Reading between the lines of Larry Feldman’s speech – The story of MANY LAWYERS and the FIFTH AMENDMENT. part 3
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We are discussing Larry Feldman’s speech at the Frozen in Time Seminar (Sept.15, 2010) trying to restore the history the way it really was. Today’s post will look into the crucial moment of the 1993 case. It starts with a short and innocent statement from Larry Feldman that the first defense attorney for Michael Jackson was replaced by two new ones.
The story of MANY LAWYERS and the FIFTH AMENDMENT
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.
Judging by the article in the LA Times Johnnie Cochran’s substitution for Bert Fields and private investigator Anthony Pellicano (not mentioned here), must have taken place at the beginning of December, 1993, when Michael was still undergoing treatment in a rehab clinic in Europe.
The LA Times dated Dec.10, 1993 says:
Johnnie Cochran Jr., a Los Angeles lawyer and former deputy district attorney, has recently joined Jackson’s legal team. http://articles.latimes.com/1993-12-10/local/me-302_1_jackson-lawyer
Another article mentions some reasons for the reshuffle which confuse us more than clear things up:
“Private investigator Anthony Pellicano and lawyer Bertram Fields, one of Jackson’s team of legal advisers, resigned privately in recent weeks.
“I swear on my children this decision was not Michael Jackson’s,” Pellicano said in an interview Tuesday. “It was my sole decision. If I wanted to, I could be working on this case today.”
In a statement released by his office, Fields said he had resigned Nov. 23 and had put the resignation in writing Dec. 3. “He has made no public announcement of this,” the statement said. “He felt that . . . it was not appropriate to publicly announce this.”
The departures of Pellicano and Fields rid Jackson of two men whose work had drawn mixed reviews, and their absence leaves the singer in the hands of two of Los Angeles’ best-known lawyers, Howard Weitzman and Johnnie Cochran Jr.
Weitzman has represented Jackson since the child molestation accusations surfaced in August. Cochran was brought into the case after Fields announced in court one day that his client’s indictment appeared imminent.
Those comments were later corrected by Weitzman, but they antagonized some members of the Jackson camp, and Fields never again appeared in court on Jackson’s behalf.
Fields made the remarks Nov. 23, the same day that his office said he told Jackson of his intention to resign”.
Replacement of one lawyer by another one because he said something about possible charges against his client does not look like a mere technicality to me – it seems much too serious business to be shrugged off. Unless we understand what reasons were forcing the defense lawyer Bert Fields to make such an unusual statement about Michael Jackson we won’t be able to understand what the 1993 case was all about at all – so let us look into this step by step.
The first time we really hear of Michael’s defense attorney Bert Fields is the end of November 1993 when the case he was defending with his partner Howard Weitzman was seriously shattered by a major setback – they failed to put the criminal proceedings before the civil suit. It was the right of his client Michael Jackson that attorney Bert Fields was desperately fighting for since October 1993.
I fully understand your confusion – just imagine any defendant to be willing to be tried in a criminal court! Could it be some misunderstanding on our part?
No, the papers confirm it that this was indeed the case – the defense did insist on criminal proceedings coming first and regarded the refusal they received from a judge as their major failure:
“With two investigations proceeding simultaneously, sources in the Los Angeles legal community say Jackson is rumored to be spending about $100,000 a week for his defense. So far, however, he has lost several key rounds in court–failing to win a delay of the civil case (by the first team of defense attorneys) and losing an attempt to prevent Feldman from turning over information to prosecutors who are pursuing possible criminal charges (by the second team of defense attorneys).
Lisa Campbell confirms that the defense wanted to face the criminal proceedings more than a civil suit but does not give a proper explanation as to why Michael Jackson would want to be tried first and pay money later (if that was the ruling of the civil court). The explanation she ventures – that the defense didn’t want to contend with two cases simultaneously – is okay, only it doesn’t explain why the defendant would take the risk of first going into prison and handling the money issue after that.
Why anyone would take the risk and insist on a criminal investigation? Or is freedom less valuable than money?
Lisa Campbell says about the request from the defense team:
“The request for the delay [in a civil suit] had been filed on October 29 by Bert Fields so they wouldn’t have the criminal investigation and the civil suit to contend with simultaneously. At the time of the request, the judge ordered that no interviews be conducted in connection with the civil case until after his decision on November 23.
The press went off half cocked reporting that Michael’s attorneys wanted to delay the civil case for six years, at which time the statute of limitations on the criminal case would have run out. Actually they asked for it to be held until the criminal investigation was completed. (Which by the way it was going, appeared that it would take longer than six years!).
Superior Court Judge David M. Rothman, on November 23, 1993 denied a request filed by Michael’s attorneys to postpone the civil suit until the criminal proceedings were completed.
…. Bert Fields stated that Michael wanted to testify and clear his name in the criminal proceedings before the civil trial. Rothman ordered Michael to give a deposition in the case by January 31, 1994.” (“The King of Pop’s Darkest Hour”, p.68, 1994)
The last point requires rereading. Michael wanted to testify in a criminal court to clear his name there, however since criminal proceedings were put off, the judge – as if turning the whole thing into a cruel joke – did grant him the right (or rather ordered him) to testify, but in a civil suit which he so desperately wanted to postpone.
When a trial doesn’t concern you personally putting criminal proceedings before the civil suit seems to be a very logical thing to do, however in Michael Jackson’s 1993 case it is the fact that it was the DEFENSE which insisted on such a chronological order which makes it so terribly unusual.
If you look at the newspapers of the period you will have a strange impression that Bert Fields was almost looking forward to his client’s indictment. Again and again he would mention the criminal charges in different variations (“if criminal charges are filed against the entertainer”, “if Jackson is indicted on criminal charges”, “if there are significant changes in the status of the criminal investigation before the end of January”, etc.) repeating it so often so that you begin thinking he really wanted those charges to be filed …
The LA Times of December 4, 1993 says:
Michael Jackson has agreed to be deposed January 18 about allegations that he sexually molested a 13-year-old boy, lawyers on both sides of the case said Friday.
Jackson’s attorneys have said he is eager to tell his side of the story under oath, but they also have warned that they may oppose efforts to take Jackson’s deposition [in a civil suit] if criminal charges are filed against the entertainer or are still under consideration when the date for his deposition arrives.
In a hearing last month, Superior Court Judge David Rothman ordered Jackson’s deposition [in a civil suit] scheduled before the end of January. But Rothman also noted that he might reconsider that order if Jackson is indicted on criminal charges.
Bertram Fields, one of Jackson’s lawyers, said Friday that the entertainer might request a change in the deposition date if there are significant changes in the status of the criminal investigation before the end of January [indictment]. “If things change in the criminal case, we would reconsider the whole question of the civil case. We want the criminal case to go first.”
The above piece is terribly confusing with all its depositions, indictments, etc.. And Larry Feldman’s words at the Frozen in Time seminar are not making things easier for us to understand:
LARRY FELDMAN (at a question & answer session):
Yes, [it was] a total voluntary agreement. To put it into context, at the point this case settled, a lot of witnesses had been deposed, but Michael Jackson had not been deposed, and at some point in time Michael Jackson was going to have to decide whether he was going to take the Fifth Amendment, which he didn’t, or whether he was going to let us depose him. And there was a lot of procedural maneuvering by the defense to try to keep putting that decision off. And as that decision and their moves were not able to accomplish what they wanted, which was never to have Michael Jackson take the Fifth Amendment.
LARRY FELDMAN (in his speech):
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.
Since everything here revolves around a deposition and the Fifth Amendment there is no other way out for us but have to look into this legal vocabulary.
The deposition Larry Feldman refers to here was to be taken by him under a civil suit. From what he says it seems that Michael’s lawyers did not want Michael to be deposed in a civil suit though it was quite okay in a criminal one. But a deposition is required in both cases, so I wondered what difference it makes whether it is civil or criminal?
On the other hand both criminal and civil cases give the right to the defendant to plead the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution which enables him not to answer questions if he doesn’t want to testify. The same question arises again – is there any difference if someone pleads the fifth in a civil or criminal case?
I would perfectly understand if Michael was unwilling to testify in either of the courts – no one wants to be grilled day after day with all sort of nonsense for something you didn’t do. And the kind of ‘love’ the media had for Michael guaranteed him the nightmare of seeing his true words said in court today turn into gross media lies tomorrow. And if he wanted to plead the Fifth Amendment not to testify (the way he did it in 2005) it was his full legal right to do so and no one can really find fault with it – as all of us would have done the same if we were in his place, no matter which trial it is – civil or criminal.
Yes, that’s true, but only formally so. When you listen to what lawyers have to say about it, you see that though the Fifth Amendment can be pleaded in both cases civil and criminal law interpret the fact of the refusal to testify in a completely opposite way.
Before you read the legal text let me explain it the way I understood it. Civil law handles disputes between corporations and individuals over offences which are not punished by putting a person in jail – their disputes require money settlements only. In the process of settling such non-criminal cases cooperation on the part of the defendant is very much encouraged and any refusal to testify is awfully frowned upon.
Civil law is simply not meant for handling serious cases like suspicion in child molestation – that’s the point. You wouldn’t take a murder case to a civil court, would you? Because you won’t require a money settlement with him and won’t like the murderer to walk away free even if he pays money to you, right?
Even from the point of view of the accused a civil court is something you wouldn’t want to. If you were facing an imprisonment for something you didn’t you and were tried in a criminal court you would be considered innocent until proven guilty there and would not be required to do the defense job all by yourself – it is the prosecution who should prove their point. Therefore you can keep silence there pleading the fifth and criminal law acknowledges your full right to do so.
However civil law doesn’t handle serious cases like that and in settling their disputes (like custodial rights, etc.) it counts on the defendant’s full cooperation and if he refuses to help regards his silence as a clear sign of guilt. Moreover – as you will see it from the legal text below – the defendent is expected to help the other side to collect evidence against himself!
Let us imagine you are accused of a horrendous crime you’ve never committed, and you want JUSTICE and a chance to expose the liar in a criminal court, but you are DENIED this chance because the liar ‘doesn’t want it’ which doesn’t prevent him from demanding money from you in a civil suit – how would you feel about it?
But if the liar takes special pleasure in dragging you through all the humiliating procedures same as in a criminal trial AND you cannot even refuse because you’ll be found guilty just because of this refusal – how will you feel then?
This was what Larry Feldman meant when he said that Michael’s lawyers were to worry about his Fifth amendment rights. This is why there was some ‘procedural maneuvering by the defense to try to keep putting that decision off’, as he said. Taking the Fifth Amendment (which Michael didn’t) was a terrible disadvantage for him in a civil case Larry Feldman imposed on him by force and Larry Feldman knew that once the civil suit went forward the situation became exceptionally favorable for him and his case and exceptionally unfavorable for Michael Jackson.
Lawyer Robert D. Standler explains the rules of the game http://www.rbs2.com/cc.htm
1. In civil law, a private party (a corporation or individual person) files the lawsuit and becomes the plaintiff. In criminal law, the litigation is always filed by the government, who is called the prosecution. (Before Larry Feldman filed a civil suit two criminal investigations had been opened by the LA D.istrict Attorney Gil Garcetti and the Santa Barbara D.A. Tom Sneddon. However the civil suit was pushed forward).
2. In criminal law, a guilty defendant is punished by either incarceration in a jail or prison, fine paid to the government, or, execution of the defendant (in exceptional cases). In contrast, a defendant in civil litigation is never incarcerated and never executed. A losing defendant in civil litigation only reimburses the plaintiff for losses caused by the defendant’s behavior (so there could be no other outcome in the civil case in 1993 except the money settlement).
3. In criminal litigation, the burden of proof is always on the state. The state must prove that the defendant is guilty. The defendant is assumed to be innocent; the defendant needs to prove nothing (and can plead the fifth amendment). In civil litigation, the burden of proof is initially on the plaintiff. However, there are a number of technical situations in which the burden shifts to the defendant to refute or rebut the plaintiff’s evidence (and he cannot plead the fifth without detriment to himself).
4. In a civil case, the defendant must be available and cooperative for depositions and testimony as a witness in the trial. In fact, the defendant in a civil case in Federal court must voluntarily provide his opponent with a copy of documents “in the possession, custody, or control of the party that are relevant to disputed facts”. Further, the defendant in a civil case must voluntarily provide names of people who are “likely to have discoverable information relevant to disputed facts”. In other words the defendant in a civil case must help his opponent collect evidence that will defeat the defendant.
Isn’t the last point about collecting evidence to defeat himself is absolutely great? It is one thing to willingly submit financial documents to clarify some civil disputes and it is a totally different thing to willingly provide the ‘evidence’ that you are a ‘child molester, isn’t it?
5. The lawyer says, “It may come as a surprise to know that protections (which are given to the accused by criminal law) are not available in civil law”.
These protections include prohibition against compelled self-incrimination (Amendment 5), the right to a speedy trial (Amendment 6) and the right to the assistance of counsel, which gives the right to an attorney who is paid by the state, even during custodial questioning by police (Amendment 6). There are often several years between the filing of a complaint in a civil case and the trial. So much for “speedy trial”. (None of these rights are given to the defendant in a civil case. And does the above mean that Michael Jackson was devoid even of the right to have an attorney by his side during questioning by police?)
6. Invoking these amendments is regarded in civil law as a detriment to the defendant’s case. For example, “if a party invokes their fifth amendment privilege against self-incrimination, then the judge will instruct the jury that they may make an adverse inference against the party who refused to testify…”
Our David Edwards applies these rules to Michael’s situation in this post:
- In a criminal case, a defendant can refuse to testify entirely, or refuse to answer certain questions, and it CANNOT be used against him in determining his guilt. (For example, MJ did not testify in his 2005 criminal trial, and we all know the outcome of that case!)
- However, in civil trials the defendant MUST testify, or else it will be used against him. Now let’s say that MJ had a civil trial in 1994. If he would have plead the fifth (either on the witness stand, or in a deposition), which is what his lawyers wanted him to do, the jury could have legally perceived it as a sign of guilt. Combine that with the lower burden of proof and the chances of MJ being found liable would have increased exponentially.
Now what about this point of the lower burden of proof needed? Well, in addition to all the above it turns out that for the jury to pass a guilty verdict in a civil suit it is enough to have an over 50% probability of negligence on the part of the defendant! Robert Standler says:
7. In criminal litigation, the state must prove that the defendant satisfied each element of the statutory definition of the crime, and the defendant’s participation, “beyond a reasonable doubt.” It is difficult to put a valid numerical value on the probability that a guilty person really committed the crime, but legal authorities who do assign a numerical value generally say “at least 98% or 99%” certainty of guilt.
In civil litigation, the plaintiff wins if the preponderance of the evidence favors the plaintiff. For example, if the jury believes that there is more than a 50% probability that the defendant was negligent in causing the plaintiff’s injury, the plaintiff wins. This is a very low standard, compared to criminal law – too low a standard, especially considering that the defendant could be ordered to pay millions of dollars to the plaintiff.
There are a couple of good things about civil law though:
1) firstly, you can buy an insurance to cover all the damages possibly arising in a civil case (no insurance is ever allowed in criminal cases!)
2) secondly, if you don’t have the insurance and don’t want to pay and have cleverly hidden your assets you are not obliged to pay at all (this is what Victor Gutierrez did when the civil trial ruled he should pay $2,7 mln. in compensation for slander to Michael). See what the lawyer Robert Standler says about it:
8. One can purchase insurance that will pay damages and attorney’s fees for tort claims. Such insurance coverage is a standard part of homeowner’s insurance policies, automobile insurance, and insurance for businesses. In contrast, it is not possible for a defendant to purchase insurance to pay for his criminal acts.
(Lisa D. Campbell named Transamerica Insurance as suppliers of Michael Jackson’s personal liability insurance in 1994 and said about it, “A spokesperson for the insurance company said the claim would be reviewed, and if found to be valid, it would pay”. Now we know that they did cover the expenses).
9. While a court can order a defendant to pay damages, the plaintiff may receive nothing if the defendant has no assets and no insurance, or if the defendant is skillful in concealing assets. In this way, large awards for plaintiffs in tort cases are often an illusion. (full text here http://www.rbs2.com/cc.htm)
You see that with the exception of the last two points – the second of which surely didn’t apply to Michael – the civil suit was the worst option ever for Michael whichever way you look at it.
If a person is innocent allowing the criminal investigation go first is a very logical thing to do and the fact that Michael’s lawyer Bert Fields so desperately tried to place criminal proceedings before the civil suit is the best proof that Michael was indeed INNOCENT as a baby.
Will a guilty person insist on a criminal trial if he knows that there is a risk he can be put behind bars? The answer to this question is obvious. Michael knew he was innocent, and his defense attorney Bert Fields knew it too and private investigator Anthony Pellicano who had examined every speck of evidence was also convinced of Michael’s complete innocence until the very last minute when he was ousted from the case (and ever afterwards too).
They had nothing to fear and that is why the defense craved for justice. Or it would probably be more correct to say it in another way – it was the defense which craved for justice, while the accuser was afraid of it, wanted money and fought tooth and nail for a chance to replace the criminal case with a civil one.
The crazy version of ‘silencing’ someone doesn’t hold water here.
- IF THE CRIME IS REAL it is the victim who wants to take it to court while the other side takes desperate steps to silence him by offering money (which the victim may or may not take).
- BUT IF THE CRIME IS FICTIONAL and it is a money extortion, the events come in the reverse order – the ‘victim’ demands money and it is the accused who wants justice and insists on going to court to clear his good name there – which is exactly what Michael Jackson and his lawyer wanted to do.
Bertram Fields clearly stated it, “We want the criminal case to go first” (LA Times, Dec.4, 1993). However the more Michael and his first team of lawyers fought for it, the stronger was the opposition from the other side.
It reminds me of a no less ridiculous situation in 2004 when the defense attorney Thomas Mesereau suboenaed Ray Chandler (see here) to prove that he had some ‘incriminating’ documents against Michael. It was the defense which fought for the right of Ray Chandler – who accused Michael of all sort of things in his book All that Glitters – to come and prove his lies in court, and it was the accuser who was scared to death to go and give his testimony there.
A similar situation arose in 1993 – same as Thomas Mesereau the defense attorney Bert Fields wanted to summon the accuser Jordan Chandler and his parents to a criminal court and was even ready for Michael’s indictment and same as in 2004/05 none of them was willing to go. Both lawyers wanted to cross-examine the accusers. And in both cases the accusers freaked out of these arrangements….
So big was Bert Fields’ desire to put off the civil suit and push criminal first that in a court hearing on November 23, 1993 he mentioned that the jury had already convened and would bring charges “very, very soon”. In the atmosphere of mass hysteria they were working in, this statement from Bert Fields was regarded by his partner, Howard Weitzman, as really too much – especially since the information received by Bert Fields from the Santa Barbara County turned out to be false. As a result of that announcement Bert Fields was fired.
“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”.
The same Variety article sheds slight on how the defense’s request to postpone a civil suit until after the criminal proceedings translated into a haters’ version of “postponing it by 6 years until after the statute of limitations expired. Naturally it was Larry Feldman who made the necessary interpretation.
To counter Bert Fields’ motion to put off the civil case until after the criminal proceedings were over Larry Feldman announced that that he did not even know whether an indictment would even take place (so strong was their case!) and that it would delay the civil suit by 6 years which they they couldn’t afford:
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.”
http://www.variety.com/article/VR116092?refCatId=18 Tue., Nov. 23, 1993
The newspapers picked it up and presented their own version of the story without specifying that the defense team was talking about postponing a civil suit until a later time and bringing criminal proceedings forward which – in case the defendant was found guilty – would mean that he could go to prison long ‘before that statute of limitations expired’. And it won’t really matter whether that period expired or not since the person will have been convicted anyway… This is how the media interpreted the fact that the criminal case could last for 6 years:
“Attorneys for Jackson have said the case should be put on hold until the criminal investigation is concluded or postponed for six years, when the statute of limitations for the crime of child molestation would expire.”
LARRY FELDMAN confirms the fact that they made a big fuss over that issue in the media (he calls it “litigation it hard in papers”) and that the press loved it:
As he [MJ] 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.
Though no one understood what that 6 years story was all about, everyone “loved it and picked it up”. I am not surprised the media fell for Larry Feldman’s story – look at the heart-wrenching arguments he used to support his motion for pushing the civil case first:
“Feldman has also argued that the boy has a right to proceed with the suit so he can put the case behind him. As part of the document he submitted Tuesday, Feldman included a statement from the boy’s therapist, who states that a long delay could hurt the boy’s chances for recovery.
“I believe that it would be extremely harmful to the emotional health and well-being of my patient if there is a delay in the legal proceedings in this case,” psychotherapist Nancy Cotterman-Garcia said in a declaration dated Nov. 11. It “will cause severe emotional distress to this child and interfere with his chances for recovery.”
In his brief, Feldman added that a long delay in the civil case would make it much more difficult to gather evidence. “Many of the witnesses are not residents of the United States,” he wrote. “It will be difficult, if not impossible, to locate them six years hence. Some may die, some may forget, or at the very least, their memories will have faded.”
Now that you’ve wiped off the tears of admiration for Larry Feldman and compassion for the ‘poor boy’ let me ask a few questions.
- Why the need to bother about collecting evidence after the criminal trial? All the evidence should be collected by the prosecution by the time civil litigation starts and at absolutely no expense to the Plaintiff or his lawyer Larry Feldman!
- And why will the witnesses forget? The witnesses will never forget as they will testify in the criminal trial before the civilsuit – such impressions are unforgettable!
- What happens if someone passes away? Written depositions and recorded testimonies are usually helpful in this case…
- Why so many sentiments about the ‘poor boy’? Isn’t it him and his family who started the whole thing? After all if you want a $20 mln. sum please go and prove that you have the right to it!
No, guys, all this talk about Jordan’s feelings was just part of the vaudeville – if Larry Feldman was really concerned about the boy he would never have disclosed all those graphic details about his ‘molestation’ in the first place.
The main reasons why Larry Feldman was in such a hurry in pushing the civil suit first were different: firstly, they never wanted a criminal trial, secondly, the civil suit was their only chance to win the case and in the third place, it was Jordan Chandler’s birthday which was looming ahead….
What does Jordan Chandler’s birthday have to do with it?
LARRY FELDMAN says at the Frozen in Time seminar:
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.
So Jordan’s birthday was the selling point to the district attorney? It is really awful to see that such crucial issues as justice and the truth depend on someone’s birthday being two months earlier or later…
If Jordan was only two months older the outcome of the 1993 case could have been totally different – the criminal case could have come first, Jordan Chandler would have naturally refused to testify there as he had no proof for his lies and the case would have simply fallen apart….
The problem is, while Jordan was still thirteen the law of California allowed him to have a speedy trial in 90 days (max.120 days). However the fight over pushing the criminal case back and forth took several valuable months away and on January 11, 1994 Jordan Chandler was to turn 14 which automatically made him no different from those adults for whom a trial could be prepared for as long as it needed and could last as long as several years or more.
Never mind how long the civil or criminal trial could last – the Chandlers didn’t want them anyway – Larry Feldman used Jordan’s age as a perfect PRETEXT for pushing the civil suit forward and since only a month and a half were left before the X day he had to be really quick to make use of this unbeatable card. And the card did work – when the judge was making his ruling it was Jordan’s age which was the decisive factor for letting the civil suit go first.
See how Lisa Campbell explains it:
The judge ruled that the boy’s right to a speedy trial prevailed over Michael Jackson’s request to delay the proceedings and set a court date for March 21,1994.
In setting the court date, Rothman followed California’s 120 day speedy trial rule that requires a trial date within 120 days when the alleged victim is under fourteen. In the judge’s view, this rule superseded Michael Jackson’s request to delay the civil suit until his name was cleared in the criminal investigation.
Let us draw some conclusions now:
1) As the Defence attorney Bret Fields wanted the Criminal case first he was therefore interested in the jury bringing charges against Michael. As the attorney for Jordan Chandler Larry Feldman wanted the Civil suit to go first and the criminal case to follow it he was thus interested in the criminal proceedings being delayed.
I hope it effectively answers all the lamentations from Ray Chandler that D.A. Gil Garcetti was ‘afraid’ of Michael’s celebrity and that it was because the prosecution was so slow that the poor Chandlers had to settle.
The LA Times says: “The entertainer‘s lawyers have regularly attacked the slow pace of the inquiry”
2) Bert Fields tried to convince the court, public and the press that criminal proceedings wouldn’t take much time and charges would be brought “very, very soon”. That is why he was cooperative with the prosecution:
The LA Times: “Los Angeles Police Cmdr. DavidGascon said LAPD detectives “have met with cooperation throughout the course of the investigation,” and Pellicano said the singer “is going to cooperate with police in every way.” http://articles.latimes.com/1993-08-24/local/me-27332_1_michael-jackson)
Larry Feldman tried to convince the court, public and the press that criminal proceedings would be very long and could even not take place at all and could take up to 6 years. He was most probably playing a cat and mouse game with the authorities choosing what evidence he would disclose to them and what could just wait until a more convenient time.
How would you feel if the DA let you try their case?”
“Oh, I’d love it! That’d be the best.”
“Don’t you have Jordie’s testimony to trade on?”
“Yeah, but I want to use it so they’ll stay behind me. Then they won’t have to deal with this either.
“It’s to their advantage to stay behind you, right?”
“Right, to their political advantage.”
3) Michael Jackson and the first team of his lawyers were fighting for a criminal investigation though theoretically it could put him into prison. The Chandlers and Larry Feldman never wanted to go to a criminal court, wanted a money settlement from the very start and preferably without a civil trial either as it would involve Jordan Chandler’s testimony too (same as in a criminal court).
These conclusions may seem illogical at first sight (especially the defense helping the prosecution to speed up criminal proceedings) however if Michael was innocent, everything immediately fits in.
Only an INNOCENT guy will choose a criminal trial as he will want justice for himself and only MONEY SEEKERS will avoid it at all costs and look for a money settlement from the very start – which is what civil suits are meant for.
However the criminal case never came forward in 1993 case as Larry Feldman won a major victory over his opponents – on November 23, 1993 the judge decided in his favor and put the civil suit first.
This was the turning point of the 1993 case which determined the outcome of the future events.
The rest of the story will be much shorter.
After this major setback Bert Fields informed Michael of his decision to resign (he was forced to by his partner Howard Weitzner). I wonder if Michael knew of all this mess taking place in his case while he was in a rehab in Europe at that time? But how much could he do about it from across the ocean and being in a condition he was in?
Anthony Pellicano had to resign too. Same as Bert Fields he had an unshakeable belief in Michael’s innocence and wanted to fight for Michael to the very end. It was probably his die-hard determination to fight till the end which made him leave as this approach was surely no longer in tune with the intentions of the new team of lawyers. The LA Times dated December 22, 1993 says about it:
“Pellicano, a private investigator with a reputation for aggressive tactics, challenged the allegations with ferocity, accusing the boy’s father of attempting to extort $20 million out of Jackson and of resorting to the child molestation accusations only after Jackson’s representatives rebuffed his extortion attempts.
In the interview Tuesday, Pellicano continued to stand behind Jackson. “In no way, shape or form does (my resignation) indicate that Michael Jackson is guilty,” Pellicano said. “Michael Jackson is not guilty, and all the things I said in the past I reaffirm.”
Authorities have notified Jackson’s lawyers that they expect their investigation to continue at least through February, while the boy’s attorney, Larry R. Feldman, is pushing ahead with his client’s civil suit.
With two investigations proceeding simultaneously, sources in the Los Angeles legal community say Jackson is rumored to be spending about $100,000 a week for his defense.
Being at a loss with all this criminal/civil riddle which is hard to unravel even now and being upset by the evident failures of Michael’s defense his supporters regarded the reshuffle of defense attorneys as a positive change. Lisa Campbell wrote about it in 1994:
“Katherine Jackson, who had publicly criticized Michael’s defence team said with the changes, she could sleep better at night (if only she knew!). Some in the media speculated that the family had had some influence on Michael’s decision to make the changes. …
Field’s replacement Cochran, was actually suggested by Bob Jones. Jones had known Cochran since they went to high school together.”
So Johnnie Cochran and his assistant Carl Douglas were suggested by Bob Jones? The vindictive Bob Jones who wrote the book of grave exaggeration and falsity once he lost his job with Michael in order to get even with his former boss?
I don’t know much about Johnnie Cochran as a lawyer except the fact that his assistant Carl Douglas spoke of a “twenty year prior friendship” between him and the great Larry Feldman which enabled Larry Feldman to represent Johnnie’s interests in several civil cases.
But as to Carl Douglas we’ve all read his speech and comments at the Frozen in Time seminar (click here for the transcript) and here for his answers to questions and were saddened to see a man of dubious ethics and dubious professionalism who was selected to represent Michael instead of his genuine supporters Fields and Pellicano.
After reading about his thorough enjoyment of all the publicity Michael Jackson’s case gave him and the double charges they usually asked for their invaluable services I regard his nomination in Michael’s case as a complete tragedy which is only deepened by the fact that he is a black man who was probably selected by Michael in expectation of more loyalty on his part. Human conscience (or lack of it) doesn’t have a color and this case is just another proof of it…
Now we know that Thomas Mesereau explained the outcome of the 1993 case as a result of bad advice from his lawyers. Carl Douglas wouldn’t elaborate on that at all, however Michael Jackson disclosed what their advice was in his interview with Diane Sawyer in 1994: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4bCaj-Ou_Q&feature=related :
Diane Sawyer: Why did you settle the case? And, it looks to everyone as if you paid a huge amount of money….
Michael: That’s…that’s, most of that’s folklore. I talked to my lawyers, and I said, “can you guarantee me, that justice will prevail?” And they said: “Michael, we cannot guarantee you that a judge, or a jury will do anything.” And with that I was like catatonic, I was outraged!
Diane Sawyer: How much money…..
Michael: Totally outraged. So, I said…I have got to do something to get out from under this nightmare. All these lies and all these people coming forth to get paid and all these tabloid shows, just lies, lies, lies, lies. So what I did, we got together again with my advisors and they advised me. It was a hands down, unanimous decision – resolve the case. This could be something that could go on for seven years!….
Diane Sawyer: How much money was….
Michael: We said, let’s get it behind us.
“We cannot guarantee you that a judge, or a jury will do anything.”? Sure, people like Carl Douglas wouldn’t guarantee anything at all! It seems that they did not intend to do any defense for Michael from the very moment when they were retained. That is why they were so unanimous in their advice to Michael to agree to a money settlement … the decision which only Michael was to take as the other side was ready for it anyway… his agreement to never get justice and subdue his anger towards the offenders asking the insurers to pay to these beasts instead….
In her book The King of Pop’s Darkest Hour of 1994 Lisa Campbell confirms that resolving the case through a money settlement was the strategy the new team of Michael’s lawyers employed immediately upon being retained. Since at the time it was considered a wise move on the part of the defense Lisa Campbell speaks about this decision in favorable terms (p.110):
“Following the settlement, many law experts questioned why it took so long. Insiders said it was due to the advice Michael received from Bert Fields and Anthony Pellicano”. The advice was actually correct! And it took so long because those guys together with Michael wanted to take the case to a criminal court and clear his name there, as the next sentence immediately proves it:
“Colleagues said Fields was against negotiating a settlement because it would be seen as in indication of guilt. He also wanted the opportunity to cross-examine the boy. Johnnie, seen as being shrewder about limiting the amount of damage done, did not oppose a settlement. As soon as Cochran took over for Fields, he began negotiating the settlement (plain and simple as that!). Legal experts speculated that had Cochran been representing Michael Jackson at the beginning, it wouldn’t have gotten so out of control”.
Oh, my God – it wouldn’t have gotten so out of control? Poor Lisa Campbell, let us forgive her mistake. Bert Fields and Anthony Pellicano deserve our respect at least for their attempt to take the case to a criminal court and seeking justice for Michael, while the second team of lawyers surrendered the case without any resistance whatsoever.
If only she knew with what delight and triumph Larry Feldman accepted that news of his old friend Johnnie Cochran substituting for Michael’s real advocate Bert Field!
In his book “All that Glitters” Ray Chandler describes this scene as a completely victorious moment in the accusers’ camp. In a telephone conversation with Evan Chandler Larry Feldman says that Bert Field’s replacement is something ‘they should be thankful for’ and speaks of it as a big, big mistake on the part of the defense. This is expressed in so exquisite a language that I leave it here unedited though it truly surprised me to hear it from a gentleman like Larry Feldman:
“Late in the afternoon, after everyone had consumed their holiday repast, Larry Feldman called Evan with news they could all be thankful for.
Larry: “Hey, Evan, you gotta hear this one. Howard Weitzman demoted Fields again. They definitely don’t want your deposition, or June’s deposition. They don’t want to preserve anything. (not necessarily true) If they’re gonna make a deal they don’t want anything on the record about Jackson.”
Evan: “No shit! Larry, these guys are in a real mess.”
Larry: “Yeah, they fucked this up unbelievably. What could be better? But I’m going forward. We’re going to push on. So far there ain’t a button I’ve missed. The only thing we gotta do is keep the criminal behind us. I don’t want them going first.
Larry had said it before, but it hadn’t registered in Evan’s brain until now.
Evan: “You mean if they indict, the criminal case automatically goes before us?”
Evan: “Jesus Christ!”
Larry: “Right! So we don’t want that.”
This is the direct proof of the conclusions made earlier. An indictment, though generally viewed by the accuser as a positive event in his fight against the defendant, in this particular case was something neither Larry Feldman, nor Evan Chandler ever wanted, as it was opening the road to a criminal trial (which they never, never wanted either).
Have you noticed Evan Chandler’s horror at a mere mentioning of a possibility that a criminal trial can come before a civil settlement? So is there anyone here who is still doubting the true intentions of Evan Chandler, his total unwillingness to take the case to court, his absolute uncertainly in what he was saying and the terrible fear that there would probably be a need to prove his allegations legally?
Ray Chandler is apparently forgetful that in another chapter he lied that they had to ‘pressurize’ prosecution. And now he is proving to us himself that they never wanted a criminal trial in the first place.
Yes, this competition between the civil and criminal suits in Michael’s 1993 case is something truly unprecedented, I must say… A couple of words about the 2005 trial now:
LARRY FELMAN said at the Frozen in Time seminar,
And in the criminal case [in 2005], originally Michael Jackson was represented by Mark Geragos, as the judge alluded to, and Brafman 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.
The newspapers tell us the story of lawyers being replaced in the 2005 case too:
“The change in lawyers was the biggest decision. Mark Geragos and Benjamin Brafman were viewed throughout the legal establishment as outstanding lawyers. But Geragos was dividing his time between Jackson and the Scott Peterson murder case. Brafman was based in New York [ ] and his involvement in the case has meant frequent cross-country trips.
Huddling with Randy and two other advisors, Jackson settled on Mesereau, who projected a workhorse image, just what Jackson wanted. http://articles.latimes.com/2004/may/07/local/me-image7
Legal experts had speculated that his decision to replace his lawyers with Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Thomas A. Mesereau Jr. was prompted at least in part because of Geragos’ conflicting schedule.
“I think Jackson wanted a full-time lawyer,” said attorney Connie Rice. “I would be very nervous if my lawyer had another big case that was taking up his time.”
Only last week, Jackson was indicted by a Santa Barbara County grand jury, and is scheduled to be arraigned on those charges Friday.
Sources close to the Jackson family said one factor that contributed to the showdown was the grand jury indictment. While most legal experts saw an indictment as a foregone conclusion, the decision came as a surprise to some Jackson intimates.http://articles.latimes.com/2004/apr/27/local/me-jackson27
In a statement released Monday, Mr. Jackson explained why he “terminated” his lawyers. “It is imperative that I have the full attention of those who are representing me. My life is at stake. Therefore, I must feel confident that my interests are of the highest priority.
“I am innocent of these false charges and will aggressively seek to clear my name. I feel very confident that when I am able to defend myself, I will be exonerated by a jury of my peers. I would like to thank Messrs. Geragos and Brafman for the work they have done and I wish them well.” April 27, 2004 Santa Barbara New Press Archives
In his statement, which was approved by the judge, Mr. Mesereau subtly distinguished himself from former lead lawyers Mark Geragos and Benjamin Brafman:
“I want to make clear what this case is about. This case is not about lawyers and anyone else becoming celebrities. This defense is going to be conducted with dignity at all times.
This case is about one thing only.
It’s about the dignity, the integrity, the decency, the honor, the charity, the innocence and the complete vindication of a wonderful human being named Michael Jackson.” April 27, 2004 LA Times
GREAT WORDS SAID BY A GREAT MAN which are worthy to be engraved in golden letters in the world history. And what a stark contrast with those who were supposed to defend Michael Jackson in 1993!