Transcript of “Frozen in Time: A Riveting Behind-the-Scenes View of the Michael Jackson Cases”, Part 2. LARRY FELDMAN
We begin Part 2 with Larry Feldman’s analysis of the 1993 case. As you can imagine, I had some serious fact checking to do!!
Transcript of Frozen in Time: A Riveting Behind-the-Scenes View of the Michael Jackson Cases, Part 2
Larry Feldman: Good evening, I had the privilege to represent two young boys, both who claimed they were molested by Michael Jackson. They had some similarities that, even though they were ten years apart, that’s worth pointing out, and some differences about those cases that I think are worth pointing out. Bearing in mind, they were both civil. In one, the first case, I actually litigated that case and went through the same stuff that Judge Melville talked about, and fought about the same issues, and I’ll get into that when it’s time to talk about that. And in one case, we didn’t really litigate it because the criminal case went first. But both boys had this in common: they were thirteen years of age, they were pre-pubescent young men. Both of these boys came from broken homes. Both of these boys lived with their mothers at the time that the alleged molestations took place. Both of these boys came from homes that their mothers allowed them to spend an inordinate amount of time with Michael Jackson, alone. Both of these mothers allowed their boys to sleepover at Michael Jackson’s house, in the bedroom, in the bed, that Michael Jackson slept in. Both of these parents, mothers at least, received things of value from Michael Jackson during the time that they had this relationship with Michael Jackson. Another thing I just thought of that these cases sort of had in common, although ten years apart, none of the lawyers, I guess except Ron Zonen, were the original lawyers in the case. In the first case, the first young boy’s case that got settled, in that case he was first represented by a lawyer by the name of Rothman, and then Gloria Allred had him for about 24 hours, 36 hours, held her press conference, and that was it (laughter!), and then I had him for the balance of that case. And originally Michael Jackson in case one was defended by Bert Fields and Howard Wietzman, and then ultimately Bert was substituted out, and Johnnie Cochran and Carl Douglas became the lawyers primarily for Michael Jackson. And in the criminal case, originally Michael Jackson was represented by Mark Geragos, as the judge alluded to, and Brothman from New York, and ultimately they were substituted out, and Tom Mesereau came in. So we all were sort of dealing with matters that some of the cards had already been dealt to us. But they differed in a lot of respects, from at least my perspective as the lawyer.
In the 93 case, by the time I was retained, this case was the lead story in the LA Times. This case was in every local television news cast. It was the lead story. In this case, the young boy, just to refresh some of your recollection, was sent to Children’s Services through a psychiatrist, that he had reported this molestation. Children’s Services, as most of you probably know, this is a confidential report, when anybody reports molestation, psychiatrists are required under the law to report. And there was supposed to be remained totally, 100% confidential. Somebody got a hold of it and leaked it to the press, so the press had it by the time there was any lawyers involved in this. The young by in that case, in the 93 case, had given an unbelievably detailed statement about his relationship with Michael Jackson, how that came about, how the sexual part came about. He detailed in great detail the start of the relationship, how it transgressed into a more physical activity with Michael Jackson, how it became fondling, how it became oral sex, how it became masturbation. And he gave this whole history in exquisite detail. The other boy that wasn’t true. The other boy had, was a young boy who had at one time in his life he had Stage 4 cancer, and was a boy who had never really disclosed everything about the relationship. And he came from a family that was all broken, came from a broken home. But that family, by the time they came to me, had never told any Children’s Services, hadn’t been to therapy, hadn’t called the police, hadn’t called the District Attorney. So in case one, that case was sort of out there by the time we got involved. And in the second case, it had not been told to anyone. And so there were totally different issues that were involved in both cases. In case one, the district attorney at that time, because the primary allegations were in Los Angeles, that district attorney, at the time Gil Garcetti, was very content to see us take the lead in that case on the civil side, and he was happy to watch us go forward, take the lead, see what the case was about, have access to all of our discovery, and then decide whether he wanted to prosecute the case.
In the second case, it was the reverse. The district attorney in Santa Barbara, who ultimately got the case, insisted that the criminal case take place first, and that there be no civil case, and that the civil side of the case take a backseat, and they, rightfully so, wanted to control the case, and how it would be tried, and what would be tried, and how it would be dealt with in the press and elsewhere. And so there were totally different things going on, with that kind of decisions that I made in the first case, I wasn’t making in the second case. The district attorney was. How this case would play out was the district’s attorney’s choice in the second case, while in the first case I had total control of how it would play out. Now the reason I asked the judge the question about how he determined what to do, when we took on the first case, it was amazing to me, I mean I had cases before where the media was interested in it, and it typically you file a lawsuit, and the media might report it, and if you tried the case and got a verdict, the media would be interested in the verdict, and you’d talk for 20 seconds. But nothing was like Michael Jackson one at the time. There weren’t cases like that. I remember Johnnie Cochran saying, when we walked out, when we ultimately settled the first case, he had never seen so many press in his entire life, around the Santa Monica courthouse, until the next year when they tried OJ, and all of the sudden the press in Michael Jackson seemed small compared to the press that the OJ case garnered. But it was amazing to me how you had to deal with this press. There was a poll taken, I’ll never forget, the Gallup Poll did a poll about Michael Jackson, and how many people in their poll had heard about this case, and the allegations, and 98% of the people polled had heard about the case. Like 65%, 66% of those people believed Michael Jackson was factually innocent, and 12% believed that Michael Jackson did this to the boy. Now, for a trial lawyer, these are real issues that you have to deal with, I mean this isn’t some “Just forget it! We’re gonna have our day in court!” This is something that you’re confronted with because, no matter what the jurors say, those jurors have read about it, they’re deluged about it, we had our case on a fast track to get tried, it was gonna get tried while all this was in the press. And so, it’s a real factor that a lawyer has to consider. And how I would watch on television with my mouth open where people, real prominent lawyers, would be on television, on the Today Show, on ABC, talking about this Michael Jackson case, and they had no idea what the facts were, what they were talking about, except that they were talking, and they were very happy to be talking. (Laughter!) And we had to confront these kinds of problems, and sort of do it in an ethical way.
Whereas in the second case, as the lawyers sort of behind the scenes, that’s really where I was, I was behind the scenes. I wasn’t controlling the press. I suspect I probably knew about this order, but it didn’t really impact me, or maybe it did at the time. You know, I was really not very involved in what was happening. And if, in fact, there was a conviction, then maybe I would have been involved, and maybe I wouldn’t have been involved. But it was a totally different set of circumstances. And the reasons it’s all so important, because at least in Michael Jackson two, as we’ll call it for the time being, but in one you had Elizabeth Taylor on television talking about how innocent Michael Jackson was, and what a shame it was. You had Michael Jackson cancelling a worldwide tour, this is the King of Pop, and he is cancelling a worldwide tour, I think it was the Dangerous Tour at the time, because he was so upset about what this little boy was doing. And so fragile. You had Anthony Pellicano, who in those days was not in jail (laughter!), but he was the spokesperson, which I’ll never quite understand, that was chosen by the defendant to talk about this case. He was someone who in these press conferences was conceding that Michael Jackson slept with children, with little boys, so from a plaintiff’s lawyer, like I was; generally, you know that’s a lot of ammunition that you have. And the question is “How do you use that effectively?” And on the other hand, they were claiming that there was extortion; that the father of the young boy was trying to extort money, by trying to get money from this. So that was out there. In fact there was a criminal investigation about whether there truly was extortion.
Geraldo, remember Geraldo? This is how old this is. When Geraldo did a mock trial, this was all at the time that I came into this case, in which they’re trying Michal Jackson, and lo and behold he won the case. You can’t vu diar jurors on how to overcome this. And also, from just a standpoint from all of us who represent individuals get this in spades, and that is, you have a 13 year old boy, and whether it happened or it didn’t happened, their lives are in the balance about this, and it’s not just about money. These kids go to school, these kids have friends, these kids at 13 years old, boys at 13 years old are going through a difficult time in their lives, trying to figure what they are, what their about, their sexual well-being. What that all means to them. And here it is, these most sensitive issues are in the press, and it didn’t take long. I don’t know so much about the second case, but in the first case, for sure, every kid on the west side of Los Angeles knew who the plaintiff was, even though the plaintiff’s name at that time remained secret. So as a lawyer, you have a real burden, besides trying to make the case come out right for the client, to think about the ramifications of this. Whether you really want to take on the King of Pop, as it says in the program. Whether you really want to be branded with this, because no matter how it comes out, you are going to have people who believe it to be true no matter what the verdict, and believe it to be untrue no matter what the verdict. And all you’re going to have at the end of the day on the civil side is perhaps money.
In the first case it was simple, because this boy was being chastised, and couldn’t survive under circumstances that existed. In the second case, you had a boy that had terminal cancer at one point, and almost died of terminal cancer at least. He had stage 4 cancer, and here this kid has now have to decide, and his parents have to decide whether or not they should do anything, whether they should go to the police, whether they should go to the district attorney, whether they should go to children’s services, whether they should ask for money from Michael Jackson, or do nothing except try to get a quick settlement. There are all these kinds of issues out there that these people have to deal with, and you have generally parents making these decisions who, in some form or another, were complicit in, if anything happened, allowing it to happen. So they’re helping them make decisions that impact these kids for life. So it’s an awesome responsibility to help them. And then if you did it just privately, which I had done many times for people that I just had a major case against the school district for a Special Ed teacher who was molesting these Special Ed kids who couldn’t even talk. And we kept it quiet. We kept these kids out of the press. There wasn’t any of this. But now there are terrible issues for these kids. And then you compound it by the press, and the news media that is 24/7, then you have a serious issue if you care about kids and you care about results.
Seth Hufstedler: I think we can move to the next question and maybe you’re back at the podium again. Because I think that now is the time for you and Carl to tell us what happened in that first case.
Larry Feldman: So ultimately that case settled, and I think everybody knows that. But what happened? From my perspective, I thought that it was simple. Believe it or not, in 1993 there was no state bar rule, there is now, but there wasn’t any state bar rule on what lawyers could say or not say to the press. And Tom and Carl and Ron will surely corroborate that once you’re in one of these things, you need a special person just to deal with all of the phone calls that are coming in from the press. And they don’t stop. It’s not like you could just ignore it. You get a hundred calls from one reporter hoping that they’re going to get the discussion with you, or if you’ll give them an interview. So I didn’t even know what the rules were, so I kinda started with “let’s think about how we’re going to do this”, given the backdrop that I gave you with all this publicity. “How are we going to get through all this?” So I looked at the State Bar rules, and California had nothing on it in 1993. We look at the ABA rules, and they had some general rules that you can’t prejudice the case by any extrajudicial statements, and that seems pretty simple, and even if we don’t have the rule here in California, it sounded like something that would be pretty simple to follow. And then there’s the United States Supreme Court case that tells lawyers that they really do have a right to protect their client. It’s a criminal case that you have the right. You can’t prejudice the case. But you have a right, like what they did in Michael Jackson two, when the prosecutor gets up and says that I’m charging Michael Jackson with sexual molestation, and all of the charges that they brought, the defense has a right to say something in the press to defend him, so it’s not a one-sided barrage, and obviously that’s what Judge Melville was trying to protect and make sure that with both sides, at least some facts got out there. So we knew that was the media take on this, and we also were quite aware that at that point in time, there was a big PR machine out there for Michael Jackson. He had a lot at stake, and a lot of money at stake. And there were lots of people invested in him coming through this unscathed. So we had to figure out how to deal with this. And ultimately, we figured that we would do this in a way in which we litigated the case extremely hard. That we would not have to talk to the press, we would not have to go on the Today Show, but that we would embark on a strategy that allowed us to say everything that we needed to say in court documents which are public records generally.
One of the things we had that, before Carl and Johnnie got in the case, “If we could get Michael Jackson to answer the complaint before the boy turned 14 years of age, then we would be entitled to a trial in 90 days”. That was the selling point to the district attorney to give me a chance to see if we could get this under or 120-day speedy trial. We filed the complaint, they answered the complaint for whatever reasons, and then we filed a motion right away to get a speedy trial. The defense, with all due respect to them, had to worry about not just defending Michael Jackson in civil court, but more importantly they knew there was a criminal case behind the civil case, and they had to defend him worrying about his Fifth Amendment rights. As he tried to fight back our motions for a speedy trial, we litigated that hard in papers, and we always paid respect to his rights under the Fifth Amendment, but we also made it clear that if he had nothing to hide, and given we had a thirteen year old child, we ought to go and have this litigated, and it’ll be behind both of them. And the press loved it, and picked it up. Every time we did depositions, if one of the employees, and we took a lot of depositions in the case of people who had knowledge about Michael at Neverland, and his relationship with this young boy, the minute the lawyers would try to stop him from answering a question, we would be filing documents about that, and what the question was, and why it was relevant, and where it was leading to, and the press would run with it and love it and there would be declarations. When we wanted to have an exam of Michael Jackson, and take pictures of Michael Jackson because the young boy made allegations about his physical and private parts, we had to describe them in detail in order to show why we were entitled to these pictures. So we litigated it hard, but clearly within the rules of litigation. And it almost didn’t matter whether we won or lost, the fact is we were getting even by all these types of things.
There was a motion made by the defense, and I don’t recall if Carl was in it at the time, to try to gag the lawyers, and I took the position that gagging the lawyers doesn’t solve the problem. At least with the lawyers you do have the chance you get an accurate report about what took place. The problem we had was, as that motion was being litigated, you had people from the Jackson family giving interviews, telling how poor it was that we were suing Michael, and how bad it was for Michael, etc., which you would expect family to do. So we could control the lawyers, and the clients, but you couldn’t control all of the people that had a view. So that was the course that we took. So at some point, Johnnie and Carl came into the case. Johnnie and I go back a long way. I had the distinct privilege of representing Johnnie a lot of times in his life, and we were able to trust one another along with the help of three judges who sat in on a very secretive settlement, and we were ultimately able to get the case settled, and work with all of the problems, and all of the details for their benefit. And they trusted me, and I trusted them, and it was able to get settled. It didn’t resolve the problem with the district attorney whether they would bring the case. But it was pretty clear to everyone that once you go through one of these things, whether you’re 13 or 30 or 50, the appetitive to go through it again when you finally get some respite or some peace, whether it being a criminal case or a civil case, you’re not that hungry to do it again. And for this kid, who had to live his life, and was now financially taken care of, and you have a district attorney who wasn’t really aggressively doing anything, it wasn’t that hard for him to make the decision that he had enough of it, and didn’t want to go forward anymore. So that’s sort of the background of that case, and what happened in that case. Michael Jackson went on to live his life, and this boy went on to live his life. And that’s pretty much what happened with the civil case in 1993.
Analysis of Larry Feldman’s comments:
Before I start, let me remind everyone to please read my article on MJ’s settlements because Feldman spent a lot of time discussing the settlement, and his legal strategy pertaining to the settlement, and if you already have a knowledge of the settlements, then you will understand my analysis of him more clearly. Here is part 1, and part 2.
1. “Both of these boys came from homes that their mothers allowed them to spend an inordinate amount of time with Michael Jackson, alone. Both of these mothers allowed their boys to sleepover at Michael Jackson’s house, in the bedroom, in the bed, that Michael Jackson slept in.” That statement by Feldman is only half true. Yes, MJ did spend an inordinate amount of time with Jordie and bought his mother June expensive gifts, but that is because he considered them friends, while his relationship with the Arvizos was strictly business. MJ initiated his relationship with the Chandlers by inviting them to Neverland upon his return from the Dangerous tour, while the Arvizos requested their meeting with MJ due to Gavin’s cancer, and if not for that cancer, they would not have met MJ. Period. MJ invited the Chandlers all over the world with him, while the Arvizos visited Neverland a few times beginning sometime after August 2000 (when MJ first started calling Gavin at the hospital), and didn’t return until September 2002. MJ spent time alone with Jordie on numerous occasions, but was NEVER alone with Gavin, as he was always with his brother, and more importantly MJ always had his security and servants within an arm’s reach at Neverland. The biggest error in this statement is the implication that “both” boys slept in bed with MJ. Although he didn’t explicitly say that Gavin slept in the bed with MJ, he certainly insinuated it by not denying it, so let’s make it clear right now: Michael Jackson did not sleep in the bed with Gavin! He and his bodyguard slept on the floor!
2. “In this case, the young boy, just to refresh some of your recollection, was sent to Children’s Services through a psychiatrist, that he had reported this molestation. Children’s Services, as most of you probably know, this is a confidential report, when anybody reports molestation, psychiatrists are required under the law to report. And there was supposed to be remained totally, 100% confidential. Somebody got a hold of it and leaked it to the press, so the press had it by the time there was any lawyers involved in this.” The biggest misconception about the 1993 case is that people think that Evan Chandler called the police himself to report the molestation, when in reality he took Jordie to see psychiatrist Dr. Mathis Abrams so the he could notify authorities! Please read part 2 of my settlements article to see Evan’s exact quotes from the day that he lost custody of Jordie and decided to make the scandal go public instead of relinquishing custody back to June. Regarding the “confidential” Children’s Services report, it was allegedly leaked to Diane Dimond and cohort Steve Doran, a producer for Hard Copy. Here is her account of how she obtained the report (and of course we should take this with a grain of salt), from page 2 of “Be Careful Who You Love”:
So, why had the LAPD gone into Jackson’s Neverland Valley ranch and an apartment he owned in Los Angeles? What were thy looking for as they lugged out numerous boxes stamped with “evidence” labels?
Naturally, reporters all over the world wanted the answer to those questions but I alone was provided the first clue. The same day news of the raid hit a confidential source called my Hard Copy producer, Steve Doran, and suggested e meet so we could see some documents that promised to shed a bright light on the story. We agreed to meet immediately at a tiny Italian restaurant near the beach in Santa Monica.
Those documents revealed that Michael Jackson, an idol to millions of young people worldwide, was being accused f repeatedly molesting a young boy. It was almost too incredible to believe. Little did I realize that by being out front on the story then, I would remain in the forefront of the Jackson story for years to come.
3. “The young by in that case, in the 93 case, had given an unbelievably detailed statement about his relationship with Michael Jackson, how that came about, how the sexual part came about. He detailed in great detail the start of the relationship, how it transgressed into a more physical activity with Michael Jackson, how it became fondling, how it became oral sex, how it became masturbation. And he gave this whole history in exquisite detail.” Well Larry, just because Jordie’s description was “unbelievably detailed”, it doesn’t meant it’s true! And just because it’s graphic, it doesn’t mean it’s true! The media usually describes it as “graphic” (as if that has any relevance to it validity!), and I’m surprised Feldman didn’t use that term here! I’m also surprised that he didn’t call his statement a deposition, as it is merely a declaration. Here is part 1 of a 3 part series attacks the legitimacy and admissibility of that document. (Parts 2 & 3 are coming soon!) As far as it being detailed, sure, I bet it was detailed. After all, Jordie already had experience in script writing from his work on “Robin Hood: Men in Tights”, for which he was nearly given a film credit by Mel Brooks, the executive producer! It was his idea to write the movie after being inspired by “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” (and Evan himself confirmed this in the video below).
And while we’re on the subject of Jordie’s testimony to the police, let’s remember that his description of MJ’s genitals did not match! For more info, read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this 3 part series.
4. “that district attorney, at the time Gil Garcetti, was very content to see us take the lead in that case on the civil side, and he was happy to watch us go forward, take the lead, see what the case was about, he would have access to all of our discovery, and then decide whether he wanted to prosecute the case.” In part 1 of my article on MJ’s settlements I talked about the fact that Garcetti and Sneddon could have watched MJ’s civil trial like spectators at a football game, making notes of all of the exculpatory evidence, and finding ways to circumvent it. With Feldman’s admission that Garcetti was “content” so see him take the lead in the civil case so he would have access to all of their discovery, and only then would he decide if he wanted to prosecute the case criminally. (Discovery is “data or materials that a party in a legal proceeding must disclose to another party before or during the proceeding”, i.e. evidence.) What’s amazing to me is that with his access to all of Feldman’s discovery, that he and Sneddon STILL tried to prosecute MJ after the photos showed that Jordie’s description was the antithesis of MJ’s actual description! That is an indication of their vindictive nature, and they should have immediately dropped the case upon receipt of those photos. But instead, they stubbornly left the case “open but inactive”, even after two grand juries refused to indict MJ.
5. “The district attorney in Santa Barbara………….insisted that the criminal case take place first, and that there be no civil case, and that the civil side of the case take a backseat,” and “How this case would play out was the district’s attorney’s choice in the second case, while in the first case I had total control of how it would play out.”: Sneddon was instrumental in passing a law in California that prevented a civil suit from going to court before a criminal case was resolved, either through a trial or otherwise), and this was specifically aimed at preventing another family from getting away with another “hit and run” on MJ. Janet Arvizo and her first attorney Bill Dickerman clearly had dollar signs in their heads when she met with Feldman in May 2003, with the hopes of snagging another multi-million dollar settlement. (Dickerman made a deal with Feldman that he would get a percentage of any settlement monies received as a “referral bonus”.) So due to the law, Janet Arvizo was forced to try to get a conviction through a criminal trial before having her shot at a big payday, and we all know how well that worked out for her! The irony is that Janet still could have filed a civil lawsuit after the trial, but what lawyer in their right mind would represent her?
6. “There was a poll taken, I’ll never forget, the Gallup Poll did a poll about Michael Jackson, and how many people in their poll had heard about this case, and the allegations, and 98% of the people polled had heard about the case. Like 65%, 66% of those people believed Michael Jackson was factually innocent, and 12% believed that Michael Jackson did this to the boy.” Pay attention guys, because the media has very subtle ways of using statistics like this to make MJ appear to be guilty. Although in Feldman’s example the majority of respondents believed MJ was innocent, that poll was done BEFORE the settlement, and those stats immediately flip flopped after the settlement, and the media has used this “ad populum” argument on MJ ever since. An ad populum argument is a fallacious argument which concludes that “a proposition must be true because a majority of people believe it.”
Here’s a great example of an ad populum argument: just imagine if somebody told Christopher Columbus that because the majority of all people believe that the earth is flat, then it really is flat, so there’s no use in going on his little voyage! Obviously Columbus wanted to defy the general consensus and prove the world wrong, and he accomplished his goal! Here’s an example from Charles Thomson’s recent article which states how the media used ad populum statistics after MJ’s trial to try to undermine his acquittal:
“A poll conducted by Gallup in the hours after the verdict showed that 54% of White Americans and 48% of the overall population disagreed with the jury’s decision of ‘not guilty’. The poll also found that 62% of people felt Jackson’s celebrity status was instrumental in the verdicts. 34% said they were ‘saddened’ by the verdict and 24% said they were ‘outraged’. In a Fox News poll 37% of voters said the verdict was ‘wrong’ while an additional 25% said ‘celebrities buy justice’. A poll by People Weekly found that a staggering 88% of readers disagreed with the jury’s decision”.
Here is an example of Sneddon using an ad populum argument: during his November 18th, 2003 press conference, @ 19:52 he is asked by a reporter if he thinks that MJ “bought his way out” of the 1993 case, and he replies with “I think there’s a sense in the public that he did that!” By using the words “in the public”, he is implying that since the majority of the public believes that MJ “bought his way out”, that he truly did buy his way out. Way to go, Sneddon! That’s a nice way of ducking an easy question!
For additional examples of some of the tricks that the media uses to bash MJ, such as asking “loaded” questions or using “ad hominem” arguments, read this page here.
7. “And how I would watch on television with my mouth open where people, real prominent lawyers, would be on television, on the Today Show, on ABC, talking about this Michael Jackson case, and they had no idea what the facts were, what they were talking about, except that they were talking, and they were very happy to be talking.” There’s not much that I need to say here, huh? We know how the media works: they hire pundits to get on TV and talk and entertain their viewers, and that’s exactly what they did with MJ. There is nothing we can do to stop them from airing their worthless opinions, but there is plenty that we can do to refute the! In fact, here is an article that repudiates the “analysis” of notorious MJ hater Nancy Grace, and her lesser known protégé Sunny Hostin. They both are alumni of Court TV, so you can’t expect anything more (or less!) from them!
8. “He was someone who in these press conferences was conceding that Michael Jackson slept with children, with little boys, so from a plaintiff’s lawyer, like I was; generally, you know that’s a lot of ammunition that you have. And the question is “How do you use that effectively?” In this quote, Feldman is explaining how, as a plaintiff’s lawyer, he should use Pellicano’s admissions against MJ. Pellicano chose to volunteer the fact that MJ slept in the same bed with unrelated children and use it as a pre-emptive attack to so that Feldman couldn’t take that same info and twist it into something sexual or devious. But by doing so, Pellicano gave Feldman an opportunity to still convict MJ in the court of public opinion, because Feldman could have (and probably did) twist it anyway, and since the general public did not know at that time that MJ shared his bed, the general reaction was one of suspicion. This is one of the end results of having your lawyer reveal your defense strategy prematurely, as Geragos did in 2003 when he said that MJ had an “iron-clad” alibi, and as a result Sneddon re-arranged the dates that the alleged molestation took place to counter MJ’s alibi.
9. “Geraldo, remember Geraldo? This is how old this is. When Geraldo did a mock trial, this was all at the time that I came into this case, in which they’re trying Michal Jackson, and lo and behold he won the case.” In the fall of 1993, Geraldo Rivera conducted a “mock trial” of MJ on his television program in which his studio audience was allowed to vote on MJ’s guilt or innocence. . A mother and her sick daughter were on the witness stand, and were “cross-examined” by the prosecutor. I don’t have the video of this episode, but Ian Halperin transcribed some of it in “Unmaksed”, on pages 109-112. I’m not going to type the entire segment, but I’ll point out some key points. The mother, Carol Nilwicki, and her sick daughter Carol, tried to buy tickets to an MJ concert in 1987, but they sold out. (What a surprise, huh?) So they made a videotape begging for MJ to send them tickets, and they sent the tape to Neverland, and a few days later MJ called them and offered tickets, and befriended the whole family! Carol made sure to emphasize that MJ asked for her and her husband’s permission before speaking to their daughter. Later on, the prosecutor asked the mother if she would let any other 35 year old man fraternize with her daughter, and she made a very valuable point, that I definitely need to emphasize here. She said the following: “You must realize something. We sought Michael Jackson out. He did not seek my daughter out.” Needless to say, the audience voted to acquit MJ that night!
On a side note, for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, here is the February 1993 episode of Geraldo that aired shortly after Oprah’s interview with MJ! It features J. Randy Taraborrelli, an editor of the National Enquirer, a dermatologist, and people who suffer from Vitiligo. Speaking of vitiligo, Geraldo show’s a clip of Latoya flatly denying that MJ really has it, which is totally consistent with the other lies she told (and would tell!) about MJ during that tumultuous time period!
10. “whether it happened or it didn’t happened, their lives are in the balance about this, and it’s not just about money.” It’s not about the money, Feldman? BS!! If it’s not about the money, then why did both Evan Chandler and Janet Arvizo seek out your services? It certainly wasn’t about seeking justice, because if that’s what they wanted then they wouldn’t have contacted you or any other civil lawyer! Let’s hear it straight from the horse’s mouth to see what took precedence: money or justice. From page 167 of “All That Glitters”, here is Ray Chandler describing the agonizing decision that June, Evan, and Dave Schwartz had to make when choosing Feldman over Gloria Allred:
“By the conclusion of the meeting, June and Dave, like Evan before them, had no doubts about switching from Gloria Allred to Larry Feldman. The choice came down to either waging an all-out media campaign to pressure the DA to seek a Grand Jury indictment, or conducting subtle, behind-the-scenes negotiations toward a quick, quiet and highly profitable settlement. Avoiding the trauma that a lengthy criminal or civil lawsuit would bring to the entire family, especially Jordie, was a no-brainier.
Oh, one more thing Larry: since you say it’s “not about the money”, then why did you refuse to give Dave Schwartz the $4 million dollars from the settlement money that he requested? From page 167:
As the meeting came to a close, all that was left was to sign the retainer agreement with Larry. Anticipating a huge settlement, Dave assumed that Larry would take less than the standard 25 percent rather than pass up the opportunity, so he began negotiating for a smaller fee.
Larry politely explained that his fee was not out of the ordinary and tired to impart to Dave some idea of the amount of work involved should the case go to trial. But Dave was intractable. He became loud and pushy, demanding that Larry negotiate. Dave was also pissed off at all of the lawyers because they told him that if there was settlement he could not be included.
Larry remained calm. He informed Dave, once again, that because he was neither Jordie’s natural or adoptive father he had no legal claims that could be included in Jordie’s complaint. But Dave became increasing belligerent each time the lawyers explained why it was not possible. He didn’t give a damn about legalities and kept demanding money. Four million dollars, to be exact. The same amount, according to June, that he attempted to borrow from Michael.
How could you be so greedy, Larry? It’s not like you were going to spend that extra $4 million dollars at one time! (For more info on Dave Scwartz and Larry Feldman, read this blog post.)
And one last thing Larry: thanks for kinda, sorta providing some exculpatory analysis by stating “whether it happened or didn’t happen”, because I have to admit, you did more to defend MJ than Carl Douglas! We’ll get to him in the next part of this series.
11. “you are going to have people who believe it to be true no matter what the verdict, and believe it to be untrue no matter what the verdict. And all you’re going to have at the end of the day on the civil side is perhaps money.” This is why I personally believe that settling the civil suit was the right thing to do, because even though MJ surely would have won the civil trial, the verdict would have been undermined for the very reason that Feldman just stated: people who pre-judged MJ as being guilty (who completely infest the media) would say his celebrity got him off, the prosecution bungled the case, etc. So of course the easy decision for the Chandlers was to get money through a civil trial, especially since they knew they couldn’t prove something that never happened!
12. “whether they should ask for money from Michael Jackson, or do nothing except try to get a quick settlement.” In this quote, Feldman is discussing Janet Arvizo’s options when contemplating how to go about dealing with Gavin’s so-called molestation, and of course we all know what choice she made!
It should also be noted that in May 25th, 2004 Feldman and Janet decided to try to sue the Department of Children’s Services after their report that totally exonerated MJ was leaked shortly after his arrest. Why did they wait almost 6 months after the leak of that report to threaten legal action? MJ was indicted on April 21st, 2004, and at that point they knew that the criminal case would go to trial, and I’m sure they had such little faith in the their case that they decided to sue the DCFS as a “Plan B” (since losing the criminal case would destroy their chances of winning a civil trial.) Anything for money, right Larry?
13. “if anything happened…..” Gee Larry, you don’t sound too confident in Jordie’s story, do you? But, once again, thanks for at least partially defending MJ, even if you didn’t do it intentionally. You did more for MJ than Carl Douglas!
14. “then we filed a motion right away to get a speedy trial.” And “there was a criminal case behind the civil case, and they had to defend him worrying about his Fifth Amendment rights.” This is where Feldman literally won his extortion of MJ. By doing some fancy–smancy legal maneuvering, he was able to take the unprecedented step of getting Jordie’s civil trial to proceed before the disposition of the criminal case. And the reason that this is unprecedented is because how often do child molestation cases wind up in civil court BEFORE the criminal trial, or in civil court at all? I’m glad that Feldman once again defended MJ’s actions here by saying “with all due to respect to them” (MJ’s defense team), and then acknowledging that the criminal case was far more important than the civil case. And he confirms what I wrote about in my settlements article: nobody should be put in a position of having to give testimony in a civil case that can be used against them in a subsequent criminal case! From pages 160-161, here is attorney Robert Shapiro advising Evan Chandler on the benefits of suing MJ first:
“If there’s a hung jury, sure, it could be retried, but time goes on. The real risk is if there’s an acquittal. In that case, prevailing at a civil suit afterwards becomes a real uphill battle.
Now the alternative is for you to bring a civil suit first. And the first thing we would do is schedule a deposition of Michel Jackson, placing him in an extremely uncomfortable position because everything he says could be used against him in a criminal case. And if he takes the Fifth Amendment to avoid that, it can be used against him in your civil case. So immediately, he’s in a real bad spot.
But there’s a third alternative. If we went to the other side and said, ‘Listen, a trial for Michael Jackson is a disaster, he can’t win. Because even if he’s acquitted, when the public hears what this boy has to say, you will have no endorsements, you will have no contracts, you are virtually finished.’ If we say that, it is my belief we have control of the situation, we have power.
However, if this matter is pushed too far and somebody starts screaming there should be a grand jury or the DA is not handling this correctly, then we lose all control. Garcetti will have to go to the Grand Jury, even if he doesn’t want to. And if the Grand Jury returns and indictment on a case the DA can’t win, especially against a superstar, then you’re all screwed.”
And here is an article that includes startling comment from Feldman that shows how much “faith” he had in Jordie’s story being credible enough to obtain an indictment for MJ:
Jackson’s lawyer Bert Fields dropped a bombshell during the court hearing Tuesday, claiming a Santa Barbara County grand jury had been impaneled and was close to indicting his client.
“A grand jury convened already in Santa Barbara County and they are about to take evidence,” Fields said. “And that means we should have a charging decision very, very soon.”
But Fields later backpedaled outside the courthouse, saying the district attorney there had only issued subpoenas for two witnesses, and a grand jury had not been sworn in. A hostile exchange between Howard Weitzman, Jackson’s criminal attorney, and reporters ensued when Weitzman said Fields “misspoke” during the hearing.
Larry Feldman, attorney for the 13-year-old boy, told the court that it could delay the civil case if the criminal case went forward. “I don’t know if there is even going to be an indictment,” Feldman said. “It may be an open file for six years.“
Feldman said his client would be pleased with Tuesday’s courtroom developments. “This is the first good news he’s had,” he said.
So Larry, you mean to tell me that despite the fact that Jordie gave such a “graphic” testimony and an “accurate” description of MJ’s penis, that you don’t if there will be an indictment? You’ve got to be kidding me!!
15. “And it almost didn’t matter whether we won or lost, the fact is we were getting even by all these types of things.” You’re right Larry, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, because either way your clients Evan and Jordie Chandler don’t have to worry about going to jail. Jordie was a minor at the time, and was being used like a puppet to help his father pull of the world’s most infamous extortion, while Evan heeded Barry Rothman’s advice and had a shrink report the molestation to keep himself from being charged with filing a false police report!
16. “Johnnie and I go back a long way. I had the distinct privilege of representing Johnnie a lot of times in his life, and we were able to trust one another along with the help of three judges who sat in on a very secretive settlement, and we were ultimately able to get the case settled, and work with all of the problems, and all of the details for their benefit. And they trusted me, and I trusted them, and it was able to get settled.” This is a very scary comment, because it makes you wonder how objective could Johhnie Cochran and Carl Douglas possibly be if they “go back a long way” with Feldman? And this quote brings to light a very crucial elemant of the settlement negotiations: the fact that those three judges (one of which was the Guardian Ad Litem for Jordie) played such a vital role in the suit. One of our co-admins will write a post on this subject in the near future, and it will explain the significance of the role that the Guardian Ad Litem played.
17. “you have a district attorney who wasn’t really aggressively doing anything, it wasn’t that hard for him to make the decision that he had enough of it, and didn’t want to go forward anymore.” What the hell do you mean that the DA “wasn’t really aggressively doing anything?” What the hell do you call literally going in front of the California State Legislature and asking them to retroactively amend a law that would allow them to force Jordie to testify against MJ? (Read the “Officials Desperate to Nail Michael Jackson” article in this forum.) And security certainly wasn’t an issue, as Sneddon and Garcetti would have hired the Secret Service to protect the Chandlers if they wanted it! Feldman is playing the blame game here, just as the Chandlers did, by saying that it was their fault that Jordie wouldn’t testify, when they had no intention of testifying whatsoever!
Coming up next in Part 3, we will listen to Carl Douglas’ defense of MJ, or lack thereof………………