are Schaffel and Konitzer?" Mesereau questioned.

"The ones I was most suspicious of were those who were taking their eyes off the devastation that was happening to Michael Jackson," she replied.

Her internet research revealed that Malnik was a “reputed mobster” and Schaffel was a producer of gay pornography. She thought their association with Mr. Jackson would be viewed negatively.

After questioning from Mesereau, she confirmed she had no information that the singer himself was involved with the pornography.

Kite mentioned that the Jackson camp seemed at odds with one another.

"I couldn't discuss anything with anyone because they all had different agendas," she said.

Prior Allegations

Earlier in the day, following a question from prosecutors about other PR problems faced by the singer, Kite mentioned previous allegations made against the singer in 1993. Judge Rodney Melville has yet to rule on whether evidence from the prior allegations can be used by prosecutors. No charges were filed in that case.

The defense objected to questions about 1993, and Judge Melville warned jurors to only consider testimony as it related to explaining Kite's motivations and not for the "truth of the matter."

The trial continues in Santa Maria tomorrow.

Friday, 04 March 2005

On Thursday, the sister of the teenager accusing Michael Jackson of child molestation told jurors that she saw Jackson take her brother into a bedroom at a Miami resort and shut the door, leaving the two of them alone together for 15 to 30 minutes. She said that this scenario was repeated a few times during the course of the day where the accuser and the entire family were staying in Jackson’s suite.

Asked how her brother was acting that day, she told jurors, "He was just very hyper, very talkative, running around, playful," adding that he was also "more jumpy and stuff."

The boy’s sister was answering questions prompted by the prosecution and Jackson’s defense attorneys did not have the opportunity to cross examine the 18 year old college freshman before court was adjourned.

She also told jurors that she and her mother, as well as her brothers, were abused by their father. Asked how many times she had seen her father hit her mother, she answered, "Too many to count. So many." Asked how many times she and her brothers had been hit, she said, "Lots."

Earlier, jurors watched a video tour of the ranch's main residence, including the two-story master bedroom suite where Jackson is accused of molesting the teenager two years ago. The footage was taken by Albert Lafferty, a videographer for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department, to show how the property looked before investigators executed a search warrant on November 18, 2003.

The video showed Jackson's cluttered bedroom with many ornate objects as well as cardboard cutouts of the likes of Shirley Temple and Elizabeth Taylor, while the pop star himself watched the video contemplatively along with his brother Jackie and mother who accompanied him to court on Thursday.

Jurors were also shown a room which was referred to as the “doll room” which contained hundreds of dolls some life sized and another room, dubbed the "toy room" by prosecutors, was filled with life-sized toys based on movie characters, including Batman and C-3PO and Darth Vader from "Star Wars.

A P.I Speaks Out

A private investigator working at the time for defense attorney Mark Geragos, has given MSNBC’s Dan Abrams an interview before the PI was subpoenaed by both the prosecution and defense in the current Jackson trial. Bradley Miller’s office was raided on the same day that the entertainer’s Neverland Ranch was raided and it is said that the prosecution was after a tape that Miller recorded in which the accusing family are showering praise upon Jackson.

Miller goes on to state that both the boy and his family were well aware of the 1993 allegation brought against Jackson where the star receded to a multi million dollar out of court settlement. Although prosecutor Tom Sneddon in his opening statement and the boy’s sister on stand on Thursday stated that the tape is heavily edited and that Miller would stop and go if he felt the family were not saying the right things. The Private Investigator is assertive about the fact that Jackson upon revelation of the family’s motives wanted so badly to distance himself and Miller goes on to say "This family, every conversation I had with them, every meeting I had with them, any interaction with them centered around either money, fame, celebrity and/or possessions,"

Leno Wants Gag order Lifted

‘The Tonight Show’ host Jay Leno’s attorneys Theodore Boutrous and Michael H. Dore are urging judge Melville to lift the gag order imposed on witnesses stating that "This motion was made on the grounds that this court could not possibly have intended its gag order, which was issued more than a year ago, to limit public personalities like Mr. Leno from commenting on public proceedings in this case" . Jay Leno as the defense revealed in their opening statement, came in contact with the mother of Jackson’s current accuser after which Leno reported the woman’s financial requests to the Santa Barbara Police as looking for "a mark".

Friday, 04 March 2005

Jury Sees Family Praising Jackson on Video

During Friday's court proceedings in the child molestation case against entertainer Michael Jackson, the jury and courtroom observers had the chance to view a video where the accusing family profusely praises Jackson and the attention he had given them.

The video, which was shot at the home of Jackson videographer Hamid Moslehi, was filmed in the early morning hours of February 20, 2003, two weeks following the broadcast of Martin Bashir's "Living with Michael Jackson" in the United States.

The mother of the accuser can be seen stating that her son was the one who asked if he could refer to Jackson as his father.

"(My son) was the one who asked him, 'Can I call you daddy?' and he said 'Of course,'" the woman said in the video.

At another point, the accuser said Jackson "treats me like he's my father," his older sister echoing the sentiment. Their younger brother added that the singer "seemed more fatherly" to them than their biological father.

Interestingly, similar statements were made by the accuser's brother with regards to their stepfather, Major Jay Jackson, in a declaration filed by their mother against their father in March 2004. Included with the filing was a note allegedly written by the boy, in which he states that Major Jackson "was more of a father in 2 years" than his biological father had been in all of his 13 years of life.

Throughout the video, adjectives such as "nice," "humble," "funny," and "fatherly" peppered their statements when speaking of Jackson.

The recorded video served as evidence presented by the prosecution as the accuser's sister took the stand for a second day. She could be seen in the video breaking down into tears as she described her brother's illness and how Jackson had assisted him.

Prosecutors theorize that Jackson's purported co-conspirators had held the family hostage and coerced them into speaking kindly of the pop star.

Jurors were observed taking notes as the video unfolded, while Jackson dabbed at his eyes with a handkerchief, and his mother Katherine wiped away tears as the accusing family spoke about how good Jackson had been to them. Jackson's siblings Jermaine and La Toya were also present in court.

The accuser recollected in the video his first visit to Neverland and how he asked Jackson if he could stay in his room. The boy relayed that Jackson had told him that it was okay, as long as his parents granted permission, which they did. He also spoke of there being a debate over who would sleep in the bed and who would stay on the floor.

"He told me you sleep on the bed. ... Michael finally said, 'OK, if you love me you'll sleep on the bed,'" the boy said.

The teenager further stated that Jackson took to the floor and that several others also slept in the room that night.

The boy also credited Jackson with helping him beat cancer.

"We were driving up the hill and he told me, 'You need to get better.' He told me, 'You need to eat up all those cancer cells like Pac-Man.' I never forgot that," the boy said.

The children's mother, whose hair was styled and her face made up, repeatedly called Jackson's entrance into their life a miracle. She also spoke of abuse she allegedly endured during her marriage, and expressed her belief that it was her responsibility to keep her children safe.

"When they are with Michael, he spreads his wings and my children have happiness they never have had in their life. And he hasn't left me out. I appreciate him with all my heart," she said.

The woman also spoke of their financial difficulties.

"We know what it is to be poor but in all the time with Michael there are no money problems. He fulfills our needs," she remarked.

The video also depicted the family smiling and laughing. The boy's mother was seen occasionally whispering to her son, and she spoke of the boy being of a rare blood type, O-negative, and how Jackson made certain there was enough blood for transfusions during her son's cancer treatment.

At another point, the mother said everyone else had refused to help the family, explaining that they "didn't live in the right zip code" and that they "weren't the right race." She said that Jackson, however, did not turn them away.

"He claimed these three little munchkins as his kids," the woman remarked.

The mother went on: "God worked through Michael to help us. When we saw no hope Michael said there was hope. ... We were broken and Michael fixed us."

She also stated that media reports portraying Jackson in a bad light upset her.

"It breaks my heart because they're missing out on something very beautiful that they have tainted. It stemmed from jealousy, envy a lack of happiness in their own life," she said.

While prosecutors sought to use the video to prove that the family had been coerced into speaking kindly of the entertainer, Jackson's defense team contends that the video actually supports their claim that the family was in no way forced or coerced into making the statements in the video. They also argue that the mother is after Jackson's money and the accusations of wrongdoing only came after he ceased supporting them.

Prosecutors now allege that the accuser was molested after the acquisition of these statements, though it was first alleged that the boy had been molested weeks prior to the recording of the videos and provision of several other statements.

Upon completion of the video's viewing, the accuser's sister underwent cross-examination by lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau, during which time the young woman acknowledged accusations levied against her father, who has been apart from their mother since late 2001. They divorced last year.

When questioned by Mesereau if she had once told law enforcement that her father was abusing her five times a week, the accuser's sister answered that the abuse was daily. She also said that she learned about her alleged sexual abuse at the hands of her father from something blurted out by her mother.

"When you were interviewed by police you never told them your father molested you," Mesereau addressed her.

"They weren't asking me about that and I was very young," she responded.

She then followed that up by saying, "It was a horrible experience to find out ... that he had done that to me when I was young. My mother screamed it out to him."

The sister affirmed a question by Mesereau that her father appeared to agree with the mother's allegation.

Also in the video, the witness' mother said this of Bashir: "He took a beautiful relationship and spun it out of control. God works through people and so does the devil."

However, when Mesereau asked the accuser's sister if the family had seen the documentary, she insisted that they had not.

Questioned about statements made by their mother about how poor they were, the witness explained, "She was just trying to make it more dramatic. There was a script."

"So are you saying everything you said on the tape was memorized?" Mesereau asked.

"Not everything," the girl said.

Cross-examination of the witness is expected to continue on Monday.

Accounting Firm Seeks to Quash Subpoena of Jackson Financial Records

In other case related matters, California accounting firm Holthouse, Carlin & Van Tright moved to quash a prosecution subpoena, for which they argue was overly broad and burdensome, and sought material that was privileged and would violate Jackson's privacy. The motion was publicly released on Thursday.

Prosecutors are seeking information relating to the state of Jackson's finances. Santa Barbara District Attorney Thomas Sneddon charged in the subpoena, which was filed on February 23, 2005, that Jackson faces "a crushing amount of personal debt mounting to well over $275 million" with a scheduled due date of December 2005.

The subpoena seeks to acquire statements of Jackson's assets, liabilities, revenues, and his music catalogue holdings; balances in his bank, asset and credit accounts; check registers; statements of unpaid debts and loan balances; and values for his real estate, and property.

It remains unclear how the subpoenaed information would serve to support the charges of conspiracy and child molestation.

The accounting firm also noted that Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville had already ruled in January that financial evidence cannot be used by the prosecution to show motive of crimes Jackson is accused of having allegedly committed.

Holthouse's filing revealed that Jackson's defense team intends to file a motion to quash the subpoena as well, on the grounds that acquisition of the requested financial information would violate Jackson's privacy and confidentiality.

Sneddon additionally stated that Jackson was in financial crisis when he appeared with his now accuser in the Bashir documentary, which he said damaged the singer's image and triggered the events that lead to the charges against him.

The records are required to prove that Jackson's financial status motivated him to "do whatever was necessary to preserve his public image," including conspiring to intimidate and control the accusing family to assist in his efforts to improve his public image.

A hearing on the matter is scheduled for this upcoming Wednesday.

Tuesday, 08 March 2005

With the accuser’s sister struggling under defense attorney Tom Mesereau’s intense cross examination, and at the end of her three day appearance on the stand, the sister's tales have wavered. Thus, now more than ever before the next sibling in line to take the stand, the accuser’s younger brother’s accounts stands crucial. However providing the defense with more ammunition to tear down the entire family’s credibility, the brother’s statements are contradictory and inconsistent when compared with his testimonies given to a grand jury earlier on during the Jackson trial and interviews given to numerous other investigators.

The accuser’s younger brother now aged fourteen, who is the sole witness to two accounts of molestation on his brother, gave an interview to psychologist Stanley Katz in May 2003, referred to by the family’s lawyer Larry Feldman. He said he witnessed Jackson place his left hand on his brother’s crotch over his pajamas. Then in July, in the first of a series of interviews given to sheriff’s investigators the brother said he saw Jackson’s right hand “jacking off” and also witnessed the pop stars erect penis at which point Jackson was allegedly masturbating. Come August, in an interview given to police the brother states that Jackson’s hand was inside his elder brother’s boxer shorts.

All the left hand – right hand and different attire worn by the accuser was witnessed by the brother in a matter of approximately a minute during early hours of the morning with low illumination and, while setting off a sensor alarm when approaching Jackson’s bedroom. The boy claims the alarm was “really low” since the bottom floor door was closed which defeats the sole purpose of having an alarm system to notify of presence in the first place.

It seems though that the charges brought against Jackson whether acts of or attempted molestation are somewhat selective. The accuser’s younger brother further stated to Dr Stan Katz that once while riding a golf cart at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, Jackson placed his hand over the boy’s crotch while Jackson was seated to his right. However, at the grand jury the boy stated, that Jackson placed his hand over his leg “close” to his private area. When questioned by prosecutor Zonen how close to the private area, the boy replied “About a couple of inches. But he wasn't touching it”. Jackson is not charged with this alleged incident.

Let’s pave the way for the accuser himself now. His accounts waver just like his siblings despite the fact that he is allegedly claiming Jackson molested him a numerous times. In the same chronological series of interviews given, July 7th the accuser told investigators Jackson took his hands and placed it over the entertainer’s private parts over his clothes (although his sibling’s witness was the other way round – Jackson’s hand on his brother’s crotch!). In an interview given to the police in August the boy states he can’t recall any acts of inappropriate touching and when questioned about whether Jackson made him do anything he stated “I don’t know. I don’t think he did”.

But, when it came to the grand jury testimony, the boy’s tales shifted considerably and seemed to be more decisive. When questioned by prosecutors on whether he touched Jackson, the boy stated that although Jackson wanted him to he refused and pulled his hand away against Jackson’s wishes. For this alleged incident, Jackson was charged with a felony count of attempting to commit a lewd act upon a child. In his closing statement to grand jurors, prosecutor Zonen claimed that while the incident wasn't "even attempted, it's actually completed child molestation," prosecutors were "going to give Mr. Jackson the benefit of the doubt on that one" and only charge him with an attempted lewd act.

Tuesday, 08 March 2005

The younger brother of the teenage boy accusing Michael Jackson testified that the singer showed them sexually explicit images on the Internet, supplied them with wine and appeared nude before them.

The brother said Mr. Jackson once walked naked into his bedroom at Neverland Ranch, where he and Jackson's accuser were sitting on the bed watching a movie, telling them that it was "natural." Mr. Jackson had an erection, the boy said. "We were grossed out," the brother added.

Testifying for the prosecution, the brother said that on numerous occasions, they drank wine with Mr. Jackson, which the entertainer referred to as "Jesus juice," in his bedroom and in his wine cellar.

He also said Mr. Jackson dialed random numbers to make crank phone calls. If the number turned out not to be a working number, all of them had to take a drink of wine, the brother said.

The brother also said Mr. Jackson gave them wine on a plane ride from Florida to California. Both the pop star and his accuser appeared to be intoxicated, and Mr. Jackson used the aircraft's phone to make obscene phone calls, he said.

The brother said that on his second visit to Neverland, he and the accuser were in Mr. Jackson's bedroom with the singer and his associate, Frank Tyson, along with two of the star’s children. He said at Mr. Jackson's suggestion, Tyson used a computer to call up several sites with photographs of scantily clad women.

However, he testified that the first overnight sleepover occurred during his family's second visit to Neverland, contradicting testimony by the accuser's sister and the prosecution's opening statement in which the first overnight sleepover was said to have occurred on the family's first visit to Mr. Jackson’s ranch.

Upon hearing the boy's testimony, even members of Mr. Jackson's defense team turned to look at him. But Mr. Jackson did not visibly react.

The brother -- who is now 14 and was 12 at the time Jackson is accused of molesting his brother -- also said that some of the positive comments he made about Jackson in a video prepared by the Jackson camp to rebut the Bashir documentary were untrue, including his statements that Jackson helped him with his homework and gave him a phone number the brother could call any time.

Before being called to the stand, the jurors heard an audiotape in which the accuser, his brother, his mother and his sister described Jackson in glowing terms as a father figure who provided safety and love after years of abuse at the hands of their own father.

The accuser also said that during his chemotherapy treatment for cancer, "Michael would always put a smile on my face" and that "I would love to spend nights with Michael Jackson."

The tape, introduced by the defense during the cross-examination of the accuser's sister, was made on February 16, 2003, about two weeks after the Bashir documentary was first broadcast on British television.

The nearly 40-minute audiotape was made by Brad Miller, a private investigator working for attorney Mark Geragos, who at the time represented Jackson. On the tape, family members described repeated incidents of physical abuse at the hands of the father. The mother and father have since divorced.

"I knew Michael was going to protect us," the mother said on the tape, also adding that because of her history of living with domestic abuse, she would have known if something untoward was going on between her son and Jackson.

"I would be the most sensitive to any little thing," she said.

Jackson appeared very attentive and somewhat agitated during Monday's testimony, at points shaking his head and putting one finger to his face.

Cross-examination on the accuser’s brother continues today.

Wednesday, 09 March 2005

Cross-examination reveals earlier false testimony

In Tuesday’s court proceedings, Michael Jackson’s defense attorney, Thomas Mesereau Jr. was able to cross examine the brother of the teenage boy that is accusing Michael Jackson of child molestation. He quickly got at the credibility factor of this witness by showing inconsistencies in his Grand Jury testimony, the interview he did with the police and his testimony yesterday on direct examination conducted by District Attorney Thomas Sneddon.

In what could have been a scene out of a Perry Mason flick, Mr. Mesereau asked the brother when was the last time him and his family visited Neverland. The 14- year old brother admitted that it was around March 2003 that his family visited Neverland.

The boy yesterday in direct examination said that Mr. Jackson showed him and his brother some adult pornography magazines and identified the magazine, called Barely Legal, that Mr. Sneddon showed him. After the identification, Mr. Sneddon requested that the magazine be catalogued as evidence against Mr. Jackson.

In cross examination by Mr. Mesereau, he showed the boy the magazine and asked if it was a magazine that Mr. Jackson showed him, which the boy said “yes”. Then Mr. Mesereau asked the boy to read the date on that magazine. The publication date on the magazine was August 2003, which is months after the family last visited Mr. Jackson’s Neverland Valley Ranch.

Afterwards, the brother claimed that the magazine that Mr. Sneddon catalogued into evidence and the one that Mr. Messereau asked to reveal the date was not the exact same magazine, but one of the same type.

“I’m telling you, it’s not exactly the one he showed us,” the brother insisted.

He also acknowledged that he had looked at the magazine with District Attorney Tom Sneddon before it was presented as evidence.

Throughout Mr. Mesereau’s questioning of the witness, the brother repeatedly claimed an absence of memory due to his school work and tests that “most of that stuff leaves my memory.”

"I know everything happened," the brother said. "I just don't remembers details ... not all the details."

In yesterday’s direct examination, the boy testified that on two occasions he walked into Mr. Jackson’s bedroom at Neverland and found him masturbating with one hand, while his other hand was down the pants of his brother.

During cross-examination, the brother said that he had never seen Mr. Jackson disable the bell. He said that when he entered the bedroom that he heard the bell, but insisted that if the door to the bedroom was closed, the bell would not have been audible in the bedroom.

"So the two times you claim you saw Michael Jackson touching your brother in bed, that alarm went off?" asked Mr. Mesereau.

"Yes," said the boy.

When the boy testified about the alleged molestation on Monday he did not mention any bell or alarm system and said his brother slept through both incidents, snoring at one point.

Mr. Mesereau pointed out the inconsistencies in the brother’s previous statements to a therapist and the grand jury. The boy stated that Mr. Jackson put his hand on top of the accuser’s underwear, rather than inside, or that the singer was touching and rubbing the boy’s buttocks, rather than his crotch. However, the brother denied changing his story and said that he doesn’t remember making some of those other statements.

Mr. Messereau also pointed out the inconsistencies in the brother’s testimony yesterday when he testified that this father abused him and other family members and that his parents fought constantly with each other. Under cross-examination, Mr. Mesereau challenged that testimony by stating that in a deposition that the boy gave four years ago in a civil lawsuit against J.C. Penney’s, that his father never hit him nor that his parents fought with each other.

The brother stated that the statements he made in that deposition were not true. Mr. Mesereau then asked if anyone told him to lie in that deposition. The boy said, “I don’t remember. It happened a long time ago.”

Mr. Mesereau pressed and asked to tell the jury why he lied in that deposition which led to a similar response.

"I don't remember. It's like five years ago. I don't remember nothing," the 14-year old said.

The civil suit against was brought forth from an altercation on December 15, 2000 between the boy’s mother and a security guard in the parking lot of a J.C. Penny’s store when the current accuser was caught shoplifting. The mother sued the store claiming that the guards manhandled her and her children. A year later, she claimed that the guard sexually abused her by groping her breasts. The civil suit was settled out of court for a reported $100,000 after the current accuser discovered he had cancer.

The defense claims that this civil suit is evidence that the boy’s mother has a history of making claims of abuse has coached them what to say for financial gain.

Other inconsistencies that Mr. Mesereau pointed out in Tuesday’s cross examination of the brother of accuser was that on an airplane trip from Florida to Santa Barbara, he saw his brother and the singer drinking alcohol in a 7-Up can. In direct examination yesterday he claims that it was alcohol because there was a red ring on the top of the can. He also claims that Mr. Jackson offered him some, and to not be rude he accepted, but after smelling it, gave it back to Mr. Jackson. He claims that the contents inside the can smelled like rubbing alcohol.

Mr. Mesereau pointed out, however, that in the transcript of an interview the brother gave to police, that the wine in the can was white, not red.

"Do you think the court reporter made a mistake?" Mesereau asked.

"Yes," the brother answered.

Other conflicting statements emerged when Mr. Mesereau pressed whether or not he knew Larry Feldman, a Los Angeles attorney who assisted the family when they came forward with their allegations against Mr. Jackson. Subsequently, Mr. Feldman was also the lawyer the Chandler’s obtained in 1993 when they too alleged child molestation on their son by Mr. Jackson.

The boy stated that he knew Feldman, then later recanted and said he didn’t recall the name. Then, he said he couldn’t recall meeting Mr. Feldman, but later admitted that he had met with him twice, before saying that he didn’t remember whether he had met Mr. Feldman or not.

The defense cross-examination of the brother will resume Wednesday morning. Today’s proceedings adjourned at noon today due to an appointment for Judge Rodney Melville.

Thursday, 10 March 2005

Wednesday morning, attorney Thomas Mesereau addressed inconsistencies in the testimony of the brother of Michael Jackson’s accuser. The boy admitted discrepancies in the accounts he gave to the jury and the statements he made to sheriff’s investigators and the grand jury about the molestation he witnessed.

The accuser’s brother told the jury that he had twice walked up a flight of stairs into Mr. Jackson’s bedroom and saw Jackson molesting his bother while his brother slept. But, in the statement he made to the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department, he said that he witnessed the second incident while pretended to sleep on the bedroom coach and that his brother was passed out from drinking alcohol.

When asked by Mesereau why he stated different accounts of the second incident, the brother interjected that there were actually three incidents, although that had never been alleged. To attempt to explain the discrepancies, the boy said “I was nervous when I was doing the interview.”

The accuser’s brother presented further discrepancies when he stated to the jury that he would not have been be able to get into the Neverland wine cellar because he did not know where the key was but in his grand jury statement he said that he knew that the key was on a hook in the lounge area next to Jackson’s bedroom.

Jackson’s Accuser Takes the Stand

Michael Jackson’s 15 year old accuser took the stand Wednesday sneering as he acknowledged that he recognized the defendant, Michael Jackson, when asked by District Attorney Tom Sneddon.

The accuser said that he had met Mr. Jackson through a Los Angeles comedy club camp he attended. He said he told comedy camp host Jamie Masada that Jackson along with Chris Tucker and Jay Leno were celebrities he wanted to meet.

The defense contends Jay Leno is one of the several comedians that the family tried to scam for money. The defense says that Leno, who has been subpoenaed for the trial, once talked with the boy by phone and became concerned enough that he called Santa Barbara police to report the family was looking for a mark.

The accuser alleged that it was Mr. Jackson that suggested that the boys sleep in his room the second night the family stayed at Neverland. He also alleged that he and his brother viewed sexually explicit web sites while in Mr. Jackson’s room. The accuser stated that there were other young people in his room including Mr. Jackson’s young son sleeping on his bed. The accuser also claims Jackson made vulgar comments about women to his sleeping son as the group perused the sexually explicit web sites.

The 15 year old accuser continued with claims that others were more attentive to him than Jackson when he was sick with cancer and that Mr. Jackson did not give much help to him.

Earlier in the day a musically scored production was shown to the court that was apparently part of Jackson’s personal video archives. The singer was seen with the accuser, then a ghost like figure with little hair during the time he was undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

Jurors saw the boy in a wheelchair being pushed by his brother. Jackson walks alongside them, then walks with the boy to a tree where he spreads a blanket for them to sit on and look out over the lake a Jackson’s Neverland ranch.

Friday, 11 March 2005

Two weeks after the start of the Michael Jackson trial, prosecutors have still not made clear the number the alleged molestation occurred.

Thursday, after Mr. Jackson showed up an hour late due to being in the hospital with “severe back pain”, the young accuser continued his testimony.

The accuser testified that Mr.Jackson twice molested him in Mr. Jackson's bed as he and the singer wore pairs of his pajamas, and that the first incident occurred under a blanket. The accuser said he believed there were more incidents, but that he couldn't remember them.

The 15-year-old boy and his 14-year-old brother have each described two alleged incidents in which the singer allegedly touched the accuser inappropriately. But differences in the boys' accounts have made it difficult to tell whether they were describing four separate alleged molestations, or conflicting versions of two incidents.

The accuser's brother has testified that on two occasions he was walking up the stairs to Jackson's bedroom when he saw Mr.Jackson touching himself and the accuser. In both cases the accuser appeared to be asleep and both Jackson and the accuser were wearing underwear, the brother said.

The brother said he saw vodka during the second incident, which the accuser did not mention.

Adding to the number of possible incidents, the brother was asked in cross-examination by the defense if he told sheriff's investigators that during the second incident he was in the room curled up on a little couch pretending to sleep.

When Mr. Jackson’s attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. asked if his account of the second molestation had changed since he gave that account, the boy interjected that there were actually three incidents, and that he had misstated what happened because he was nervous.

"It is still really hard to figure out if the brother is corroborating these incidents," said Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson, who says the question of how many molestations allegedly occurred remains a "huge issue."

If there are only two incidents, prosecutors must explain why the boys' accounts differ on what Mr. Jackson and the accuser were wearing, whether the alleged victim was conscious, and how alcohol may have been involved.

On cross-examination, defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. alleged the accuser was making up the story.

"Only after you met with Larry Feldman you started talking about inappropriate touching," said Mesereau, referring to a lawyer who handled another boy's allegations against Mr. Jackson in 1993 that ended with a civil settlement.

Mesereau also attacked the boy's testimony that he did not feel that Mr. Jackson had done much for him when he had cancer.

"I didn't see him much," the boy said. "He was my best friend in the world and my best friend was trying to avoid me when I had cancer."

Mesereau, however, said Mr. Jackson called the boy three times a week for conversations of two to three hours, gave him gifts, invited him and his family to stay at Neverland for weeks at a time, had them stay at a Florida resort and had them chauffeured in limousines and a Rolls-Royce.

"Did your family go back and forth and stay at Neverland for free?" Mesereau asked.

"Everybody stays at Neverland for free," the boy answered defensively.

He was asked whether he knew that Mr. Jackson conducted a blood drive for him at Neverland.

"I heard something about a blood drive but I don't remember," he said.

"Can you look this jury in the eye and say that Michael did nothing for you when you had cancer?" Mesereau asked angrily.

Cross examination of the young accuser will resume Monday, while Friday is reserved to handle pending motions.

Mr. Jackson will not be present on Friday.

Monday, 14 March 2005

Michael Jackson's accuser acknowledged under cross-examination Monday that he told a teacher that nothing bad had happened to him at the singer's ranch.

Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. read to the boy from what appeared to be a transcript of an interview of the teacher, Jeffrey Alpert.

Mesereau quoted the John Burroughs Middle School teacher as saying, "Look at me, look at me ... I can't help you unless you tell me the truth _ did any of this happen?"

The boy acknowledged from the witness stand that his answer was "no."

At another point the 15-year-old boy said, "I told Mr. Alpert he never did anything to me."

The question about the teacher triggered a discussion among attorneys about what exactly the boy told District Attorney Tom Sneddon about the conversation with Alpert.

ABC News' "Good Morning America" reported Monday that prosecutors and defense attorneys met during the weekend to interview the former teacher, and that the teacher's attorney, Thomas Forsyth, said he expects his client to be called as a witness.

Citing unidentified sources, the network reported that the conversation between the boy and teacher happened in spring 2003. That would have been after the airing of the TV documentary "Living With Michael Jackson" and the time period in which the molestation allegedly occurred, but before Jackson was indicted.

Please stay tuned to MJJForum as we will have the latest court transcripts available today.

Tuesday, 15 March 2005

The young accuser acknowledged under cross-examination Monday that he told an administrator at his school that the pop star "didn't do anything to me."

The teenager was asked about conversations he had with Jeffrey Alpert, the dean at John Burroughs Middle School in Los Angeles, where the boy had a history of acting up in class.

"I told Dean Alpert he didn't do anything to me," the boy said under questioning by Mr. Jackson’s attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. "I told him twice."

Mesereau, during his cross-examination of the boy, quoted Alpert as telling the youngster: "Look at me, look at me. ... I can't help you unless you tell me the truth - did any of this happen?"

When asked when the conversation occurred, the boy said: "I believe it was after I came back from Neverland."

Mesereau also attacked the boy’s behavior in school. Mesereau confronted the teenager with school records that showed that nine teachers had complained about the boy's disruptive behavior, events that the boy acknowledged.

Of one teacher, he said, "I felt as if he didn't deserve respect as a teacher. I didn't respect him as a person."

The boy also admitted that he spent time in detention and "would get into fights sometimes at school."

The young accuser also acknowledged that during the time he and his family were supposedly held hostage at Neverland, he never personally felt threatened. In the weeks after Bashir documentary aired, when the family was staying at Neverland, the boy said he did not want to leave "because I was having lots of fun."

The boy testified that the family twice left Neverland and returned, before leaving the ranch for the final time in March 2003. Mesereau, with some sarcasm, referred to the three departures as three "escapes," and he got the boy to admit that no one in the family ever contacted police after any of them.

Cross examination continues today.

Wednesday, 16 March 2005

In an attempt to fix the damage done by the revelation made Monday by defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. that the accuser had told the dean of his school, Jeffrey Alpert, that nothing had ever happened between Jackson and himself, the accuser explained that he was afraid of being teased.

The accuser claimed that following the documentary "Living with Michael Jackson" featuring the then 13-year-old boy holding hands with Jackson, he was ridiculed in school which caused him to be involved in alot of fights.

Due to the fights, the boy was called into the dean's office and claimed nothing had ever happened in an attempt to stop the ridicule. "I didn't want them to think it happened" he explained.

The redirect by District Attorney Thomas Sneddon came after Thomas Mesereau Jr. had finished his cross examination, questioning whether the accuser knew of a possible profit if he filed a lawsuit against Jackson, something the boy denied.

When asked why none of the family members ever alerted authorities during their alleged captivity, the accuser offered no other explanation than "they hardly ever let us be apart. They wanted to keep us together," and that he "was actually very happy to be at Neverland the whole time."

"I was having a lot of fun," he said. "My mother was the one that was worried. I didn't realize 'til the last time that I didn't want to be there."

Sneddon's redirect ended with the question of what the accuser thinks of Jackson now, to which the accuser replied "I don't really like him anymore. I don' really think he's deserving of the respect I was giving him as the coolest guy in the world."

Afterwards, a series of law enforcement witnesses were called by the prosecution.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Sgt. Steve Robel showed items seized during the first of two searches of Jackson's Neverland Ranch, including an adult magazine called "Teenage", a black & white image of a nude woman, and a book by photographer Bruce Weber called "The Chop Suey Club."

Robel said he found the items in a closed box at the foot of Jackson's bed.

However, defense attorney Robert Sanger attacked the relevance of the items, stating that no witnesses claimed to have seen the items, and that none of the items are illegal to possess, and both were confirmed by Robel.

When asked more specifically about the items, Robel acknowledged that he did not know that the book "Chop Suey Club" was sent to Jackson unsolicited by Weber, and that it contained a photo of Jackson friend Elizabeth Taylor.

Terry Flaa, a former sheriff's investigator testified that he made the decision not to investigate two child welfare complaints by Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred and psychologist Carole Lieberman due to an interview by Los Angeles County's children services authorities, in which the boy and his family all said nothing had happened.

The last witness of the day was that of sheriff's Lt. Jeff Klapackis who said he ordered the Jackson investigation re-opened after talking to the family's attorney Larry Feldman and psychologist Stan Katz.

Prosecution claims that the molestation allegations appeared during the boy's interviews with Katz.

Thursday, 17 March 2005

The lead investigator in the Michael Jackson child molestation case said he urged the accuser and his family to go forward with his claims against the singer by promising them, “We’re going to try our best to make this case work.”

Defense attorney Robert Sanger confronted Sgt. Steve Robel on Tuesday with those and other statements from recorded interviews, suggesting that they indicated investigators were biased against Jackson from the beginning.

He quoted Robel as saying, “one thing I want to emphasize is you guys are doing the right thing here. …I don’t care how much money they have. He’s the one who’s done wrong. …We’re going to try to bring him to justice.”

Sanger asked: “That’s not a statement of someone with an open mind who’s trying to find the truth, is it?"
Robel said that during his training he was taught to make such a statement to alleged victims. “The statement is to reassure them,” he said, “because they were terrified when they came forward. It took us weeks to get them to come in.”

Sanger asked: “Isn’t the technique you are taught to tell them(is) to be honest and not tell them they’re right, everyone else is wrong?” He replied it was not.

Sgt. Robel also spoke about the demeanor he witness of the young accuser during his first interview.

When discussing the alleged molestation, Robel said, “He became very quiet. …He even became chocked up.”

This is a far cry from the behavior witnessed of the accuser when he testified earlier this week. He was described as sassy and argumentative to the point of noticeably irritating Judge Rodney Melville.

There are other inconsistencies concerning Jackson’s accuser and his allegations.

It was revealed, during Robel’s testimony, the accuser originally stated that he was molested five to seven times but could only give an account of two instances. And that the first instance of alleged molestation occurred before he and his family participated in the rebuttal video that Jackson made to refute the inflammatory "Living with Michael Jackson" documentary. Although, on the witness stand, he testified that the first instance happened after they participated in the rebuttal video. It was also uncovered that this change was due to the fact that Mr. Jackson was not at his ranch during the time some of the molestation accusations were said to occur.

Another detective, Paul Zelis, testified about adult magazines found at Neverland. He acknowledged under cross-examination that the magazines were not tested for fingerprints until after grand jury hearings in March and April 2004 and that many had handled them during the hearing including, possibly, the accuser.

Attorney Robert Sanger also pointed out that some of the magazines were dated well after Jackson's accuser stated that he and his family left Neverland for the last time.

Friday, 18 March 2005

Kiki Fournier, a former Neverland housekeeper, testified as a witness today for the prosecution in the trial against Michael Jackson.

She was a reluctant to be a witness against her former employer claiming that she has nothing to do with this case.

In her direct examination by prosecutor Gordon Auchincloss, she described children at the ranch “became wild” during their long stays without parent supervision. She also claimed that on about five times, children appeared to be “drunk”.

She testified that she saw children that appeared to be intoxicated three or four times in Mr. Jackson’s presence.

One of the incidents was when she served Mr. Jackson and his young guests dinner at the table. She claims at least three of them appeared to be intoxicated.

However, she also testified that she never saw Mr. Jackson give alcohol to a minor nor did she ever remember that the entertainer was intoxicated in the presence of the children.

She also claims she does not remember seeing the current teenage accuser or his siblings intoxicated at the ranch.

She also testified that if children stayed long, they would often sleep in Mr. Jackson’s private quarters of his home rather than the guest rooms that were initially assigned to them.

"The beds weren't slept in when you went to clear the room," she said.

Ms. Fournier, who worked for Mr. Jackson for ten years before her departure in September 2003, testified that Mr. Jackson paid particular attention to boys who’s ages range from 10 and 15 years old, including actor Macauley Culkin and the current accuser and his brother.

The former housekeeper referred to Neverland as “Pinocchio’s Pleasure Island” due to the atmosphere at the ranch where she claims children stayed for weeks at a time without their parents and were giving “free reign” of the ranch.

"With the absence of authority figures, these children became wild," Fournier said.

She testified that the children were allowed to watch movies, eat all the candy they wanted and were allowed to stay up as late as they wanted. She said that the children often became “pretty rambunctious”.

However, under cross-examination by lead defense attorney Thomas Messereau, she testified that she never saw Mr. Jackson serve alcohol to minors. She also said if the children got “too rowdy”, Mr. Jackson would tell them to “behave”.

She also believes the accuser and his brother stayed in their assigned guest rooms instead of Mr. Jackson’s living quarters during the timeline of February and March 2003. This is the time Mr. Jackson is charged with molesting the teenage boy.

She thought that the accuser and his brother stayed in their assigned guest room because when she would clean up the room, it was torn apart with garbage and food strewn about, drinks spilled and glasses broken.

During her testimony, she claims that the accuser’s brother became “ornery” and demanding and once pulled a knife on her while the two of them were in the kitchen and the boy was trying to cook.

She did not say what led to the knife-pulling incident or how it was resolved.

Mr. Mesereau also asked whether, given that Neverland was designed to be a fantasy land for children, would it be surprising that the children "would go a little wild."

"No, that would not be unusual," she said.

She also described Mr. Jackson as a “detail oriented” person who usually communicated with her through the ranch manager, but on occasion would communicate directly with her.

When asked by the prosecution to describe the relationship between Mr. Jackson and one of the alleged unindicted co-conspirators, she said that they were close friends. She said that Mr. Tyson would stay at the ranch for a month at a time, although there would be gaps of six months between stays.

Under cross-examination by Mr. Mesereau, she admitted that what she knew of Mr. Tyson’s business relationship with Mr. Jackson came from Mr. Tyson. When Mr. Messereau suggested that he might have exaggerated the extent of his relationship with the entertainer to promote himself, she agreed that he was egotistical.

Mr. Tyson is one of the alleged unindicted co-conspirators that the prosecution claims that helped intimidate and silence the accusing family. In the family’s testimony, they claim that Frank showed the boys pornographic sites over the Internet, while Mr. Jackson was in the room during their first overnight stay at the ranch.

The indictment also alleges that Jackson paid Tyson $1 million on March 31, 2003 -- about two weeks after the accuser and his family left Neverland for the final time.

Another witness in the case today testified that he met the accuser and his family during a comedy camp for disadvantaged children in 1999 at a Los Angeles comedy club called the Laugh Factory where he was an instructor.

Fritz Coleman, a Los Angeles weatherman for KNBC and part-time comedian described the accusing family’s children as “personable, polite and charismatic.”

He testified that he and another comedian, Louise Palanker, delivered Christmas presents to the family at their “very small” apartment in a low-income area of East Los Angeles, so that the children could have a Christmas.

He said that one time in 2000 when the accuser became ill with cancer, he visited him in the hospital. On his last visit at the hospital, the boy was beaming because he got a huge box of gifts from the entertainer.

Mr. Coleman said when the Laugh Factory decided to throw a benefit for the family, he made an announcement about the event on KNBC, but he wasn't involved in putting the benefit together.

He also claims he had met the boy's mother only three times, and she never tried to solicit money from him. He heard of conversations around the comedy club about the boy's father soliciting money from celebrities, but the father had never asked him directly for money.

Friday, 18 March 2005

Defense to Establish a Pattern of Scamming from the Accuser and Family

Friday Jackson nor the jurors were present in court to hear both sides battle out several motions.

Judge Melville presiding over the Michael Jackson trial denied the defense a call for a mistrial. Jackson’s defense attorneys argued that on Thursday the prosecution deliberately asked witness Kiki Fournier, a former Jackson maid, leading questions regarding special relationships Jackson built in the past with young boys. Jackson’s defense argued that by asking the ages and the type of relationship Jackson built with these youngsters paved the way for jurors to infer or conclude that these relationships were inappropriate. "You can't un-ring the bell," defense attorney Robert Sanger said.

Among the boys mentioned were child movie star Macauley Culkin; the accuser in the current criminal case against Jackson; the accuser's younger brother; and a boy whose family reached a multimillion dollar financial settlement with Jackson in 1993 after alleging molestation. Judge Melville agreed with the prosecution citing that this was not the first time the jurors had heard about 1993 allegations and said that it was not 'damaging' to the defense.

However, a ruling on whether prior molestation allegations should enter the trial is yet to be heard. The judge set March 28th as a date to hear arguments from both sides before deciding if he wants to hear testimony from witnesses about the earlier incidents. This ruling includes the possible entry or dismissal of a 1993 molestation accusation that beleaguered Jackson where, an out of court multi million dollar civil settlement was reached.

One of the three prosecutors in the case Deputy district attorney Gordon Auchincloss said he would testify to rebut defense accusations of the way in which evidence was handled during the grand jury proceedings in April. The debate was prompted after a sheriff who took the stand earlier on in the week conceded during cross examination that no finger print tests had been carried out on the sexually explicit material seized during a November 2003 raid of Jackson's Neverland Ranch.The prosecution contends that in these magazines, the fingerprints of Jackson, the accuser and his brother's are to be found.

The transcripts state that the accuser was allowed to handle the evidence during the grand jury proceedings, although it states of no preventive measures taken to avoid contamination. "If it's not in the transcript, that's too bad," said Sanger; "They know how to take a record." Prosecutors asked the judge to allow the foreman to testify about the handling of the evidence while the defense argued that then it is only fair that they be allowed to interview the grand jury who may have a different recollection. The prosecution then recanted their request and said Auchincloss would testify about the handling of the magazines.

Judge Melville calling the prosecution request to subpoena Jackson’s financial statements too broad, although not dismissing the motion, told prosecutors they were not allowed to fine tooth comb Jackson’s financial records leading up to the year 2003. The judge wants Jackson to turn over a statement of his general financial position to him, who will keep custody of his records. The prosecution claims that Jackson's poor financial health is what motivated him to hold the accuser and his family against their will and force the family into submitting a rebuttal video for the damaging Martin Bashir documentary.

The judge granted a defense motion to subpoena comedian George Lopez who one time befriended Jackson’s current accuser. The defense claimed that the accuser and his family upon a failing relationship accused the comedian of stealing $300 from the boy’s wallet. Defense attorney Sanger said, "There is a good-faith belief here that there are parallel patterns. When there is a falling out there is an accusation". When Jackson’s attorneys during cross examination brought this matter up, the prosecution repeatedly objected with the objections being upheld by the judge. However, the judge said he has since then changed his mind regarding this issue.

Sunday, 20 March 2005

In the Jackson trial the star defendant Michael Jackson is certainly not the only one being tried as evident by the way Jackson's defense counsel is setting the stage for their case. The accuser and family are a far cry from a typical ‘victim’; in fact, it is quite the contrary with the family carrying a load of excess baggage themselves.

Jackson's defense is likely to strategically exploit the family's money troubles, past litigations, the accuser's mother's mental health, an abusive father and a divorce which has left the family in many desperate situations.

Already the accuser and his two siblings, deemed as the most important witnesses in the Jackson trial, has given conflicting testimonies in front of a jury with defense attorney Thomas Mesereau successfully chipping away at their credibility.

The mother who had aspirations for her brood to reach Hollywood riches instead found ways to extract money from some of Hollywood's who's who. Only Jackson's legal team knows how much potentially damaging information it has on the family. Available public records contain allegations regarding the mother's mental health, the parents' 1993 bankruptcy and the family's attempts to profit from the son's cancer, as well as from the case against Jackson.

Celebrities linked with the now infamous 'Laugh Factory' a comedy camp where the accuser and his siblings attended lessons have brought forth claims which corroborate with the defense's contention of a family scheming to extort money while using the accuser's then battle with cancer as leverage.

Defense attorneys could use a JC Penney's lawsuit win in which the family was detained for shoplifting. Authorities in the retail store claim that the boy and his father were guilty and ignored calls from security men who later had to restrain the father and handcuff the mother after she tried to attack the security guard as court papers reveal. In September 2001, the family received a $152,000 out-of-court settlement.

At least two court documents refer to the mother having been diagnosed as "delusional and schizophrenic" by psychiatrists in the Penney's case. One of Jackson's attorneys, in subpoenaing depositions from that case, said the material being sought included "the diagnosis of [the mother] with paranoid schizophrenia with delusions".

The accuser's parents divorced in 2001 leaving the mother with sole custody of her three children after a judge granted a request for a restraining order against her ex-husband for being abusive. In 1993, while still married, the couple filed for personal bankruptcy, listing assets of $2,795 and liabilities of nearly $30,000, including almost $11,500 in credit card debt.

The Jackson trial somewhat strangely is deeply rooted in the Bashir documentary of the entertainer, 'Living With Michael Jackson', which is said to have prompted investigations into the star's relationship with children, particularly Jackson's current accuser who was featured in the documentary. The defense contends that molestation allegations materialized as a result of the mother's failed attempts at extracting money from Jackson for her son's appearance in the documentary although in her grand jury testimony last year, she denied asking for money from Jackson. "I don't want the devil's money," she said.

The conspiracy charges stem from what the prosecution claims as an attempt by Jackson and his co-conspirators to hold the family under duress in order to force them to record a rebuttal video to the damaging documentary.

The mother told a grand jury when asked how she managed to look sincerely pleased and thankful towards Jackson's charitable gestures in the rebuttal video, the woman claimed that she was used to 'pretending' to look happy amidst adversity as her years of enduring abuse from her ex-husband had given her that experience. She went on to state "So, yes, I got really good at smiling. I got really good at pretending everything was OK".

Tuesday, 22 March 2005

Michael Jackson arrived to court on time Tuesday, smiling but moving slowly as he did on Monday, when he arrived a few minutes late after another hospital visit in regards to severe back pain.

Comedian Louise Palanker was called to the stand today by the prosecution, to support the conspiracy charge against Michael Jackson. Ms. Palanker testified that she had received a tearful phone call from the mother of the family that led her to believe the family was being held against their will.

Ms. Palanker did not say where the mother was at the time of the call. The comedian said she called her attorney afterward because "I felt that they were being held against their will." According to the report she gave to detectives, her attorney advised her that she could meet with the mother if she wished, but that if the mother was able to call her, she was also able to call authorities.

Ms. Palanker said she met the family at a comedy camp for underprivileged youth run by the Laugh Factory club in Hollywood and began helping them financially after the boy was diagnosed with cancer. She chose to give the family $10,000 to help with expenses. Ms. Palanker was asked for an additional 10,000 only three weeks later. In a detective’s report, she stated that this caused her to become somewhat suspicious. Also, in this report, she spoke of having arranged for a contractor to assist the family in creating a germ free room for the cancer victim. She discovered that the contractor was never paid for the work, despite her having given the family $20,000. She also learned that a large flat screen television and a DVD player were purchased, which she did not feel, at the time, was consistent with what a child his age would need. When specifically asked in the police report, Ms. Palanker claimed that she was approached for monies by David Arvizo or the children, and it was her feeling that, when the children asked for money, they were being “coached” to do so.

Tuesday’s court session was shortened due to Judge Melville’s previous commitment. Court will resume on Wednesday at the regularly scheduled time.

Wednesday, 23 March 2005

One of the prosecution's most important witnesses in Michael Jackson's child molestation trial has been jailed in Las Vegas on charges of burglary, robbery and first-degree kidnapping, all with a deadly weapon. On February 19, Chris Carter was arrested and is being held at Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas. Mr. Carter has pleaded not guilty and is attempting to have his bail reduced.

Mr. Carter was employed as Mr. Jackson bodyguard during the time of the alleged molestation. He is in cooperation with the prosecution and considered by the prosecution to be an important corroboratory witness. Mr. Carter is the only witness, independent of the accuser’s family, who has made any claim of seeing Mr. Jackson and the accuser drinking together.

In his grand jury testimony, Chris Carter gave a hearsay account of discovering the accuser drunk on the grounds of Jackson's Neverland estate. "On one occasion, I seen him stumbling around. And I had walked up to him, 'Hey, man, what's going on?'" Mr. Carter said. "We had a little talk, and I told him, you know, 'You shouldn't be drinking,' and everything. And he said, 'Well, I can handle it. Michael said if I can handle it, it's OK. It's part of being a man.'"

The only eyewitness testimony offered by Mr. Carter at the grand jury hearing concerned the drinking of alcohol in soda cans. However, that testimony is flawed by his own contradictory answers.

The first time Mr. Carter was asked about the Miami flight, he stated, "Mr. Jackson was drinking, and then the boy had the Coke can or Pepsi can, it was a can, with drink -- with alcohol in it. Okay. I seen the accuser, he had it in his hand. And then Michael had it and was drinking.”

However, at the end of the testimony, Chris Carter was asked, “On the flight from Miami -- well, obviously, on the flight from Miami to Santa Barbara, okay, did you ever see John drink out of Michael Jackson's can?” He simply replied, “No.” He was further asked, “And your recollection is that you didn't see him drink out of the same can as Mr. Jackson?” Again, Mr. Carter replied, “No”.

Chris Carter's arrest would not prevent him from testifying at Jackson's trial, should the prosecution still want him to appear. He has been approved for transport to Santa Barbara for an appearance in April.

Wednesday, 23 March 2005

Judge Melville presiding over the Jackson trial barred prosecutors from entering computer hard drives considered to have sexually explicit material. Judge Melville sided with the defense and questioned the relevance of the material to the time period, which is of concern to the case. As Jackson's defense attorney Robert Sanger pointed out, the material is prejudicial and some of the sites recorded in the hard drives were of sites that were visited a good couple of years prior to Jackson even meeting his current accuser and some after the accuser and his family closed their ties with the entertainer.

The prosecution, who were allowed to present and enter another barrage of adult magazines in as evidence, was arguing to corroborate with Jackson's accuser and his brother's testimony of Jackson using a computer and showing the minors explicit material over the Internet. The prosecution further contends that this proves that Jackson does know how to use a computer. The identity of whoever used the computers was a key issue for the defense, which contended that none of the material was directly linked to Jackson.

Sanger also said the substance of the material made it irrelevant. "It's heterosexual material and it is not directly related to the case," Sanger said. "The issue of who accessed the material is totally unresolved”. Prosecutors state that one of the online aliases found was that of used by Jackson and another that goes by the name Marcel Jackson. The defense stated that Jackson has a cousin who sometimes uses that name and iterated the fact that all the material recorded is in cache and that there is no solid proof to show that the users actively logged in to the particular sites as it could very well have been pop-ups that appeared while checking emails.

When ordered to bring in more witnesses, district attorney Sneddon brought in a detective who partook in the search of the singer's ranch in November of 2003 and, had him identify dozens of magazines and books seized. At one point, Sneddon had trouble finding the evidence he wanted to present and scrambled around the courtroom hauling crates in search for the "adult material”. For no immediately apparent reasons the prosecution entered a portrait of Jackson’s friend, actor Macauley Culkin as evidence.

During cross-examination the detective admitted that although there was a meeting of some sorts prior to the raid, no instruction were given on carrying out finger print testing and DNA testing and neither were the 69 police officers told to make record of what items were seized and from where. Sheriff’s Detective Craig Bonner also acknowledged that it was true that no DNA from the accuser, his brother or any member of the family was found on any of the items.

Friday, 25 March 2005

The jurors in the Michael Jackson trial heard on Thursday that authorities did not perform finger print tests on adult material taken from the entertainers Neverland ranch until long after they were seized. The prosecution brought in two witnesses to testify on the technicalities of performing finger print tests and on examining evidence.

Witness Antonio Cantu, chief of forensics for the Secret Service, said he was not aware of the delay in the fingerprint tests and acknowledged it would have been preferable for the tests to have been done immediately.

Under direct examination by the prosecution Cantu tried to tell the jury that some fingerprints have lasted as long as 50 years. The comment was stricken from the record because the witness is not a fingerprint identification expert. Rather, as a chemist, he develops methods for detecting fingerprints but does not match prints for identification purposes.

Cantu's comments however may have come prematurely as the forensic chief was unaware of the fact that testing was carried out only after one year of seizing the material. Cantu was also unaware of the fact that the finger print testing was carried out only after a grand jury testimony by the accuser in April of 2004, where the boy was allowed to handle the material and, went on to state, "You would expect to do that analysis first," Cantu said upon being cross-examined by Jackson defense attorney Robert Sanger.

Sheriff's technician Lisa Hemman, called by the prosecution to discuss methods of examining evidence from Neverland, offered an explanation of why fingerprint analysis was not done immediately.

Hemman tried to justify the delay by stating that finger print testing may destroy DNA and hence saw the importance of carrying out DNA testing prior to finger print testing. "We wanted to preserve DNA evidence. Processing for fingerprints could destroy DNA. So you do the testing for DNA before you do the fingerprint testing," she said.

The Jackson jury however, have already heard that no DNA evidence was found of the accuser or his family in any of the material seized.

Friday, 25 March 2005

Wednesday, as the court session ended, Brian Oxman, a member of Michael Jackson’s defense team suddenly took ill. When Mr. Jackson notice Mr. Oxman slumped over in his chair and sweating, he move quickly to Oxman’s side and dabbed at his face with a tissue and helped to remove the attorney’s jacket and tie as a bailiff called for help.

The courtroom was cleared and Oxman, who was conscious but pale, was wheeled on a gurney to a waiting ambulance and driven to nearby Marian Medical Center. Jackson’s lead attorney Tom Mesereau and two other members of the defense, Susan YU and Robert Sanger, spent 45 minutes at the hospital but declined to speak to reporters as they left.

Oxman’s law partner, Maureen Jaroscak , said Oxman was admitted to the hospital and treated for pneumonia. “He’s fine,” Jaroscak stated, “He’s not happy that they want to keep him overnight, but otherwise he’s fine.

Saturday, 26 March 2005

Friday proved to be a difficult day for jurors in the Michael Jackson trial as prosecutors pored over relatively uninteresting fingerprint evidence.

A central part of the prosecution’s case hinges on the singer allegedly showing his accuser adult material whilst at Neverland. Jurors appeared bored through most of the day as they listened to often specialist and seemingly irrelevant material. One alternate juror even fell asleep.

This has been a difficult point for prosecutors to prove, as only one magazine actually contained prints from both Mr. Jackson and his accuser - and those prints were not even on the same page. An October 2000 edition of ‘Hustler Barely Legal Hardcore’ was found to contain only Mr. Jackson’s left thumb print on page 54, while three fingerprints from the accuser were found on page 92.

Other fingerprints from the boy were found in one other magazine and also in a calendar, while his younger brother’s prints were also found in one magazine. All the boys’ fingerprints were found on magazines contained in a briefcase found in a bathroom adjoining Mr. Jackson’s bedroom. Twelve fingerprints belonging to the pop superstar were found on various other magazines.

Lawyers for the singer attacked the evidence, pointing out that the fingerprint analysis was only done months, and even up to a year, after the items had been found. The defense claims that fingerprints from the boy were placed on the magazine when he was asked to identify it during a grand jury hearing.

Alicia Romero, who supervises court exhibits, testified that she and a colleague had handled the items without wearing gloves. She said she was only told to use gloves later on but added that everyone else who viewed the evidence had worn gloves.

The defense added further doubt to the evidence when Timothy Sutcliffe, a sheriff’s forensics expert, conceded that labels on two fingerprints had been switched. Fingerprint technician Nancy Torres also testified that she was in training when she analyzed the prints. She said that had been the first time she had ever used a special device to process the fingerprints.

Speaking to reporters after the proceedings, Mr. Jackson appeared to be in good spirits. "I'd like to say hello to the people of Santa Maria, my friends and neighbors," he said. When asked how he felt having many of his family attending the trial, the singer replied “It's great love, great bonding.”

Saturday, 26 March 2005

Judge Rodney Melville also ordered Michael Jackson’s former bodyguard to appear in court on April 4 as a prosecution witness.

He ordered the transfer of Christopher Eric Carter from the Clark County Detention Center where he has been held for six weeks in connection with kidnapping, robbery and possession of a firearm by an ex-felon.

He is expected to testify that he saw the singer and his accuser sharing a soda can allegedly containing wine on a flight from Miami to Santa Barbara. Mr. Carter served as Mr. Jackson’s chief of security from August 2002 to August 2003.

It is thought he will also testify that the entertainer personally approved all major decisions at Neverland. This could aide prosecutors who are attempting to prove that Mr. Jackson was involved in a conspiracy to keep his accuser and family at Neverland against their will. This has also been a difficult point for prosecutors to prove, as witnesses have testified that the family left the ranch on numerous occasions and also made many phone calls - although none were to the authorities.

Mr. Carter is a suspect in the robberies of six Las Vegas businesses and is also an FBI suspect in eight bank robberies. He told grand jurors in March last year that he met the singer while working at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas and that he voluntarily quit his job at Neverland.

Meanwhile, defense attorney Brian Oxman returned to court on Friday after falling ill and being hospitalized for pneumonia.

Prosecutors are expected to call comedian George Lopez to that stand on Monday.

Monday, 28 March 2005

Judge Rodney Melville in a ruling on Monday allowed past allegations to enter the Jackson trial facilitating the jurors to hear of allegations brought forth by five other boys who were between the ages of 10-13 in the early 90s, as the prosecution states. Although the prosecution introduced seven such accusers originally, the judge dropped two of them with no reasons given.

District attorney Tom Sneddon said one boy from the five earlier cases will come forward and his mother will also testify. That case involved a boy who was allegedly involved in a 1990 incident and received a $2.4 million settlement from Jackson in 1994.

The prosecution promises to put a host of witnesses on stand to give testimony about Jackson’s inappropriate behavior towards these accusers. Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau asked Judge Melville to exclude these testimonies claiming that the information is coming from third parties and noted where a former Jackson employee who sued the entertainer in the past, lost and was told to pay $ 1 Million to Jackson in damages. "How can you just allow a parade of third-party characters to come in without any victims?" Mesereau asked during arguments.

Of the five boys who were as the prosecution asserts was molested by Jackson in the past include actor and long-time Jackson friend Macaulay Culkin. “There's Macaulay Culkin who has repeatedly said he was never molested”, Mesereau said. Culkin can hold attest to that statement by Mesereau as the actor has repeatedly and vehemently denied any wrongdoing or inappropriate behavior towards him by Michael Jackson.

The district attorney also promised testimony from the mother of a boy who reached a multimillion-dollar settlement with Jackson in 1993. Here, the accuser or the alleged victim as the prosecution states will not take the stand.

The ruling on Monday came with fierce opposition from defense attorney Thomas Mesereau who urged the judge to consider evidence that has been presented so far in the current case against Jackson. "You have to consider what the case looks like," he said. "It looks real bad and it's going to get worse. You can't stop the defense from putting on a full-blown defense and I mean just that."

Although prior allegations brought against a defendant is not usually admissible in criminal cases, the legislature in California was changed in 1995 and exceptions were granted specifically in sexual molestation and domestic violence cases.

Jackson was not present during the arguments, but arrived later to the cheer of fans gathered outside the courthouse.

After the ruling, comedian George Lopez took the stand and told about helping Jackson's current accuser, then battling with cancer. Lopez said he came to believe the boy's father was more interested in money than helping his son. He testified the father accused the comedian of stealing $300 from the boy's wallet.

Lopez said he finally cut off the family because of the father's frequent and aggressive requests for help. When the father asked what he was supposed to tell his son, Lopez testified that he responded: "Tell him his father's an extortionist."

The defense contends Lopez, star of the ABC sitcom "George Lopez," and a guest comedian at the Jamie Masada owned Laugh Factory, is among celebrities who were targeted by the accuser's family in schemes to make money. But prosecutors contend that any such schemes were the work of the boy's father, who is now divorced from the mother.

Wednesday, 30 March 2005

On Tuesday in the Jackson trial, the first witness to take the stand was comedy club owner and comedian Jamie Masada. While being prompted by deputy district attorney Ron Zonen during direct examination, Masada asserted the accuser's ill health when he befriended the accuser and his family and also stressed on how the accuser's biological father was scheming for money and painted the mother as a honest woman with moral intent.

He said the boy was near death with cancer in June 2000. He told jurors about fundraisers he held for the family and said the boy's father repeatedly asked him for money for food, gas and rent.

He described how the cancer stricken boy asked to meet his idol, Michael Jackson, and said he made phone calls in an attempt to arrange that meeting. Mr. Jackson called the boy days later in his hospital room and eventually invited him to his ranch.

When asked if he's ever met the famous defendant who was sitting across the room, he replied no and said "How are you?" to Jackson, to which Jackson responded with a smile and wave.

Jamie Masada testified that he took the boy and his mother to his longtime attorney William Dickerman to see if he could persuade television stations to stop showing the video, which aired on ABC, VH1 and MTV. This was as Masada claims was because the boy was being harassed after his appearance in the Bashir "Living With Michael Jackson" documentary.

He also took Mr. Dickerman, the boy and his mother to Larry Feldman, the same attorney who negotiated the $20 million settlement between Mr. Jackson and the family of another boy who accused him of molestation in 1993.

Mr. Dickerman and Mr. Feldman are expected to take the stand as prosecution witnesses.

Mr. Zonen asked Mr. Masada to describe a phone call he received from the accuser's mother while she was at the ranch a couple weeks after the documentary aired in February 2003.

"She was upset," Mr. Masada said. "She was crying. . . . She said they were holding her and her kids against their will. She said, 'I need to get out of here.' "

Prosecutors allege that Mr. Jackson and his associates held the mother and her children captive in hotels and at the ranch until they agreed to make a video that would rebut the Martin Bashir documentary.

Masada's statements are almost identical to that given by Louise Palanker,a guest comedian at the comedy club who testified that she received a panic-stricken call from the boys mother claiming that she and her children were held captive by Jackson employees.

But under cross-examination, Palanker and Masada both testified that they never called police about the family's alleged captivity. Masada also claims that the mother stated that she does not want any money but just friends and a prayer.

On cross-examination, Mr. Mesereau revealed that Masada told authorities in a December 2003 interview that the boy's parents repeatedly asked him for money.

Next on the stand was flight attendant Cynthia Ann Bell who served Jackson and the accuser and his family in the now infamous flight back from Miami to California.

Under cross-examination by lead defense lawyer Thomas Mesereau, Ms. Bell described what she saw on the chartered flight from Miami to Santa Barbara in February 2003.

She told jurors that the boy was rude and out of control and characterized Mr. Jackson as a quiet, gentle man.

"(The boy) was unusually rude, discourteous," Ms. Bell testified. "I remember him talking about how, 'I got this watch from Michael and it's real expensive.' . . . He was obnoxious. "When I served him food, he said 'This isn't warm. This isn't the way it's supposed to be.' It was embarrassing to have him on board, actually."

She then described Mr. Jackson as "soft-spoken."

"Typically, I'd have to kneel to gain eye contact with Mr. Jackson," Ms. Bell testified. "He would touch my arm when we were communicating."

Her testimony appeared to frustrate prosecutors and made jurors raise their eyebrows, especially when she revealed that the accuser's older sister ordered wine on the flight from Miami. Bell under cross examination was consistent with what she stated to prosecutor Zonen where she said, she never saw the entertainer serve the minors on the flight any alcohol nor was it Jackson's assertion to serve him wine in a diet coke can but was rather her idea.

The sister had testified that the only time she drank alcohol was when Jackson gave it to her and her brothers at Neverland Valley Ranch and that she didn't like it.

The sister had also testified that she saw Jackson sharing his Diet Coke can with her brother, who appeared intoxicated. The boy himself testified that he drank a little on the flight, but was not drunk.

But under cross-examination by Mr. Mesereau, Ms. Bell said she did not see Mr. Jackson give wine to the boy and denied that the youth was intoxicated.

The boy has accused Mr. Jackson of plying him with alcohol and then molesting him at Neverland in the spring of 2003.

Thursday, 31 March 2005

On Wednesday, a clinical psychologist took to the stand and told the jury that a famed civil attorney, who had sued Michael Jackson in 1993 over claims of child molestation, considered filing a suit against the entertainer again on behalf of another client of his, the current accuser in the present case.

Famed psychologist Stanley J. Katz testified that in the summer of 2003 lawyer Larry Feldman referred the boy to him for an interview. Following three interviews of the teen and his family, Katz and Feldman reported the confessed to abuse to Los Angeles authorities on June 12 and 13, 2003. The boy had alleged that Jackson had molested him in February and March 2003 at the singer's Neverland Valley Ranch.

Upon cross-examination, lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau questioned Katz on his recollection of a discussion he had with a Santa Barbara County detective the day after the allegations were reported.

"It was your belief when you talked to him that Mr. Feldman was filing a lawsuit against Mr. Jackson, right?" Mr. Mesereau asked.

"It was my belief that he was thinking about filing a lawsuit," Mr. Katz replied.

This admission helped bolster the defense's contention that the accuser and his family are after Jackson's money. The defense has maintained that the molestation allegations surfaced only after the teen's mother failed to get some kind of pay off or compensation for her family's participation in the Martin Bashir documentary.

However, prosecutors have insisted that the family is uninterested in any financial rewards, at times citing the boy's mother's claim that she does not want the "devil's money."

Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen questioned the psychologist for a brief eight minutes, using the time to establish that Katz had interviewed the family and then reported to authorities the suspected abuse.

Also during the course of testimony, it was learned that Katz had also been involved with Feldman in the 1993 civil suit against Jackson. Katz testified that he had reviewed interview tapes between a doctor and Jackson's first accuser, and reported back to Feldman.

Taking the stand next was William Dickerman, the attorney who represented the accuser and his family for about three months before referring them to Feldman in May 2003. Dickerman admitted on the stand that he has an agreement with Feldman to share fees should the family successfully launch a civil suit against Jackson relating to this case.

Jamie Masada, owner of the comedy club "The Laugh Factory," testified on Tuesday that he had referred the accuser's mother to Dickerman, instead of calling the police, when she complained to him about being held hostage by the Jackson camp.

The family, together with Masada, met with Dickerman four times at either the comedy club or the lawyer's office. This was during the period that the family claims they were being held against their will at Jackson's estate and at a Calabasas hotel.

Dickerman testified that the mother had retained him as the family’s lawyer on March 24, 2003, and that she told him that Jackson and his associates had seized the family's belongings and were refusing to return them. Two days later, Dickerman began the first of a number of letters to Jackson's then attorney Mark Geragos, informing him that he wanted harassment of the family to cease and their property returned to them.

Mesereau reviewed each letter with Dickerman, asking if there had been any mention of molestation, alcohol consumption, false imprisonment, or extortion within any of the 10 letters sent. To each question, Dickerman provided an answer of "No," and explained that his role was to get the family's things back.

Also revealed in court was that two days following his retention, Dickerman began sending letters to television companies involved in production of Bashir's documentary or who were airing it in the United States, demanding that they not broadcast it unless consent had been obtained from the family.

When asked by Mesereau if these letters were for laying groundwork for royalty negotiations, Dickerman insisted that they were for ending the exploitation of his clients.

Santa Barbara District Attorney Thomas Sneddon announced at the end of court on Wednesday that he intended to call witnesses for the "past bad acts" from the 1993 case beginning on Monday.

Court is not in session today due to the California holiday dedicated to César Chávez. Feldman is expected to take the stand on Friday.

Saturday, 02 April 2005

Larry Feldman, the attorney who first interviewed Michael Jackson's accuser testified Friday, that he was never asked, to file a lawsuit against the singer.

However, he did acknowledge under cross examination, that the boy and his younger brother could file civil lawsuits until they turn 20 years old, the accuser being 15 years old now.

The prosecution had called Feldman to explain how the alleged molestation came to the attention of the authorities, but the defense used his appearance to try to show its belief, that the accuser and his family were out to get money from Jackson.

Jackson's defense lawyer, Thomas Mesereau Jr., grilled Feldman about the the impact of a criminal conviction, whether or not it would make a financial judgment against easier.

"If Mr. Jackson was convicted of felony child molestation in this case, (the boy or his brother) could use that case to win a civil case alleging similar of same facts against Mr. Jackson, is that correct?" asked Mesereau.

"That is correct" said Feldman.

The two lawyers sparred over the exact requirements of a civil suit, and Feldman denied accusations of encouraging the criminal action, in an attempt to avoid incurring costs involved in preparing a civil lawsuit.

However, Feldman insisted that there would still be litigation expenses.

District Attorney Tom Sneddon asked Feldman whether he was planning a lawsuit at the time, that he referred the accusing family to Santa Barbara prosecutors, to which Feldman replied "There was no lawsuit and there were no plans to file a lawsuit. It was up to you to investigate"

Feldman was permitted to tell jurors of a previous accusation against Jackson in 1993, where Feldman represented another boy, who won a monetary settlement. Jurors were not told how much the boy was paid, but Feldman said there were no trouble collecting it. An amount which has been reported to be millions of dollars.

Sneddon projected a photograph of the boy from the previous allegations on a courtroom screen, and asked Feldman to identify him.

"He was much better looking at that age. He was adorable," Feldman said, a remark which the judge ordered stricken from the record.

The picture showed a boy who many believe bears a striking resemblance to the current accuser.

Feldman said that while he met with the current accuser's mother many times after he ceased to represent her officially, he has "never been asked to file any lawsuit against Michael Jackson"

When Feldman walked outside the courthouse in an afternoon break in testimony, fans yelled "liar", "tell the truth" and "you're making money off the backs of these people".

Feldman said, he was first contacted by the family because of a dispute over the boy's appearance in the documentary, Living With Michael Jackson" where he appeared holding hands with Jackson. Feldman then referred the family to psychologist Stan J. Katz "to make out some heads and tails of what was being told to me by the family"

Katz reported suspicions of molestation to authorities after interviewing the family.

Also on the stand Friday, was an an investigator who testified that linens seized by police from Jackson's bed, had failed to yield any DNA linked to the teenage accuser or his brother.

In other testimony, sheriff's Lt. Jeff Klapackis defense the scale of the effort, when 69 investigators serves a search warrant at Neverland on Nov. 18, 2003.

The large number of investigators were needed, he said, because they had only been allowed one day to carry out the search, because the district attorney didn't want to "burden the ranch and its employees with our presence longer than that," Klapackis said. He also said that there were large buildings to search at the 2,800-acre ranch.

Klapackis also said, that they took all bedding during the search, because that is where the accuser and his brother claim to have frequently slept, and where they allege the molestation took place.

During cross-examination, Klapackis said authorities did not test bottle and glasses containing alcohol for fingerprints - found in Jackson's bedroom as well as the home's wine cellar and kitchen. Nor did investigators test furniture, boxes, mannequin toys and rails along Jackson's stairwell, or his bedroom doors for fingerprints.

When asked on redirect why, Klapackis said, "It didn't enter in the investigation at the time."

However, they did test pornographic magazines. The boy's brother testified how Jackson showed them magazines. A fingerprint analyst has testified earlier, that the prints of Jackson and his accuser were recovered from the same magazine.

Jack Green, president of a Ventura telephone systems company, testified that he had inspected Neverland's phone systems. He explained that it had a function to allow someone to listen in on other's calls, but there was nothing to prevent anyone from calling 911.

Prosecutors allege the family's calls were monitored by Jackson, whereas the defense say the family could have called for help, if they truly were captives.

Tuesday, 05 April 2005

A Former Neverland House Manager and a Witness Claiming Jackson Abused Him 1990 Takes The Stand

Jesus Salas, a former house manager at Michael Jackson’s Neverland ranch took the stand on Monday. The witness was called on the stand by the prosecution in the hope of showing a pattern of improper sexual behavior by the singer. The accuser and his siblings claim that Jackson plied them with alcohol while spending time at the singer’s ranch.

Salas also testified that on two occasions he was asked to serve Jackson wine in his bedroom, once when the accuser and two other boys were present. Salas said he could not remember whether children were present the other time he brought Jackson wine.

Salas said that he brought four drinking glasses and a bottle of wine to the room. But he said the wine was not for the boys. "Let me tell you something else," Salas said. "He ordered some sodas for them."

The prosecutor noted that when Salas testified before the grand jury he never mentioned sodas. Salas said he had just remembered it.

A 24 year old man now married claiming that Jackson molested him in 1990 took the stand next. The man is the son of a former maid who worked for Jackson in the early 90s. Prosecutors in the current case with the consent of the judge are now bringing in past allegation brought against Jackson to show the jury a pattern of sexual misdemeanors by the entertainer.

In an emotion-drenched and chocking voice the witness recounted tales of alleged molestation by Jackson. The witness said that over a span of several years, Jackson twice touched his groin over his clothes during tickling games at Jackson's Los Angeles-area condominium, which he and his mother referred to as "the hideaway," and in a third incident reached under his clothes at Jackson's Neverland ranch.

He went on to state that Jackson gave him $ 100 after the first two incidents of alleged abuse but offered none after the third time.

As he began to describe the alleged molestation he apologized to prosecutor Ron Zonen for his halting testimony and said: "This took a lot of counseling to get over, just to let you know." The defense asked that the comment be struck from the record and Judge Rodney S. Melville agreed.

Asked when to whom he first told of the incidents to, the witness answered “probably God”. When asked whether he could identify Jackson in court, the witness answered while smiling at Jackson, “He's the light-complected gentleman”.

The witness said he never talked about the incidents with anyone until 1993, when investigators came to him after another boy made allegations against Jackson in a civil case. The other boy received a hefty multi-million dollar out of court settlement. No criminal charges were filed in either case. The witness was asked by defense attorney Thomas Mesereau, why when he first talked to police, he denied anything had happened. "I was scared," he replied.

On cross-examination, Mesereau sought to show that the witness' mother had a financial interest in his story, asking if she had received $20,000 to appear on the television show "Hard Copy" , the witness said he learned of the payment just days ago, but saw the show when it aired. He said he didn't know if his mother ever met with The National Enquirer.

The witness also testified that he told police he tried to block out the memory of the tickling episodes. "I didn't want to ever talk about this stuff again," he said.

Mesereau inquired whether police had once asked the witness, "This is what happened, right?" to which the witness allegedly replied, "I'll have to work on that." The young man said he had no memory of making that statement.

A throng of about 120 Michael Jackson fans were present on Monday to show support to their idol both vocal and carrying banners. Fans also unfurled flags from about 20 countries and raised them for passing motorists to symbolize support for Jackson from around the world. They also displayed a banner that showed Jackson with children of different nationalities against a backdrop of flags.

Wednesday, 06 April 2005

Michael Jackson’s former maid whose son received a financial settlement from Mr. Jackson in 1994 after claiming the pop star groped him, took the stand Tuesday.

The woman testified that she saw Jackson act inappropriately with other children. She stated that she was sure she that she saw Mr. Jackson taking a shower with an eight year old boy even though admitting that the shower door was clouded with steam. She further stated that she saw cloths outside the shower but retreated without taking any action because she thought Jackson would be mad if he found her there.

Before the former maid took the stand, defense attorney, Thomas Mesereau , raised the issue of whether she had a financial stake in her son’s story by showing that she had been paid $20,000 to appear on the TV show “Hard Copy” to tell their tale.

When the 24 year old son of the former maid took the stand earlier, he clashed with Mesereau during cross-examination about the inconsistencies between the story he gave Monday and accounts he gave to authorities as recently as December.

The young man admitted that in his 1993 interview he initially said that Jackson did not molest him. Mesereau also confronted the witness with a statement he made during one of his interviews in which he said: “they made me come up with stuff. They kept pushing. I wanted to hit them in the head.”

The witness said he did not remember the statement. Mesereau showed him the transcript and asked if that refreshed his memory. The witness said no.

The witness also pleaded a poor memory when asked about whether his claims resulted in a criminal case. “I don’t know much. I don’t watch the news.” he replied.

Friday, 08 April 2005

Lurid testimonies have come in abundance in the Michael Jackson trial and Thursday’s testimonies from two former employees at Jackson’s Neverland ranch was no exception.

A former security guard Ralph Chacon while under direct examination by district attorney Thomas Sneddon claimed that he, in 1993 saw Jackson behave inappropriately with a 10 year old boy. Adrian McManus, a former maid said she saw Jackson fondle actor Macaulay Culkin and three other boys while also corroborating with Chacon’s earlier testimony about the young boy who went on to receive from Jackson, a multi million dollar out of court civil settlement in 1993. Strangely, Macaulay Culkin has repeatedly denied any abuse by Jackson and is not expected to take the stand.

Both witnesses went on to give elaborate details of alleged inappropriate actions by Jackson on young boys who were guests at his sprawling ranch. Testimonies of Jackson hugging, kissing, fondling and inappropriately touching the boys private areas were given.

However, the witnesses were taken on a different path while being cross examined by a fiery Jackson lead attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr.

Chacon was attacked by Jackson's lawyer as making the whole thing up "to get even.". Mesereau accused Chacon of having tried to "extort" $16 million from Jackson in a lawsuit and lengthy trial that he and the maid lost, forcing Chacon into bankruptcy.

"After a six-month trial, this is a good way to get even with him, isn't it?" said Mesereau, drawing a strong objection from the prosecution.

In a heated cross examination, Jackson's attorney also managed to get the witness to acknowledge the fact that while he and a few other employees decided to sue Jackson, consulted a lawyer who advised them that the only way they could fund the litigation was to sell their stories to tabloids. Chacon said they sold a story for $17,000 and all the money went to the lawyer.

Mesereau persevered to find whether he drafted the story while in the presence of his lawyer.

"I probably did," said Chacon. "It's been a long time."

"Well it's no longer than some of these events you claim to have witnessed with Mr. Jackson," Mesereau replied.

The witness paused and said, "I probably did. I did."

He fended off Mesereau's suggestions that he has added "more lurid facts" each time he has told his story, but he acknowledged that this week he met with Sneddon and gave him additional details.

"Did you say you forgot to say things about Mr. Jackson molesting young men in 1993?" asked Mesereau.

"Yes, sir," said the witness.

"And now you remember them in 2005?" Mesereau said.

"Vaguely, yes," Chacon said.

Chacon also acknowledged he was ordered to pay $25,000 for allegedly stealing from Jackson's property, which Chacon said was only a candy bar, and that he and others, including McManus, were ordered to pay more than $1.4 million in a judgment won by Jackson. Chacon said had not paid anything because he filed for bankruptcy.

McManus also testified that when subpoenaed in the lawsuit that resulted in the 1994 settlement she did not tell attorneys that she had seen Jackson touching the boy. "I didn't tell the truth. I said I didn't see anything," she said.

McManus blamed her fear of Jackson who apparently threatened to report her to her superiors and that she was in dire need of a job while having her husband being laid off from work at the time.

Saturday, 09 April 2005
Defense lawyers have continued their attack against the prosecution’s parade of former Neverland employees.

Phillip LeMarque testified Friday that he once witnessed the singer with his hand inside actor Macaulay Culkin's shorts. He never reported the incident because “nobody would have ever believed this," and even continued working for Jackson for several months afterwards.

LeMarque and his wife were both employed by Jackson for 10 months during 1991. He claimed he was delivering an order of french fries to Neverland’s games arcade when he saw Jackson holding Culkin up to a game console with one hand around his waist and the other inside his shorts.

"I was shocked. I almost dropped the french fries," said LeMarque. He told the jury that he immediately turned away and then returned, making a loud entrance.

As with other former Neverland employees, LeMarque’s credibility has come under heavy fire from lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau.

Under cross-examination LeMarque admitted telling a tabloid intermediary he wanted $500,000 for his story. Mesereau asked him whether the tabloid intermediary told him the payout would be higher if he claimed Jackson’s hand was inside Culkin’s shorts.

"That's what he said," confirmed LeMarque.

He said that he eventually turned the offer down when he realized the intermediary “was so sleazy,” saying “it was against our principles.”

This comment drew laughs from the press in the courtroom, as LeMarque had established a hardcore pornography website in 1997 called “Virtual Sin.” Jurists, however, were not aware of this as Judge Rodney Melville had determined this was not relevant to the trial. The site has since been closed.

Mesereau further questioned LeMarque on why the details of the alleged abuse only appeared in an addendum to his handwritten deposition.

"Why did you want an addendum to what you had already written and signed?" questioned Mesereau.

"You did it because you wanted to sell a story," suggested Mesereau after the witness claimed he could not remember.

"Absolutely false," LeMarque sneered.

The “Home Alone” star has repeatedly denied any inappropriate behavior from Jackson. A spokesperson for Culkin said he has no plans to testify.

Prosecutors have frequently elicited testimony about the actor. A former maid to Jackson, Adrian McManus, testified this week that she saw Jackson kiss Culkin while touching him inappropriately. She also came under attack from Mesereau who pointed out that she had also sought money from tabloid reporters.

She admitted that she and other employees has used a “media broker” to sell stories based on their inside knowledge of Jackson’s sex life with ex-wife Lisa Marie Presley.

"You were quoted in a Star story with the headline, `Kinky secrets of Michael and Lisa Marie's bedroom,'" Mesereau said.

"I didn't say that," McManus testified, adding, "A lot of times with those tabloids they say other stuff."

She acknowledged that she did not in fact know any sex secrets about the couple.

McManus told how she had filed a wrongful dismissal suit against the singer, along with other Neverland employees. They lost their case and were ordered to pay him $1.4 million.

Tuesday, 12 April 2005
The mother, June Chandler, of the boy who accused Michael Jackson in the 1993 child molestation investigation testified Monday that her son had shared the bed with Michael Jackson for nearly 60 nights.

Portrayed as a key prosecution witness, June Chandler told jurors that on a trip to Las Vegas in March 1993, she denied letting her son stay with Jackson, but relented after Jackson became upset.

"He was sobbing, crying, shaking, trembling," she claimed, "He said: 'You don't trust me? We're a family. Why are you doing this? Why are you not letting (your son) be with me?' I said, 'I am'"

Chandler said she agreed to let her son stay with the singer from then on, and that for the next several months her son stayed with Jackson in hotels around the world, at the Neverland Valley Ranch, and the boy's home in Santa Monica

During questioning by Santa Barbara District Attorney, Tom Sneddon, the woman testified that the day after the confrontation, Jackson gave her a gold Cartier bracelet, and took her children and her to a David Copperfield magic show. In the following months, she testified Jackson showered her with gifts while allegedly molesting her son.

Prosecutors called her to the stand in an attempt to show parallels between the prior investigation and the current case. In both instances the father was absent during most of the boys´ encounters with Mr. Jackson, and the mother was showered with gifts while Jackson allegedly lured the boys into his bed, and molested the boys, prosecutors said.

In the prior investigation, no charges were ever filed.

The Defense insists that the parallels between the two cases are that both families were out to get money from Jackson, lied to get it, and went to civil attorneys before contacting authorities.

Jackson, who has pleaded Not Guilty to charges of child molestation often shook his head and whispered to his defense lawyers during the testimony.

The alleged victim, now 25, has declined to testify as he reportedly did after a multimillion dollar civil settlement in 1993 from Jackson.

The mother frequently looked at the jurors who appeared to be taking notes of every detail of the testimony.

Chandler seemed poised and composed throughout most of her testimony, but seemed to hold back tears when she said her son has not spoken to her in nearly 11 years.

During cross-examination, lead defense attorney, Thomas Mesereau Jr., asked if the mother recalled asking for a $4 million loan to cover for $5 million worth of debt. "Never" she responded.

"When you filed the lawsuit, your attorney was threatening to ruin Mr. Jackson's music deals, correct?" Mr. Mesereau asked, to which she answered "I don't recall". At that time, Jackson had just negotiated the largest endorsement deal in the history with PepsiCo.

"Your strategy was to negotiate a settlement before ever contacting authorities, correct?" the defense attorney asserted. "There was no strategy. Sorry" the woman insisted.

Under prosecution questioning, Chandler explained how she became concerned about her son's relationship with Jackson while in Monaco, where Jackson and the boy were holed up in a hotel for two days, sick with the flu. According to a sworn deposition, this is where the boy claims the alleged molestation started, however that statement will not be allowed into the current case unless the alleged victim decides to take the stand.

On cross examination, Chandler said her daughter and herself spent the day shopping with Mr. Jackson's credit card during the time the alleged molestation happened.

Before the woman took the stand, a former longtime public relations person, Bob Jones, testified.

He gave conflicting statements regarding whether or not he saw Mr. Jackson lick the head of the 1993 accuser on a plane from Monaco. Prosecutors allege Jackson licked the head of the current accuser's head as well.

"I don't remember anything about head licking", Jones said, and even when Senior Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss pulled out a portion of a book manuscript Jones is writing, Jones said his co-writer, Stacey Brown, wrote that part.

On defense cross examination, Mr. Jones acknowledged he has known lots of people who sensationalize material to make money off Michael Jackson and insisted he has changed "millions of things" in the current manuscript of his book, because they were not accurate.

But after the prosecutor showed him two e-mails sent to Mr. Brown about how the incident was important, given the current allegations, the prosecutor again asked if he had witnessed any head licking, Jones replied "I guess so".

Prosecution have used Mr. Jackson’s past in an attempt to show an alleged pattern of behavior with young boys, dating back to the early 90-ies.

Defense attorneys insist that every witness the prosecution has put on the stand from the 1993 investigation has had a financial motive to lie.

Prosecution is expected to wrap up its treatment of the prior investigation today, and will then return to the current case, where the mother of the current alleged victim is scheduled to take the stand.

Wednesday, 13 April 2005
Testimony in the Michael Jackson trial returned to focus on the current allegations against the singer following six days of testimony on prior allegations.

The accuser’s stepfather testified Tuesday that one of Jackson’s associates offered the family a house and a college education following the broadcast of ITV documentary “Living with Michael Jackson.” The documentary featured scenes in which the accuser was seen holding Jackson’s hand.

Prosecutors allege that Jackson molested the boy following the broadcast of the documentary and then conspired to hold the family hostage in order to film a rebuttal to the show.

Major Jay Jackson, an army reservist, testified that he asked a Jackson associate, Frank Tyson, about compensation for filming the rebuttal.

"I said, `What are you offering this family to do this?'” he testified.

He said that Tyson, named as an unindicted co-conspirator by prosecutors, replied he was offering “protection.”

The stepfather said he replied “`Frank, the family doesn't need protection. Who are you protecting them from?'"

He said he never got an answer to the question. "He [Tyson] said he was going to offer a college education and a home," he explained, adding "they didn't need a home . . . and they were only in the eighth grade and didn't need a college education right then."

He said he then specifically asked Tyson about monetary compensation.

"I was suspicious of him at that point. He [Tyson] actually said, 'Are you trying to blackmail us?' "

Deputy District Attorney, Ron Zonen, also questioned the major about two journalists who had approached him following the broadcast of the British documentary overseas.

"I was intrigued by it," said the stepfather. "I was maybe thinking about asking for compensation, but I thought that was the industry standard. I meant no malice by it."

He testified that he was offered up to $15,000, but said "I declined. The more I thought about it, the more I thought it didn't seem like a good idea."

However under cross-examination, lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau asked, "You went back and forth with them about money, didn't you?"

"That would be true," replied the stepfather.

"And you couldn't reach an agreement, right?"

"True," he conceded.

Prosecutors focused heavily on the period in February 2003 when the family was taken to Florida, purportedly to hold a news conference with Michael Jackson.
It was during this period that the family gave an audio interview to a private investigator, filmed the rebuttal show and was also questioned by child welfare authorities.

"And in the middle of all this turmoil, to your knowledge, molestation began on the 20th [of February]?" questioned Mesereau incredulously. Prosecutors objected and the stepfather was told by Judge Rodney Melville not to answer the question.

The stepfather also told the jury how the accuser’s mother had called him repeatedly from Neverland during the spring of 2003.

"She said she was not able to see her children, that when she went off Neverland she had a chaperone," said the major, who was then dating the mother.

"They were short conversations and disturbed," he said. He described the mother’s demeanor as “emotional” and “upset,” saying the phonecalls were always abruptly ended by the mother.

At one point the mother returned from Neverland to the family's home in west Los Angeles but the stepfather testified that she was pressured into returning to the ranch by Jackson’s colleagues.

He also said that when the accuser himself eventually returned home, his behavior had changed.

"It appeared to me he'd been brainwashed by someone," he said. Judge Melville told the jury to disregard the remark.

Asked to describe the changes, the stepfather said, "He'd become mean. He was using curse words. He had never done that before."

"He was acting very cocky, kind of rude, actually. I don't think he wanted to see me. It was almost like, 'What are you doing here?'"

However, upon cross-examination, Mesereau pointed out the boy’s extensive disciplinary problems at school, and also played an audio tape in which the mother praises Jackson for being "like a father ... unselfish, kind, exhibiting unconditional love." The tape was recorded on February 16, 2003.

Prosecutors are expected to call the accuser’s mother to the stand with the next few days.

Thursday, 14 April 2005

Pop icon Michael Jackson once again came face to face with the mother of his accuser – the woman he claims has orchestrated the entire case against him. She took to the stand Wednesday refusing to answer questions about alleged welfare fraud, pleading “Please don't judge me!" to the jury.

The mother was allowed to testify despite objections from the defense who wanted to use the welfare issue to attack her credibility. Her 5th amendment refusal to discuss "everything to do with the welfare application" led to defense attorney Robert Sanger asking for a mistrial. Judge Rodney Melville denied the request, saying the defense could use other testimony to attack her credibility.

Jackson sat motionless at the defense table as he watched the woman deliver tearful and often convoluted testimony about her family’s relationship with the singer. At one point in her animated answers, she addressed news reporters directly and later mimicked the German accent of one of Jackson’s associates.

She testified that following the broadcast of the ITV documentary “Living with Michael Jackson,” the singer told her there were “killers” after her family and that he was the only one who could protect them.

She recalled what she called Jackson's "lovey dovey speech … in a very male voice" in a Florida hotel room, in which he told them he would be their father figure and protector.

"I thought, 'What a nice guy,'" she said. "I was just like a sponge, believing him, trusting him."

She testified that Jackson had told the family "that he loves us, that he cares about us, we're family, that we were in the back of the line, now we're in the front of the line, that he's going to protect us from those killers."

Later she dramatically added: "And you know what? They ended up being the killers."

Her account of seeing Jackson allegedly lick her son’s head conflicted with testimony from other witnesses. She described the February 2003 flight from Miami to California on a private jet.

"Everyone was asleep. I had not slept for so long," she said. "I got up. I figured this was my chance to figure out what was going on back there. And that's when I saw Michael licking (the boy's) head."

The woman pounded her chest and cried, "I thought I was seeing things. I thought it was me."

Shortly before court recessed Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen played a recording of a conversation between the woman and Frank Tyson, a Jackson aide and one of the unindicted co-conspirators.

"Let us take care of you. Let us protect you," he is heard saying. "Trust me. ... Now is not the time to be out there alone."

"I thought he was a good guy and he ended up being the worst of all of them," said the mother, who later did return to Jackson’s ranch where she took part in the rebuttal to the ITV documentary. In the video she is seen praising Jackson.

"Everything I said, I said it with my heart," she said.

Earlier in the day, she told the court she had lived in a small bachelor-style apartment with one main room between 1998 and 2003, while her then husband and son often stayed at her mother’s house which has a sterile room for the boy.

The defense contends the family only kept this small apartment to make celebrities believe they were poor and in fact spent most of their time at the boy’s grandmother.

Unusually, defense attorney Thomas Mesereau did not make a single objection during the woman’s four hour testimony which will continue Thursday.

Friday, 15 April 2005

The mother of Michael Jackson’s accuser told a strange and rambling story of her and her family’s virtual imprisonment by Jackson’s associates and being warned that “killers" were after them.

The accuser’s mother stated that Jackson’s people claimed the family needed to be protected from killers.

She detailed an extraordinarily active period while the family was allegedly held in captivity. She stated that she and her children were taken to various public offices to obtain birth certificates, passports and visas. She also revealed that the family was taken shopping for clothes, went to the Laugh factory comedy club in Hollywood, to a hotel and then ultimately back to Neverland, where she claims she was ordered to “just stand in the room”.

To explain why during the entire period she never tried to call police, “Who could possibly believe this?” she replied. But, surprisingly, she also stated that she was constantly trying to reach out to people like comedian Louise Palanker for help by dropping clues during phone calls.

The woman said that all the activities from Fed. 21 to March 10, 2003, were dictated by Jackson’s men, who she said monitored her calls, stood outside her window or her hotel door and would not let her leave their sight.

"All along this period, I'm trying to reach people to help me because it's evolving into more and more escalation," she said.

The prosecution alleged that her son was molested during February and March 2003.

She said at one point they returned to Neverland while Jackson was there, and while her children spent the entire time with Jackson, she stayed in a guest house and rarely went outside.

However, the mother never once mentioned her son being molested and talked mostly about being frightened of Mr. Jackson’s associates.

The mother claimed that she did not learn of any molestation allegations until she was informed by law enforcement authorities, who had been contacted by a psychologist to whom her children had been referred to by a lawyer.

During the alleged time of captivity, the woman and her children made a video for Jackson in which they praise him. The accuser’s mother said she was given a script to follow and was instructed to repeatedly say, “That he is a wonderful father…to my children.”

When asked by the prosecutor if she believed the things she said in the video, she said, “I was confused, I was sad, so basically I was acting.”

Although the accuser’s mother was reportedly more controlled Thursday than her emotional testimony Wednesday, at an odd point during Thursday's proceedings, she burst into tears when prosecutors showed her four passports belonging to her and her children, which she said she had been forced to obtain for a trip to Brazil. “Finally!” the woman exclaimed as prosecutor Frank Zonen produced the passports that she said were never given to her. She looked upward, sighed and began to cry.

The woman explained that she had refused to go to Brazil unless the children got to visit their grandparents first, but that at home, the boy was “like an eruptive volcano."

The mother described the boy "yelling at me at the top of his lungs that Michael loves him and that he has to go back."

By the end of Zonen’s two-day questioning, the mother claimed she never asked for money from Jackson, and had no plan to sue him in the future.

The defense cross-examination of the mother is expected to begin Friday.

Friday, 15 April 2005

The mother of Michael Jackson’s accuser spent much of Friday’s proceedings engaged in bickering with the star’s lead defense attorney as he attacked her credibility and forced her to admit lying under oath twice in previous legal proceedings.

Attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr.'s aggressive cross-examination and the witness's long, rambling answers that often strayed from the subject prompted the judge to admonish both sides. The exchanges became so heated that at one point the judge threatened to shut down court for the day. "Do you want me to shut the trial down this afternoon?" Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville said after one exchange between the prosecution and defense over the woman's testimony. "You are not to engage in this kind of interaction with each other, or the witness."

Mesereau questioned the mother about her previous civil lawsuit against the department store J. C. Penney. In that suit she made allegations of rough treatment by security guards as they sought to apprehend her son for shoplifting.

Mesereau noted that in a sworn statement, the woman said she had never been abused by her husband at the time — an important issue, because her alleged injuries may have been caused by such violence.

"You were not telling the truth under oath when you made those statements," Mesereau said. The woman eventually responded, "This is correct," but claimed that she lied because she was embarrassed about the abuse. She also admitted to being untruthful when she said in the lawsuit that her husband was honest.

She attempted to excuse her lies by claiming that once she finally got away from her husband, she contacted her attorney in an effort to have her testimony corrected – after she had received a settlement in excess of $ 150,000 from the department store.

"I finally was liberated to say," she said, telling jurors that she filed for divorce "after (her husband) was finally arrested for domestic violence." Mesereau, however, made sure jurors knew her divorce filing came just five days after the case was settled.

The witness was also questioned about a report she made to police in which she accused her ex-husband of inappropriately touching their daughter. She initially refused to answer the question directly and instead turned to the jury and said, "No, he's wrong." She finally admitted to making the report but tried to downplay the allegation, claiming that “it was a one-sentence statement” given to the police after “they asked for a history” of problems in the family.

Mesereau also asked the woman about a child welfare investigation back in the 1990s, triggered after her son, the accuser, alleged she had abused him. She said the investigation by the state Division of Children and Family Services was initiated when a school nurse wanted to send her son home early, and the boy expressed reluctance to go. The nurse, interpreting the conversation as a sign of possible abuse, called DCFS. The witness stated that no action was ever taken against her, and she described her interaction with the DCFS caseworkers as "positive."

Earlier, the witness spoke of the rebuttal video in which she was effusive in her praise of Jackson. When Mesereau pressed her on the issue of whether she was “lying” when she made those positive comments regarding Jackson, she claimed that she was “acting” and merely following a script that she had memorized. She said that Jackson aides scripted almost every aspect of the video and also claimed that she had met up to 10 times with a Jackson aide in Neverland in order to discuss what she would say on the tape – a detail never mentioned in any of her previous interviews with police or attorneys.

The mother’s cross-examination began Friday morning, after prosecutors concluded their questioning of the woman by showing jurors surveillance videotapes, found in private investigator Brad Miller’s office, to support their claims that the family were being monitored.

Cross-examination of this witness will continue on Monday.

Monday, 18 April 2005

After a previous round of heated debate with defense attorney Tom Mesereau, and lengthy and convoluted answers to the simplest of questions, Michael Jackson’s accuser’s mother took the witness stand for the fourth day and for the second day of cross examination.

Combative and aggressive, the woman continued her accusatory tone and pointed accusingly towards Jackson himself who was seated across the room from her. She did not spare the jury bizarre tales either, often making lengthy speeches directly to the jury and resisted Mesereau’s questioning.

The woman lashed out at the singer from the witness stand claiming that Jackson, “really didn't care about children, he cared about what he was doing with children.” She looked at Jackson across the room and said, “He managed to fool the world. Now, because of this criminal case, people know who he really is.”

Adding to the abundance of bizarre tales and recollections, she also admitted that she once told sheriff’s deputies that she feared Jackson was plotting a scheme to make her and her family disappear in a hot air balloon from his Neverland Ranch.

The woman then accused lead defense attorney Mesereau of taking the comment out of context.

"I told police that (Jackson associates) had many ways to make us disappear," she said.

"And someone mentioned to you a hot air balloon?" Mesereau asked.

"That was one of the ways," she said.

The mother also denied repeatedly that Jackson or anyone associated with him had tried to help her and her family when her son was stricken with cancer.

Asked whether Jackson arranged a blood drive at his Neverland ranch, she said, "I was responsible for that."

She then launched into an explanation about how the hospital would provide a bloodmobile anywhere she could arrange such an event.

"And Mr. Jackson allowed you to use the ranch for the blood drive?" asked Mesereau.

"Yes, this is correct," the woman said. But she added, "He wasn't the only one. Many church groups gathered."

Mesereau also elicited testimony that the woman received checks for $20,000 and deposited them in her mother's bank account. But she said she could not remember how any of the money had been used for her son.

She also said she opened a bank account in which people could deposit money for her son's benefit.

"Did you withdraw thousands of dollars from that account?" Mesereau asked.

"Yes," said the woman.

"And was any of that money for medical expenses?" the attorney asked.

"No," she said.

She denied that she misled a reporter for a local newspaper into writing a story saying the family was poverty-stricken and was paying $12,000 for each chemotherapy treatment the boy received. The story included an address to send contributions.

She said that the $12,000 figure was a typographical error and that she meant $1,200.

But, she did eventually acknowledge that the family was facing no expenditure as the father’s health insurance covered the boy’s medical costs.

Mesereau led her through questions and answers involving her relationship with comedian Chris Tucker and his girlfriend Aja, and she denied that the family solicited help, money or any other gifts from Tucker.

She acknowledged that Tucker once gave the family a car, but she said she never asked him to do that and asserted that he only did it because he had gotten his girlfriend a car and needed to make room for it.

Mesereau pressed her on whether she made any attempts to get help during the family's alleged period of captivity.

"Did you complain to anyone in the building that crimes were being committed against you and your family?" Mesereau asked.

"No, but I am now," she said.

Mesereau also noted that the woman was able to telephone comedian Louise Palanker during the alleged captivity.

"If you could call (Palanker), why couldn't you call police?" Mesereau said.

"I couldn't. I was hoping she could," the woman responded.

Mesereau then asked, "You didn't call 911?"

"I have now," the woman said.

Wednesday, 20 April 2005

The mother of Michael Jackson’s accuser ended an often bizarre five days of testimony Tuesday as prosecutors prepared to wrap up their case against the international pop idol.

Prosecutors also called the accuser’s grandmother and a school administrator to the stand and told the court they would rest their case by the end of next week.

Under further cross-examination from the defense, the mother insisted she had never solicited money from any celebrities and claimed the lawsuit she filed against J.C Penney’s was intended to solicit an apology rather that a monetary settlement.

The defense has asserted that the woman has targeted celebrities, including comedians George Lopez and Jay Leno, for money - a claim she denied. The defense has named Leno as a possible witness, saying he became suspicious and contacted police after receiving repeated phone call‘s from the family.

"I have never spoken to Jay Leno," testified the mother, adding that she also knew nothing about her son having approached Leno himself.

The woman also claimed that not only was she never informed about fundraisers held for her son at a Hollywood comedy club, but that she also didn’t know donations were being made after she opened a special bank account for his benefit.

She testified the she had no idea why money was being put into the account.

"You had no idea why anyone put money in it. You just withdrew it?" asked an incredulous Mesereau.

"I did what (my husband) told me," she replied.

"And you had no idea that Chris Tucker was going to wire money in to that account," he asked.

"This is correct," she answered. Tucker was one of the celebrities to befriend the family.

Mesereau asked whether she had known about a benefit held at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood at which the accuser sat in the lobby collecting money. She denied knowing about the event.

"And do you remember using money donated for (him) on cosmetic surgery?" asked Mesereau.

"No," she replied defiantly, "I used a credit card … which is still outstanding."

Mesereau questioned her again as to whether she had known that comedian Louise Palanker had donated $20,000 to build a germ-free room for her son. On Monday, she had testified that she did not know how the money from Palanker was used.

This time, after an overnight discussion with prosecutor Ron Zonen, she said all she in fact knew about it was that she had to endorse a cheque for $10,000 to give to her husband.

Palanker has already testified that she donated the money and even recommended a contractor who prepared the room but was never paid by the family.

The mother also admitted that after receiving money for her son’s illness in 2001 she spoke to "a nice man" at a Los Angeles car dealership about buying a car. However she said she never made the purchase.

Manipulated Photographs
Mesereau also challenged the authenticity of photographs of the woman used in the J.C Penney lawsuit depicting bruises allegedly caused by the store’s security guards.

The mother testified that her then husband had taken her to a one-hour photo studio "immediately" after the incident.

The lawyer then introduced a mug shot taken on the day of the incident that showed no bruising at all. She then changed the time frame to say the photos were only taken after they had spoken to an attorney.

“I was wearing makeup," she added.

In other pictures previously introduced by prosecutors, the mother’s face was heavily bruised and her body was blotched with black and blue marks. Mesereau suggested these pictures were taken after a domestic violence incident, pointing out that she did not file the suit until a year after the alleged incident at the department store.

"During the time of the alleged events ... you said you weren't going to sue anyone, and then you changed your mind," said Mesereau. The woman insisted that she had initially sought an apology and only later decided to sue. Jackson’s team contends that the woman similarly plans to file a civil suit for damages if Jackson is found guilty.

New Witnesses
Towards the end of the session, prosecutors called the accuser’s grandmother, who testified in Spanish. She claimed her house was besieged by strangers after the airing of the ITV documentary ‘Living with Michael Jackson’.

"Many people came to the door of my house ... I was almost like a prisoner," she said.

She also claimed that a man threw rocks at the bedroom window of the accuser's sister and that Jackson’s associates sent messages asking her grandchildren to answer the phone.

Prosecutors claim the family was harassed in order to force them into taking part in the singer’s rebuttal, later screened on Fox.

The defense had no questions for the grandmother, who was followed by school administrator Michael Davy.

He testified that Vincent Amen, named by prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator, used identification and a note from the mother to take the accuser and his brother from school for three weeks during the period of the alleged captivity.

The singer’s defense questioned Davy about the accuser’s disciplinary problems and established he had been a problem for the school well before the period in which he was allegedly molested.

Questioned afterwards by journalists Jackson said "I think [the case is] going well, thank you."

Thursday, 21 April 2005

On Wednesday Brian Barron a former security guard who moonlighted Jackson's Ranch for three years, took the stand and told of a directive that was given stating not to let the accuser and his siblings out of the property, without the permission of a house manager at the time.

However, under cross examination by defense attorney Robert Sanger, Barron admitted that it was indeed Neverland ranch policy not to allow youngsters out of the property if their parents were not present and that guards would not let children leave the ranch if they were not supervised. "We would not let them go off the ranch without supervision," Barron said.

Barron said that he was unaware of who wrote the directive on a greaseboard in a guard station in the estate, but said the notice was put up for about a week sometime in either January or February of 2003.

Barron who is a police officer for the town of Guadalupe was not present while the November 2003 raid took place at the singer’s ranch. He went to say that his superiors in Guadalupe suggested he leave the estate because of the criminal investigation.

The officer was later asked by the Sheriff's Department to go back to work at Neverland as a law enforcement informant but Barron said that he refused. Under cross examination the former guard also testified that as law enforcement official it was his duty to report any unlawful activities and that he saw none in his time of employment at Neverland ranch.

Under questioning by Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss, Barron said employees were tense when Jackson was at Neverland.

"He's like a perfectionist. Everything has to be right," Barron said of Jackson. "There was a lot of work to be done. Everyone was walking on pins and needles a little more to make sure everything was right."

Auchincloss also asked Barron to identify pictures of three boys from the community of Los Olivos who were frequent visitors to the ranch and to describe their conduct.

"Destructive," Barron said. "Whenever they were there we would have broken golf carts. They egged my security chief's car, and I mean a lot of eggs."

The prosecution informed the court Tuesday, in the eighth week of the trial since opening statements, that it planned to rest its case next week.

Friday, 22 April 2005

On Thursday, the defense and the prosecution outside the presence of the jurors and Jackson himself, battled it out in court over motions. The defense emerged well, winning several key rulings, where Judge Melville barred the testimony of a prosecution witness as well.

Although he did not rule it out completely, the judge also asked the defense to give him more information about planned testimony from numerous employees of Neverland who will say they did not witness Jackson inappropriately touch children. This as Melville stated should relate specifically to incidents discussed in the trail thus far.

Judge Melville barred the prosecution from bringing in a battered woman syndrome expert. In his argument defense attorney Robert Sanger said, "She has committed perjury in this case from the stand." "This is not because she's a battered woman, it's because she lies for gain."

The judge ruled in favor of and allowed the defense to explore sexual behavior by the accuser and his brother.

"This conduct is relevant, your honor," said defense attorney Susan Yu. "Mr. Jackson is charged with masturbation and that they did in fact do it themselves and are trying to blame Mr. Jackson for what he never did is relevant."

She said that the accuser and his brother "looked at the adult materials and engaged in the very act they are blaming Mr. Jackson for. It is critical to this case."

In what appears to be a numerous prosecution witnesses pleading the fifth; the fifth amendment that allows witnesses to invoke protection against self-incrimination was highlighted by the defense when both sides were arguing about Chris Carter, a former Jackson bodyguard who was recently arrested in Las Vegas for charges including robbery and kidnapping.

Sanger opposed allowing invocation of the right against self-incrimination, saying it was becoming a pattern in the case. He noted that the mother of the accuser also took the Fifth on questions about alleged welfare fraud.

"You can't have a case where the right to cross-examine is cut off," he said. "This case is particularly egregious."

Sanger suggested that Carter would be attempting to cooperate as much as he could with the government in order to win leniency in his case in Nevada. Prosecutors and Carter's lawyer denied that.

No sooner than this issue was closed, another prosecution witness pleaded the fifth. Cynthia C. Montgomery, Jackson's former travel agent, said she would not testify about anything that happened on a Nov. 20, 2003 flight that Jackson took to Santa Barbara to surrender on the child molestation charges.

She said she would invoke the protection on that issue alone but would be willing to testify about anything else.

Sanger denounced her, saying she had been working as an informant and had a friend surreptitiously record conversations with Jackson.

Sanger said Montgomery was the one who arranged to have Jackson secretly videotaped along with his attorney during the flight and then attempted to sell the tapes.

"Michael Jackson is a victim of this person," Sanger said.

He said that Montgomery has a civil suit against Jackson and it would benefit if he were convicted.

The judge barred her from testifying about anything

The judge also refused the prosecution to allow salacious new testimony from a witness. Jurors will not hear the lurid testimony by Abdool, a former employee at Neverland. Prosecutors allege that a sexually aroused Jackson made Chacon and Abdool deliver a tub of Vaseline from the front console of his car. However, Chacon during his testimony earlier in the trial made no reference to such requests by Jackson, but Judge Melville has allowed Abdool's testimony which is said to corroborate with Chacon's on seeing two swim trunks at the base of Jackson's shower. They allege Jackson was showering with a boy who went on to receive a multi million dollar out of court civil settlement from the singer in 1993.

Chacon and Abdool were plaintiffs in a wrongful termination lawsuit against Jackson that they lost and were ordered to pay damages to Jackson. The defense have said these witnesses have a motive to lie.

The Jackson trial will be on recess this Friday as scheduled and will resume on Monday.

Monday, 25 April 2005

Brian Oxman, long time Jackson family attorney and member of Michael Jackson's defense team has been dismissed. According to court filings, Mr. Oxman was released from his duties effective last Friday. Tom Mesereau, Jackson's lead attorney filed a "notice of disassociation" today in Santa Barbara Superior Court.

There was no reason specified for the apparent firing.

Stay tuned to MJJF for updates regarding this late-breaking story.

Tuesday, 26 April 2005

Jurors in the Michael Jackson trial heard little testimony Monday as lawyers sparred over potential future witnesses.

Judge Rodney Melville ruled in favour of a prosecution request to bring the singer’s ex-wife to the stand. Prosecutors also told the court they would not be calling a former Jackson bodyguard and won their petition to call a former Jackson travel aide to testify.

Debbie Rowe, who gave birth to two of Jackson’s children, is expected to appear on the stand this week. Prosecutors say she will testify that she was compelled to appear in a videotape praising Jackson as both a father and humanitarian.

Prosecutor Ron Zonen said Rowe would tell jurors the interview was "highly scripted” and “the incentive was to suggest she would have visitation with her children if she did this." Zonen said this would corroborate similar claims made by the mother of Jackson’s accuser regarding her own appearance in a videotape.

"It is one more example of how these people used children as a pawn," he said, adding that "it was Mr. Jackson who made the initial phone call and brought her into this."

The prosecution tactic has been questioned by observers who feel that Rowe may be a reluctant witness.

Defense attorney Robert Sanger objected to the motion, saying Rowe’s testimony was irrelevant to the Jackson case and was a sign of the prosecution’s “desperation.”

He said that should Rowe be allowed to testify, the defense would want to present the entire three hours of her interview with Jackson’s associates, in addition to a secret tape recording she had also made.

Sanger denied that Rowe was threatened in any way during "a tremendous amount of taped material." He said the interview was not scripted, but that questions were “written out in advance” by the interviewer – a standard practice in television interviews.

"I just plain don't see the relevance to these proceedings," he added.

In granting the request, Melville said he would "look for ways to restrict testimony."

Travel aide to testify

District Attorney Thomas Sneddon also told the court Monday that former Jackson bodyguard Chris Carter would not be called to the stand. Carter is facing charges of armed robbery in Nevada.

Sneddon also announced that immunity would be granted to Cynthia Montgomery, Jackson's former travel coordinator, clearing the way for her to testify. She allegedly knows the identity of the person responsible for recording Jackson’s conversations on board a private jet as he returned to Santa Barbara to surrender in November 2003. The alleged plot to make and sell these recordings is currently the subject of a federal investigation.

Melville had previously refused the prosecution's request to let her testify without answering questions about the surreptitious taping.

Former Jackson employee testifies

The jury returned to the courtroom to hear testimony from former Jackson employee Kassim Abdool. Prosecutors called him to corroborate previous testimony from Ralph Chacon who allegedly witnessed sexual contact between Jackson and a young boy.

Both Abdool and Chacon were among five former employees who were ordered to pay damages to Jackson after they lost a wrongful termination suit in 1997.

Abdool said that during 1993 he witnessed the singer and a young boy enter a restroom, both clothed in swimming trunks after a trip to a whirlpool bath. This is the same alleged incident that Chacon testified about last week, although Abdool said he did not witness the specific events described by Chacon.

He said later that day he saw Jackson giving the boy a piggy back ride. He claims Jackson was wearing only a towel, while the boy was wearing a robe and that he heard two doors lock when they entered the house.

He told jurors that locking was not normal practice at Neverland and said he later found two pairs of swimming trunks on the floor of the restroom.

Under cross-examination Abdool admitted that, despite what he saw, he still brought his own young children to an employee event held at the ranch. He also admitted to signing a statement in 1994 saying he never witnessed any improper sexual conduct by the singer.

Abdool also claimed that after he was subpoenaed, he received numerous phone calls that "threatened to kill me and my family” and requested to be put into the witness protection program. He said he was also given a $1,000-a-month raise following the subpoena.

Abdool further admitted to having filed for a state disability claim, claiming to be emotionally disabled by his Neverland experiences. He also accepted money for tabloid interviews about Jackson but insisted the money was used to finance the unlawful dismissal lawsuit.

Wednesday, 27 April 2005

Testimony in the Michael Jackson trial resumed in earnest on Tuesday, following a day dominated by legal motions.

On the witness stand yesterday was a former Jackson travel aide who testified that she was asked to arrange a one-way trip to Brazil for the accuser and his family. Also giving testimony was a cameraman who worked for the singer and who had met the accuser on numerous occasions. Meanwhile, one of the trials most anticipated witnesses, Jackson’s ex-wife, Debbie Rowe, is expected to testify on Wednesday.

Travel consultant Cynthia Montgomery told jurors that the trip she was meant to have booked to Brazil for March 1, 2003, was abruptly cancelled. She admitted that she had never spoken to Jackson about the trip and dealt exclusively with his then associate Marc Schaffel – named by prosecutors as one of the unindicted co-conspirators. She said he cancelled the trip because "his plans had changed."

Prosecutors are attempting to prove increasingly convoluted charges that Jackson conspired to kidnap the accuser and his family following the broadcast of the television special ‘Living with Michael Jackson’. The family claims they were to be taken to Brazil against their will, in order to keep them from talking.

Montgomery admitted she had never met the accuser's family and had no idea who they were until the allegations surfaced. She said she regularly booked flights to Brazil for Schaffel, but that he had nonetheless asked her to book one-way tickets when this was not possible due to visa regulations. She told the court that she arbitrarily chose a return date for the flights in order to make the booking.

"Were plane tickets ever purchased for those flights?" asked Mesereau.

"No," she replied.

Testifying under immunity

Lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau made certain the jury were aware that Montgomery was testifying under a grant of immunity. She was granted ‘use immunity’ which means her testimony cannot be used against her in any other legal proceedings. She had initially refused to testify about a charter flight on which secret recordings of Jackson and his then lawyer Mark Geragos were made.

In a blow to her credibility, she also acknowledged that she is being sued by the singer for her part in the surreptitious recordings, made on the flight to Santa Barbara where Jackson was due to surrender to authorities. She is also suing the singer for $50,000 she paid for flights that has allegedly not been reimbursed.

She said she has twice “spoken voluntarily" to the FBI about the incident and claims she had not been aware of the recording until the day after the flight. The FBI is investigating the alleged violation of federal laws governing surreptitious interception of communications.

"I am a witness for that case," said Montgomery.

Under cross-examination she also admitted that she had ignored a request to use a different charter company for the flight following a discussion with Schaffel, whom defense lawyers say was involved in the secret taping.

"We thought it was in the best interest of our client to use Xtra Jet," Montgomery said.

She said at one point she was asked by authorities to make a “pretext” phone call to one of Jackson’s associates and that the call was to be recorded. She did not say to whom the call was made or what was discussed.

She also told jurors that she had advised flight crews to put Jackson’s wine into soda cans after being told by a flight attendant that he had once made the request.

She also claims that Jackson lied when he told a television interviewer that he had been manhandled during his arrest.

Videographer testifies

Also testifying Tuesday was Hamid Moslehi, who worked as Jackson's personal videographer between 1996 and 2003.

He said he met the accuser and his family three times, beginning in 2000 when he filmed the accuser and Jackson at Neverland. He also made a video of the accuser's brother at the ranch and filmed the family for the singer’s rebuttal video on Feb. 19, 2003, at his home in Los Angeles.

Under cross-examination, Moslehi admitted telling prosecutors last weekend that he had given the accuser's mother a loan of $2,000 because he felt sorry for her.

"You called it a loan but you didn't expect to be repaid did you?" asked Mesereau.

"I did," he said.

"And has she ever repaid it?" asked Mesereau.

"No," he replied.

The mother's efforts to obtain money from celebrities and others have been a major part of Jackson’s defense. She refused to testify about alleged welfare fraud and admitted lying in a suit against a department store in which she obtained a settlement.

Moslehi said that Dieter Wiesner and Ronald Konitzer appeared to be Jackson’s managers at the time and they had promised him a percentage of the net profits for the rebuttal video. Both Wiesner and Konitzer have been named by prosecutors as unindicted co-conspirators. However, Moslehi said he had only received a small part of $250,000 due to him and has a suit pending against Jackson.

At one point Mesereau asked whether he knew that Wiesner and Konitzer had stolen almost $1 million from Jackson. The judge ordered him not to answer following an objection from prosecutors. However, when the question was repeated without the dollar value, he answered “no”.

Moslehi is expected to return to the stand Wednesday.

Thursday, 28 April 2005

On Wednesday the defense argued for a mistrial over the prosecution's questioning about the 'Living with Michael Jackson' documentary. The documentary has prompted much of the prosecution's investigations and claims against Jackson.

Returning to the stand on Wednesday was former Jackson videographer Hamid Moslehi who filmed the allegation filled rebuttal video and Jackson's ex-wife Debbie Rowe also testified.

The outcome of an earlier hearing barred the defense from showing the jurors the outtakes of the Martin Bashir documentary and hence was ruled that the prosecution questioning should be limited to a certain scope. Moslehi who as Jackson's personal videographer filmed the scenes both included and excluded from the documentary under prosecution questioning said that when he saw the documentary prepared by British journalist Martin Bashir, he realized it did not include everything.

"The way it was edited, Mr. Jackson sounded different than if they had continued another two or three seconds of that statement," he testified.

Judge Rodney S. Melville interrupted the questioning, warning prosecutor Gordon Auchincloss that he was delving into an area the judge had ruled off-limits.

Defense attorney Robert Sanger asked for a mistrial, suggesting that the prosecutor asked the questions to plant ideas in the jurors' minds.

"He wanted them to hear about the issue of sleeping with boys," Sanger said.

Judge denied the request for a mistrial.

In what would certainly discredit the prosecution's vain attempts to corroborate the accuser’s mother's claims of being rehearsed and scripted in the rebuttal video for Jackson, Moslehi testified that the Arvizo siblings arrived at his home only a few hours prior to the filming and their mother only about a hour prior and that he saw no rehearsing on scripting of what was to be said.

Moslehi also testified to being somewhat of a confidante of the mother at times and said that she voiced no fears of receiving death threats, being held against her will, that Jackson had given her children alcohol or that the singer improperly touched her son. He said she also never asked him to call police.

Debbie Rowe Testifies

The testimony that was to follow that of Moslehi's would further disappoint the prosecution. The prosecution called Jackson's ex-wife Debbie Rowe to the witness stand in the hope of bolstering their contention and corroboration with the accuser's mother of being held under duress to film a rebuttal video for Jackson where everything was rehearsed and said according to a script.

Although the scenes of the Arvizo family were never added, Rowe's interview was seen in the rebuttal video aired on Fox.

However, Rowe stated that she was not scripted as to what to say in the rebuttal video and reiterated that she had been offered a list of questions by her interviewers but she declined to look at them before she talked.

"It was a cold interview and I wanted to keep it that way," she said.

Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen asked her what she expected after she gave the interview.

Teary, she said, "To be reunited with the children and be reacquainted with their dad."

Asked why she wanted to see Jackson again, she said, "He's my friend."

Debbie Rowe, the mother of Jackson's two eldest children Prince (8) and Paris (7) is currently dealing with a family court dispute over visitation rights, glanced at Jackson as she spoke.

Rowe appeared nervous at first as she told jurors "we've been friends and we were married."

"Are you the mother of his two elder children?" asked Zonen.

"Yes," she said, naming them.

Rowe and Jackson married in November 1996 and in October 1999, the couple filed for divorce.

Asked about her domestic arrangements, she said, "We never shared a home ... we never shared an apartment."

Rowe said she knew Jackson for perhaps 20 years before they married and once they divorced she was allowed visitation with the children for eight hours every 45 days. She said it was a tough schedule to keep because Jackson travels so much with the children and she finally relinquished all parental rights.

"The visitations were not comfortable," she said, explaining that they would meet at a hotel and "it was a very sterile environment."

She said that she has not seen the children in 2 and a half to three years.

In 2003, she said, she received a call through her former employer, a doctor who brought Jackson and her together. She said he told her that someone associated with Jackson wanted to talk to her and arranged a phone call for her with Marc Schaffel, who is named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case.

Jackson got on the phone briefly during that conversation, she said.

"He told me there was a video coming out and it was full of lies and would I help. I said, as always, yes. I asked him if he was OK. I was very upset," she testified.

Zonen asked: "What did he ask you to do?"

"He asked if I would work with Ronald and Dieter. I asked him if he was OK and the children were OK and if I could see them when things settled down," she said. "He said yes."

Ronald Konitzer and Dieter Wiesner, Jackson associates, have also been named by prosecutors as unindicted co-conspirators.

Zonen then asked, "Did you want to see the children?"

With tears welling in her eyes, she said, "Yes, very much."

Rowe said her conversation with Jackson lasted perhaps for perhaps 2 and half minutes and there was no discussion of what he wanted her to do other than to work with his associates.

She said all she could recall him saying was, "There was a bad video coming out."

"Did he tell you with any specificity what he wanted you to do?" asked Zonen.

"No," she said.

Asked why she would help Jackson, she said, "I promised him I would always be there for Michael and the children."

She did not give any details of her private life with Jackson and made it clear that she did not want to discuss it.

"My personal life was my personal life and no one's business," she said when asked by the prosecution if she had talked completely truthfully on the video that was made.

Rowe said that before the interview began at Schaffel's home, they talked briefly about her family and he reported on her children's progress.

She said Schaffel told her that "they were fine, that Michael was going to be OK, how big the children had gotten and how beautiful they were and how strong headed Paris was, like me."

She said the videotaped interview lasted nine hours and that she recently saw a two-hour version of it which was shown to her by prosecutors.

She said she found it "very boring and dull" and didn't really pay attention while she was watching it.

Rowe said she did not see the "Living with Michael Jackson" documentary before her interview was taped.

"All I knew is whatever what is being put out about Michael was hurtful to Michael and the children," she said.

Rowe said she told Jackson's associates that before she could take part in the video she needed a release from a confidentiality agreement.

"The confidentiality agreement said I could not speak with the press, public, anyone, regarding Michael or the children or our lives together," she said.

Rowe is expected to be back on the stand Thursday for more questioning.

Friday, 29 April 2005
April 28, 2005, Santa Maria, Ca -- Prosecutors were asserting as late as Monday that Debbie Rowe would testify to being scripted prior to filming the rebuttal video. The defense claims that the witness was brought to the stand under false pretense and that the prosecution lied to the court. As it is now apparent, it was merely a hope that prosecutors thought Rowe would corroborate their contentions, as well as the earlier testimony of the accuser’s mother, of being scripted right down to every laugh and smile.

Prior to her continued testimony on Thursday, defense attorneys retreated to the judge’s chambers in a bid to request the witness’s entire testimony be stricken. Court began without the jury present, as Judge Melville wished to address the motion at that time.

Judge Melville stated it was his sense that, “She hasn't testified long enough for me to know, really, what she's going to say, or anyone else. And your motion might be well-taken. It might not. But I -- I understand what she said yesterday, but I don't really understand what she has to say today. So I would want to really hear more testimony, I think. I understand your position. I just think the -- she barely got started yesterday. I mean, I really -- I think I'd have to let it -- well, I would have to know more about what she says than what I know already to know whether or not your motion is well-taken.”

It was Mr. Sanger’s position that his concern was to raise it at the earliest possible moment because, “if it goes too long, then we get into a position where it's hard to undo it.”

Judge Melville replied, “There is another side of the coin, though. I let the testimony in based on their representations in their written materials, which -- if the testimony is the exact opposite, I mean, isn't that the testimony that would be relevant to your side of the case?”

Mr. Sanger stated, “We thought about it, but the problem is that this will then lead to a tremendous amount of other collateral testimony to put whatever it is in context. And that's my concern. If we go too far down the road, then we pretty much are committed to doing the whole thing.”

It was the decision of Judge Melville to continue to hear more testimony before making a final ruling on the motion to strike. The jury then entered the court, and Mr. Zonen continued his direct examination of Debbie Rowe.

Examination continued where it had left off the previous day, with the discussion of the interview at Marc Schaffel’s home in Calabasas back in February of 2003. Ms. Rowe stated that she had been at the residence from early in the morning until 9:00 or 10:00 at night, around 9 or 10 hours. Her attorney was there the entire time. However, she was not in the presence of Ms. Rowe the entire time. They were separated at times because Ms. Rowe, “didn't want to see the interviewer before the interview. And the best way to do that was to leave where everything was that was happening in the living room off to the side of the main entrance of the house, so Mr. Schaffel and I went upstairs in his office.” While she had a conversation with Mr. Schaffel at that time, she stated that they did not discuss the interview.

Ms. Rowe as asked if she had, at any time, looked at a script. She said she did not. She did state that Mr. Drew had a number of pages of questions and asked her if she wished to see them, and she told him no. She was told there were 105 questions. It was her understanding that he went over all of the questions in the course of the interview.

It was established that Mr. Schaffel there the entire time. When asked if he had said anything to her, she stated, “He was hearing sounds in the background, thought it was being picked up on audio, wanted to make sure what the background looked like and everything. He occasionally – not "occasionally," frequently would interject to rephrase a question or an answer.”


Mr. Zonen: What kinds of comments did he make?

Ms Rowe: He would ask me if I would rephrase an answer or he would ask Mr. Drew to rephrase a question.

Mr. Zonen: Do you remember any specific questions that he asked you to rephrase?

Ms Rowe: I don't remember a specific -- there were so many, I don't remember any specific. I remember at the end he wanted us to add stuff to clarify what he thought might be misunderstood or something.

Mr. Zonen: And did you, in fact, make changes in your interview in accordance with his request?

Ms Rowe: Only if it didn't change the meaning of what I had to say.

Mr. Zonen: All right. What is it that you were intending to represent in this interview?

Ms Rowe: Michael as a wonderful person and as a great father and generous and caring.

Mr. Zonen: All right. Did you have information as to Michael Jackson as a wonderful father?

Ms Rowe: As I've known him? Yes.

Mr. Zonen: When was the last time you'd actually talked with him?

Ms Rowe: In 1999.

Mr. Zonen: All right. This was in early 2003; is that correct?

Ms Rowe: Correct.

Mr. Zonen: When was the last time you saw him interact with the children?

Ms Rowe: 1991. I'm sorry, 1999.

Mr. Zonen: In the course of this interview, did you represent yourself as still being part of the family?

Ms Rowe: Yes, I did.

Mr. Zonen: Was that true?

Ms Rowe: No, it was not.

Mr. Zonen: Why did you do it?

Ms Rowe: To protect the children and to try to keep the media and questions away and out of their focus. And to make sure that I could do whatever I could even at a distance.

Mr. Zonen: How did you approach this interview in terms of your affect?

Ms Rowe: I was excited to do it.

Mr. Zonen: Why?

Ms Rowe: Because I would get to see my children and possibly renew a relationship with Mr. Jackson.

Mr. Zonen: Why did you want to do that?

Ms Rowe: They're my family.

Mr. Zonen: Did you consider them your family?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Zonen: Did you consider Mr. Jackson to be your family to the same extent as your children?

Ms Rowe: I don't think anyone is as much as your children, but, yes.

Mr. Zonen: How long had it been since you had seen your children?

Ms Rowe: About two and a half years.

Mr. Zonen: At the conclusion of the interview, did you have a conversation with anybody about when you would be able to see your children?

Ms Rowe: Mr. Schaffel said that he was excited, and that we'd be going up to Neverland soon. And I said, "Fine." I said, "Let me know as soon as you can."

Mr. Zonen: Was that something that you wanted to do?

Ms Rowe: Very much. Very much.

Mr. Zonen: When was the last time you had been to Neverland?

Ms Rowe: Years. I couldn't tell you. Probably '99, '98.

Mr. Zonen: Did you make any contact with anybody about seeing your children within the next, say, 30 days or beyond?

Ms Rowe: Mr. Schaffel. I would call him almost weekly. I didn't want to be a noodge, or piss him off, so I would call him and chat him up, and say, "By the way," you know, "Are they back?" You know, "When can I see them?" Because it was my understanding they were out of town.

Mr. Zonen: For what period of time did you continue to contact Mr. Schaffel about that?

Ms Rowe: About nine months.

Mr. Zonen: Did you ever see your children?

Ms Rowe: No, I did not.

Mr. Zonen: To this day, have you seen your children?

Ms Rowe: No, I have not.

Mr. Zonen: Have you gone back to court?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Zonen: All right. Were you able to get a ruling in regards to your custody of your children?

Ms Rowe: Not regards to custody, but my parental rights were reinstated.

Mr. Zonen: Have you seen your children?

Ms Rowe: No, I have not.

Mr. Zonen: Are you still in court making an effort to do so?

Ms Rowe: Very much so. Actively.


Mr. Zonen: Did you ever receive any money for your participation in this interview?

Ms Rowe: No.

Mr. Zonen: What was your motivation to participate in this interview?

Ms Rowe: To see my children.

Mr. Zonen: Thank you. I have no further questions.


Mr. Mesereau was then offered the opportunity to cross examine the witness. At that point, he stated that he would like to renew the motion to exclude testimony into those areas. Judge Melville replied, “I'll give you an indicated, subject to full argument, but at this point I would probably not grant that motion.” Mr. Mesereau then proceeded with his cross examination.

Friday, 29 April 2005

“Opportunistic Vultures” Surround Jackson’s Inner Circle

April 28, 2005, Santa Maria, Ca – On Thursday, Michael Jackson’s ex-wife Debbie Rowe began her testimony under the cross examination of Mr. Mesereau.

It was established that Ms. Rowe spoke to Marc Schaffel for the first time when she was asked by Mr. Jackson to do the interview. She met him personally for the first time at the interview itself. When asked if she had developed a type of friendship with him, she stated that she wouldn’t call it a friendship, characterizing it as “more than an acquaintanceship, but not a friendship,” and said that she called him approximately every week for about three months.

Mr. Mesereau asked Ms. Rowe if she had been in contact with the Santa Barbara sheriffs about this case at some point. She stated that they had called her and that she had not returned the first call.


Mr. Mesereau: And eventually, you developed somewhat of a dialogue with Santa Barbara sheriffs about this case, right?

Ms Rowe: When they caught me on my cell phone on my way home from Palm Springs, yes, the number they got from Marc Schaffel.

Mr. Mesereau: And you agreed to make what you called some pretext phone calls for the sheriffs, correct?

Ms Rowe: Correct.

Mr. Mesereau: And a pretext phone call means basically you agreed to work with the sheriffs, telephone people and talk to them while the sheriffs were recording those calls. The idea was that the people you would call would not know they were being recorded. Only you and the sheriffs would know there were recordings, right?

Ms Rowe: Correct.

Mr. Mesereau: Now, how many of these pretext phone calls do you think you made with or for the sheriffs?

Ms Rowe: I think there were a total of four to six. I'm not sure.

Mr. Mesereau: And who were those pretext phone calls with?

Ms Rowe: Marc Schaffel. Ian Drew. And I think I may have tried to do one with Dieter.

Mr. Mesereau: Were you able to do that one?

Ms Rowe: I don't remember.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. So the only people you recall actually speaking with when they didn't know the call was being recorded are Schaffel and Drew; is that right?

Ms Rowe: And Dieter, if I did one with him, he wouldn't have known.


Ms. Rowe then testified that Schaffel and Drew were there when she was interviewed and that the interview was the first time she had spoken or met with Mr. Drew. It was her understanding that he was the one that would be doing the interviewing, and he told her that there were 105 questions. She stated that he offered to show her the list of questions, but she refused because she wanted to give a spontaneous type of response to whatever he asked her. Her responses were very favorable about Michael Jackson. She further stated that she answered questions for approximately nine hours and was asked all sorts of questions about what kind of person Mr. Jackson was, about what kind of a father he was, whether or not he was a good family person, and about whether he was a good friend of hers. Throughout that nine-hour period she was very positive about Michael Jackson. It was her understanding that she was going there to help do a very positive, favorable piece about Michael.

Mr. Mesereau asked if it was her understanding that one of the purposes of this interview was to counteract the negative stuff that appeared in the Bashir documentary. Ms. Rowe said, “I didn't know what the video was. I had never heard of Bashir. It was regarding something that had played in Europe and was going to be played in the United States. I didn't want to see the video. I didn't want to see the transcripts from the video. I didn't want to know anything about it.” But she knew the purpose was to respond to something in the media that had been negative about Michael, “Negative, twisted, misunderstood, whatever it was.”

Ms. Rowe testified that she was more than eager to help Michael in this area and hoped she did help him. She spoke favorably and some of her comments were placed on the Povich documentary.

When ask if she kept calling Mr. Schaffel for a number of months, she said that she did but that she only saw him one time.


Mr. Mesereau: You had lunch with him one time?

Ms Rowe: He set me up. Yes, I had lunch with him one time.

Mr. Mesereau: Where was that?

Ms Rowe: The Ivy.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. And you say Schaffel set you up?

Ms Rowe: Yeah.

Mr. Mesereau: And what do you mean by that?

Ms Rowe: Apparently there was a meeting going on with Michael and some of his people, and I later found out that Schaffel and Dieter were not included. And so Marc had called me up and said, "Do you want to go to lunch?" And I said, "Sure." I said, "Do you want me to meet you in the valley halfway? Do you want to come over here? I'll pick you up." You know, "What do you want to do?" And he said, "Well, why don't I pick you up." And I said, "Fine. Where are we going to go?" And he said, "The Ivy. Is that okay?" I said, "Sure." I never had any problems at The Ivy before. So we went to The Ivy.

Mr. Mesereau: And would Schaffel call you from time to time?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. And you have previously commented that you thought Mr. Schaffel was using Mr. Jackson, true?

Ms Rowe: Oh, yeah.

Mr. Mesereau: You told the sheriffs that, in your opinion, Marc Schaffel was continually
trying to take advantage of Michael Jackson, true?

Ms Rowe: Correct.

Mr. Mesereau: And you thought he was manipulating Michael Jackson to make lots of money, right?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: Now, you met Dieter at some point, true?

Ms Rowe: Yes. I don't remember if I met him anytime before The Ivy incident, but I met -- he was with us at lunch.

Mr. Mesereau: Around the time of the interview, did you talk to Konitzer at all?

Ms Rowe: I spoke with him when I spoke with Mr. Jackson to arrange it. And he and Dieter and Marc had been on the phone. They had been on the phone to tell me about problems that were going on, yes.

Mr. Mesereau: And you've also made statements to the sheriffs that you thought Dieter and Konitzer were manipulating Michael Jackson, correct?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: You thought Dieter and Konitzer were taking advantage of Michael Jackson, true?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: And you thought they were trying to manipulate Michael Jackson to make a lot of money, right?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: Was it your perception, based upon what you observed of Schaffel, Dieter and Konitzer, that those three were working together?

Ms Rowe: Oh, yeah.

Mr. Mesereau: You definitely got that impression?

Ms Rowe: Oh, yeah.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. And was it your impression that those three were working together to find ways to use Michael Jackson's name so they could profit?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: And at one point you told the sheriffs that you thought Michael Jackson was, in some ways, very removed from what those guys were doing, right?

Ms Rowe: In my past knowledge, he's removed from the handlers, the people who are taking care of business, and they make all the decisions. There's a number of times they don't consult him.

Mr. Mesereau: And you thought these three guys, Schaffel, Dieter and Konitzer, were doing just that, didn't you?

Ms Rowe: Very strongly.

Mr. Mesereau: Do you recall if around this time you ever tried to warn Michael Jackson about Schaffel, Konitzer and Dieter?

Ms Rowe: I did. I tried to go through my -- my -- I'm sorry, my old boss. And actually, when I did call, I was told that, "Be careful of Marc."

Mr. Mesereau: And your old boss was Dr. Klein?

Ms Rowe: Arnold Klein, yes. K-l-e-i-n.

Mr. Mesereau: What you're saying, you tried to communicate with Michael, through Dr. Klein, to warn him about what these three characters were doing to Michael?

Ms Rowe: Or to look and see if he was aware of what was going on, if he even knew that I was still trying to see the children.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. And one of the problems you had was that because of the custody issues, you were supposed to talk through attorneys, right?

Ms Rowe: Correct.

Mr. Mesereau: And that created a problem in your ability to communicate with Michael, right?

Ms Rowe: It was difficult, yes. It was easy with Mr. Spiegel, Lance Spiegel.

Mr. Mesereau: And Mr. Spiegel was a prior lawyer for Mr. Jackson?

Ms Rowe: For family, yes.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. Okay. Now, approximately when did you -- when were you divorced from Mr. Jackson? Was it 1999?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: And at that point you gave up custody of the children?

Ms Rowe: No, not at that point. A year and a half later.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. A year and a half later you gave up custody of the children, and you had the visitation rights that you identified yesterday, right?

Ms Rowe: Right. No, I'm sorry, I misunderstood. I gave up custody at the divorce. I gave him full custody. I had visitation - I'm sorry, I misunderstood - every 45 days.

Mr. Mesereau: Approximately how long was your marriage to Mr. Jackson?

Ms Rowe: Three and a half years.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. And I believe you said yesterday you've stayed his friend, right?

Ms Rowe: I've always considered him my friend.

Mr. Mesereau: And you still do, right?

Ms Rowe: Yeah. If he'd talk to me. Sorry.

Mr. Mesereau: And without question, the communicating through lawyers has created problems with --

Ms Rowe: Have you met Mr. Hall? Extreme problems.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. Okay. You're blaming the lawyers for a lot of that, right?

Ms Rowe: Have you met Mr. Hall? You don't want to.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. All right. How many times did you meet Dieter personally?

Ms Rowe: Like -- I know for sure the one time.

Mr. Mesereau: Did you talk to Dieter on the telephone?

Ms Rowe: Yes. I think once or twice. I don't remember. They weren't eventful calls.

Mr. Mesereau: Did he call you or did you call him?

Ms Rowe: He's -- I know he called me once, and I believe I called him.

Mr. Mesereau: How many calls do you think you had with Drew, if any, around the time of the interview?

Ms Rowe: I met Mr. Drew, he went back to Florida, I didn't see him for about a year. When he came back to Los Angeles, he called me and said he was back in town.

Mr. Mesereau: Did you develop a friendship with him?

Ms Rowe: Yeah.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. Now, did you learn at some point that Schaffel was trying to make millions of dollars from the footage of your interview?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: How did you learn that Schaffel was trying to make millions of dollars from the footage of your interview?

Ms Rowe: He told me he was paid for it. He told me that part of the money that was made from it went for a debt that Mr. Jackson had owed him. I later found out that he took -- he told Ronald and Dieter that I wanted $100,000 for doing the interview. And I believe a check was cut - not to me. I wouldn't have taken it - and he kept it.

Mr. Mesereau: And how did you learn this information?

Ms Rowe: Some of it was from Ian. Some of it was from Marc himself.

Mr. Mesereau: And at one point Schaffel told you he was going to sue Michael Jackson, didn't he?

Ms Rowe: Yes, he did.

Mr. Mesereau: He told you he wanted over a million dollars from Michael Jackson, true?

Ms Rowe: He said Michael owed him a million dollars.

Mr. Mesereau: And approximately when did Marc Schaffel tell you he was going to sue Michael Jackson?

Ms Rowe: Six months ago maybe. It may have been longer than that, but I'm not really good with – if you could give me something to refer to at a time, I could say yes, it happened then. But I think it was about six months ago. And then he told me, about three months ago, that he and his lawyer were filing papers.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. Did Schaffel ever ask you for assistance in his suit against Michael Jackson?

Ms Rowe: No.

Mr. Mesereau: Did he ever ask you for information to help him in his business dealings with Michael Jackson?

Ms Rowe: I wouldn't have given it to him.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. Did he ever ask you for help, though?

Ms Rowe: I'm sorry?

Mr. Mesereau: Did Schaffel, in your mind, ever ask you to help him in his business dealings with Mr. Jackson?

Ms Rowe: No. He just bragged about either how he took advantage of an opportunity that I'm sure he knew nothing about or how he was going to do this, that or the other thing to make sure that Michael's career was saved, and things of that nature.

Mr. Mesereau: Did Schaffel tell you that he was involved in business matters with Dieter?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: Did Schaffel tell you he was involved in business matters with Konitzer?

Ms Rowe: Yes. In Europe.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. And did you ever get the impression he was not giving Michael Jackson all the information about what he was up to?

Ms Rowe: He was like everybody else around Mr. Jackson. Yeah, he wasn't telling him everything.

Mr. Mesereau: Why did you think Schaffel was calling you?

Ms Rowe: To placate me. To say that, "Oh, no, I'm working on it. You'll be seeing the kids. Michael's very excited about it. Everything's going to be great. They're still in Florida." You know, "As soon as they get home you guys will be together."

Mr. Mesereau: And you didn't think he was being truthful, right?

Ms Rowe: Obviously he's full of shit. Sorry. I'm sorry, Your Honor.

Mr. Mesereau: You consider Marc Schaffel a liar, don't you?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: You consider Dieter a liar, don't you?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: You consider Konitzer to be a liar, don't you?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: You met Mr. Drew at Schaffel's residence, right?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: And you were introduced to him through Schaffel, right?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: Was it your belief at that time that the two of them had some type of business relationship?

Ms Rowe: Marc told me that Ian was a plant at one of the tabloids to run interference for bad publicity for Michael.

Mr. Mesereau: And did you believe that?

Ms Rowe: I didn't know, didn't care, didn't want to be there, but was there for the kids and for him. I -- you know, I wanted to get in and get out. I'm having about as much fun here as I had there.

Mr. Mesereau: Was it your understanding that Schaffel was using Ian Drew for a particular purpose?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: And that purpose was to sow publicity that he wanted in the tabloids?

Ms Rowe: To get information out. I don't know if I knew that it was -- if I knew that it was The Globe then that he was the plant for, or if Marc told me shortly thereafter. I think Marc told me at the day, the day that it was, so I knew that I was supposed to expect something coming out in the tabloids.

Mr. Mesereau: And was it your impression that Schaffel was using Drew to promote Schaffel's business interests?

Ms Rowe: If I'm considered a commodity to Mr. Jackson, then yes.

Mr. Mesereau: And as far as you were concerned, Schaffel was using you as a commodity, right?

Ms Rowe: Schaffel was talking out both sides of his mouth, telling me one thing, telling Mr. Jackson something else.

Mr. Mesereau: You thought he was using the two of you, didn't you?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: Schaffel bragged to you about the large sums of money he was going to make off of Michael Jackson, didn't he?

Ms Rowe: Yes, he did.

Mr. Mesereau: He bragged about making millions of dollars off of Michael Jackson, didn't he?

Ms Rowe: Yes, he did.

Mr. Mesereau: He did that many times, didn't he?

Ms Rowe: Constantly.

Mr. Mesereau: Did Dieter brag as well about the millions he was going to make off of Michael Jackson?

Ms Rowe: He wasn't as -- he was more subtle about it and spoke of it as plans for Michael, not actually to take from Michael. So it's a matter of semantics, I'm saying, you know, "I'm going to do it for Michael."

Mr. Mesereau: Did Konitzer brag about all the money he was going to make off of Michael Jackson?

Ms Rowe: He had big plans. So -- but they – I didn't speak with him as often as I spoke with Marc. So those conversations weren't about that with Ronald. It was getting this project started and how they were going to -- how everything was going to be much better. And then I think I had another conversation with Ronald and Dieter afterwards when they called to say that everything was fine with the video, and "Thank you," and "Things will be fine. We have big plans," and stuff like that. I think there's only two times I spoke with Konitzer.

Mr. Mesereau: Did Dieter ever tell you that he and Konitzer were going to take over all of Michael Jackson's affairs?

Ms Rowe: That was their plan, because he'd been mishandled.

Mr. Mesereau: Did Dieter ever tell you, "Don't call Michael Jackson. If you have any question about him, talk to me"?

Ms Rowe: I wouldn't be allowed to call him. But if I had any concerns I would -- he said, you know, "Please call me."

Mr. Mesereau: Did Schaffel ever show you any written agreements that he said concerned projects he was going to do with the Jackson name?

Ms Rowe: The song. Didn't show me the contract, but that was one thing that he spoke to me about is that they were doing a song for Clear Channel or something.

Mr. Mesereau: How many times have you been to Schaffel's home?

Ms Rowe: Once for the interview, and once to pick him up, and I have to remember where we were going. We had to drop a friend of his off in Hollywood someplace. Oh, we went to see Parviz, this guy Parviz. That's what we did.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. And did Schaffel talk to you about an attorney named Mr. Geragos?

Ms Rowe: Uh-huh.

Mr. Mesereau: Did he tell you that he had picked Mr. Geragos?

Ms Rowe: I don't know who picked him, but whoever did made a huge mistake. Come on. He pleads out or loses.

Mr. Mesereau: Well, in your discussions with the sheriffs, you made negative comments about Mr. Geragos, didn't you?

Ms Rowe: Oh, yeah.

Mr. Mesereau: Did any representative of the sheriff's department ever tell you why they wanted you to record phone conversations with Ian Drew?

Ms Rowe: It was very frustrating working with the sheriff's department. They don't give you any information. That's why I wanted to find out for myself what was going on.

Mr. Mesereau: And did you ever record conversations yourself and then just give those recordings to the sheriff?

Ms Rowe: No, that's illegal.

Mr. Mesereau: You just did it always with a sheriff involved with you?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. When did you last talk to Mr. Schaffel?

Ms Rowe: Conversation-conversation? Probably two weeks ago. Probably right before he got the transcripts from the conversation. But he had sent me e-mails that I had not opened. They're still on my account before I came up here.

Mr. Mesereau: So a couple of weeks ago you talked to him?

Ms Rowe: Spoke with him, yes.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay.

Ms Rowe: He was out of town and wouldn't be back for a couple of weeks. He said there was a family crisis or something. I was hoping his family wasn't ill.

Mr. Mesereau: Did you call him?

Ms Rowe: I don't have a cell phone number for him anymore. I lost it. So when he was in town, the conversations were less and less after I had spoken with the sheriff's department and found the information out that I had found and the way I had been treated. And it's a little difficult for me to be civil to someone that I dislike.

Mr. Mesereau: Well, I gather you tried your best to let Mr. Schaffel think he could still communicate with you?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: Up until two weeks ago, right?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: Was that at the request of the sheriffs?

Ms Rowe: No, that was more me. If he did get in touch with me, I did tell them.

Mr. Mesereau: And when did you last talk to Ian Drew?

Ms Rowe: He got promoted from his job just after the first of the year. I had dinner with him. There's a group of us that go out on Wednesday nights, and I think it was a month ago that I last talked to him. It was getting close to my uncle's birthday, so we did -- everybody has to come on this Wednesday night to not miss my uncle's birthday.

Mr. Mesereau: Your last communication with Dieter was when?

Ms Rowe: Oh, a long time ago. Not within the last year, I don't think. Well, I think The Ivy incident was the last time that I spoke to him. I may -- oh, no, no, no, no. I did try to call him. Sorry. I did try to call him afterwards. And I may have made the one phone call. I don't remember if I made it or not. I haven't seen any of the stuff. So if there's something there, I'd be happy to look at it and tell you what was done and what was said and what was meant, if you'd like. I don't remember the day, you know. I think I did, but I can't totally swear to it.

Mr. Mesereau: How about Konitzer. When do you think you last talked to him?

Ms Rowe: If I did, it was very shortly after the video.

Mr. Mesereau: Did Schaffel tell you that he and Dieter and Konitzer were going to make a lot of money off of the problems that came out of the Bashir documentary?

Ms Rowe: They said they were going to fix the problem and bragged that they had made money.

Mr. Mesereau: That bothered you, didn't it?

Ms Rowe: Yeah.

Mr. Mesereau: Did you ever tell Schaffel, "I don't like what you're doing to Michael," or words to that effect?

Ms Rowe: If I had said that, then I wouldn't have been able to find out what he was doing and try to get word to whoever was handling him, "You guys are going to get screwed."

Mr. Mesereau: So what you were trying to do was make Schaffel think he could maintain a friendship with you, but what you really wanted to do was get information from him?

Ms Rowe: Yeah. He was out to hurt Michael, in addition would hurt my children.

Mr. Mesereau: And did you feel Dieter was trying to hurt Michael and also your children?

Ms Rowe: I think they're opportunistic vultures.

Mr. Mesereau: Would that be Dieter, Konitzer and Schaffel?

Ms Rowe: Okay. You can do them alphabetically if you'd like.

Mr. Mesereau: You're talking about the three of them, right?

Ms Rowe: All of them.

Mr. Mesereau: Who else are you referring to as vultures, besides those three?

Ms Rowe: If it's a personal opinion, does it count?

Mr. Zonen: I'm going to object as beyond the scope of the direct examination and speculative and improper opinion.

The Court: Sounds like she's got a long list. I think I'll sustain the objection.


Ms. Rowe: Thank you.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. Ms. Rowe, at some point, did you learn that Santa Barbara sheriffs had recorded a discussion with you?

Ms Rowe: You did? You did? No, I didn't know that. Damn you guys. You don't share anything.

Mr. Mesereau: Did you ever learn that any discussion you had with the Santa Barbara sheriff was, in fact, recorded?

Ms Rowe: Well, if -- if you're referring to I was with them and, yeah, they were recording, so that's what I thought was recording. Did you bug my phone?

Mr. Mesereau: So at some point you knew they were recording -- at some point you knew they were recording a discussion with you, right?

Ms Rowe: Yes. It was a discussion with me with Marc Schaffel or with Ian Drew.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. How about with you just alone with an officer?

Ms Rowe: Oh, when I was speaking with an officer, yes, there was a -- an interview that was done.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. And where did that interview take place, if you know?

Ms Rowe: Calabasas. And I can't give you the name of the place because I don't remember.

Mr. Mesereau: Do you know what officer that was?

Ms Rowe: Officer Steve Robel. Sergeant Steve Robel, actually.

Mr. Mesereau: Do you know approximately when that interview took place?

Ms Rowe: Not off the top of my head, no.

Mr. Mesereau: Do you recall, at one point, you mentioned the possibility of going to The Enquirer? Do you remember that?

Ms Rowe: Me?

Mr. Mesereau: Yes. I don't know if it was -- you were joking or not, but do you recall saying something like that?

Ms Rowe: It would have been totally joking and sarcastic and, "Let's see if we can mess with them."

Mr. Mesereau: Well, you talked about at one point Ms. Arvizo's orchestrating lawsuits. Do you remember that?

Ms Rowe: Yeah.

Mr. Mesereau: And you referred to the J.C. Penney case, correct?

Ms Rowe: Probably.

Mr. Mesereau: Did you do your own research into what Janet Arvizo had done in the J.C. Penney case?

Ms Rowe: Just by asking people who had heard something on the news. And I hadn't sat down at the computer and actually properly researched it, no.

Mr. Mesereau: When you spoke to the officer in that interview, were you trying to in some way protect Michael from the Arvizos?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: At one point you told Officer Robel that Schaffel had made seven and a half million dollars off your interview. Do you remember that?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: Did Schaffel tell you that?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: Did you have any reason not to believe that he'd made seven and a half million?

Ms Rowe: I don't know what shows go for. Michael doesn't do interviews, so I'm sure that anything that was televised or produced was worth a lot of money.

Mr. Mesereau: Did Schaffel offer you any of that money?

Ms Rowe: No, and I wouldn't have taken it.

Mr. Mesereau: Did you know -- did you have any idea why Schaffel told you he made seven and a half million off your interview?

Ms Rowe: He likes to brag. "Look what I have. Look what I've done."

Mr. Mesereau: Did Schaffel tell you any of that money went to Dieter?

Ms Rowe: He didn't. The way he spoke about it was all him.

Mr. Mesereau: Did he tell you any of that money went to Konitzer?

Ms Rowe: No, again, all to him.

Mr. Mesereau: Was it your understanding that Schaffel, Dieter and Konitzer worked together or -- what was your understanding of their relationship?

Ms Rowe: Michael had a previous relationship with Dieter and Ronald, so if Marc wanted to get in touch with Michael he could go through them, if he couldn't get ahold of him himself. But I think Marc felt that he handled everything in the United States. And that they were involved in the European things and in marketing or something.

Mr. Mesereau: Do you remember telling the officer who interviewed you, "Michael is very, very easily manipulated especially if he's scared"?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: You were trying to tell the officers that Michael was being taken advantage of by these people, weren't you?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: Now, you indicated in your interview you were there for about nine to ten hours. How much of that time do you think you were answering questions?

Ms Rowe: It was -- we were on that stupid couch for seven hours, with no breaks except to change film.

Mr. Mesereau: And was that you and Mr. Drew?

Ms Rowe: I was on the couch. Drew -- Ian was opposite me, either in a chair -- I think he was in a chair.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. So if you think you know, how many hours of actual interview do you think there was with you?

Ms Rowe: The full seven hours. Except for the – the time that it took to change videotapes.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay.

Ms Rowe: I'm sorry. We didn't break for anything.

Mr. Mesereau: And you have before today, I believe you said last night the most recent time, seen a DVD of what purports to be that interview, right?

Ms Rowe: It's not the whole interview.

Mr. Mesereau: And is that about two and a half to three hours long, the one you saw?

Ms Rowe: It was about three hours.

Mr. Mesereau: And who gave you that DVD to watch?

Ms Rowe: I asked for a copy from Mr. Zonen.

Mr. Mesereau: And you watched it last night, right?

Ms Rowe: Yes, I did.

Mr. Mesereau: And correct me if I'm wrong, I think what you're saying is that many hours of your interview don't appear in that DVD, right?

Ms Rowe: I don't see how I could have sat there for seven hours and only had three hours on tape. I don't remember any breaks except for when the cameras were -- the film was being changed. I interrupted the interview to tell them the film was -- the camera was blinking, the light. I didn't want to be in the middle of the statement and have to start over again, to tell them that the lights were blinking, to change the film. I saw cuts in that film, in that tape, that were -- had nothing with me saying, "It's blinking, take it off," so there's -- there is stuff missing from that video.

Mr. Mesereau: When Schaffel told you he'd made seven and a half million dollars off your interview, did he ever tell you who he made the money from?

Ms Rowe: I think he said it was FOX Network. And someone in Europe. But I don't remember who it was in Europe.

Mr. Mesereau: And was it your understanding that he kept all the footage of your interview?

Ms Rowe: Yes. It was all taken upstairs to a bedroom where they did the editing that night.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. How did you know they did the editing that night?

Ms Rowe: I was there for about an hour when they were doing it.

Mr. Mesereau: Were you upstairs in the bedroom while they were doing it?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: And who is "they"?

Ms Rowe: Marc was in and out. I don't remember -- I think it was Christian that was doing the editing. Ian told me he was going to be there all night to get the video done.

Mr. Mesereau: Now, Mr. Jackson wasn't there for any of that interview, was he?

Ms Rowe: No.

Mr. Mesereau: Were you being asked to assist in the editing upstairs?

Ms Rowe: No, I wanted to see what they were putting down. I'm a bit of a control freak.

Mr. Mesereau: So did they ever object to you being upstairs and watching what they were doing?

Ms Rowe: No, it just got to be too late and too long a day and I had to go home. I had school.

Mr. Mesereau: But during the hour that you were upstairs watching the editing, what did you see them do?

Ms Rowe: The very beginning of the interview talking about Michael, me speaking about Michael and what kind of a person he is. And the -- I gave them a list, not a written list, but a verbal list of things that I wanted included to make sure.

Mr. Mesereau: In that interview, what kind of a person did you say Michael was?

Ms Rowe: Generous. To a fault. Giving and kind.

Mr. Mesereau: Anything else do you recall saying?

Ms Rowe: Good father. Great with kids. Put other people ahead of him. Things like that.

Mr. Mesereau: If you can, do you remember anything else you said about Michael?

Ms Rowe: He's a brilliant businessman. There's different Michaels. There's, like, my Michael. And the Michael that everyone else sees.

Mr. Mesereau: And that would be the public Michael?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: That would be Michael the entertainer, right?

Ms Rowe: Michael the entertainer, yeah.

**** Ms. Rowe became tearful when she described her feelings about Mr. Jackson. Michael Jackson dabbed at his eyes as she spoke. ****

Mr. Mesereau: When did you first meet Michael?

Ms Rowe: In the '80s.

Mr. Mesereau: And how did you meet Michael?

Ms Rowe: Through my office when I worked with Dr. Klein.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. And what was your position with Dr. Klein at the time?

Ms Rowe: I was an assistant.

Mr. Mesereau: And Michael went to Dr. Klein for various treatments, right?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: And do you recall when he first went to Dr. Klein?

Ms Rowe: Yes. The very first day, yes. I was not his nurse then.

Mr. Mesereau: You met him in the early '80s and you continued to know him through the '90s until you were married, right?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: And how long did you work for Dr. Klein?

Ms Rowe: From '79 to 2001, I think it was, or 2000.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay.

Ms Rowe: I don't remember the exact dates.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. Do you recall ever going on tour with Michael?

Ms Rowe: Uh-huh.

Mr. Mesereau: And when did you first go on a tour with Michael?

**** Ms. Rowe looked at Mr. Jackson and asked about the tours. ****

Ms Rowe: What was the tour after "Bad"? Was it the "History" tour, or "Dangerous"? It was the "Dangerous" tour, I'm sorry.

Mr. Zonen: I'm going to object to communications between the witness and the defendant and ask that that be stricken.

Ms Rowe: Sorry.

The Court: Stricken.

Mr. Mesereau: Let me try and ask it again. What was the first tour that you went on with Michael?

Ms Rowe: "Dangerous."

Mr. Mesereau: And approximately when was that?

Ms Rowe: I don't remember. That was -- all those tours. And they all just ran together, because it was a long schedule.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. Was it in the '80s or '90s; do you know?

Ms Rowe: I think it was in the early '90s.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. And where did that tour go to?

Ms Rowe: I think it started in Bangkok, and went throughout Asia, Japan, Singapore. Then there was a break. And then it went to Europe. I did go to the last concert in Gutenberg, I think on the tour previous to that. Because Gutenberg wasn't on the "Dangerous" tour.

Mr. Mesereau: And were you traveling with Michael along with his physician?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. And you then went on another tour after that?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: And what tour was that?

Ms Rowe: "History."

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. And approximately when was that?

Ms Rowe: It seemed like it was right after "Dangerous," within a year or two after "Dangerous." It could have been a little bit longer than that.

Mr. Mesereau: And you were on that tour along with the physician as well, right?

Ms Rowe: We were married when that was going on. So, no. Klein would come every once in a while, but I was there every three weeks to see little Michael and Michael and to see how everybody was, because I was still working. I couldn't more often than that.

Mr. Mesereau: When did you first meet Mr. Sneddon?

Ms Rowe: The day before yesterday. Two days ago. When did I come up here? I came up here Tuesday. Today's Thursday. I came up here Tuesday.

Mr. Mesereau: I mean, your first time you ever met Mr. Sneddon was the early '90s, wasn't it?

Ms Rowe: I don't remember. I remember I did a deposition. I thought it was for a woman. I don't remember. I don't remember any of that part. I tend to block out unpleasantries. I don't remember any of that part. I don't remember if Mr. Sneddon was there or not.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay.

Ms Rowe: I think -- I think I just met him.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. Do you know when you were first contacted about this particular case by anyone associated with the sheriffs or the prosecution?

Ms Rowe: It was -- there was a voice mail on my car phone, which I don't give out because it's stupid to give out a car phone if you're not in the car all the time. And they had gotten it through – somehow, probably through Schaffel, because that's how the tabloids got it. Because Marc Schaffel handed out that phone number, because that was the only one he had, because I had to call release from that line to call his house. So there was a message left, and I did not return the call. And then on a trip back from Palm Springs, probably eight or nine o'clock at night, it was dark, I'm going to guess it could have been a little bit later, but eight o'clock or 9:00 the phone rang, and I thought it might have been someone -- something wrong with one of my animals or something. And I answered it, and it was Sergeant Robel.

Mr. Mesereau: Okay. And do you know approximately when that was?

Ms Rowe: I don't. I'm sorry.

Mr. Mesereau: Was it like a year ago?

Ms Rowe: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Mr. Mesereau: Now, you said Schaffel was giving information to the tabloids?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: Was he giving information to the tabloids about Michael Jackson, to your knowledge?

Ms Rowe: He was leaking information.

Mr. Mesereau: To your knowledge, was he trying to profit from the tabloids with information about Michael Jackson?

Ms Rowe: I don't think monetarily. I think maybe through manipulation, you know, "Maybe I can stop this," or "I can talk to so and so and fix it."

Mr. Mesereau: Did Schaffel ever tell you in your conversations that he was going to generate crises around Michael Jackson so he could then find ways to profit?

Ms Rowe: Just this lawsuit. And I don't know the details of the lawsuit.

Mr. Mesereau: Did he tell you whether or not Dieter or Konitzer are still doing business with him when you last talked to him?

Ms Rowe: When I was speaking with him, he didn't say anything about business. He was more concerned about self-preservation at this point.

Mr. Mesereau: You met with Mr. Zonen last night; is that correct?

Ms Rowe: Yes. I watched the video there. And I spoke with him for maybe 20, 25 minutes.

Mr. Mesereau: Did Mr. Zonen talk to you about what he was going to ask you today?

Ms Rowe: No.

Mr. Mesereau: He just asked you pretty much to watch the video?

Ms Rowe: Yes.

Mr. Mesereau: And where did this meeting take place?

Ms Rowe: Oh. It's in an office that they had.

Mr. Mesereau: That's the District Attorney's Office?

Ms Rowe: Yes. I don't know the address. So I'm lost.

Mr. Mesereau: When was the last time any representative of the sheriff's office asked you to record somebody?

Ms Rowe: I want to say last year.


At this point, the court called a recess. When court reconvened, Mr. Mesereau stated he had no further questions and advised the court that they withdrew their motion to strike Ms. Rowe’s testimony.

Before Ms. Rowe left the stand, Mr. Zonen asked if she still liked Michael Jackson. Ms. Rowe replied, "I have very strong memories and feelings for the Michael I have known but haven't seen since 1999. But those are based on my feelings. We haven't spoken."

Mr. Zonen also asked if she believed Mr. Jackson was "amenable" to her seeing their children. When the defense objected, Zonen said the question was for the purpose of impeachment.

"I'm hoping in my heart that he is," Rowe answered, adding "I haven't spoken to him, so I don't know. I get to deal with Abrams and Hall."

Saturday, 30 April 2005

Friday, jurors were shown two books that were taken from Michael Jackson’s bedroom in 1993. Prosecutor, Ron Zonen, said about 90 percent of one book contained nude pictures of boys while the other contained about 10 percent. The jury only saw the covers and front pages on which dedications were written.

The books were seized by Los Angeles police during a child molestation investigation of Mr. Jackson in 1994 which, after two Grand Juries, never led to criminal charges.

Jurors were shown the covers of two books during questioning of Los Angeles police Detective Rosibel Smith, who found the books in Jackson’s master bedroom. Smith said both books featured boys “playing, swimming, jumping.”

One book, called “Boys Will Be Boys.” featured an image of fair-haired boys in swimsuits jumping into water. The book contained an inscription written by Jackson: “Look at the true spirit of happiness and joy in the these boys’ faces, this is the spirit of boyhood, a life I’ve never had and will always dream of. This is the life I want for my children.”

The jury also saw the cover of a book called “The Boy: A Photographic Essay.” It also contained an inscription that said: “To Michael from your (heart symbol) fan, XXXOOO, ‘Rhonda.’” The note was dated 1983.

The jury was able to hear testimony about long ago allegations against Mr. Jackson because of a California law that permits evidence that may tend to show a defendant’s propensity toward child molestation.

Judge Rodney S. Melville allowed the prosecution to use the books despite defense objections that they were found too long ago to be relevant to the current case.

Prosecutors have also previously introduced dozens of adult magazines featuring adult women as well as a few art book that featured nudes as evidence in the child molestation case.

Another Witness Bites the Dust

Judge Melville denied a prosecution request to allow the testimony of journalist, Ian Drew, because he found that the California shield law applied and that the value of the testimony was “questionable.”

The prosecution wanted to question Drew about whether he heard Jackson’s associates use the word “escape” when they told him a planned interview with the current accuser’s family had been canceled because the family “had disappeared from the ranch in the middle of the night.”

The prosecution’s effort to have Drew testify was to add support to the portion of it’s case alleging Jackson conspired to hold the accuser’s family prisoner. These associates are also named as unindicted co-conspirators.

Tuesday, 03 May 2005

Deputy District Attorney Mag Nicola spent hours Monday showing juror’s charts of phone calls, primarily between the phones of three men named as unidentified co-conspirators, the mother of the boy accusing Michael Jackson of child molestation and an assortment of Jackson employees and lawyers.

Defense attorney Robert Sanger objected to the prosecution’s presentation saying that it was cumulative and its relevance was not shown, but Judge Rodney Melville overruled the objection and allowed Sheriff’s Detective Robert Bonner to continue his narrative about the phone calls.

Bonner told the jury that individual calls lasted between a few minutes and 90 minutes. On the chart were the phone numbers of Marc Schaffel, Vincent Amen and Frank Cascio, also known as Frank Tyson. Cascio, being the most active, was charted to be involved in 38 calls to Schaffel and 19 to Amen in one day. The three men have been named as unindicted co-conspirators.

During cross-examination, Sanger showed that the witness could not link Mr. Jackson to any off the calls. “In all these phone records you had were you ever able to determine if Michael Jackson was on a single call?” Sanger asked. “No.” replied Bonner.

The calls began in February and continued into the following month with the first series of calls accruing during a trip to Miami taken by Jackson, his entourage, his accuser and his family. Prosecutors showed calls going to and from the presidential suite at the Miami resort where the group stayed. Witnesses have stated that Jackson rented the suite but numerous people occupied it.

Numerous calls were also shown to be made to Jackson’s assistant Evelyn Tavasci at Neverland, as well as to the homes of the boyfriend, now husband, of the accuser’s mother and her parents. A few calls were made to Jackson’s ex-wife, Deborah Rowe, and the office of his former attorney Mark Geragos.

On cross-examination, Sanger brought up the issue of who actually participated in the phone calls. Bonner acknowledged a few key facts, such as, there were many people who occupied Schaffel’s office and that it was unlikely that a one minute call to an attorney’s office would go beyond the receptionist. The defense also showed that some calls were missing from the prosecution’s analysis. “I am aware that some of the records did not make it into the computer to be analyzed,” Bonner stated.

The Prosecution did not tell the jurors how the charted phone calls supported their case but is expected to argue that they show frenzied activity in an effort to stem the damage of the “Living With Michael Jackson” documentary and corroborate with the accuser’s mother’s story of being besieged by calls from Casio to return to Neverland and participate in the rebuttal video to counter the documentary.

Marc Schaffel

Schaffel’s name has repeatedly surfaced in connection with efforts to contain damage from the “Living With Michael Jackson” documentary and the alleged abduction of the accuser’s family.

In unexplained testimony during Monday’s trial, a bank manager testified that in April 2003 Schaffel cashed checks for $1 million and $500,000 on an account for which he and Mr. Jackson were the only signatories. Beverly Wagner said she was able to get approval for the transaction but did not know what the money was for.

In a separate civil court lawsuit against Michael Jackson, Schaffel claims that he had extensive financial dealings with Jackson involving millions of dollars in loans and production fees for the rebuttal documentary and Jackson shopping sprees.

Mr. Jackson was asked how he was feeling as he left court at the end of the day. “A little better today,” he said.

Thursday, 05 May 2005

Much of Thursday’s court proceedings were transpired while arguments by both sides were heard regarding the defense’s motions for an acquittal based on the grounds that prosecutors failed to prove the child molestation and conspiracy charges against Jackson. The motion was ultimately denied by Judge Rodney Melville.

Shortly after the motion hearing, the much anticipated first defense witness Wade J Robson took the stand. Robson, who is a 22 year old dancer and film director upon direct examination by defense attorney Tom Mesereau, denied ever being touched inappropriately or being molested by Jackson.

Mr. Robson, did Michael Jackson ever molest you at any time?" Mr. Mesereau.

"Absolutely not," Robson said.

"Did he ever touch you in a sexual way?" asked the attorney.

"No, not ever," said Robson.

"Did Michael Jackson ever touch your body inappropriately at any time?" asked Mesereau.

"No," said Robson.

Robson testified that he had stayed at Jackson’s Neverland ranch over 20 times and slept in his bedroom on many visits bar only about three to four times.

A former Jackson maid Blanca Francia, the mother of a boy who got a multimillion-dollar settlement from Jackson in the 1990s after accusing the star of molestation, testified previously that she once saw Jackson showering with Robson.

Robson said he had never showered with Jackson.

Asked what he did when he stayed in Jackson's room, Robson said they played video games, watched movies and talked.

"We have pillow fights every now and again," Robson said.

On cross-examination, Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen attacked Robson's story.

"What you're really telling us is that nothing happened while you were awake," the prosecutors said.

"I'm telling you nothing happened," said the witness.

Asked if something might have happened while he was asleep, Robson said, "I think something like that would wake me up."

Zonen then marched up to an unfaltering Robson at the witness stand carrying two books seized from Jackson’s ranch in 1993. One book showed pictures of nude boys while the other showed men in sexual acts.

Zonen asked Robson to look at the book about boys and asked if he would be concerned about a person who owns such a book sharing a bed with a boy.

"No," Robson said. "To me it's not a pornographic book. It's just a book."

But when shown the book depicting men in sex acts, the witness appeared taken aback.

"Would you be concerned with a man who possesses that book crawling into bed with a 10-year-old boy?" Zonen asked.

Robson paused and said quietly, "Yes."

Mesereau quickly countered, asking Robson if he would feel differently if he knew that Jackson also had a collection of 10 years' worth of Playboy, Hustler and other heterosexual magazines.

Robson said he would feel differently and would no longer be concerned about it.

Mesereau also pointed to a woman in the courtroom and said, "Mr. Robson, that is your fiancee right there, correct?"

"Yes," said the witness.

"You are heterosexual, correct?" Mesereau asked.

"Yes," Robson said.

During the cross-examination, Robson acknowledged that Jackson helped him move from Australia to the United States in September 1991 and that he was grateful for the help.

Continuing with the list of witnesses that the defense called to counteract allegations of past sexual behaviour by Jackson, Brett Barnes took the stand next. Barnes’s testimony was unequivocal with that of Robson.

Barnes said that as a youth he stayed with Jackson at least 10 times and was not molested.

"If he had I wouldn't be here right now," Barnes said.

Asked if he had ever been touched inappropriately, Barnes said, "Never, I wouldn't stand for it."

The Defense Fires Back

The unsuccessful motion for acquittal was filed by the defense immediately after prosecutors rested Wednesday. Although, the judges decision was not a surprise as such motions are rarely granted, with a reasonable analysis the prosecution's case could be challenged.

Jackson attorney Robert Sanger made a fervent plea to the judge to dismiss the charges, saying that the prosecution built a case on witnesses who were liars, including the main accuser and his mother.

Sanger also offered a blistering assessment of the prosecutions case on Thursday. Every witness called by the prosecution to support the past claims of abuse has either sued the entertainer one time or sold stories to tabloids, he said. The Jackson attorney was speaking of the endless list of witnesses that testified to witnessing Jackson molest youngsters at his ranch but never contacted law enforcement officials instead made contact with tabloids and sold their stories for hefty sums.

"One has to wonder, would this case have gone anywhere if Michael Jackson wasn't the defendant?" he said.

Speaking of the absurdity of the conspiracy charge where the prosecution contends that Jackson and his alleged co conspirators panicked after the airing of a damning documentary which elicited a great deal of scrutiny on Jackson both personally and professionally then proceeded to hold the accuser and family against their will only to later molest the boy.

”The timeline is inherently preposterous" Sanger stated and spared none on the accuser's mother, describing her testimony as "one of the most deceptive witnesses that have ever appeared -- in any court".

District Attorney Tom Sneddon, who was in 1993 unsuccessful in filing charges against Jackson and has ever since hounded Jackson, countered that the evidence was overwhelming and that he was "sick and tired" of defense claims that witnesses committed perjury.

Saturday, 07 May 2005

On Friday the mothers of the two young men who testified for the defence the previous day, took the stand. The two mothers claimed that the relationship their children had with Michael was innocent, and at no time did they observe or believe Jackson to behave inappropriately with the children. One of the women even had harsh words for Jackson’s previous accuser’s mother and considered her to be a “gold-digger”. Jackson’s previous accuser settled for a multi million dollar out of court civil settlement in 1993.

Both of Joy Robson’s children, son Wade and daughter Chantal who later testified following her mother, had spent a lot of time with the entertainer and trusted him and considered him to be a good friend and a wonderful person.

Joy Robson, whose son, Wade, testified earlier in the pop star's molestation trial, offered a ringing endorsement of Jackson's trustworthiness.

"I've known Michael for a long time. I've spent many hours talking to him about everything. I feel like he's a member of my family. I trust him. I trust him with my children," she said under questioning by Jackson attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr.

"He's a very special person," she added. "He's not the boy next door. He's Michael Jackson. He's very unique. He has a very pure personality. To know him is to love him and to trust him."

District attorney Tom Sneddon attacked Robson during cross examination. In an attempt to imply that her friendship with Jackson was means of trying to secure a career in show business for her son, Sneddon asked "Did you in your mind think that by having a connection and a friendship with Mr. Jackson that that could help promote your son's career?" Sneddon asked.

"You're trying to make me say that that was the basis for our friendship and that's not true," she said.

Joy Robson was asked if she knew the boy who accused Jackson of molestation in 1993 and his mother. That boy received a multimillion-dollar settlement from Jackson and no charges were filed.

Joy Robson said she had been at Neverland with the boy and his mother but spoke to them only a few times.

On cross-examination she said, "My impression of (the mother) is she wanted to be mistress of Neverland. She would order the staff around like she owned it. My impression of (her) is she was a gold-digger." Mesereau asked, "Did you feel she was trying to use Michael Jackson?"

"Yes," she said.

Sneddon, taking up questioning again, asked whether Robson was jealous of the woman "because she replaced you."

"Absolutely not," said the witness. "... I had no wish to be (her)."

"I asked if you were jealous of her position," Sneddon said acerbically.

"What position would that be?" asked the mother.

"Being close to Michael Jackson," said Sneddon.

"I don't know that she was close to Michael Jackson," the witness answered. "My personal knowledge of that weekend was Michael Jackson trying to elude (her) for that weekend."

Joy Robson was followed to the stand by her daughter, Chantal Robson, a 26-year-old dancer who told of sleeping in Jackson's room with her brother four times as a child.

"Did you ever see Michael Jackson molest your brother Wade?" asked Mesereau.

"No," she said with a slight laugh.

This time cross examining Chantal Robson was prosecutor Gordon Auchincloss who questioned Robson of the appropriateness of a 10 year old girl sharing the bed with a man who was over the age of 30.

”I think it's appropriate for a 10-year-old girl to sleep in a bed with a friend," she said, adding under further questioning that it would be OK if the girl "and the parents" approved.

She said, as other defense witnesses have, that she saw Jackson hug children, kiss them on the cheek but that she never saw anything of a sexual nature.

Both Joy and Chantal Robson acknowledged that Jackson had helped them in their move from Australia to the United Stated paying a balance in their car and loaning the family $ 10,000 which was never repaid.

The next mother duo combination to take the stand was Marie Elizabeth Barnes and her daughter Karley Barnes. The women praised Jackson and Marie Barnes’s son, Brett Barnes, also testified earlier in Jackson's defense that nothing improper happened when he shared Jackson's bed.

"I trusted him implicitly," Marie Barnes said of Jackson. "He's a very nice person. You just know when you can trust someone."

Marie Barnes, of Melbourne, Australia, said she and her family got to know Jackson after her son wrote a letter which the singer pulled out of box of fan mail and decided to make contact.

She said she allowed her son to travel around the world with Jackson on a tour because she believed it would be a learning experience.

"Did you ever suspect Mr. Jackson of inappropriately touching your son?" asked Mesereau.

"Never," she said.

She said that during visits to Neverland her son slept in Jackson's room on an off-and-on basis, sometimes when he fell asleep while playing games and watching videos.

Barnes’s daughter spoke equally well of the singer stating that Jackson was a good friend and a wonderful person whose relationship with children were purely platonic.

Tuesday, 10 May 2005

A string of both former and current employees testified for the defense on Monday to partly counteract claims made by a parade of former employees that testified earlier in the trail for the prosecution, and also refute allegations made by Jackson’s current accuser and family.

Former ranch employee, Francine Contreras said that while working closely with fellow former employee Adrian McManus, she never heard the woman ever speak ill about Jackson, although McManus testified for the prosecution and claimed she saw the singer inappropriately touch actor McCauley Culkin.

Although Contreras did not directly address that testimony by McManus, she did cast doubt on McManus’s character revealing the woman to have stolen many items from the ranch including items of clothing, hats, watches which are displayed at her home. The witness also claimed that McManus had stolen toys from the ranch that were bought as gifts for under privileged children visiting the ranch.

Violet Silva a current Neverland employee working at the ranch since 1991 and chief of security since 1997 testified that, "The emphasis at Neverland was on hospitality. That was our primary duty, to make them feel welcome,"

Silva although stated she had minimal contact with Jackson’s current accuser’s mother, claimed that the woman’s behaviour was at times not short of unusual. She said that it was the sister who took care of the two younger boys, reminding them to take showers and be neat.

Silva said she did not know of any children drinking alcohol or appearing intoxicated at the ranch. She said liquor was kept in the ranch wine cellar, which was locked. The accuser and his siblings have claimed they were served wine in the cellar.

The Neverland security chief described the accuser and his brother as "rambunctious."

"They were pretty reckless," she said. "They'd get in a ranch vehicle and we had to stop them. They were young. They couldn't drive.... They were pretty destructive."

Speaking of a February 19th 2003, directive that was logged in at the ranch asking the accuser and his brother not to leave the ranch, Silva stated it was only without adult supervision that they were not to leave and not because they were held against their will. The prosecution contends with the aid of the current accuser’s mother’s testimony that the family was held against their will at Neverland by Jackson.

During cross-examination, District Attorney Tom Sneddon asked Silva if she had told an investigator that as a mother she wouldn't want her children to participate in activities in Neverland.

Silva, who has daughters and granddaughters, acknowledged saying that.

Under redirect questioning by Jackson attorney Robert Sanger, she said she would bring her children for "family fun day" but not other times.

"Some of the activity was beyond my comfort level," she said without explanation.

Joe Marcus, the ranch manager at Neverland took the stand to refute a string of allegations made by Jackson’s accuser and his family. Marcus who has been employed at the ranch for the last 18 years testified that he had never witnessed Jackson to act inappropriately around children or anyone that would warrant him to report an illegal act to authorities.

Despite an animated testimony made my the accuser’s mother to be held against her will at Neverland where she was speaking in codes and plotting means to escape the hands of an evil predator who held her and her family locked behind a sprawling ranch, Joe Marcus said that the family members "were excited to be there" and when he would take them out on shopping trips and to the dentist they were anxious to get back to Neverland.

"Did she ever complain to you about anything?" defense lawyer Robert Sanger asked.

"Never," said Marcus.

The ranch manager testified that during the time he took the family out for a shopping trip, he remained in the car where the family wandered around the tourist shopping centre for about an hour.

Sanger asked if there was ever a time during that shopping trip and others when the mother was followed by a "positive PR film crew," something she described on the witness stand.

"Not to my knowledge," Marcus said.

He said he met the family one day at an orthodontist's office where the accuser and his brother went to have work done on their teeth. He said it was raining and he found the family anxious to get back in the car and return to Neverland when the appointment was over.

The mother has said she made up dental needs as a ruse to try to escape.

Marcus and other witnesses gave the jurors colorful descriptions of Neverland, which they have only seen in photos. The judge refused a request early in the case to have jurors visit the ranch.

Marcus told of improvements Jackson made, including the rides, theater, zoo, train depot and water attractions.

Marcus stated that he and other ranch employees remembered the accuser and his family to be sympathetic guests initially when the accuser was recovering from cancer but when they had returned a year later the employees said, the boys were rambunctious and destructive and got into trouble, crashing golf carts and trying to drive ranch vehicles.

Jackson left the court hastily after the day's testimony and his spokeswoman, Raymone K. Bain said he was in pain from a persistent back problem.

"He's very physically tired. His back is not doing well. He was uncomfortable in court," she said.

Bain said that Jackson's spirits remain high because of his defense team's efforts but that the trial in general has made him unhappy.

"It's very difficult to come in and hear these things said about you," she said. "None of this helps his image. We're looking forward to his being vindicated."

She said Jackson "wants this to end so he can go on with his life. He wants to get back to what he does, making people happy."

Wednesday, 11 May 2005

Joseph Marcus, the property manager at Neverland testified Tuesday, denying claims that Michael Jackson’s teenage accuser and his family were ever held against their will.

Marcus testified that he issued an order instructing guards not to let the accuser or his siblings off the property. "I didn't want the guard to lift the arm and let them out," he said.

Marcus went on to explain that the children had displayed reckless behavior, which included driving vehicles around the property and up to the gate.

The Judge moved to strike his explanation after the prosecution objected.

Marcus further testified regarding the cancelled trip to Brazil noting that he spoke with the mother in February of 2003, and she had not complained to him regarding the trip.

"There was no objection at that point that I know of." said Marcus, adding that she only wanted to know how to go about getting passport photos.

The captivity claim and kidnapping are at the heart of the prosecution’s conspiracy case.

When questioned about phone calls made at the ranch, Joseph Marcus explained that all calls could be monitored by way of two phones, one in the main house, and one in Jackson’s office. Each employee is issued a handbook that warns them of this possible monitoring.

Although he received a complaint regarding telephone monitoring Marcus stated that he did not listen in on calls and added, "I don't think (Jackson) monitored, to my knowledge."

Deputy District Attorney Auchincloss suggested that Marcus’ testimony was altered to help Mr. Jackson. "Why do you keep looking at Mr. Jackson?" he asked.

Marcus appeared startled and didn't answer. The defense objected, and the objection was sustained by Judge Melville.

"Do you consider yourself a loyal employee of Mr. Jackson?" the prosecutor continued.

"Yes," said Marcus.

Auchincloss then tried to establish if he took orders from anyone else at the ranch, including Jackson associate Dieter Wiesner, in an attempt to link Mr. Jackson to the alleged conspiracy.

"I would take requests from Dieter Wiesner and address them as needed," he said.

"Dieter Wiesner didn't tell you what to do?" asked Auchincloss.

"True," said the witness.

"Mr. Jackson is the only person that can tell you to handle policies and practices at Neverland?" the prosecutor asked.

"True," said Marcus.

Auchincloss tried to discredit Marcus and asked, “Do you have any knowledge of children sleeping in Mr. Jackson's room?" asked Auchincloss.

"Yes," said Marcus.

"And at the time of the search warrant you said you had no knowledge of children sleeping in Mr. Jackson's room," the prosecutor continued.

"Yes," said Marcus, who later added that events of that day were chaotic and "I was overwhelmed."

Auchincloss directed the attention of the questioning to the adult material seized from Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. "Do you know if Mr. Jackson possesses adult erotic materials?" the prosecutor asked.

"I don't know that he does," Marcus said. "I haven't seen them with him."

The prosecutor then showed a picture of Jackson's desk with tiny figurines of women in bondage attire standing upon it.

"Would you consider the figurines I showed you adult materials?" the prosecutor asked.

"A type of artwork of an adult nature," said Marcus.

"Do you think it's appropriate for children to be exposed to these?" Auchincloss asked.

After pausing, Marcus said no.

The Prosecutor went on, insinuating that Jackson’s "special friends" are mostly boys not girls or women. However, Marcus said there were also females who were close to Mr. Jackson.

When asked for names, the only names he could remember were Elizabeth Taylor, Liza Minnelli, a grandchild of Marlon Brando, and Karlee Barnes, the sister of a boy who spent time at Neverland, but added that other women had passed through the gates.

Marcus’ testimony will continue today.

It is not yet known whether or not child star McCauley Culkin will take the stand next.

Thursday, 12 May 2005

Former child star Macaulay Culkin testified Wednesday that he was never molested by Michael Jackson during boyhood visits to Mr. Jackson’s ranch and denounced the child molestation allegations against Jackson as “absolutely ridiculous.”

The 24 year old actor became part of the molestation case when prosecutors were allowed to present testimony to suggest Jackson has a pattern of abusing boys. The testimony included an ex-chef who said he saw Jackson with a hand up Culkin’s shorts as he held the boy up to a video game.

On the stand, Culkin stated that he was never contacted by prosecutors and only learned of the allegations made about him when someone told him to watch CNN.

Mr. Culkin was the third young man to testify that he was never molested by Jackson during visits to his ranch as a child despite prosecution testimony to the contrary.

Culkin, appearing relaxed and confident during his less than 90 minute testimony, stated that he and Jackson were drawn together by similar experiences as child performers, although he noted laughingly that “it was not like a child actor’s self-help group.” “Anyone who was a child performer,” he said, “we keep an eye out for each other.”

Culkin also testified that he was 9 or 10 years old when he met Jackson and that he slept in Jackson’s bed several times between the ages of 10 and 14, sometimes with other boys as well. He said the sleepovers weren’t planned and that he and others would fall asleep when they were tired.

When Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen suggested he could have been molested while he was asleep, Mr. Culkin replied, “I find that unlikely,” he said, “I think I’d realize something like that was happening to me.”

Mr. Culkin also stated he and Jackson often talked about missing out on their childhoods. “It wasn’t like therapy, he said, “but we talked about how these kinds of things happen.” He also described Jackson as “very childlike.” “He liked doing the things we did. He liked playing the arcade games although he wasn’t as good as we were,” he said, drawing laughs from the court.

Prosecutors previously showing the jury sexually explicit magazines found in Mr. Jackson’s room during a November 2003 search and alleged that Jackson showed the material to his accuser and his brother. Therefore, the prosecution seized upon Culkin’s “childlike” reference to Jackson.

Zonen asked Mr. Culkin if he thought it was childlike to have such material, “When I was 12 or 13 years old I had a couple of Playboys under my bed.” Culkin replied.

Judge Allows Jackson Videotape

Judge Rodney Melville made a key decision in the Jackson case by allowing the defense to play a videotape in which Mr. Jackson spoke of his love for children. The jury heard Jackson say “They need to be held and loved and told somebody cares.”

The videotape may serve as a substitute for Jackson taking the stand. The jury also heard Mr. Jackson give a soul-searching account of his troubled childhood, answering those that call him weird and expounding further on his love for children.

The video also provided Jackson the opportunity to explain his decision to build his Neverland amusement park styled ranch and his feeling at times that he is safer with children than adults. “I haven’t been betrayed or deceived by children,” Jackson said, “Adults have let me down.”

The tape was made by Jackson’s videographer as journalist Martin Bashir made the “Living with Michael Jackson” documentary. It included large segments that did not appear in the documentary. The tape showed Bashir showering Jackson with compliments and leading him to believe the documentary would benefit him. Instead, the documentary brought a storm of criticism which eventually led to the current charges in the case.

Friday, 13 May 2005

A memo written by investigator Scott Ross was filed Monday and released by court Wednesday. Michael Jackson’s defense offered the memorandum to attack the earlier testimony of attorney Larry Feldman in Jackson’s child molestation trial.

In the memo, Mr. Ross said he interviewed publisher Michael Viner about a breakfast meeting he attended with Feldman and TV talk show host Larry King about six month before the trail began.

According to the memo, Viner said the three men met at a deli in Beverly Hills along with other friends and that Mr. Feldman used the outing to inquire about becoming a commentator on King’s show during the Jackson trial.

“Viner recalled that Feldman had referred to the mother as ‘a flake’ and said he did not believe the boy,” the memo said. “Feldman added that he sent the mother and boy out to ‘another expert and they failed the smell test’.” “Feldman added that he did not believe them and they were into this case for one reason, ‘money,’” Ross wrote. “When I asked Viner if Feldman actually said that, he replied, ‘Absolutely.’”

Ross said he told Viner that Feldman testified that he did not know him. “Viner said that was not true, that they had met several times…Viner has no idea why Feldman would say such a thing,” the memo stated.

King has been subpoenaed to testify at the trial and the defense is fighting a prosecution effort to exclude Viner’s testimony as hearsay.

During Feldman’s testimony, he stated that he has never met Viner but did remember meeting with King and "six of his pals” at the deli. He denied making the comments in question.

Conspiracy Charge Attacked

David LeGrand, a former lawyer for Michael Jackson testified Thursday that the men who took over Jackson’s management diverted nearly $1 million of the star’s money and for their own benefit, he believed.

LeGrand was called by the defense to show that Jackson is the victim of a conspiracy by his associates who are also the same men the prosecution claims conspired with Jackson to hold his accuser and his family captive to get them to rebut a damaging TV documentary. The defense has tried to show that there was no captivity conspiracy and that the associates’ actions were for their own financial gain.

“I became suspicious of everybody,” LeGrand said of Jackson’s associates. “It seemed everybody wanted to benefit from Michael Jackson in one way or another.”

LeGrand’s statements are very similar to the testimony of Jackson’s ex-wife Deborah Rowe, who claimed her husband was a victim of “opportunistic vultures” in his inner circle. Mr. LeGrand said he was brought in to straighten out several transactions involving Jackson when he met Ronald Konitzer and Dieter Wiesner, two of the unindicted alleged co-conspirators. But he was fired within two weeks after writing Konitzer a letter asking him to account for $965,000, he said.

LeGrand also said he met the accuser’s mother at Jackson’s ranch at least once and she “seemed satisfied to be there.” He said her children were running through the house “having a pretty good time.”

Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss suggested, during cross-examination, that Mr. Jackson panned with his inner circle how to respond to the negative fallout from the “Living With Michael Jackson” documentary after it aired.

LeGrand said that Jackson was concerned, but not about the same things as everyone else. “He seemed very concerned about blurring the images of his children (on the video) and enforcing his agreement with Mr. Bashir to view and edit the video before it was aired," he said.

Asked if Jackson was worried that the documentary would not be positive, Mr. LeGrand said, “Mr. Jackson didn’t use the word positive. He expected accuracy, sincerity.”

After LeGrand’s testimony, Judge Rodney Melville issued a stern warning that former Jackson attorney Mark Geragos must obey a defense subpoena and take the stand Friday morning. “That’ll give me time to get the warrant out when he doesn’t appear,” Melville said after discussions over when Geragos could testify in the midst of commitments to other cases. A Geragos colleague said he would inform Geragos and judges in courts where the attorney has appearances scheduled.

Saturday, 14 May 2005

Former counsel testifies in defense of Jackson

Criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos testified on Friday that it was he who ordered surveillance of Michael Jackson's accuser and the teenager's family back in early 2003 because he was "gravely concerned" that they may have been plotting to extort the entertainer.

Geragos relayed to jurors that he was merely "trying to prevent a crime" against his client, believing that "they were going to shake [Jackson] down."

The famed attorney represented Jackson during February and March 2003, when the accusing family contends they had been held against their will, falsely imprisoned, and extorted by Jackson. The accuser's mother, sister, and stepfather had additionally testified to being surveilled following the family's final departure from Neverland. No explanation as to why this was had ever been provided.

Geragos explained that he had asked private investigator Bradley Miller to keep track of the accusing family to discern "where they were, what they were doing and who they were meeting with." He had also requested that Miller record a statement from the family so as to "lock" their version of events at the time, protecting Jackson should they later change their story.

Under questioning by defense lead attorney Thomas Mesereau, Geragos said that he became concerned that the accuser's family would seek to take advantage of the allegations spawned by the Martin Bashir documentary "Living with Michael Jackson." At the time, old allegations of sexual abuse had resurfaced and the media was abuzz with talk of possibilities that Jackson had molested his current accuser, who was featured in the program.

"People were making all kinds of allegations ... and I was to look into that," Geragos said. The lawyer stated that his "first concern" had been whether the Department of Child and Family Services may attempt to remove three of Jackson's children from his custody.

Not long after being hired, Geragos went to Jackson's sprawling Neverland Valley Ranch for a pre-planned interview with CBS journalist Ed Bradley. Geragos testified that while there, he was informed by a Jackson associate about things regarding the family "that were giving me great pause," in particular the fact that Jackson's now accuser was calling the singer "daddy."

During a conversation with Jackson about the matter, Geragos said he objected to how the teenager was referring to him, and this eventually led to the cancellation of the interview.

Geragos said his concerns grew further when he ordered an investigation of the family and discovered that they had a litigious history. The family had filed suit against J.C. Penney in 1999 alleging that during an altercation, which ensued after an alleged shoplifting incident, they had been battered and sexually assaulted.

This discovery prompted Geragos to conclude that Jackson "should have nothing to do with [the family]," believing that a continued association with them would be a "pending train wreck." He added that the past lawsuit and eventual settlement raised concerns because Jackson is "frequently the target of litigation" and thought it best to sever ties between his client and the family.

Contradicting the contention that Jackson and several others conspired against the family, Geragos denied any conspiracy and further distanced Jackson from the charge to which the prosecution has been unable to link the entertainer. He said that he was unaware of any crime committed against the family.

Asked during cross-examination if he had ever questioned Jackson about the accuser sleeping in his bed, Geragos replied that he had and that Jackson told him that "nothing happened" and that "he didn't do anything untoward or sexual, and if anyone spent the night in his room it was unconditional love."

Geragos also defended his former client when describing his first visit to Jackson's home.

"When I was there, what I saw was a gentleman who was almost childlike in his love for kids. I didn't see anyone doing anything nefarious or criminal. I saw someone who was ripe as a target," he said.

At one point, Geragos declined to answer a prosecution question on grounds that Jackson only waived attorney-client privilege concerning events up to before his arrest in November 2003, surprising both Judge Melville and prosecutors.

Judge Melville had been under the impression that it was a total waiver of attorney-client privilege and sent the jury out of the room in order to address "the misrepresentation Mr. Mesereau has made to the court and counsel."

Mesereau apologized, stating that he did not think the events after Jackson's arrest were relevant.

Judge Melville also criticized Mesereau for his delay in questioning Geragos, who came to court as per the judge's orders and under threat of arrest should he not show at 8:30 a.m. Geragos arrived well in advance, but then waited for hours while attorneys questioned another witness.

"I have this picture of a lawyer upstairs walking back and forth pulling his hair out of his head wondering why I called him here today under threat of a warrant while Mr. Mesereau goes on and on," the judge said. "What's wrong with that picture?"

Mesereau replied, "It's pretty accurate, I think, your honor."

Geragos did not complete his testimony before court recessed for the weekend and is scheduled to return on Friday, May 20, 2005.

Tuesday, 17 May 2005

Monday, witnesses in Michael Jackson’s child molestation trial chipped away at the prosecution’s theory that Mr. Jackson conspired with associates to hold his accuser and the boy’s family captive.

Maria Gomez, one of Jackson’s housekeepers, testified through a Spanish language interpreter, that the accuser’s mother praised Mr. Jackson as “a blessing to them” and said he “was like a father and she wanted her children to call him ‘Dad’.” But about a week later, Gomez said, the mother started to complain about being held against her will and wanted to leave Neverland because three of Jackson's associates were “interfering” and coming between her and Mr. Jackson.

One of the three associates was Dieter Wiesner, who has been named as an unindicted co-conspirator with Jackson. The defense team has sought to suggest that the associates were actually conspiring against Mr. Jackson to profit off his troubles rather than conspiring with Jackson.

Ms. Gomez also stated that while cleaning a guest unit where members of the accuser’s family stayed, she saw adult magazines in an opened backpack belonging to the accuser’s brother.

Angel Vivanco, a chef’s assistant, also testified that the boys showed him sexually explicit material when he delivered food to them in one of the guest cottages.

The prosecution’s idea that Mr. Jackson used alcohol to lure his accuser was also challenged by former security guard, Shane Meredith, who said he once found the accuser and his brother in the wine cellar unaccompanied by Jackson with a half empty wine bottle. “I saw the two children laughing, giggling,” Meredith said. “I could see them with a bottle of alcohol. …I told them to get out of that area right now. ..They were pretty shaken up.”

The accuser and his brother previously testified that the only time they were in the wine cellar or drank alcohol was when they were in the presence of Mr. Jackson.

Vivanco also testified about an incident he claimed to have had with the accuser and liqueur. He stated that the accuser once demanded that he put a liqueur into a milkshake. “He said if I didn’t do it, he would tell Michael and I would be fired,” Vivanco testified.

The defense, who maintains that Vivanco developed a relationship with the accuser’s older sister, wanted to question him about comments she allegedly made to him critical of her mother and other family members. But, Judge Rodney Melville severely limited that line of questioning saying it was inadmissible hearsay.

The Orthodontist and the Full Body Wax

Orthodontist Dr. Jean Seamount testified that she removed braces from the accuser and his brother on February 24, 2003, during the time frame the mother says the family was held captive by Jackson’s associates.

In earlier testimony, the mother stated that the appointment was a ruse for them to get away from Neverland and seek help, which she abandoned because the family was being watched.

However, Seamount said the family never asked for help, tried to call for help or attempted to leave the office. She said she saw no body guards. When asked if the family members appeared afraid, Seamount answered “Not at all.”

Seamount said the mother told her she wanted the braces removed and sent back to the orthodontist who put them on the boys because that dentist was hassling her and wanted to charge her more after discovering who they were—referring to their connection to Mr. Jackson. “I spent quite some time explaining to her the need for treatment,” Seamount said. “But the mother insisted on removing the braces,” she said.

Seamount’s assistant, Tiffany Hayes, described the accuser as “rude” and “kind of a brat.” She said her impression of him was that he believed he was “better than us.” Hayes also said Neverland’s property manager, Joe Marcus, who called to make the appointment, waited for the family in the lobby and that Neverland was billed for the treatment.

Carol McCoy also testified that she gave the accuser’s mother a “full body” wax at a Los Olivos day spa on February 11, 2003. “Her legs, brow, lip and face were waxed, and she got a bikini was,” McCoy said. “Did she say anything or do anything that suggested she was being restrained in her liberty?” asked defense attorney Robert Sanger. “No” said McCoy, who performed the $140 waxing procedure on the mother.

Neverland worker Kathryn Bernard testified that she took the mother to the waxing appointment and arranged to pay the bill. Bernard said, during a conversation on the way, the mother, whom she barely knew, started divulging personal information. She said the woman told her she was “trying to get away” from her husband and commented on “how well Michael was treating her” at Neverland. “She was just praising Michael and telling me how bad she had it with her ex. I kept thinking, I don’t know this lady and why is she telling me this?” Bernard said.

Ms. Bernard also said the mother "never" complained that the family was being held prisoner. None of the witnesses who testified Monday said they saw a film crew following the family on their trips away from the ranch as the mother had previously testified in court.

Larry King on the Stand

Outside court, Jackson spokeswoman Raymone Bain said the defense expects to call CNN’s talk show host Larry King to testify Thursday. The defense is expected to ask King whether attorney Larry Feldman once said during a breakfast meeting that the accuser’s mother made up the molestation story. Feldman has denied the story.

Wednesday, 18 May 2005

Irene Lavern Peters, a social worker for the Department of children and Family Services, testified Tuesday concerning an interview of Mr. Jackson’s teen-age accuser and his family. She and two other social workers interviewed the family on February 20, 2003.

The accuser’s mother requested that the interview be held at Neverland, however, she was informed that Peters wanted to see where they lived. As a result, the interview was held at the home of the mother’s boyfriend.

A Jackson bodyguard and several other people were present at the apartment where the interviews took place, but Peters conceded that they all left before the interview began.

The interview, which took place one day after the taping of the rebuttal video, began with the accuser’s mother playing a video tape of Mr. Jackson interacting with her sons.

"She denied all allegations of general neglect," Peters said. "I asked her about the relationship with Michael Jackson. She went on to say he was like a father to her children and she felt he was responsible for helping (the boy) to survive his cancer, for his cancer to go into remission.”

"I asked her if the kids ever slept in Michael Jackson's room and she said no, that never happened."

Despite allegations by the prosecution that the family was coerced, Peters testified that the children "all seemed to be in agreement with their mom,” adding that the family seemed happy and well-adjusted and "they all seemed spontaneous in their comments”.

The accuser and his siblings who were interviewed separately, described Mr. Jackson as a “father figure”.

When asked if “he had been touched inappropriately by Michael Jackson”, the accuser answered “no”, and seemed to be quite upset by the question.

He then told her about how his schoolmates had been taunting him because he was seen holding hands with Mr. Jackson in the Bashir documentary “Living with Michael Jackson”.

During the interview the accuser’s mother expressed that she was not pleased with Bashir filming her children without her consent. Peters testified that the mother told her that "Michael wanted to send them to Brazil and she didn't want to go."

Peters said the mother referred to Brazil as "that dump." A travel agent has testified that she arranged a March 1, 2003, flight but the trip was abruptly canceled.

Peters told the jury that the family never complained about being held against their will. Even after bumping into the family two months after the interview at a hamburger stand, they all seemed fine.

Simone Jackson, a 16 year old cousin of Mr. Jackson testified Tuesday that as she sat in the corner of the large Neverland Ranch kitchen area playing a video game, the accuser and his brother entered and took a bottle of wine.

"They didn't see me, I was sitting off to the side," Simone Jackson said, speaking softly from the witness stand. "They grabbed it and (the accuser's brother) got a wine glass and (the accuser) just took the bottle."

When the boys then saw her, she said, "I told them they weren't supposed to do that, and they told me not to say anything."

Also in court Tuesday, Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville refused to reverse a decision he made to limit the testimony of Angel Vivanco, a former chef's assistant at Neverland who, the defense claims, developed a relationship with the accuser's sister.

Thursday, 19 May 2005

The parade of defense witnesses continued Wednesday as two more of Michael Jackson’s relatives and a videographer took to the stand to defend the star.

First up was the soft spoken 12-year-old, Rijo Jackson, the younger brother of Simone Jackson who took the stand yesterday. He testified to seeing the accuser and his younger brother watching naked women on television while appearing to masturbate under the covers.

When confronted by the then 10-year-old Rijo, the Arvizo boys allegedly urged him to join them in masturbating. The youngster said he refused and opted to retire in his famous cousin’s bed that night.

Rijo testified: "they said, 'Why don't you do that, too.' I said, 'I don't want to because it's nasty and wrong,"

During cross examination Rijo said that he had told the singer about what the boys were watching on television but that Jackson didn’t take his comments seriously.

"He didn't believe it. He thought they were cool and they wouldn't do that" he said.

Prosecutor Ron Zonen asked whether he had told Jackson specifically about the masturbation.

Rijo said he had not, saying "I didn't wanna like tell him 'cause I was scared."

After testifying to spending the night in Jackson’s bed Zonen asked, "did you do that often?"

"Yes," replied Rijo.

The incident, which occurred in 2003, contradicts testimony previously given by the Arvizo boys who claimed that Jackson had introduced them to alcohol, pornography and masturbation.

Missing Wine

Rijo then told of another incident that took place when the singer had ordered wine to his room. The bottle was delivered to the lower quarters of his bedroom suite by chef’s assistant Angel Vivaco.

Rijo said he then saw the Arvizo boys take the unopened bottle of wine up to the second floor of the bedroom while Jackson was in the bathroom and later return downstairs before leaving. He said that the bottle had been opened and some wine was missing. The boy said that when Jackson returned, he did not question why there was wine missing. He did not tell him what he had seen because he could not be certain the boys had consumed the wine.

Rijo also testified to witnessing the Arvizo boys stealing money belonging to Neverland employees from a kitchen drawer and also stealing other objects from Jackson's office.

Following the young witness was yet another Jackson relative. Michelle Jackson, the singer’s aunt and Rijo’s grandmother, told jurors about a conversation with Jackson’s accuser.

She said that he told her that "we don't want to go to Brazil. That's my mother wants to go. We want to stay here."

The accuser's mother claims that Jackson planned to whisk the family away to South America in an attempt to get rid of them.

“Fresh Prince” star testifies

In other testimony, star of the nineties hit series “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” testified to becoming suspicious of the accuser’s mother.

Vernee Watson Johnson said she became uneasy about the woman’s fund-raising activities for her then cancer-stricken son in 2000. She was called to support the defense claim that the mother has a history of schemes to get money from celebrities and that Jackson was merely another target.

Johnson testified that she had been the boy’s acting teacher and was asked to help raise money for him but abandoned plans to help the mother "because I didn't trust her."

Johnson said that she had asked Janet Arvizo to set up a special bank account for donations to her son but that Arvizo had asked her to put the money into her own (Arvizo’s) account instead.

She also testified that the family had once visited her home and that the children had run around, gone through her things and jumped on her son's bed. She said she never allowed them back.

Videographer: Family was “very happy”

Next on the stand was videographer Christopher Robinson, who had a part in filming Jackson’s “Take 2” rebuttal video. The Arvizos claim the video was highly scripted, right down to every laugh and gesture.

"Were any of the answers scripted?” asked Jackson defense attorney Robert Sanger.

"No," Robinson said.

"Did he (Robinson) have any of the answers in advance?" Sanger queried.

"Of course not," Robinson said, adding that he had given the family the questions beforehand but had not discussed the answers.

"Was there anything that you saw that indicated she [Janet Arvizo] was unwilling to do the interview?" Sanger asked.

"She was adamant about wanting to do the interview," Robinson said, but he noted that she was hesitant to sign a release form that would allow the video to be aired. The family’s interview was never aired due to time constraints.

He said he was asked to emphasize a series of talking points: Jackson was a good person; he'd made the accuser's family part of his own; he was a father figure to them; he was a good parent to his own children; he was misunderstood as a person and he helped the accuser overcome a bout with cancer.

Robinson described the family as "very eager" and "very happy" at the taping and said their answers were "spontaneous." He said there was no indication that they were being held against their will or being mistreated, as the prosecution alleges.

Before court was adjourned, Judge Rodney Melville ruled that the defense could not present testimony from two people about the family's alleged beating by J.C. Penney security guards. The family received a settlement of more than $150,000 in that case.

Sanger said one of the guards would have testified that the family was restrained but not beaten and that the mother even returned the next day, gave him a hug and apologized. He said a bystander would testify that the family was non-violently restrained.

Sanger told the court that the defense team had eliminated a number of witnesses from their list but he did not estimate when the defense would conclude its case. Jackson’s spokeswoman Raymone Bain has denied reports that the defense may rest as early as next week.

Friday, 20 May 2005

Handicapping Jackson Defense?
Questions raised about judge's latest ruling

May 20, 2005 (MJJF) - The judge presiding over the Michael Jackson case ruled on Thursday that the jury would be unable to hear the testimonies of CNN talk show host Larry King and publisher Michael Viner as impeachment material against civil attorney Larry Feldman. Judge Rodney Melville's ruling effectively handicapped the ability of Jackson's defense team to counter testimony offered by Feldman under oath.

Feldman represented Jackson's current accuser some time between March 2003 and June 2004. The attorney also represented Jordan Chandler, the first boy who brought accusations of sexual abuse against Jackson, in 1993, and eventually received a financial settlement.

During direct examination on April 1, 2005, Santa Barbara District Attorney Thomas Sneddon used Feldman to drive home the notion that the accusing family was not out for money, as the defense contends. Feldman stated that the family was not seeking to file a lawsuit, and that he had never been asked to file a suit against Jackson on behalf of the family.

On cross-examination, lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau attempted to undermine Feldman's credibility by asking him about a conversation that allegedly transpired between himself, King, and Viner. Feldman repeatedly denied ever meeting with King and Viner at an eatery in Beverly Hills some time in 2004, where he purportedly relayed to the two men his belief that the accuser's mother was fabricating the allegations against Jackson. He also denied even personally knowing who Viner was, claiming that he had "never had a meeting with Michael Viner in [his] life."

However, according to a memo attached with a defense motion, Viner recalled Feldman stating that he didn't believe the accuser and referred to the boy's mother as a "flake." Feldman had also allegedly stated that both mother and son were sent out to "another expert and they failed the smell test," and felt they were into the case solely for "money."

When asked by defense investigator Scott Ross if this was a statement actually made by Feldman, Viner replied, "Absolutely." Upon being told by Ross that Feldman had testified that he didn't know who Viner was, Viner stated that was untrue, that they had met many times. Viner added that he was clueless as to why Feldman would deny knowing him.

In a hearing outside of the jury, King stated that Feldman had told him during this lunch that the accuser's mother was "wacko," was "in it for the money," and that the accusations against Jackson "didn't hold water." King added that Feldman met with the mother and "didn't want to represent her," advising that she contact authorities with the allegations. The civil attorney did end up representing the woman and her family, but later withdrew as counsel for reasons unknown.

Viner testified that he "walked away believing that [Feldman] did not believe the allegations." When cross-examined, Viner could not recall Feldman directly quoting anything the accuser's mother may have told him, which would have been a violation of the attorney-client privilege.

After listening to the proposed testimonies, Judge Rodney Melville declared them to be "irrelevant," stating that it was unclear if Feldman was sharing an opinion or if he was quoting the accuser's mother. Depending on the media slant, various reasons have been given as to why King and Viner were rejected, including references to the testimony as "hearsay" and an inability to "verify" the statements as "fact."

There have been a number of statements offered during the course of this trial that were allowed in, but not "for the fact of the matter" be it "verifiable" or not. The judge in the very least could have, in our layman's opinion, allowed both King and Viner to testify to having met Feldman for lunch and to state that the attorney had in fact expressed negative opinions about the accuser's mother. That would not have been hearsay, and it would have been enough to impeach at least a portion of Feldman's testimony, particularly since King and Viner's statements seemed to corroborate one another.

Given this recent ruling, it seems that there is a differential application of law in the case, one that puts Jackson at a disadvantage. Statements offered by any number of prosecution witnesses, particularly those of the accuser and his family, are not in a different category than the testimonies of King and Viner.

It should be clear by now to anyone closely following the case that there seems to be two sets of standards operating here: one set favoring the prosecution, and one that appears to impair Jackson's constitutional right to a fair trial.

Saturday, 21 May 2005
Geragos Ordered Surveillance of Jackson Accuser’s

Amidst speculation that the trial of superstar Michael Jackson could wrap up as early as next week, the singer’s former defense attorney resumed his testimony. Mark Geragos told jurors Friday that he had ordered the surveillance of the accuser’s family because he “was concerned they were meeting with a lawyer to make some accusation or sell their story to tabloids.”

The lawyer also said he did not remember being told that the Arvizo family had returned to Jackson’s Neverland Ranch in mid-February and said he was uneasy about that possibility because he "was concerned about a false story or a concocted one."

Geragos testified that he gave a “broad directive” to investigator Brad Miller to follow the family, instructing him to “find out who they're meeting with and what they're doing.” However, he said he did not specify the particular surveillance methods to be used.

Prosecutors have previously shown surveillance videos of the family to support their allegations that Jackson and his associates were attempting to hold the Arvizo family captive.

Prosecutor Ron Zonen tried to link Miller to the alleged kidnapping conspiracy. He asked Geragos if he was aware that an employee of Millers is alleged to have thrown rocks at the house of the accuser’s grandmother.

Geragos responded, “I don't send people out to throw stones at people's houses.”

Prosecutors also questioned Geragos about the Arvizo family’s interview with the DCFS in February, 2003. In previous testimony the mother, Janet Arvizo, claimed that Miller and a man she knew as “Asef” had attended the interview. She said “Asef”, whom she believed was a part of Jackson’s security team, had asked her to secretly record the interview. She further claimed that “Asef” had threatened the safety of her parents should she not comply.

Geragos testified that he was aware the interview was taking place but said he did not direct Miller to attend or to secretly tape the interview. Importantly for the defense, he also said that Asef Vilchic in fact worked for Miller and not for Jackson.

Judge may sanction Jackson attorney

Once again, exchanges between Zonen and Geragos were often heated. At one point, Judge Rodney Melville criticized the prosecution for approaching the witness stand too often without permission.

Geragos had refused to answer certain questions during his testimony last Friday due to a limited waiver of his attorney-client privilege. Judge Melville had been under the impression the waiver was complete, but in fact it only covered Geragos for events leading up to Jackson’s arrest.

Judge Melville said “I feel deceived by Mr. Mesereau and I am considering ... sanctions of some sort against Mr. Mesereau”. Mesereau had apologized for the confusion, explaining that he had not thought the period after the arrest would be relevant. Court observers expected the sanctions to include a fine.

The Judge said that he could have stricken Geragos’ testimony from the record but did not feel this was viable as the jury had already heard his testimony. However, he said he would entertain the prosecution's motion to strike the testimony from the record once completed.

Judge Melville also stated that a condition of his allowing Geragos to resume testimony was that whenever prosecutors asked him about events after November 2003, he was to tell the jury, "I refuse to answer that question based on attorney client privilege."

Defense may rest next week

Zonen stated in court Friday that the defense may rest their case as early as next week.

"We're approaching the end of trial," he told Judge Melville. ”The defense has indicated they may be resting as early as next Tuesday."

Defense attorneys did not contradict the statement but did not comment on it.

Tuesday, 24 May 2005

Pop superstar Michael Jackson’s defense received a huge boost Monday as several witnesses painted the accuser’s mother as a greedy welfare cheat.

Jurors heard emotional testimony from the accuser’s aunt who said the mother, Janet Arvizo, was only interested in money for her then cancer-stricken son. The aunt, who is estranged from the Arvizo family, said she attempted to arrange a blood drive for her nephew.

But she told jurors that Arvizo told her in a phone call that “she didn’t need my (expletive) blood” and that instead “she needed money.”

"I think I just hung up on her," the aunt recalled.

Welfare Fraud

An employee of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services testified that she processed Arvizo’s welfare application in November 2001. She said that in the application, Arvizo stated she had no sources of income, assets or health insurance.

However, just 10 days earlier the family had received a $152,000 settlement from a lawsuit filed against J.C. Penney. This followed an altercation with store security guards in 1998 - the guards had suspected Jackson’s accuser of shoplifting.

The family claimed the guards battered them and eventually received a settlement which was split between the mother, father and all three children. The defense contends that the family has a history of using false allegations for financial gain.

Mercy Dee Manrriquez stated that Arvizo did not disclose any of the settlements on her welfare application and that a person who willingly excluded sources of income from the forms was guilty of fraud.

“Would it be fraud to fail to disclose it at this point?” asked defense attorney Robert Sanger.

“Yes it would be,” Manriquez said. She also stated that all income should have been reported - including gifts and the $5,000 a month pay of her then boyfriend.

Manrriquez further revealed that the mother swore under penalty of perjury that the family did not have any medical insurance. However, it was established in earlier testimony that the accuser’s cancer treatments were in fact covered by his father’s employer.

During her testimony previously, Arvizo invoked Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination concerning her alleged welfare fraud.

Family Greed

Next to testify was Mike Radakovich, an accountant who examined the bank accounts of the Arvizo family. He testified that a week after the accuser’s mother deposited her $32,000 portion of the J.C. Penny settlement, she withdrew $29,000 in a cashiers check made out to a car dealership. Then the paper trail mysteriously ended.

“I never saw it going back into any account I looked at,” Radakovich told jurors.

He also stated that the accuser’s family was still collecting welfare payments in February and March 2003. At the same time, Jackson was spending “several thousand dollars” paying their expenses, including a private jet trip to Miami, an orthodontist appointment and a body wax for the mother. This is also the time period that the prosecution alleges the family was held captive by Jackson.

Radakovich said that during this same time, two welfare payments of $769 were deposited into the bank account of Arvizo’s then boyfriend (now her husband). The boyfriend then paid the rent on the family’s apartment.

Editor was “duped”

The defense also called Connie Keenan, editor of the Mid Valley News, to the stand Monday. The editor testified that she ran a story about the medical plight of Jackson’s accuser.

“It was a story I didn’t want to do but (the mother) played on some sympathies in the office so I assigned it,” she testified.

After the story ran, Arvizo wanted another one, Keenan said.

“The mother wanted an additional story because she didn’t make enough money from the original story - those are her words, not mine,” she asserted.

Keenan also told jurors that Arvizo wanted the article to say people could send her money. She said she had told Arvizo it would be unethical for people to send money to her house and urged her to set up a trust fund in her son’s name.

The editor said the account was eventually created and she ran the story on the front page. When defense attorney Thomas Mesereau asked why it was given such prominence, she said, “I think the story tugged at your heart strings. The face of the child was beautiful.”

Bringing the testimony to a close, Mesereau asked Keenan if the mother had called her personally and how long the conversation was.

“Approximately one minute and 20 seconds,” she retorted. “I didn’t want to talk to her. I had already established the fact that I had been duped.”

Wednesday, 25 May 2005

Comedians Jay Leno and Chris Tucker took to the witness stand in support of pop icon Michael Jackson Tuesday.

Tucker is due to complete his testimony on Wednesday and will be the final defense witness. Jackson will not take the stand and prosecutor Tom Sneddon said he expected to complete his rebuttal case by Thursday.

The defense also introduced further testimony to support their contention that the Arvizo family has a history of making false claims.

Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau had told the court in his opening statement that Leno would testify to contacting the police out of concern that Jackson’s accuser was after money.

But in court Tuesday he testified that he "was never asked for money". However he did acknowledge that when police contacted him regarding the Arvizo family he told them he suspected they were after money.

In his testimony earlier in the case, Jackson’s accuser denied he had even spoken to Leno, saying he had only left a phone message.

Fellow comedian Chris Tucker testified that he first met the Arvizo family at Los Angeles comedy club, the Laugh Factory. Tucker told the court that the boy’s father told him the boy "loved me and was dying of cancer."

Tucker first met Jackson’s accuser at a fund-raiser he had agreed to attend at the club. Tucker testified that afterwards, the boy told him the event "didn't make any money, and they needed some money."

The comedian said he then sent the family about $1,500 and took the boy and his siblings shopping for clothes and also to an amusement park. He said that Jackson’s accuser called him regularly and that he often included the family on outings with his own son.

It was through the boy that Tucker first met Jackson. The two have since become good friends, he said.

Arvizo lied about injuries

Also on the witness stand Tuesday was the office manager for the attorney who represented the Arvizo family in a civil lawsuit against retailer J.C. Penney. The family received a settlement from the company after claiming they were assaulted by store security guards who had detained the accuser for alleged shoplifting.

Mary Elizabeth Holzer said the boy's mother, Janet Arvizo, told her the injuries she said were caused by the guards were actually inflicted by her then-husband. Arvizo told her that her son’s arm was broken when he tried to defend her from the beating.

Holzer testified that she told Arvizo to tell her attorney the truth about the injuries, but Arvizo told her not to "say anything to anybody".

She said Arvizo also told her that she sent her children to a comedy camp because "she wanted them to become good actors so she could tell them what to say". She also told Holzer that she was worried her younger son would not remember "what we practiced" for his deposition in the civil case.

Arvizo also claimed that her brother-in-law was a member of the “Mexican Mafia” and "that she knows where I live and they would come and kill me and my 9-year-old daughter".

More Witnesses

A number of witnesses were called briefly to the stand, beginning with the 9-year-old granddaughter of the late Marlon Brando. Her father, Miko, is a friend of Jackson.

The girl was at Neverland at the same time as the accuser and his younger brother. She said she remembered them purposely crashing golf carts and throwing candy from the top of carnival rides.

"They were driving all crazy," she said.

Also on the stand was the personal injury lawyer who represented the family in the J.C. Penney suit. He said that during Arvizo’s deposition she alleged she had been fondled 25 times by store security guards. Anthony Ranieri said she had never told him this in more than two dozen conversations about the case.

Ranieri also told jurors that she said in her deposition that her husband had never beaten her. However in her testimony in the Jackson case, Arvizo acknowledge she had lied.

Testimony from forensic psychologist Phillip Esplin backfired on the defense - he was called to testify about potential problems with child witnesses. However, under questioning from prosecutor Ron Zonen, he agreed that some of Jackson’s alleged behaviors could be construed as setting the stage for molestation. The behaviors mentioned included becoming friends with a child and his family, taking the child to fun places and buying lavish gifts.

Leno: It seemed odd

In his testimony, Leno said he felt the boy's phone messages were "overly effusive" and "sounded very adult-like." He said he remembered "hearing someone talking [in the background]" but could not identify the voice.

"I said, `What's the story here? This doesn't sound like a 12-year-old. This seems a little scripted,'" Leno said, adding that "it seemed a little odd to me" that such a young boy would be a fan of "a comedian in his 50s."

"I'm not Batman," he joked.

He said he once called the boy in hospital and spoke briefly to the mother and later sent him an autographed picture and other “Tonight Show” merchandise.

Leno told jurors that he eventually asked comedian Louise Palanker, who had befriended the Arvizo family, to ask them to stop calling. Palanker told him she would speak to the family and the calls stopped.

He testified that police had called him to ask about his dealings with the Arvizo family and that he later learned the conversation had been secretly recorded. He told the police he thought the boy was after money.

"In the business I'm in you hear from a lot of crazy people and I'm reluctant to follow up. But when it's a child I do follow up," he testified.

The defense will wrap up its case Wednesday, with Tucker as their final witness.

Thursday, 26 May 2005

Comedian Chris Tucker was the final defense witness to take the stand in the Michael Jackson trial Wednesday. Tucker told jurors that the accuser’s mother was “possessed” and that he warned Jackson about the family’s motives.

The defense has introduced 50 witnesses in a short three week period, following on from prosecutors who took 10 weeks to lay out their case against the singer. The defense initially presented a star-studded witness list featuring over 300 witnesses, including celebrities Elizabeth Taylor and Stevie Wonder. The witness list was greatly whittled down as the trial progressed.

Tucker grew suspicious

The “Rush Hour” star described the accuser’s mother, Janet Arvizo, as being "frantic" and sobbing after he offered the family a used truck.

"I got real scared that I went in too deep," said Tucker.

On cross-examination, District Attorney Thomas Sneddon asked if Tucker meant Arvizo was overwhelmed with gratitude.

"No. Like she was possessed. I know the difference,” Tucker replied.

He also told jurors that he was taken aback by the accuser’s maturity and “cunning ways”, but had been willing to overlook this because of his illness.

Tucker said the accuser's younger brother, a key prosecution witness in the trial, was even more cunning, He said that he became so suspicious of the boy that he wanted "to check (the brother's) pockets before he left my house."

Later, Tucker contradicted an important part of the conspiracy case made by prosecutors against Jackson. The Arvizo family testified earlier that Jackson had called the family to Miami to participate in a press conference that never took place. They claim to have been “kidnapped” by the singer and forced into taking part in a film praising him.

However, Tucker told the court that the boy had actually called him frantically searching for Jackson, who was in Miami. Tucker said the boy asked him to bring the family to Miami because they wanted to escape the media onslaught created by the broadcast of “Living with Michael Jackson” on UK television.

The comedian said he chartered a jet and flew the family to Florida. Once there, he told how he pulled Jackson aside to warn him that he no longer trusted the family.

"I told him to watch out for (the mother) because I felt suspicious about her," said Tucker. "I took him in the room and I was trying to talk to him. ...I said, 'Michael, something ain't right."'

The actor also testified about how his own associates had warned him about the Arvizo family.

"They did a lot of things I didn't see, that my people were telling me to watch out," explained Tucker, who nevertheless continued to help the family out of sympathy for the boy.

Arvizo family “would not leave”

Tucker said his suspicions about the family were first aroused when they came to the set of a movie he was filming in Las Vegas and then refused to leave. He said he paid for their hotel and expenses, but after several weeks they were still there.

On cross-examination Sneddon implied that Tucker had encouraged the family by asking them to come to his brother's wedding. Tucker denied this, saying the family had invited themselves.

When Sneddon showed a wedding photograph of Tucker and the Arvizos, the comedian quipped, "That's a nice photograph. Can I get it?"

Sneddon retorted, "That depends on whether you're a good boy."

The prosecutor implied that Tucker's friendship with Jackson may have coloured his testimony and he suggested that the actor had refused to speak with police. However Tucker insisted that he would have granted police an interview, but that he left the matter in his lawyers' hands.

Prosecutors present rebuttal case

Following Tucker’s testimony, prosecutors called several rebuttal witnesses before the jury was dismissed. Lawyers then held a discussion about a prosecution request to play a 2003 video of the accuser's initial interview with police, in which he details his allegations against Jackson.

Jackson’s attorneys said that if the video was allowed, they would call the accuser for a second cross-examination.

Sneddon told the court Tuesday that his rebuttal case would be complete by Thursday. This means that closing arguments could start as early as the middle of next week upon which the jury will begin their deliberations.

Wednesday, 01 June 2005

Jurors in the Michael Jackson trial had the day off Tuesday as lawyers wrangled over the instructions they were to be given for their deliberations.

Judge Rodney Melville announced that closing arguments would begin Thursday morning, while jurors would receive the instructions the afternoon before.

Jackson was not present in court as lawyers hammered out the jurors’ written instructions. Spokesperson Raymone Bain said the singer "is going through a lot of emotions right now -- relief that it's over, but very nervous. Because, of course you know, a very major decision is going to be made within the next several days."

In a move expected to favour prosecutors, Judge Melville said he would reduce the alcohol charge from a felony to a misdemeanor. The change in the charge came at the request of prosecutors and was met with objections from the singer’s defense.

Prosecutors allege that Jackson supplied alcohol to his accuser and younger brother. Legal experts say the misdemeanor charge will be easier to prove, but would carry a lesser sentence – most likely a fine or a short term in county jail. The felony charge alone would have carried a 2 – 4 year sentence in a state prison.

The Judge will also instruct the jury not to take the ‘Living with Michael Jackson’ documentary “for the truth of what is said except for certain identified passages.”

"The rest is considered hearsay and you can only consider that it aired and its impact if any on Mr. Jackson," said Judge Melville. He did not specify which passages were being referred to.

Witness Credibility

Lawyers also argued about how jurors should determine the credibility of witnesses and how they should consider the past allegations against Jackson.

The Judge said jurors would be told to consider the alleged past acts only if they "tend to show [Jackson’s] intent" with regard to the current charges against him.

The approved jury instructions read: "Evidence has been introduced for the purpose of showing the defendant committed crimes other than those for which he is on trial," the approved instructions read. "This evidence, if believed, may be considered by you only for the limited purpose of deciding if it tends to show a characteristic plan or scheme to commit acts."

Judge Melville will tell jurors that they are entitled to ignore the testimony of witnesses who lied purposefully, but said they were not required to do so if they felt the witnesses were truthful in other regards.

Tuesday’s arguments from lawyers went on for hours, prompting defense attorney Robert Sanger to say: "Your honor, if we had televised today's proceedings we could have deterred an entire generation of kids from going to law school."

Later, during a discussion of an instruction to jurors not to bring cell phones into deliberations, Sanger quipped, "That replaced the old one that had to do with bringing Ouija boards in."

The absence of both Mesereau and prosecutor Ron Zonen has led to speculation that the two attorneys are working on their closing arguments for Thursday.

Thursday, 02 June 2005

Pop icon Michael Jackson sat quietly in court Wednesday as the 12 jurors were given their instructions ahead of closing arguments from both sides.

"You've heard all of the evidence and you will hear the arguments of attorneys," Judge Rodney Melville told the jury. He told them to make their decision without "pity for or prejudice toward" the defendant.

The eight women and four men who will decide the singer’s fate will hear closing arguments today and could begin their deliberations as early as Friday. Jurors are expected to hammer out their decision behind closed doors for about six hours a day until they reach their verdict or announce a deadlock.

The charges against Jackson consist of four counts of molestation, four counts of giving the boy alcohol in order to abuse him, one count of conspiracy and one of attempted molestation.

Jurors were told they could consider the four alcohol counts as lesser charges of "furnishing alcohol to a minor." This would be considered a misdemeanor and means that the jury would not have to relate the alcohol to any intended molestation.

Judge Melville told jurors not to consider the four videos played in the trial for the truth of any remarks made in them, except for certain statements that prosecutors claim are admissions from Jackson. These statements will be outlined in a document to be provided by prosecutors.

The Judge also instructed the jury on how to consider the past allegations against Jackson. He said that if they determine he does have such a history, "you may but are not required to infer that the defendant had a predisposition" to commit the crimes alleged in this case.

But he added “that is not sufficient in itself to prove he committed the crimes charged."

He also told them not to infer anything from the fact Jackson himself had decided not to testify.

Thomas Mesereau will deliver closing arguments for the defense while Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen is expected to deliver the prosecution’s closing statements.

Friday, 03 June 2005

Attorneys on both sides of the Michael Jackson trial took their gloves off during blistering closing arguments Thursday.

In his nearly three hour presentation to the jury, prosecutor Ron Zonen spent much time attacking Jackson’s attorneys for not delivering on promises made in their opening remarks. He focused on the conspiracy charges, only mentioning the alleged molestation two hours into his argument.

Zonen painted Jackson as a child predator with a drinking problem who seduced children with pornography and then lured them into his bedroom.

Lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau spared none in a fiery closing argument which is due to be completed Friday. Mesereau referred to the accuser’s family as "con artists, actors and liars" who have in the past fraudulently sought money on many occasions. He said the Arvizo’s would benefit financially if Jackson was found guilty.

The defense attorney cried foul at prosecutor’s attempts to dehumanise Jackson, describing it as a desperate last resort.

"They have dirtied him up because he's human. But they haven't proven their case because they can't," said Mesereau.

Suspect timeline

Using charts, the lawyer pointed out the absurdity of the timeline presented by the prosecution. It is alleged that Jackson molested the accuser at the height of public scrutiny and other investigations following the airing of Martin Bashir’s documentary, “Living with Michael Jackson”.

Mesereau responded to Zonen’s attacks on him and other Jackson attorneys, saying that "whenever a prosecutor does that you know they're in trouble. This is not a popularity contest between lawyers”.

He said prosecutors had engaged in a "nasty attempt, a barbaric attempt" to attack Jackson personally by bringing up his financial problems, collection of adult magazines and "sagging music career".

Zonen used a large screen to present images of adult materials found at Jackson’s Neverland ranch.

“Are you confident with a middle-aged man getting in bed with a 13-year-old boy as he possesses material like this that excites him?" he questioned.

Mesereau countered, saying "Yes. He [Jackson] is a human being. They found a lot of girlie magazines. Did he want the world to know that? No."

Zonen told jurors that although the accuser and his siblings enjoyed themselves at Neverland during the day, "at night, they entered into Michael Jackson's bedroom, which is a veritable fortress. They entered into the world of the forbidden (where) they learned about human sexuality with someone who was only too willing to be their teacher."

Alleged prior victims

"Michael Jackson molested (his accuser) and many other boys," he continued. He said Jackson, who is also accused of plying his accuser with alcohol, "has a drinking problem. There is no other explanation for it."

Mesereau reminded the jury that the molestation case against Jackson involved only one alleged victim.

"They (the prosecution) brought in alleged victims from the '90s because they are desperate," he said. The defense had earlier elicited testimony from three of these alleged victims who all testified that Jackson had never molested them, contradicting prosecution witnesses.

Mesereau told the jury that "the issue in this case is the life, future, freedom and reputation of Michael Jackson". He went on to say "there is no way in the world you can find the (accuser and his family) are trustworthy beyond a reasonable doubt … Mr. Jackson must be acquitted under our legal system."

Zonen admits welfare wraud

Zonen was defensive in talking about the boy’s mother, Janet Arvizo, one of the most erratic witnesses in the trial.

"[Janet Arvizo] never asked for one penny from Michael Jackson,” he said, "she never desired anything from him and she doesn't today."

"The suggestion that all of this was planned and plotted, that it was a shakedown was nonsense," he continued, "it is unmitigated rubbish."

Zonen conceded that Arvizo had committed welfare fraud only ten days before receiving a large settlement from retailer J.C Penney. “It was a bad mistake on her part, and she may well have to deal with the consequences," he told the 12 jurors.

Mesereau pointed out that the accuser was unemotional as he described the alleged molestation in both the video and in testimony.

"You saw no emotion whatsoever. When did you see him really get angry? When he talked about Michael Jackson abandoning his family," said Mesereau.

Closing arguments are expected to continue tomorrow prior to the case being handed to jurors for deliberation.

Saturday, 04 June 2005

Pop icon Michael Jackson was greeted outside court Friday by hundreds of chanting fans. The singer arrived with his parents and his famout siblings Janet, LaToya, Jermaine, Tito and Randy. They waved to the fans chants of “Michael is Innocent!”

Defense attorneys completed their closing arguments, labeling the Arvizo family liars and con artists trying to pull “the biggest con of their careers”.

"They are trying to take advantage of Michael Jackson," said impassioned defense attorney Thomas Mesereau. "They are trying to profit from Michael Jackson. They think they have pulled it off. They are just waiting for one thing - your verdict."

"What they are trying to do to Michael Jackson is so harmful, so brutal, so devastating … if you have any reasonable doubt about the double-talk, the lies, its over. You must acquit Michael Jackson," he told the 12 jurors.

Mesereau spoke about the American system of justice and said, "We have the best system in the world and ladies and gentlemen I'm begging you to honour the system. … You must acquit him."

He accused prosecutors of trying to "dirty up Michael" because they lack the evidence to prove their case.

"The witnesses are preposterous, the perjury is everywhere," Mesereau declared. "None of it works. The only thing they've had is to throw dirt all over the place and hope it sticks."

He added: "If you look in your hearts do you believe Michael Jackson is evil in that way? Is it even possible? It really is not."

Mesereau then played excerpts from a video in which Jackson denies any sexual impropriety and said that he had “never been betrayed or deceived by children.”

The defense attorney conceded that Jackson had been lax with his money and had let the wrong people into his circle. But, he said, the singer was not the “monster” the prosecution were trying to depict and that he was not guilty of any crime.

Procecution Rebuttal

Afterwards, prosecutor Ron Zonen delivered a brief rebuttal. He sought to answer the question of Jackson’s motivation for the crime asking, "Why would Mr. Jackson do it? Because he could … This child was in love with him. This child would do anything he said."

Zonen reminded jurors of the past allegations made against Jackson saying that this was necessary in order to “see the total picture”. He claimed that Jackson was “in love” with his 1993 accuser and added that the current accuser is a “clone” of the boy in that case.

After both sides rested for the last time, Judge Rodney Melville ordered the eight women and four men on the jury to begin their deliberations. He gave them a 98-page book of instructions.

The Judge told Jackson that he could stay at Neverland during the proceedings but requested that the attorneys remain within 10 minutes of the courthouse in case the jurors had any questions.

These deliberations are the final stage of an ordeal that began 14 weeks ago. During this time the jury has heard testimony from over 130 witnesses.

A verdict is expected early next week.

Wednesday, 08 June 2005
Jurors in the Michael Jackson trial will return to the courthouse today after completing yet another day of deliberations without delivering a verdict. The twelve jurors have now been deliberating for a total of 14 hours over three days.

Jackson’s fans have been outside the courthouse in large numbers each day, waving placards, shouting and dancing.

Rev. Jesse Jackson arrived at the courthouse Tuesday to update the media and fans on the singer’s wellbeing: "[Michael Jackson] exudes a great sense of confidence in the jury as being fair ... Michael anxiously awaits the jury's verdict, but anticipates acquittal."

Amidst speculation about Jackson’s health, his spokesperson said the singer would continue to await the verdict at his Neverland Valley Ranch, an hour away.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department said an ambulance would be on standby outside the courthouse. Sources within the department said this was routine for events involving large crowds and had nothing to do with Jackson's health issues.

Jury foreperson selected

The role of jury foreperson has reportedly been filled by a retired teacher. During jury selection, he told attorneys he had no thoughts about Jackson:

"I came in with an open mind and I plan to keep it that way. I try not to put celebrities on a pedestal. I would look at him as just another person who needs a fair trial," he said.

The 63-year-old Latino man had served as a high school counsellor and attendance director. "I was both the good guy and the bad guy."

He said he had no problems with government: "I depend on them and hope they make the right decisions," although he did question U.S involvement in the Iraq and Vietnam wars.

Media petition

Lawyers for a consortium of media outlets asked Judge Rodney Melville to release the verdict form provided to the jury and also to disclose the contents of any questions the jury asks.

They argued that the verdict form "establishes the framework for any verdict by the jury," and is a judicial record presumed to be public under the First Amendment and California law.

"Public access to the form now will enable the press to better understand and accurately report and explain the verdict when it is read in open court," the motion said.

A jury question Monday was not released following a private conference between opposing attorneys and the Judge.

Thursday, 09 June 2005
Wednesday marked the end of the third full day of deliberations in the Michael Jackson trial. Jurors have now been deliberating for 20 hours as hundreds of fans continue to show their vocal support for the singer outside the courthouse and his nearby Neverland ranch.

Controversy continued to reign as a Jackson spokesperson dismissed media speculation that the Jackson camp had violated a court-imposed gag order. The week has been marked by persistent media speculation into happenings in and around the courthouse.

Raymone Bain held an impromptu press conference in Santa Maria, telling journalists and fans that the singer was “taking it easy” with his family at Neverland.

"They are a strong family, and they rely on their strong faith," she said. "They realize the seriousness, but their mood was upbeat."

Bain added that Jackson was spending his time with his three children and meeting with his attorneys.

"He's in good spirits, but as you all can imagine, he's very nervous. He has confidence in his innocence," she said.

Statement from Mesereau

Shortly after the conference, lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau issued a court-approved statement saying, "I have not authorized anyone to speak or hold any press conferences on behalf of Michael Jackson or his family. A gag order is in effect which the defense team will continue to honor."

Sources in the Jackson team said the statement was not directed at Bain, who runs all statements via the attorney.

In a telephone interview later that day Bain said: "It appears Mr. Mesereau is concerned about a number of people who have been going to the court, using the court as a forum. He's concerned people who do not have the authority to speak on Mr. Jackson's behalf are out there."

“Psychological warfare”

Earlier in the day, Rev. Jesse Jackson charged that the jury was being subjected to "psychological warfare" because of an NBC television report showing the jail where the singer may go if convicted and taken into custody.

In the report, former sheriff Jim Thomas who is now a consultant to NBC, showed the outside of the main Santa Barbara county jail and speculated about what would happen should Jackson be convicted. Stock footage of the jail cells was also broadcast.

"With an unsequestered jury, they are saying here is where he will stay," complained the Reverend.

Jackson returns to hospital

Jackson returned to the Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital Wednesday for a routine back treatment. The Reverend spent an hour with the singer as he underwent physical therapy.

"He's back at home and he's doing OK," Bain said.

The jury is scheduled for a half-day session today. No reason was given for this, but the Judge had previously noted that some jurors had obligations to attend graduation ceremonies for family members.

Friday, 10 June 2005

Michael Jackson will have to wait at least another day before hearing the jury deliver a verdict in his child molestation trial. Jurors completed their deliberations early Thursday, as some reportedly had to attend graduation ceremonies. This marked the end of the fifth day of deliberations with 22 hours being spent behind closed doors in the Santa Maria courthouse.

Long-time Jackson friend and civil rights activist, Rev. Jesse Jackson, told CNN yesterday that he spent an hour with the singer at a local hospital Wednesday night. The pop star was being treated for recurring back spasms and the Reverend described the singer as "kind of ebullient."

"I think the pain is subsiding," said Jesse Jackson, "[his] back is getting better."

He said the entertainer was in "good spirits" and optimistic about an acquittal.

Trials for Santa Maria

For the small town of Santa Maria, nestled amidst hills and strawberry farms in the vast state of California, the Jackson trial has been both a blessing and a bother. The trial of the world’s most famous man has brought unprecedented media attention to the community along with thousands of media personnel and hordes of Jackson’s supporters.

Despite the traffic jams, battles for parking and the inconvenience caused by the constantly moving throng of Jackson’s fans, the 88 000 Santa Maria residents do have reason to rejoice. The trial has credited the city with almost $ 215,000 from hotel bed taxes, rental offices and parking spaces.

For Carmen Jenkins the reward may even be a new BMW. Jenkins, who foresaw the potential for her little coffee shop, expanded her store and menu, making Coffee Diem a hit with the media personnel flocked outside the courthouse.

The 46 year old spoke enthusiastically about the influx of visitors: “It's like having a party and inviting someone from every part of the world. It brought so much fresh new air to the city."

But for some the end of the trial will be welcomed. Kathleen DeVoe, 50, said mayhem broke out at the dental office she worked at when Jackson was admitted in February at the nearby Marian Medical Centre for treatment of flu symptoms. She said "the media were extremely rude," nabbing all the spaces in a private parking lot.

Others were more diplomatic. "We're not going to live or die on what happens to him," said Robert Hatch, chief executive officer of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce. "But we'll make people feel welcome, so next time they'll come back. For the most part we've done that."

The longer the trial continues the more cash the city brings in. Although the increased funds are meagre in comparison to its 41.6 million annual budget, the town hopes to plough back the cash for its public libraries and maintenance of streets.

Saturday, 11 June 2005

Jurors in the Michael Jackson trial will be back again on Monday after ending their first full week of deliberations without reaching a verdict on the charges against the pop star.

The jurors asked a number of questions Friday and also requested to have some testimony read back to them. Judge Rodney Melville held at least three meetings with attorneys from each side.

Legal experts say the lengthy and complex instructions issued by the Judge may be responsible for the extended deliberations.

"This is a huge, huge celebrity trial, so you can bet that they're going to want to read those jury instructions pretty carefully," said Donna Shestowsky, a law professor at the University of California.

Shari Seidman Diamond, a law professor at Northwestern University, agreed: "Running through these instructions is the use of words that are real words in everyday life that have different legal meanings."

She said that terms such as "attempt," "reasonable" and "conspiracy" have specific meaning in criminal law and "we know that makes instructions harder to deal with."

Diamond said that judges could make jury instructions more palatable but rarely did so as they were more concerned with making sure the instructions were unflawed and would not lead to a reversal on appeal.

Peter Tiersma, a member of the California Judicial Council's task force on criminal jury instructions, said it was easier for a judge to simply copy the text of a legal opinion or of a statute in the instructions.

He said that no matter how dense or incomprehensible the instructions were, "if you changed it, you risked getting it wrong."

As an example, Diamond pointed out that the explanation of ‘reasonable doubt’ was buried on page 45 of the instructions, which offered little explanation of why jurors should ignore certain pieces of evidence.

Thousands of journalists await the verdict

About 2,200 journalists received press credentials to cover the Michael Jackson trial – more than the O.J. Simpson and Scott Peterson trials combined.

Major TV networks have committed dozens of staff members and some news organizations have even installed land lines, fearing that the explosion of phone calls following a verdict could jam the region’s cell phone networks.

Reporters from every continent except Antarctica are covering the story, a reminder that Jackson's popularity remains intense outside the United States. News organizations from more than 30 countries are here.

"The appetite for Michael Jackson is insatiable," said Graeme Massie, who has covered the trial for Splash, a British news agency. "In the U.S., people may believe that Jackson's star has fallen, but in Europe it still shines brightly."

The case is being closely watched in Japan where they are thinking of moving to a jury system.

"People in Japan are interested in the King of Pop, but they also want to know how the jury will treat celebrities," said Wataru Ezaki, who works for a Japanese news organization in Southern California. "They want to see if jurors can be fair. It's a very unique case."

Deliberations will resume Monday morning at 8:30 a.m. (11:30 a.m. ET).

Monday, June 13, 2005

Santa Maria - A jury has found Michael Jackson

NOT GUILTY ON ALL COUNTS!: Case numer:1133603

COUNT 1 Verdict: We the Jury in the above-entitled case, find the Defendant NOT GUILTY of Conspiracy as charged in Count One of the indictment. Dated: 13 June 2005

COUNT 2 Verdict: We the Jury in the above-entitled case, find the Defendant NOT GUILTY of Lewd act Upon Minor Child as charged in Count Two of the indictment. Dated: 13 June 2005

COUNT 3 Verdict: We the Jury in the above-entitled case, find the Defendant NOT GUILTY of Lewd act Upon Minor Child as charged in Count Tree of the indictment. Dated: 13 June 2005

COUNT 4 Verdict: We the Jury in the above-entitled case, find the Defendant NOT GUILTY of Lewd act Upon Minor Child as charged in Count Four of the indictment. Dated: 10 June 2005

COUNT 5 Verdict: We the Jury in the above-entitled case, find the Defendant NOT GUILTY of Lewd act Upon Minor Child as charged in Count Five of the indictment. Dated: 10 June 2005

COUNT 6 Verdict: We the Jury in the above-entitled case, find the Defendant NOT GUILTY of Attempting to commit a Lewd Act on a Minor Child as charged in Count Six of the indictment. Dated: 13 June 2005

COUNT 7 Verdict: We the Jury in the above-entitled case, find the Defendant NOT GUILTY of Administering an Intoxicating Agent to Assist in the Commission of felony as charged in Count Seven of the indictment. Dated: 13 June 2005

COUNT 7 Verdict, Lesser Offense: We the Jury in the above-entitled case, find the Defendant NOT GUILTY of Providing Alcoholic Beverages to Person Under the Age of 21, lesser included offense of that charged in Count Seven of the indictment. Dated: 13 June 2005

COUNT 8 Verdict: We the Jury in the above-entitled case, find the Defendant NOT GUILTY of Administering an Intoxicating Agent to Assist in the Commission of felony as charged in Count Eight of the indictment. Dated: 13 June 2005

COUNT 8 Verdict, Lesser Offense: We the Jury in the above-entitled case, find the Defendant NOT GUILTY of Providing Alcoholic Beverages to Person Under the Age of 21, lesser included offense of that charged in Count Eight of the indictment. Dated: 13 June 2005

COUNT 9 Verdict: We the Jury in the above-entitled case, find the Defendant NOT GUILTY of Administering an Intoxicating Agent to Assist in the Commission of felony as charged in Count Nine of the indictment. Dated: 10 June 2005

COUNT 9 Verdict, Lesser Offense: We the Jury in the above-entitled case, find the Defendant NOT GUILTY of Providing Alcoholic Beverages to Person Under the Age of 21, lesser included offense of that charged in Count Nine of the indictment Dated: 10 June 2005

COUNT 10 Verdict: We the Jury in the above-entitled case, find the Defendant NOT GUILTY of Administering an Intoxicating Agent to Assist in the Commission of felony as charged in Count Ten of the indictment. Dated: 10 June 2005

COUNT 10 Verdict, Lesser Offense: We the Jury in the above-entitled case, find the Defendant NOT GUILTY of Providing Alcoholic Beverages to Person Under the Age of 21, lesser included offense of that charged in Count Ten of the indictment Dated: 10 June 2005

Listen again the verdict from that day:

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