You Don’t Have To Be a “Crazy, Rabid Fan” To Know That Michael Jackson Was INNOCENT!!
There is a perception among some people that only Michael Jackson’s “crazy, rabid, deranged, and lunatic” fans think that he’s innocent of all of the child abuse charges that were hurled at him throughout his career. Anyone who tries to defend MJ is automatically pigeonholed with those aforementioned labels, and the sad thing is that there are so many “hardcore” fans who cannot cogently defend MJ that those labels are sometimes justified! (I recently wrote a series titled “How to Recognize and Refute The Fallacies Used by Michael Jackson Haters” in order to teach fans how to better defend MJ).
Unfortunately, that perception applies to MJ fan sites and blogs, and Vindicate MJ is no exception. Although this blog is designed to be an investigation site geared towards people who want to do serious, substantive research (as opposed to your typical “fan adulation” site), there is still a stigma that we cannot overcome because we are all, at heart, huge fans of MJ, and that is the motivating factor behind the arduous work that we do to vindicate him.
So I decided to compile a list of journalists and legal analysts who were actually fair and objective to MJ during his trial (and yes, they do exist!), and they can give readers a different perspective of the allegations because they did not cover the trial necessarily due to their love and admiration for MJ, but rather because it was their JOB to cover it!
Another motivating factor in wanting to compile this list is because I have received emails from people in high school and college that are using this blog to help them research the allegations for their term papers and projects (see the photo below of an email I received a few months ago), and some teachers and professors do not allow their students to cite personal blogs as a source, the same way that Wikipedia isn’t allowed to be used as a source. So if there is anyone who cannot cite this blog, they can at least cite the following journalists and authors, as well as the videos, articles, and court documents and testimonies that we base our research upon!
I’ll start with journalist Aphrodite Jones, who is a New York Times bestselling author who specializes in writing about high profile crimes and trials. She was an analyst for Fox News in 2005, and sat in court every day of the trial, and readily admits that she was one of the media jackals that were out for MJ’s blood by intentionally slanting their coverage in the prosecution’s favor and giving the general public the impression that a conviction was inevitable. After the verdicts, she did a 180 degree turnaround, and wrote the excellent book “Michael Jackson Conspiracy”, despite the fact that she was turned down by every major book publisher due to the fact that the book was actually honest, and not the typical tabloid trash. Here is her YouTube channel, and here is her blog.
Here are some brief interviews that she did with Geraldo Rivera and Bill O’Reilly in 2007 to promote her book (notice how Geraldo forced Det. Mark Fuhrman to admit that Janet Arvizo lied!)
In 2010, Aphrodite did 3 radio interviews (each over an hour long), and I compiled them in this post titled “Aphrodite Jones’ Vehement Defense of Michael Jackson in 2010”.
She also aired a documentary on the Discover ID channel that was based on her book, and it can be seen in its entirety below:
Matt Taibbi is a journalist and writer for Rolling Stone, Men’s Journal, and other publications. He is the son of Mike Taibbi, a reporter or MSNBC who fairly reported on MJ throughout the trial. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!
In October 2007, he released a book titled “Smells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches from a Rotting Empire”. It is a collection of many of his articles from Rolling Stone and other sources, and the very first chapter – and the only one that is available in full on Google Books – is about his thoughts from the Michael Jackson trial! It was originally published on April 7th, 2005 (two months before the acquittal). Here it is in its entirety!
Jacko on Trial
Inside the strangest show on Earth
April 7, 2005
It is the first day of witness testimony in the Michael Jackson trial, and I am stuck in the overflow room of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse—a windowless trailer at the edge of the court compound, where fifty journalists are crouched around a closed-circuit broadcast of the trial, poised to catch the word masturbate should it fly out of the TV monitor.
The figures on the screen are tiny and barely recognizable. Jackson attorney Thomas Mesereau is the only one who is easy to spot, his mane of blow-dried white hair flowing back and forth across the screen like a cursor.
“Please to tell, veech von ees Jackson?” whispers a European reporter.
“He’s the little dot on the left,” snaps an American TV reporter, not averting his eyes from the monitor.
The screen goes dark District Attorney Tom Sneddon, a humorless creep whose public persona recalls the potbellied vice principal perched on the gym bleachers watching you slow-dance, has chosen to open proceedings with a screening of Living with Michael Jackson, the sensational documentary put out by Hobbit-like self-promoting British tabloid creature Martin Bashir—a smug; blob we can just make out sitting with folded hands in the witness dock.
It’s fitting that Bashir is the first witness in this case. The whole trial is peopled with the amoeboid life-forms one finds swimming in the sewer of the celebrity industry: publicists, personal assistants, B-list entertainment lawyers. The species Bashir represents is the pompous hack who peers through the bedroom windows of famous people and imagines he is curing cancer.
Bashir is so pretentious, he affects not to understand what Sneddon means when he uses the term “video documentaries” to describe his work, “I call them cultural-affairs programs,” Bashir says.
The theory of the prosecution, for those few who can follow it, is that the airing of this documentary in Britain in February 2003 set in motion a sinister conspiracy that ultimately led to Michael Jackson sticking his hands down a boy’s underpants. The prosecution presents the film as the dramatic opening chapter of a labyrinthine tale of moral decay; it follows that the darkening of the courtroom is intended to have symbolic import, a sign that we are entering a world of shadows.
But the effect is ruined when the film starts. As the camera pans across the gates of Jackson’s Neverland ranch, the audio track booms out the familiar bass groove of “Billie Jean”—and in the overflow room, the sea of aging reporters instantly begins bobbing cheerfully to the beat.
“I love this song,”the TV reporter whispers to me.
The Jackson trial is a goddamn zoo, a freak show from sunup to sundown. By six-thirty every morning, when the sheriffs deputies hold their lottery for public seating, a small vaude-ville act of pro-Jackson protesters has already assembled in front of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, and every day they fight the press and each other for the cameras, from the opening bell straight through to the end of testimony.
Like snowflakes no two protesters are alike, or even similar.
About the only connection one can imagine them having is that each was the 95,000th caller on the eighties radio station in his hometown. A kindly young black woman who quit her job teaching kindergarten in Los Angeles to support her favorite artist, a fat white psychopath from Tennessee who thinks Jackson is Jesus, and a rotund Latino in a FREE MICHAEL T-shirt who lives in his mother’s basement a few miles from the courthouse—they’ve all joined hands, circling wagons against the press and against the equally weird self-appointed child-abuse victim advocates who occasionally show up to fuck up their action. Police apparently had to intervene one afternoon when the basement-dwelling Latino reportedly scuffled with a middle-aged blonde housewife carrying a sign that read HANDS OFF MY PRIVATE PARTS.
This small group, generally numbering not more than thirty, represents the sum total of public interest in the trial here. Though forty-five courtroom seats are reserved for the general public every day, on most days, California v. Jackson is outdrawn by the games of lawn bowling held for Santa Maria’s retired elderly on the Astroturf lot at the rear of the court compound.
The utter lack of buzz adds to the sordid, depressing feel of the whole trial. As public attractions go, it ranks somewhere below a bearded-lady tent and one of those mules in Tijuana painted to look like a zebra—pay a dollar to have a Polaroid taken. Only the media still take the trial seriously.
The courtroom routine is established early on. Jackson, usually dressed in an armband and a dazed smile, makes his way in at about 8: 15 AM most days. He comes with his parents and one of his brothers, embracing them as they take their seats, then glides over to the defense table to begin his pretrial rituals. He shakes hands with his lawyers, then drifts to the right-front corner of the courtroom, behind a small partition, and does a brief calisthenics routine, squatting up and down about five times as he faces the wall. By the time he is finished, the defense has laid out a bowl of peppermints for him; he walks up to the mints, slowly unwraps one and then another, sucks on them, then finally sits down in his seat and stares ahead impassively. Most days he sits like that, motionless, all day. He might be engaged in the case, he might be waiting for the spaceship to land. It’s impossible to tell.
Beginning with Bashir, the early days of testimony feature a parade of absurd lackeys and celebrity parasites. A typical Sneddon witness is the froglike Ann Gabriel, who had been employed as a Jackson publicist for about a week around the time the alleged crime took place. Sneddon brought her in to testify that one of Jackson’s lawyers had told her they could make the mother of Jackson’s accuser “look like a crack whore.”
During her brief testimony, Gabriel manages to plug her only other “celebrity” client, a Las Vegas magician and “noted self-hypnosis expert” named Marshall Sylver. Sylver, I would later find out, reached the peak of his fame when he gave a woman an orgasm on the Montel Williams Show by touching her knee. But in court, Gabriel speaks about him as though he is a candidate for pope. “That’s Marshall Sylver,” she repeats into the microphone. “S-y-l-v-e-r… .w You half-expect her to direct the jury to his Web site.
Jackson looks disengaged during this succession of clowns, hut when the real witnesses start appearing, he begins acting out. On the fourth day of the trial, while Mesereau is cross-examining the accuser’s big sister—who, among other things, testified that she saw the pop star repeatedly kiss her brother on the forehead—Jackson suddenly gets up and walks out of the courtroom.
The move momentarily staggers Mesereau, a hired killer of the first order, and he looks uncharacteristically sheepish as he chases after his client. He returns a minute later to inform eternally exhausted fudge Rodney Melville that “Mr. Jackson has to go to the bathroom, Your Honor.”
A week later, Jackson simply fails to show up in court on a day when his actual accuser is scheduled to testify, forcing a clearly rattled Mesereau to tell Judge Melville that his client has “severe back pains”; Jackson eventually arrives to court in pajamas. But for all of Jackson’s fabled eccentricity, he is, astonishingly, not the dominant personality at the trial. That honor belongs to District Attorney Sneddon, whose convoluted indictment is a Frankenstein’s monster of incongruous parts every bit as luridly fascinating as the defendant’s surgically altered face.
The prosecution’s case, seldom satisfactorily explained in the mainstream media, goes as follows. On February 6, 2003, the Bashir documentary, in which Jackson is seen admitting that he sleeps in his bedroom with young boys, is shown on British TV. Among the children who appear in the video is his accuser in this case, a thirteen-year-old cancer survivor who had been introduced to Jackson during his chemotherapy treatments several years before.
According to the prosecution, Jackson had not molested the boy at the time the Bashir documentary aired, but he was sufficiently concerned that the boy might make such allegations that he and a band of Neverland courtiers entered into an elaborate conspiracy to “falsely imprison” the boy and his family for nearly five weeks (in luxury hotels, at Neverland ranch, and other places), during which time they coerced the family into denying, on camera, that anything untoward had ever happened between Jackson and the boy.
Jackson’s five alleged coconspirators—none of whom were indicted—seem to be the sort of people who show up full of ideas at the bedside of fading greatness: junior Nazis who get Hitler to sign off on a new T-shirt design during the last days in the bunker. “Business associate” Dieter Wiesner, for instance, owns sex clubs in Germany and sank gobs of the pop star’s money into a doomed Michael Jackson soft drink, to be marketed in Europe, called the MJ Mystery Drink. (Wiesner’s former partner, coconspirator Ronald Konitzer, has since been accused by Mesereau of stealing Jackson’s money.) Marc Schaffel came to Jackson after September 11 with plans to market an antiterror-theme “We Are the Worlds”-type charity single through the McDonald’s corporation; Schaffel later turned out to have been a former gay-porn producer. Rounding out the conspiracy are Vincent Amen and Frank Tyson, a pair of young Neverland gofers, who, until this case, appeared destined to star in a movie called Harold and Kumar Pick Up Michael Jackson’s Dry Cleaning.
At any rate, it was only after the filming of this so-called rebuttal video—which, incidentally, Jackson then sold to the Fox Network for $3 million—and after authorities had begun an investigation into Jackson’s relationship with the boy, that Jackson allegedly molested the child, in early March.
The prosecution’s case therefore boils down to this: in a panic over negative publicity, Jackson conspires to kidnap a boy and force him to deny acts of molestation that in fact never happened, and then he gets over his panic just long enough to actually molest the child at the very moment when the whole world is watching.
It is a fantastic argument, a bilious exercise in circular prosecutorial logic: conspiracy to commit conspiracy, false imprisonment for the sake of it, followed by a sudden act of utter self-destructive madness. And none of it makes sense, until you actually watch Sneddon operate in court.
Day six of the trial Sneddon, a splotchy-faced doughy man whose body could only look good on an autopsy table, is conducting his direct examination of the alleged victim’s younger brother. It is a crucial moment in the trial, with Sneddon drawing out the only eyewitness to the alleged molestation. The pudgy-cheeked boy claims to have twice entered Jackson’s bedroom late at night and seen the aging star fondling his brother and masturbating.
In a trial full of roundly unsympathetic characters, it is hard not to feel for this kid, A raspy-voiced fourteen-year-old with the sad eyes of a habitually ignored younger brother, this witness looks like every fat kid who’s ever had his milk money stolen or his underwear pulled over his head, Whatever he’s doing here, it’s sad.
If his story is true, he is recounting an immensely painful personal experience in front of the entire world. If it is false, then his appearance here is a tragedy, an overmatched adolescent mind coached to mutter a litany of sordid implausibilities in the service of an ugly confluence of low-rent adult ambitions: grown-ups pulling his underwear over his head.
Sneddon practically drools when the boy finally says what he saw Jackson doing; “He was, uh, masturbating.”
“Can you demonstrate that?” Sneddon says. “Can you show us what you saw?”
“What do you mean?” the boy whispers.
“Can you show us how he was masturbating?” Sneddon repeats.
The boy balks, but Sneddon presses. Finally the boy moves his hand up and down.
“Can you do it again?11 Sneddon asks.
The boy hesitates, then gives another fleeting demonstration. It’s still not enough for Sneddon.
“OK,” he snaps. “For the record, you’re moving your hand up and down, kind of opening and closing your palm.”1
Such episodes become increasingly common in the next few days of testimony, as the prosecution sinks further and further into a mushy mix of unapologetic crotch-sniffing and rhetorical hysterics. It is hard not to escape the impression that Sneddon hates Jackson. He clearly has not forgotten the debacle of 1993, when Jackson and the family of thirteen-year-old Jordan Chandler reached a $15.3 million settlement before Sneddon could bring Jackson to trial on molestation charges.
His key witnesses, meanwhile—the accuser and his family, whom we’ll call the Riveras—are an astounding bunch. Any sane prosecutor would drown himself before building a case around witnesses like these, but they were all Sneddon had. A single mom and her three kids, an older daughter and two boys. They’re poor but not ghetto poor—just poor like eighty percent of America is poor, making their way through life with a shabby cocktail of nowhere jobs, disability , Zoloft, Jesus, diets , and, one guesses, a vast collection of self-help hooks.
This family has been burdened first by an abusive father, then by a horrible cancer that struck the older boy: by the age of ten, he had a sixteen-pound tumor in his stomach. Through a series of charitable foundations and recovery programs, the boy’s terrible predicament put the family in touch with a number of celebrities; George Lopez, Chris Tucker, Jay Leno, and Michael Jackson, The Jackson fiasco did not really begin until the boy, hereafter referred to as Freddy, had miraculously recovered and the family returned to its mean pre-crisis existence, armed only with a suddenly impressive Rolodex.
One hates to be uncharitable, but this is the special ugliness of the Jackson case: Even the poor are undignified. Once they enter this world, the Riveras become just another subspecies of the Bashirs, Gabriels, and Wiesners: a Dickensian family adopted as a curiosity by the royals.
The mother—well call her Agnes Rivera—seems to be the key figure in the accuser’s camp. At this writing, she has only appeared in the trial via the rebuttal video, which Mesereau introduced as evidence during cross-examination. A plump, dewy-eyed woman with heavy makeup who looks like a Latina version of Bernadette Peters (only with a few more miles), she expresses herself almost exclusively in saccharine, retch-inducing platitudes of the sort one might hear on Oprah or at a motivational retreat for recovering glue addicts—using words like God and love and hope the way most normal people use connecting words like and and the.
The video is a low-tech production filmed in some dismal studio in West Hills; it’s a single tripod shot of the four family members bunched in front of a gray dropcloth. The prosecution claims that Agnes and the children were dragged to this ugly place by Wiesner and told exactly what to say. But in the outtakes shown in court, the jury sees Agnes clearly making her own enthusiastic directorial contributions.
During the period of “false imprisonment” in which this film was shot, Agnes was put up in the Calabasas Country Inn, where at Jackson’s expense she managed to fit in a full body wax and a shopping spree at, among other places, the Topanga Canyon Mall; she spent $454 on Jockey underwear at one stop, $415 at Banana Republic and another $450 at the leans Outlet. The family also got in a showing of Old School at a Calabasas movie theater and a $175 dinner at the Black Angus restaurant in Woodland Hills. Agnes also managed to avoid calling the police for the five hours she spent waiting in an orthodontist’s office in Solvang while Freddy’s braces were removed on Jackson’s tab.
If Agnes seemed to handle her false imprisonment with aplomb, it might be because she had plenty of experience with it. Twice in the past she filed lawsuits claiming false imprisonment: once against her ex-husband (whom she also accused of murdering the family’s pet ferret) and once against a pair of security guards at a JC Penney, who stopped her after finding Freddy in the store parking tot with unpaid merchandise. In the latter case, Agnes claimed that the guards not only falsely imprisoned her but brazenly fondled her breasts in front of the children; she won $150,000 in damages.
In any event, it is Sneddon’s contention that after her latest false imprisonment at the hands of Jackson in Calabasas, Agnes and the children voluntarily returned to Neverland for a two-week stay that would turn into yet another false imprisonment in which Agnes believed she and her children were being held against their will. Even though she supposedly spent this time trying to escape, for some reason she did not even ask where her children were sleeping at night.
Thus she was unaware that Freddy was spending his nights in Michael’s bedroom, engaging in mutual masturbation with the pop star not once but on two different occasions, both times in front of Freddy’s pudgy little brother—who happened to creep to the bedroom and open the locked door just long enough to witness the hideous act through the darkness without being detected by either Michael or his brother.
Pudge, in his testimony, is very specific about how long he watched both sex acts. The first time, he says, it was four seconds. The second time? “Three seconds—it was shorter,” he says.
You can dismiss Sneddon as a monomaniacal, headline-hungry bureaucrat and his witnesses as scheming, lying-ass gold diggers, but there’s no avoiding the fact that Michael Jackson is, undeniably, one seriously weird motherfucker. As implausible and suspicious as the prosecution timeline sounds, many details of the boys’ testimony about life at Jackson’s Neverland lair are just too strange and wildly improbable to be anything but true.
At one point during the trial, the jury is shown a picture of a frighteningly lifelike mannequin of a small black girl with braided hair. Recovered during one of the two searches of Neverland ordered by Sneddon, this mannequin apparently was fashioned in the image of a little cousin of Jackson’s. The accuser’s brother testifies that on their first night at Neverland, Jackson jumped on the mannequin and simulated sex with it. “He was, uh, having intercourse with it,” says Pudge.
Sneddon then leaves the picture of the mannequin onscreen for a few long moments. It looks exactly like a real girl. Nobody in the courtroom can take their eyes off the thing. My own heart skips a beat; I half-expect the picture to start steaming from the ears and speaking in tongues.
In scenes from the Bashir documentary shown to the jury, Jackson is depicted as the father of three utterly Caucasian “real” children who never see their mother. He insists he’s had only one small nose job; he says with a straight face that he is Peter Pan and that he will never die. And he thinks everybody understands when he says that sleeping in beds with kids is OK because there should be “more love in the world.” And it gets even more disturbing. He talks about the nicknames he gave the kids: “Blow Hole” for Pudge and “Doo Doo” or “Apple Head” for Freddy. Pudge testifies that Jackson called another boy who came to the ranch “Baby Rubber.”
If you buy this part of the story, and it’s pretty close to impossible not to, it doesn’t require a great leap of logic to connect the remaining dots. It is a short step from Doo Doo and Apple Head to a late-night hand down your underpants. This is the kind of thing that is running through the collective mind of the courtroom at the trial’s first decisive moment: when Freddy takes the stand.
No longer a frail cancer victim, Jackson’s accuser is now a strapping fifteen-year-old with a thick neck and a military-style buzz cut. But in his direct examination, he mumbles and hangs his head quite a lot and seems to grow smaller and more childlike on the stand as he is led through the tale of his terrible ordeal at Neverland.
It is a horrifying story, a tale of long nights of Jesus juice— Jackson’s name for the red wine he fed the boy—porn, and late-night groping in the dark room full of mannequins. In the pivotal moment, Jackson and the boy guzzle booze in the Neverland arcade, then retreat to Jackson’s bedroom, where the pop star asks the boy about masturbation, Jackson tells him that if he doesn’t know how, “he would do it for me.” He then masturbates the boy and himself as the two lie side by side.
“About a day later,” Freddy says, the scenario repeats itself; only this time, Jackson tries to place the boy’s hand on Jackson’s genitals. Freddy says he resisted this but that he still ejaculated in both incidents. He felt bad about this, but, he says, Jackson “comforted me.”
Through all this, Sneddon can’t resist a little of his trademark crotch-sniffing. The prosecutor seems disappointed both legally and libidinously when Freddy fails, after being prompted, to remember seeing Jackson walk into the bedroom with an erection while he and his brother were watching television. A visibly frustrated Sneddon ends up pulling out a transcript of the boy’s own grand-jury testimony and showing him the reference to Jackson’s erection, effectively shoving Jackson’s erection in the boy’s face.
When the kid refuses to comply—saying only: “Me and my brother were kind of like ‘Eww’ because we had never seen a grown man naked before”—Sneddon frowns, clearly pissed, and moves on.
Still, by the time Sneddon is finished with this witness, Jackson looks fucked. Reporters scramble outside to do “Prosecution Roars Back” stand-ups, and even the most skeptical members of the press corps concede that Sneddon might not have to lift a finger for the rest of the trial.
During this testimony, Jackson scarcely moves, Mesereau, for his part, simply bides his time and waits in a seething posture for his cross examination. His demolition of Sneddon’s star witness would prove to be one of the more merciless legal fraggings you’ll ever see in an American courtroom. He gets Freddy to admit that something he had testified Michael Jackson told him—that “if a man doesn’t masturbate, he can get to the point where he might rape a girl”—had actually been told to him by his grandmother.
He gets the boy to admit that he told the dean of his middle school, a Mr. Alpert, that “nothing had ever happened sexually with Mr. Jackson.”
Mesereau asks about the alleged period of false imprisonment at Calabasas and Neverland. Sneddon sinks in his chair when Freddy answers, “I never wanted to leave. I was having too much fun.”
Then there is the timeline of the actual abuse: Mesereau gets the boy to admit that he initially told investigators that the abuse had happened before the alleged false imprisonment and the rebuttal video, then later changed his story. “To this day,” Freddy says, “I don’t remember exactly when everything happened.”
Mesereau then does a cunning thing. He leads the boy through a history of all his disciplinary problems in middle school. Freddy, it appears, was a pain in the ass to almost every teacher in his junior high: talking back and being disruptive and generally disrespecting authority. Mesereau slyly assumes the role of an accusing teacher and manages to coax out on the stand the above-it-all classroom smartass who only a few days before played the part of the mute, helpless child ruthlessly taken advantage of by an adult sexual predator.
Every disagreement he had ever had with a teacher, Freddy contends, was the teacher’s fault. Mr. Geralt ran his class like a drill sergeant, which was why the boy had stood up in class and said that Mr. Geralt “had his balls in his mouth,” He brags about arguing in Mrs. Slaughter’s class (“A lot of the times, I would stand up to the teachers, and the kids would, like, congratulate me”).
“Did you have problems in Mr. Finklestein’s class?” Mesereau asks.
“Everyone had problems in Mr. Finklestetn’s class,” Freddy snaps.
“Did you have problems in Mr. Finklestein’s class?” Mesereau coldly repeats,
“If everyone had a problem,” the boy sneers, “then I’d be one of them, right?”
Later, Mesereau plays the entire rebuttal video for Freddy, stopping every few moments. Since it is the prosecution’s case that the family was told to lie in the video, Mesereau decides to get the boy to explain to the jury exactly where everyone was lying and where everyone was telling the truths—the obvious point being that it was very difficult to tell.
It’s a savage courtroom scene, and the boy withers visibly as it wears on. When the jury sees Freddy claiming on the video that “he used to pray that he would meet Michael Jackson,11 Mesereau stops the DVD and asks. “Were you lying here?”
“I didn’t actually pray to meet Michael Jackson,” the boy mutters.
It goes on like this for another forty minutes. Freddy’s performance is so atrocious that even Judge Melville wakes up. Until this point, Melville seldom looked anything but pained, apparently mourning the lost dignity of the legal profession. But during Freddy’s cross examination, Melville’s impatience with the prosecution is suddenly palpable. Usually, he takes ten quiet seconds before ruling on any objection, but after a few hours of this witness, his trigger finger gets very itchy, instantly blasting even the more reasonable of Sneddon’s occasional objections. At one point, Mesereau asks the boy about his history teacher; “She complained that you were defiant on a regular basis and disrespectful, is that correct?”
Even I expect an objection to this; Mesereau is asking and answering.
y Your Honor, objection,” Sneddon says, “Asked and answ—” “Overruled,” Melville snaps, glaring at the boy, “You may answer.”
By the end of the day, Sneddon is slumped so far in his seat that his shoulders are almost below the armrests. His humiliation is total when Mesereau asks the boy if it is true that he once wanted to be art actor, “Yes,” he says, “But now that I’ve seen cither careers, I want to be in law enforcement.”
By the time Freddy steps down, the trial is only twelve days old. It was impossible to say who was winning or losing; one forgets, after all, that these things are decided by a jury, which in this case looks mostly like a rowr of immobile elderly white women who might think they’re judging the Lindbergh kidnapper.
Or one hopes they think that, for their sake. The elderly should be spared spectacles like the Jackson trial. This case is the ultimate sizzling shit pile of American society; it is what our culture of gross celebrity worship looks like when it comes out the other end. A pop star gone sideways under the lights, maggots nibbling at his fortune, hourly underpants updates on cable, industry insiders trading phone numbers over drinks, and boy orgasms. And people like me writing about it all. We’re the worst America has to offer—and we’re all here.
And here is another excerpt of an article he wrote in Rolling Stone magazine:
Sneddon’s case against Michael Jackson was bullshit : Matt Taibbi – Rolling stones
Ostensibly a story about bringing a child molester to justice, the Michael Jackson trial would instead be a kind of homecoming parade of insipid American types grifters, suckers and no-talent schemers, mired in either outright unemployment… or the bogus non-careers of the information age, looking to cash in any way they can. The MC of the proceedings was District Attorney Tom Sneddon, whose metaphorical role in this American reality show was to represent the mean gray heart of the Nixonian Silent Majority – the bitter mediocrity itching to stick it to anyone who’d ever taken a vacation to Paris. The first month or so of the trial featured perhaps the most compromised collection of prosecution witnesses ever assembled in an American criminal case – almost to a man a group of convicted liars, paid gossip hawkers or worse. The early witnesses against Jackson included a bodyguard who missed court because he was in custody facing charges stemming from a series of armed robberies, including holding up a Jack in the Box at gunpoint; a former Neverland maid who’d stolen a sketch Jackson had made of Elvis Presley and sold it to the tabloids for thirty grand; another former employee who’d lost a wrongful-termination suit against Jackson and had to pay part of a $1.4 million settlement as a result.
And then there was the very key figure in the case, the accuser’s mother, who had to plead the Fifth Amendment on the first day of her testimony to avoid cross-examination on a welfare-fraud allegation – a witness so completely full of sh—t that Sneddon’s own assistants cringed openly throughout most of her five days of testimony. In the next six weeks, virtually every piece of his case imploded in open court, and the chief drama of the trial quickly turned into a race to see if the DA could manage to put all of his witnesses on the stand without getting any of them removed from the courthouse in manacles.
Sneddon’s hard-on for Jackson was a faith-based vengeance grabs every bit as blind and desperate as George Bush’s “case” against Saddam Hussein. If Ahmad Chalabi had ever been to Neverland, Sneddon would have put him on the stand too.
His case was bullsh—t. California vs. Jackson turned out to be basically a tale of a family of low-rent grifters trying to lay a criminal-molestation charge on a rich celebrity as a prelude to a civil suit.
Mary Fischer is an author/journalist who has written for GQ, O (Oprah’s magazine), the L.A. Times, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. In the Michael Jackson fan community, she is held in very high regards for her award-winning 1994 article titled “Was Michael Jackson Framed?” which thoroughly explains the intricate details of the 1993 Chandler family scandal. In November 2003, after Michael was arrested following a second round of false allegations, Fischer granted an interview with Greta Van Susteren of Fox News, and she maintained her stance that Michael was innocent in 1993, and firmly defended her work (which debunks the myth that she had a “change of heart”). That interview can be heard in the video below:
Charles Thomson is a freelance music critic and journalist whose specialty is African-American artists. He publishes his work on his blog, as well as CREDIBLE publications such as Sawf News (for example, here is 4 part series on the filming of MJ’s last music video “One More Chance”.) While he may be a fair and objective journalist, he is by no means a “crazy, rabid fan”, and he let it be known in this blog post titled “A Final Word on the Lunacy” (which I absolutely agree with 100%, hence my nickname & Twitter handle @sanemjfan). You can learn more about him by reading this interview he conducted in March 2010 with Lorette Luzajic of the Extreme Michael Jackson blog. (It’s a five-part interview; Here is Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.).
He has been an ardent defender of MJ since long before his death, and he has harshly criticized the media on numerous occasions since that fateful day in June 2009. Here are a few of his articles on MJ’s innocence (you can search his archives for other topics regarding MJ):
- Ian Halperin: King of Plop (July 13th, 2009) Thomson blasts Ian Halperin for the tabloid lies he wrote about MJ in his book “Unmasked”.
- Forget Michael Jackson – How Does Martin Bashir Live With Himself? (July 17th, 2009) Thomson criticizes both Martin Bashir and his then-employer ITV for airing Bashir’s dishonest and unfair documentary in 2003.
- Guardian Columnist Insinuates That Michel Jackson Was A Pedophile; Charles Thomson Explodes the Myths Behind the 1993 Case (October 27th, 2009) Thomson exposes the lies behind a tabloid columnist’s relentless attack on MJ.
- Chandler Suicide Highlights Media Bias against Jackson (November 19th, 2009) Thomson excoriates the media for falsely reporting the death of Evan Chandler as that of a father who “wanted justice” for his son, which couldn’t be further from the truth!
- Racist Newspaper Labels Jackson a “Common Pedophile” (November 21, 2009) Thomson attacks a reporter from The Daily Mail for reporting erroneous and inflammatory information about the allegations against MJ.
- Jackson Biographer Sheds Further Doubt on 1993 Allegations (November 22nd, 2009) Thomson relays important exculpatory evidence from his good friend J. Randy Taraborrelli, who interviewed Evan Chandler in the 1990’s (off the record, of course).
- Daily Mail Previously Rapped For Jackson “Pedophile” Comments (November 24th, 2009) Thomson describes how he was able to successfully get the tabloid trash mag to remove their false stories about MJ.
- Best-selling Author to Prove Jackson’s Innocence in TV Documentary (December 3rd, 2009) Thomson describes what viewers can expect from Aphrodite Jones’ forthcoming television documentary about MJ that is based on her aforementioned book “MJ Conspiracy”. (The documentary aired in April 2010, and can be viewed in the aforementioned link earlier in this post.)
- PCC Rules In favor of Columnist Who Portrayed Jackson as a Pedophile (December 15th, 2009) Thomson blasts the Press Complaints Commission (a British media watchdog group) for siding with the Guardian tabloid by refusing to punish them for slandering MJ.
- FBI Files Support Jackson’s Innocence; Media Reports Otherwise (January 2nd, 2010) Thomson once again blasts the media for suppressing the exculpatory evidence contained within the MJ’s FBI files.
- FBI File Reveals Attempt To Convict Jackson with Racist Law (January 3rd, 2010) Thomson reveals an important detail contained within the FBI files that the media refused to report (as usual!): the LAPD wanted to use a racially motivated and outdated law known as the “Mann Act” to prosecute MJ!
- Gene Simmons in Bonkers Jackson Rant (February 5th, 2010) Thomson rebuts the lies that were spewed against MJ by rock artist Gene Simmons.
- Jackson Guitarist: “No Truth” to Simmons’ Claims (February 27th, 2010) Thomson interviewed Jennifer Batten, one of MJ’s longtime guitarists, who utterly refuted the false rumors that were being spread by Gene Simmons.
- Michael Jackson: It’s Time for Outlets to Take Responsibility in Covering the Rock Star (March 2, 2010) In response to the lies of Gene Simmons, the rebuttals of Jennifer Batten, and the media’s double standard of reporting the lies of Simmons but not reporting the rebuttals of Batten, Thomson once again blasted the media, but this time them on their “home field”: The Huffington Post, which is one of the most visited news sites on the web!
- One of the Most Shameful Episodes In Journalistic History (June 13th, 2010) This is arguably the most detailed and comprehensive summary and analysis of the MJ trial ever! And the fact that it was written on the Huffington Post exposed it to many more people who otherwise would not have known about it!
- Kelvin MacKenzie: Jackson Was An Abuser And His Children Should Never Have Been Born (November 9th, 2010) Thomson excoriates a British tabloid journalist who originated the term “Wack Jacko” in the 1980’s, and calls for fans to engage in a massive campaign to get him fired.
- Dieter Wiesner: “I Caught Martin Bashir Sneaking Through Michael Jackson’s Luggage” (January 18th, 2011) Thomson interviews Dieter Wiesner, one of MJ’s former managers (and one of Sneddon’s “unindicted co-conspirators” during the trial), and Wiesner discloses some not-so-surprising information about Bashir’s conduct during his interviews with MJ in 2002.
- A Quick Note (February 15th, 2012) Thomson blasts the MJ haters at Topix who have been impersonating him in their forums, and fooling fans into thinking that he is an “undercover” hater and a “pedophile sympathizer”. This is a topic that the admins of Vindicate MJ are all too familiar with, as we’ve written this post and this post about the baseless and frivolous attacks we’ve received from Topix.
Nicholas Stix is a journalist who has published in dozens of newspapers and magazines, and after MJ’s death he republished an article titled “Trying the Michael Jackson Trial” that he originally posted during the trial that blasted Sneddon for using the “prior bad acts” evidence because of its potentially unfair and prejudicial effect on the jurors. Here is an excerpt:
1. According to the law California Evidence Code §1108, enacted in 1995, testimony can be given charging a defendant with “prior bad acts” for which he has been neither convicted nor prosecuted, if such testimony helps establish a “pattern” or “propensity” to commit the crime with which he is presently being charged. This law guts the presumption of innocence, which is perhaps THE foundation of American criminal law. In practice, this means that if you hate somebody, and find out that he has been charged with a crime, you can announce that he has previously committed a similar crime against your person, and testify against him in his current trial for the previous “crime.” It’s legal double freebie. You get to testify to the jury, as if the defendant had already been convicted of an earlier crime, AND get to prejudice the jury regarding the crime he is currently charged with. (This is exactly what some women sought to do during the 1991 trial of Kennedy scion William Kennedy Smith, whom Patricia Bowman had charged with rape. Smith was acquitted.) And that is what has happened in the Michael Jackson trial, though Jackson’s million-dollar defense team was able to come up with witnesses who contradicted the charges of prior bad acts, regarding the attempted commission of lewd acts. Imagine the fate of defendants who can’t afford superstar defense counsel.
Here is a three part transcript and analysis of Matt Drudge, a conservative political commentator who vehemently defended MJ in 2005, much to the chagrin of many of his listeners! Here is an excerpt from his radio shows that really sums everything up!
Matt Drudge: I think if you did a pulse poll, of people listening to these local talk shows, they would say 95% that Michael Jackson did all this. They would say that, because it’s based on the coverage! It’s based on the coverage!
The ironic thing about this is that one of his most famous protégés is the recently deceased Andrew Breitbart, who slandered MJ on many occasions both before and after his death. He wrote several articles, and even dedicated a chapter in his book to MJ, but fortunately I refuted all of it in the this post! Breitbart and Drudge’s opinions on MJ’s complete innocence are truly poles apart!
Roger Friedman is an entertainment gossip columnist who worked for Fox News during the trial, but now rights for Showbiz 411. He put aside his biases and gossip reporting about MJ in order to accurately report the FACTS from the trial, and his phone calls to Matt Drudge in the aforementioned links is proof of that! Drudge referenced an article that Friedman wrote on April 16th, 2005 titled “Time To Stop The Madness!”, and here it is:
It’s now time to stop the madness and declare a mistrial in California vs. Jackson. What happened on Friday in the Santa Maria courthouse should not have happened at all. Whether or not Michael Jackson is guilty of child molestation is no longer the issue.
The Santa Barbara District Attorney’s office is now potentially guilty of exploiting a disturbed woman’s condition to get a conviction. It’s wrong, and it’s not going to achieve anything but tarnishing the reputations of their well-intentioned staff.
The testimony on Friday of Janet Arvizo, mother of Michael Jackson’s teenage accuser, was alternately maddening and heart breaking. She came across on the stand during her cross-examination by Thomas Mesereau as a compulsive and pathological liar, a shrewd manipulator and a real operator.
But she was also quite sad, and unable to control her emotions. At one point she declared in an aside, “I now know that Neverland is a place for booze, pornography, and sex with little boys.” The statement was immediately stricken from the record.
In fact, Arvizo may have really alienated an already shell-shocked jury. Mesereau played a video made by Jackson’s associates in February 2003 in which Arvizo and her three children sang the pop star’s praises as a father figure. Arvizo’s appearance in the video was in stark contrast to the woman on the stand. In the film she is glamorous, with a winning smile and laugh. She resembles a darker complected version of Meg Ryan.
But the woman on the stand now, who had to take questions every few minutes, is about 25 pounds heavier and stripped of her bubbly determination. Two years and two different people. It was startling.
Then again, neither of these two Janet Arvizos resembles the one on a police interview tape leaked to a TV show last winter. That makes three Janets, and there are probably more to come.
The Janet Arvizo who testified on Friday was close to the one described to me a year ago, and about whom I’ve been reporting on since then. She was feisty and obnoxious, manipulative and cunning.
She did not shrink from fights with Mesereau. She often addressed the jury directly instead of answering Mesereau’s questions, and didn’t seem to care how Judge Rodney Melville instructed her. Her hubris was her undoing, and it was magnificent and tragic.
She had sharp recollections of things that interested her and no memories of dates, times, or places that could undermine her case. She couldn’t recall, for example, how much money her children or ex-husband received in their settlement from JC Penney. She also could not remember how she met a Los Angeles police officer, how they became friends, or if he once gave her a ride in his car.
She couldn’t remember how many times she’d discussed the current case with her lawyer, Larry Feldman, the same man who secured a $20 million settlement for another Jackson accuser in 1993.
Building on a theme she started Thursday concerning Jackson’s group as “masters of choreography,” Arvizo nearly stopped court entirely when Mesereau brought up a visit she made to a Los Olivos salon while staying at Neverland.
First they tussled over whether she received a “body wax” or a “leg wax.” She insisted it was the latter, and also claimed she’d paid for it. That was a mistake. Mesereau, of course, had the receipt for $140, which showed multiple beauty treatments including leg, bikini and lip waxing, and a manicure. “Do you want to see the receipt?” Mesereau offered.
Arvizo refused, claiming that he’d somehow changed it. It was another example of what she termed the Jackson team’s masterful “choreography.”
“Who paid for it?” Mesereau demanded. Arvizo refused to answer several times, finally claiming: “I don’t know.” She also said it was all a plot to enhance Jackson’s P.R.
There was more. It seemed endless, and painful. Mesereau walked her through the “rebuttal video,” an interview with her and her three children that wasn’t finished in time to be included in a Jackson TV special. Even though all four members of the family seem relaxed and spontaneous, Arvizo insisted over and over again it was scripted.
When this position became ludicrous to maintain, she refused to back down. Instead, she embellished the story. “Dieter [Wiesner] worked with me on it ten times a day so I could memorize the lines. I was acting!” she declared continuously, speaking of Jackson’s former manager.
Wiesner, she said, wrote every word of it, despite the fact that he’s German, has a poor command of English, and had no contact with Arvizo — by her admission — after about a week.
There wasn’t a single person in the room who believed her.
The rebuttal video may also have proven her a liar. On it, she makes reference several times to the Martin Bashir special, “Living with Michael Jackson.”
In an outtake, she instructs the video director to “make it like in Bashir,” i.e. showing her clasping hands with her son: a very specific image. But Arvizo, her new husband and her kids have insisted in all their testimony thus far that she has never seen the documentary.
What was most striking, though, about Arvizo’s video performance was her incredible disloyalty to her then boyfriend, now husband, retired US Army Major Jay Jackson.
Even though Jackson was supporting her and her kids at the time of the rebuttal video, Arvizo pretended he didn’t exist. Over and over in the video she and her children praised Jackson as a father figure who’d completed their family.
Their compliments could not have been more effusive or sycophantic, and they were all the more creepy considering they had a real father figure at home. Never mind that their biological father was a convicted abuser whom the mother has accused of everything short of sinking the Andrea Doria.
The worst moment came right before court was recessed for the weekend. It was then that Arvizo, who’d shown us high and low moments of great extremes, finally burst into tears, though not because she thought her son had been molested by Michael Jackson. It was because she conceded that she did not accompany her husband to Army functions.
“I’m not smart enough to be with those people,” she said, and sobbed. Even Jackson and his mother, Katherine, must have felt for this woman. Abused, destroyed, mentally broken, there is nothing left to her. More cross-examination on Monday seems almost beside the point. She needs help.
And then there was District Attorney Tom Sneddon, who sat not with the other prosecutors during this brutal performance, but on a bench behind them. In full view of the jury, Sneddon sat with his head often in his hands, looking askance at what he’s wrought. Sneddon has devoted the last twelve years to proving Jackson is a child molester, but he chose the wrong case and the wrong people to close his deal.
That was clearly conveyed to the jury on Friday. The whole thing is mind-boggling. But for Sneddon to continue the public torture of this battered soul would be worse than trying to finish the case. His one chance for redemption is to call a halt to this nightmare before it gets worse. That will ensure him a better legacy than the one he may have created for himself.
Joe Vogel is certainly no stranger to the MJ fan community, as he recently shot to fame with the release of his critically acclaimed book about MJ’s musical legacy titled “Man InThe Music” (here is a video he recorded to promote it), and although it’s main focus is to meticulously detail MJ’s creative process when it came to his songwriting, composing, producing, and dancing, Vogel also vindicates him of the false allegations in his chapter on the HIStory album. Vogel has also compiled a list of articles from journalists who were fair to MJ (including some who are not listed in this post), and you can read his compilation on his website.
Lastly, I’d like to introduce you to a fellow MJ blogger – but not a lunatic fan! – named Sean Chai, who resides in Ireland. She is an amazing researcher, and we have helped each other on many occasions. Her blog is aptly titled “Smoke Without Fire”, and here is her “about me” section:
I began researching Michael Jackson’s trial, and the various allegations against him, in the days and weeks following his death in June 2009 in a bid to find the truth behind the rumors which prevailed about his relationships with children, even in the wake of his death. I began writing about my findings because of my long-held interest in psychology and mental health.
Jackson’s demise was almost immediately followed by a media onslaught of recycled claims of misconduct, resulting in a full-scale character assassination, similar to that in 2005, of a man who had a legal and moral right to a presumption of innocence. Why, I wondered, did so many journalists, and in particular those who had covered Jackson’s trial, remain adamant that he was guilty? Was there some damning piece of evidence that had been deemed inadmissible, or had not been reported, which colored their perspective on the trial? I set out to decide for myself, from the available evidence, whether there was any substance to the allegations. I never intended or expected to end up writing about it, but I simply could not ignore what I found.
Though the media’s vilification of Michael Jackson has now abated, I believe this story must still be told. There is still a perception that he was a child molester, and that the world has now decided to ignore this and focus on his career instead. Though it comes too late for him to benefit, Michael Jackson deserves to be vindicated. His family deserves to have his name cleared once and for all. His children have the right to grow up without the spectre of these false allegations hanging over his memory.
There are the thousands of other victims too. Michael Jackson is not the only man to have his life torn apart by false accusations of sexual abuse. Countless others have experienced, or are experiencing, or will experience the same trauma. Hopefully, by examining this one case, I can shed some light on this alarmingly common, but poorly understood phenomenon.
The Arvizos have rights too, and though I fully appreciate they will likely not want this story told, I will endeavor to respect those rights while telling it. They deserve to be exonerated of claims that they used this case as an attempt to extort money from Jackson. They should not to be vilified or ridiculed, and I have no intention of doing either. Nor will I intrude upon their privacy any more than is absolutely necessary to tell this story using information already in the public domain.
Janet Arvizo cannot be blamed for what happened. Ultimately, the Arvizo family was exploited by a prosecutor who, through ignorance or arrogance or both, ignored clear evidence of Janet Arvizo’s mental illness and bulldozed through an indictment and prosecution that was fundamentally flawed.
Nor, frankly, can Evan Chandler, who I firmly believe was in a delusional state when the 1993 allegations were made. This would certainly explain many anomalies in the case against Jackson, including Chandler’s claim that he continued to invite him to visit Jordie and encouraged them to share a room even after he suspected he was molesting the boy, why, in a taped phone conversation with the boy’s stepfather, he was more concerned that Jackson had stopped talking to him than with the substance of the allegations he was about to make, and why he sought, after the 1995 release of Jackson’s HIStory album, to publish his own album about the purported sexual abuse of his son, and call it EVANStory.
In the early days of my research, I was stunned that no one else appears to have explored the clear psychological causes of the allegations against Michael Jackson, but I now appreciate that most people simply do not understand the nature of serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The majority of people with a serious mental illness never make false allegations of sexual assault, but when the few do, it is devastating for both the alleged victim and the accused.
Finally, this is not merely a story of what happens when mental health issues are ignored in a molestation case. Michael Jackson endured many injustices during the course of these investigations, and I hope to address all of them.
Sean Chai specializes in researching mental health illnesses (such as schizophrenia, which Janet Arvizo was diagnosed with prior to receiving her settlement from JC Penney), and their relation to false accusations of physical and sexual abuse. Her blog roll contains many links to other blogs and articles about false allegations and mental illness, as well as media ethics and reform. By leaps and bounds, her best work can be found in her summary of the allegations against MJ titled “The Untold Story”!
Now, let’s look at a few legal analysts who accurately reported on MJ during the trial, as opposed to the legal entertainers who did all that they could to convict MJ in the court of public opinion (such as Nancy Grace and Sunny Hostin, who I exposed as liars in this post titled “Refuting The Legal Analysts Who Lied About Michael Jackson”):
Jonna Spilbor is a licensed attorney who regularly appears on Fox, CNN, and MSNBC. She wrote the following articles during the trial, which are all archived on the FindLaw legal research website:
- “The Michael Jackson Case: The Effect of The New Charge, and New Attorney, And What Jackson’s Best Defense May Be” (May 4th, 2004) Spilbor blasts Sneddon for using a grand jury instead of a preliminary hearing to indict MJ, changing the charges and timeline between the initial complaint and the indictment, and suggests that MJ should get District Attorney Tom Sneddon recused from the case.
- “Looking for Clues in All the Wrong Places” (July 20th, 2004) Spilbor blasts Sneddon for violating the attorney/client privilege of Michael Jackson and his attorney Mark Geragos by illegally raiding the office of Bradley Miller, who was the private investigator of Mark Geragos.
- “When the Witness is a Kid” (February 2nd, 2005) Spilbor praises Judge Melville for putting MJ’s right to confront his accuser in court above the prosecution’s request to have Gavin give his “testimony” in private to avoid embarrassment. Ironically, Sneddon didn’t mind having Gavin testify in front of the grand jury!
- “The Ruling in the Michael Jackson Case Allowing of Past Molestation Allegations” (March 29th, 2005) Spilbor predicts that the 1108 evidence will actually HELP MJ because it will show the prosecution as “desperate” (which they were!)
- “The Testimony of Mark Geragos” (May 23rd, 2005) Spilbor argues that Geragos’ testimony weakened the conspiracy charge, thus weakening the molestation charges as well.
- “The Not Guilty Verdicts in the Michael Jackson Case”. There is one sentence from this column that says it all: “The Bottom Line: A Wrongful Prosecution Leads to a Righteous Result.”
- “When the Jury Has Spoken, But Won’t Shut Up”. In this column, Spilbor harshly criticizes the two jurors who took book deals to say MJ was guilty. We did a post on those two jurors, and we also exposed Stacy Brown for his involvement in the entire debacle.
Julie Hilden is a graduate of Harvard College, Yale Law School, and Cornell University’s M.F.A. program, and she wrote the following two columns during the trial:
- Evidence of Prosecution Bias in the Kobe Bryant and Michael Jackson Cases: Why It’s Troubling, and What Role It May Play at Trial (January 2nd, 2004) Hilden lists numerous examples of Sneddon’s blatant and unprofessional bias against MJ, including his desire to include prior bad acts evidence (which he eventually did), and his irresponsible jokes at his press conference. She also argues that he should be removed from the case (which, as well as know by now, he wasn’t.)
- Why the Michael Jackson Case Is Falling Apart, How the Prosecution Began Poorly, and What the Defense Ought to Do Next (March 15th, 2005) Hilden examines the myriad of mistakes that Sneddon made thourghout the trial, how Mesereau can capitalize on those mistakes, and the pros and cons of putting MJ on the witness stand to testify.
Anne Bremner has been a trial attorney for 26 years and is a litigation shareholder in the law firm of Stafford Frey Cooper. She is also an on-air legal analyst for FOX News Channel, MSNBC, CNN, CNN Headline News with Nancy Grace, CBS, ABC and TRUE-TV. On July 6th, 2009, she published a touching tribute to MJ titled “Michael Jackson – The Music and Me”:
For as long as I can remember, I have been a huge Michael Jackson fan. From “I want you Back” to “Ben” to “Thriller” to “History” I was behind his every dance step and every incarnation. We were, after all, the same age and shared the fads and changes of the ensuing decades. He led, we followed. He was the King of Pop, the most famous icon of our generation … in the world. During a lengthy career-hiatus (which ultimately became permanent despite his intentions to tour in the UK shortly before his death) the rest of us were busy building our lives, careers and families. My career path took me into the law and as an adjunct to that, into on-air analysis of topical legal issues.
My career came to national attention during another of this decade’s sensational (and bizarre) trials, the 9-1/2 week civil case of Vili Fualaau (Mary Kay Letourneau) in 2002 which captured the fascination of international and tabloid media. In successfully defending the City of Des Moines Police department, I caught the attention of producers including some great folks at Court TV who suggested that I try my hand at on-air legal analysis. Although I had done some local coverage of the OJ Simpson trial for KOMO TV, I was a neophyte when I headed off to New York Studio to try my hand on national TV. It seemed a natural fit–I had once considered a career in journalism over law. Over time I branched from Court TV to Fox News, MSNBC, CNN and CNN Headline News. I commented on everything from Scott Peterson, to Kobe Bryant, to Michael Jackson…….
In March of 2005 I was slated to appear as lead trial counsel for the Olympic Pipeline Company, defending a 500 Million Dollar Business Interruption lawsuit centered on one of this region’s worst disasters–the Olympic Pipeline explosion. A pretrial settlement left a gaping hole in my normally packed schedule, the timing of which just happened to coincide with the start of the trial State of California v. Michael Jackson. It isn’t often that high profile trial lawyers have the opportunity to step away from the counsel table and simply observe. As a full time lawyer, part-time TV legal analyst, I was possessed then, as I am now, of the strong belief that the only way to truly analyze a trial is to be in the courtroom, study the faces of the jurors, the witnesses. And so, in an unanticipated flip of panorama, I found myself sitting not at the counsel table in a Seattle courthouse, but in a courtroom in the tiny town of Santa Maria California, an unlikely setting for what would become one of the most sensational trials of our time. In March of 2005 I took up residence in the Marion Davies Room at the quaint Santa Maria Inn, rising at 3:00 am to do East Coast commentary on CNN American Morning before sitting as an observer in the courtroom. Throughout the day I would talk to the phalanx of media that eagerly devoured every sound bite-ready comment on the trial which captured the world’s attention for six months. It was always windy in Santa Maria, always dusty. Standing in a media tower, cold, dirty, windblown, I was a far cry from the coiffed, polished talking heads who offered their analysis from the comfort of East coast studios; across the continent from a courtroom they would never see. The experience was anomalous–as a practicing trial lawyer with a full caseload, it is unlikely that I will ever see another such opportunity.
I’m often asked if I thought Jackson was guilty or innocent. That isn’t my call. As a trial lawyer, I have a profound respect for juries. Following the trial, I summed up my observations of the trial and the reasons for the verdict of “not guilty.”
I do believe Jackson was a conflicted man, living in the neverland of the childhood he crafted to replace the one he missed as a young boy–a performer always, a child … never.
Now, with the death of Michael Jackson, I am asked to comment on his life–as if the six month portion I witnessed defined him. It didn’t. The figure I saw at that courthouse in Santa Maria was not “our” Michael Jackson, the musical prodigy who created the soundtrack to many of our young lives. In our media culture, we are fascinated with excess and eccentricity. The public loved the spectacle of lavishly ridiculous spending sprees, bizarre behavior and Jackson did not disappoint. Many people made their livelihood by enabling his eccentricities. Through the oxygen chamber, the morphing face, the chimp, the Presley marriage, the children, the rumors, there was a constant: The music. Always the music. As Jackson said following his trial “through my music I will live forever.”
It is an odd phenomenon to hear from so many people that are amazed at the sadness they feel over his death. It’s not that they forget his flaws or the allegations against him, but that they choose to remember the genius of his music. That, really, is all most of us knew of him–his music and the personal connection that music has to moments frozen in our memory. In his passing I have listened over and over to my favorite Michael Jackson song, “Music and Me.” Ultimately, for so many of us, that will be his epitaph. Our affection for Michael Jackson will always be simply that: “the Music and Me.”
Grab a song and come along
You can sing your own melody
In your mind you will find
A world of sweet harmony
The article that she referenced in her tribute can be found in the links below. It is titled “Lessons From The Michael Jackson Trial”, and it is divided into two parts:
Part 1: Why The Prosecution Lost (6 pages)
Andrew Cohen worked for CBS News during the trial (but is now with The Atlantic). The dates of each posts on the archive pages (beginning on Page 12) are correct, but for some reason when you open each article, the date is listed as July 6th, 2009, so I wrote the correct date next to each link below. Notice how Cohen didn’t write a single article during the defense’s case, but instead wrote a summary of their case, as opposed to the multiple articles he wrote each week during the prosecution’s case! I have my theory about this, which I will discuss later.
- Can Jackson Get A Fair Trial? (January 28th, 2005) Cohen writes about how different MJ’s trial will be from other celebrity trials of the past.
- Jackson’s Celeb Witnesses List (February 18th, 2005) Cohen writes that many of the famous celebrities on MJ’s witness list probably will not be allowed to testify unless their testimony is truly relevant to the case.
- Malice In Neverland (February 27th, 2005) Cohen writes about what the defense and prosecution have to prove in this case in order to achieve the victory they each desire.
- Seeing Patterns in Jackson Case (March 2nd, 2005) Cohen contrasts the opening statements made by the defense and the prosecution.
- Jackson Prosecutors Trip (March 6th, 2005) Cohen describes how the prosecution’s case got off to a terrible start, primarily with the testimony of Gavin’s sister Davellin, who was forced to admit that her mother lied before, and who couldn’t remember important details about the case.
- High Noon in Pajamas (March 15th, 2005) Cohen describes “pajama day”, and Gavin’s performance under direct examination, and a grave error that the prosecution made in allowing time for Gavin to be cross-examined before the end of the day. (I will add my own summary and analysis of Gavin’s testimony soon!)
- Jackson Accuser’s Poor Performance (March 15th, 2005) The title says it all! Cohen summarizes the abysmal and inconsistent testimony of Gavin, and begins to wonder why the case was even brought to trial in the first place!
- Trial Turned Upside Down (March 29th, 2005) Cohen talks about what at the time was considered a devastating decision by Judge Melville to allow Sneddon to introduce “prior bad acts” evidence to the trial. However – as we all know by now – this decision helped vindicate MJ of the prior allegations from the early 1990’s! For example, Blanca Francia and her son Jason testified about witnessing and experiencing MJ’s abuse, respectively, but their claims were thoroughly dismissed by jurors. Here is an analysis of Blanca’s testimony, and here is an analysis of Jason’s testimony!
- Jackson Lawyers Feud (April 26th, 2005) After being away from the courtroom for one month, Cohen returns and talks about the minimal effect that Brian Oxman’s firing by Tom Mesereau will have on the defense.
- The Jackson Trial Ex Factor (April 27th, 2005) Cohen describes the effect that MJ’s ex-wife Debbie Rowe will have on the case, and how her testimony could hurt MJ’s defense against the conspiracy charge.
- Jackson Catches Break From Ex (April 28th, 2005) Cohen summarizes Debbie Rowe’s direct examination, and describes what a disaster she was to Sneddon’s case.
- Ex-Ray of Light for Jackson (April 29th, 2005) Cohen continues his assessment of Debbie Rowe being a savior for MJ and an embarrassment for the prosecution after hearing her cross-examination.
- Prosecution Rests, Uneasily (May 5th, 2005) Cohen rates the prosecutions performance as they rest their case and the defense prepares to present their case.
- Jackson Defense Kept It Simple (May 25th, 2005) Cohen summarizes the defense’s performance as they rest their case, and describes what each side must achieve during closing arguments in order to achieve victory.
- Jackson Case: Go To The Video (May 30th, 2005) Cohen analyzes the prosecution’s decision to show jurors a videotape of Gavin’s first interview with police, and the defense’s decision to not recall Gavin and his family for further questioning after the videotape was shown in court.
- Jackson, Predator Or Prey? (June 1st, 2005) Cohen discusses the fact that if jurors believe both Gavin AND Michael, and believe that MJ was both a “predator” of Gavin and a Gavin’s “prey”, then MJ could be convicted, absent a strong closing argument from Mesereau.
- Down to the Wire in Jackson Case (June 1st, 2005) Cohen describes the difficulty in gauging who is truly winning or losing this case. (Personally, after reading his previous columns up to this point, I don’t know how he could have any difficulty!)
- Last Shot At Jackson Jury (June 3rd, 2005) Cohen gives his mock closing arguments for both the prosecution and the defense.
- Evil Is As Evil Does (June 3rd, 2005) Cohen summarizes the closing arguments of the prosecution and the defense.
- Rating The Jackson Closers (June 3rd, 2005) Another review of the closing arguments.
- Yes, There are Stupid Questions (June 7th, 2005) Cohen explains why it’s silly to ask certain questions about the jury’s performance during deliberations, such as “How long should it take to reach a verdict?”
- Who’s Gagging Who? (June 9th, 2005) Cohen writes about how Mesereau told Rev. Jesse Jackson and MJ’s spokesperson Raymone Bain to stop speaking on behalf of MJ during the jury deliberations.
- Two California Kingdoms (June 10th, 2005) In an obvious attempt to pass the time during the jury deliberations, Cohen compares MJ’s Neverland Ranch to the Hearst Castle, which was owned by publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, located in San Simeon, California.
- Why Jackson Went Free (June 14th, 2005) Cohen explains why the prosecution lsot and why MJ was acquitted. In my opinion, this summary isn’t as good as the aforementioned summaries Charles Thomson and Jonna Spilbor because he insinuates that Sneddon “bungled the case” and MJ could have been convicted if not for Mesereau’s brilliance. It’s certainly not as strong and effective as I would like it to be.
- Bad Evidence (June 14th, 2005) This is a much better summary of the trial, and the title speaks for itself! Here’s a short excerpt:
You had to see what a punk the alleged victim seemed like on the witness stand and how shaky the core of his testimony was. You had to see how delusional his mother seemed in court and how much her testimony lacked in credibility and candor. You had to see how futilely prosecutors tried to convince jurors that it is a crime for a famous person, a target, to undertake good public relations or swift damage control. You had to see the evidence that piled up proving that the accusing family had a history of setting up and then hitting celebrities for payoffs.
- Advice For Michael Jackson (June 14th, 2005) Cohen offers some stern, yet fair advice for MJ on how to once again achieve success and avoid any further legal troubles now that he’s a free man.
Now, I must admit, after reading through all of Cohen’s summaries, I was disappointed at the unprofessionalism that he displayed at times. On a few occasions, he referred to MJ as the “so-called King of Pop”, the “King of Flake” (in the “Defense Kept It Simple” summary), a “freak”, and he gave an absolute BS description of Gavin’s videotaped interview with the police in the “Jackson Case: Go To The Video” article!
Waiting until the prosecution’s rebuttal case to unveil the most emotional piece of evidence of the whole trail, and gambling that the judge would in the end allow it before jurors, Sneddon showed the panel Friday a police videotape of an interview conducted with Jackson’s accuser soon after the young man’s family had reported a crime. The tape was raw, powerful, and emotional. In it the young man displayed the sort of sympathy-inducing demeanor and tone that was notably absent from his repertoire when he testified in person a few months ago. In chilling detail, he described the alleged acts of molestation that are at the core of this case. In other words, he acted like a genuine victim and not, as he had in court, like a street-wise punk.
Oh, give me a damn break! Let’s see what Aphrodite Jones had to say about that same interview! She gives her opinion on it beginning at 5:00:
And did you notice how he wrote at least one update each week during the prosecution’s portion of the case (except for his leave of absence, after which he resumed his multiple updates upon his return)? But once the prosecution rested, HE DIDN’T WRITE A SINGLE UPDATE FOR THE DEFENSE UNTIL THEY RESTED! He went twenty consecutive days (May 5th through May 25th) without an update! I don’t think this is a coincidence at all due to the biased and unconscionable behavior of CBS News (Cohen’s employer) during the trial! Let me explain:
A producer for CBS News named Bruce Rheins filed a trademark application in January 2004 for the name “Jesus Juice”, the name of the alcohol that the Arvizos lied about and said MJ served them. It was filed more than a year before the trial started, and this behavior showed how little regard this producer – who was in charge of CBS’s coverage of the MJ trial – had for both MJ and Gavin (assuming Gavin was telling the truth, which we all know he wasn’t, but this producer didn’t know it then, yet went along with it anyway.) Here is an excerpt from an MJEOL Bullet on this topic:
To know that in Jan 2004, over a year before the trial began, these two a–holes were clearly seeking to profit and/or make a mockery of the entire situation is totally repulsive. The hateful way in which they sought to ridicule Jackson and the trial is totally indicative of how much attention they would have given to a non-negative Jackson story. I can only wonder what damaging information about the prosecution or the Arvizo family came to their attention early on, which was ignored because they already thought Jackson was guilty.
After news organizations found out about this trademark, Rheins and his wife went into damage control mode and said that they already had a winery business, and they used MJ’s image as a practical joke on friends, but then decided to trademark it so that nobody else would be able to trademark it and profit from it. Seriously, that’s what they said! Here is a part of a statement that he gave to the media after the firestorm erupted:
I spoke to Rheins about it and he called the whole effort “a very bad attempt at a spoof.” Rheins said he and his wife make their own wine and intended to produce a small number of “Jesus Juice” bottles to give to friends, some of whom covered the Jackson trial alongside of Rheins. He said there was never an intention to profit in any way from the effort.When questioned about filing for the trademark, Rheins said the couple did so because “we didn’t want somebody to get hold of it” and make money off of it when they could be traced as the creators. When I asked about reports that they had tried to solicit wineries in a partnership, he told me that his wife had made a “joking reference” on her Web site about seeking partners but they have “never approached any wineries” and if any had contacted them (none did), they would have turned them down.
Rheins wanted to make clear that he understands this to be a sensitive and serious issue for many and that he intended this to be a private matter between himself, his wife and their friends. Calling it a “stupid, bad attempt” at humor, Rheins added, “I understand that people are truly offended and I sincerely apologize for that.”
Liar, liar, pants on fire!! He claims that there was no intention to profit, but the following excerpt proves otherwise!!
NewsBusters.org has information clearly showing that Rheins intended on making money from this image if he hasn’t done so already. They have caught Rheins with his pants down. They found out Rheins and Westlake had a cafepress.com virtual store selling merchandise with the blasphemous Jackson/Jesus image on it. It was archived and made available to their readers at the NewsBusters.org website. Rheins’ cafepress.com store, Ron de Cana Productions, was selling everything from wall clocks to t-shirts to coffee mugs with this image on it. And, from the archived information, Rheins and Westlake clearly played on the Jackson angle. For example, they were charging $15 for a wall clock with their “Jesus Juice” trademark image on it. In the description section for that clock was the following.
The clock is called the “Off the Wall Clock”! I mean, come on! It is in terrible taste to seek to benefit from a child molestation trial, especially when the person on trial was factually innocent and acquitted. On top of this is the fact that Rheins has apparently lied and sought to cover his tracks by having the items removed from the cafepress.com store bearing the Jackson-esque image. Further, NewsBusters.org, with the power of Google’s cache directory, also dug up info from Westlake’s online diary website. Her July 2005 entries are also disgustingly flippant in relation to Jackson and the trial. She admitted at the time that she and her husband, Rheins, purchased the “Jesus Juice” trademark. And nowhere does she mention that it was all a big joke. Reading through the vapid drivel at her site, we came upon some very telling information. She wrote that she went to Santa Ynez Valley on what she called the “Sideways-Jackson Molestation Tour”. Not a “molestation trial tour”, or a “Sideways Tour”. She specifically used that language. She reminisced about how the Santa Maria Courthouse parking lot would hold the “limo” at the ready to take Jackson to county jail had he been convicted. From the website at dawnwestlake.com:
“We went up to the Santa Ynez Valley! Wooo-hooo!!! We did the “Sideways-Jackson Molestation Tour!” YIPPPPEEEE!!! (And, I enjoyed every minute of it!) Since Bruce [Rheins] was up here for 5 months for the Jackson trial, the first stop was the Santa Maria Courthouse, its parking lot still painted with the official partitions of the photojournalists, and the “limo” at the ready which would have taken Jackson to county jail, if he’d been convicted. “It would have been quite a change from the lush life he leads behinds this gate at Neverland. And too soon, it was time to leave. But I’ll be back! Maybe if Jesus Juice takes off, to buy property!!”
Again, the mentality of these people is what disturbs me the most. What kind of sleaze bag would delight in reminiscing about such a time? Further, she clearly insinuates that “Jesus Juice” was supposed to be for-profit and wanted to buy property in Santa Ynez Valley after it “takes off”.
After this scandal hit the airwaves, the Rheins apologized ad nasuem, and filed a request for “express abandonment” of their trademark. But their apologies were worthless because their actions show their true intent. They wanted to make as much money as possible, so that they could try to buy Neverland and convert it into a winery.
Is it far-fetched to believe that with all of the shenanigans going on behind the scenes at CBS News that someone higher-up in the chain of command ordered Cohen to lay low during the defense’s portion of the case in order to not report how they proved MJ’s innocence? I personally feel that it’s very plausible!
But nevertheless, I felt that overall he was objective and did a good job of summarizing the trial, despite his unprofessionalism, and despite the fact that he wasn’t as detailed as he should have been in some areas (for example, he should have given more specific examples of all of the lies the prosecution’s witnesses were caught in!). And that’s why I chose to compile his articles in this post.
Fortunately, CBS redeemed themselves somewhat by posting a summary of each day’s testimony on their website, and here it is:
During the trial, the Associated Press wrote a daily summary of each day’s testimony, and it was posted on MJ’s now defunct MJJ Source website, which he established to keep fans informed of what was happening. They are now compiled on the MJ Upbeat website, and the 66 days of court testimony and 7 days of jury deliberations are divided as follows:
Another place to get information from the site is the Remote Electronic Access for Extraordinary Criminal Cases website, which was set up by the Superior Court of Santa Barbara County as way for the media and general public to be able download the official court transcripts and pleadings without bombarding the staff with requests, which would have been unprecedented due to the unusual amount of interest in the case. Judge Rodney Melville discussed the formation of this website during the Frozen In Time seminar in September 2010, and here’s an excerpt:
On another level, we sought help from the judicial counsel. There were huge numbers of motions and declarations through the pretrial hearings. It totaled thousands of pages, and the clerk’s office couldn’t possibly handle the large demand for copies of everything that was filed. So we made application to the judicial counsel to have them amend the rule to already allow access to civil cases. We wanted that changed to allow electronic access to this criminal case and other unusual criminal cases. In a highly debated session, members of the judicial council voted 9-to-9 on this rule. This required the chief justice to break the tie, and he voted to allow us to have this new electronic rule allowing unusual criminal cases to be displayed electronically. Without this rule change, we would have required at least two or three more clerks, and certainly more sophisticated copying information, or support electronics. So to this day, whenever I see the Chief Justice I think him again for breaking that tie vote!
Here is a video that describes the creation of the website! Notice at the 5:35 mark, SBC Executive Officer Gary Blair mentions how the site prevents the media from sensationalizing documents that don’t even exist, and Richard Goldman, Dean of Santa Barbara College of Law, states that the site prevents the media from running rampant with speculation! (Although they still managed to do so anyway!)
Unfortunately, although all of the defense and prosecution’s court pleadings are still intact, the website no longer has the transcripts of the testimonies of each witness, but the transcripts of the most important witnesses can be found on the “Dear Gavin Arvizo” fan site.
Here are some other legal analysts who questioned the validity of the case early on, but unfortunately they didn’t cover the case extensively:
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer interviews Andrew Murr, Chris Darden (notice how he says the case kept him awake at night due to the inconsistencies!), and Gretchen Von Helmes, and Larry King interviews Mark Geragos:
Geraldo Rivera talks with Andrew Goldberg of The Smoking Gun website, Joe Tacopina (Frank Cascio’s lawyer), Howard King (Marc Schaffel’s lawyer), and Gloria Allred (who I rebutted in this post)
And here is Geraldo interviewing Howard Weitzman (MJ’s lawyer in 1993) and Stan Goldman (a professor of law). It’s truly disappointing to listen to Weitzman throw MJ under the bus by saying “he wasn’t there in 1993 and 2003”, but fortunately a snippet from Mesereau’s post trial interview shows exactly how a lawyer should defend his client!
Here is a transcript and analysis of his speech at the Harvard Law Seminar in November 2005.
Here is a transcript and analysis of his speech at the Frozen in Time Seminar from September 2010.
Here is a post that lists examples of how he has continued to defend MJ, not only after his acquittal, but after his death too!
Here is link from his official website to articles he has written on the MJ case, article he has written on other legal issues, and videos of his media appearances! And here is an excerpt from a speech he gave in 2007 to the Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Alabama! In this excerpt, Mesereau speaks about his cross-examination of Gavin Arvizo, and how he got him to ramble on about how MJ had “abandoned” his family INSTEAD of talking about the alleged molestation!
B. The Alleged Victim
There is a law professor in Los Angeles who is a good friend of mine. Her name is Laurie Levenson and she teaches at Loyola Law School. She is a frequent television commentator on legal issues and a former United States attorney. I am sure some of you have seen her.
Laurie is very highly respected in my city and I was recently privileged to address her criminal procedure class. When she introduced me, she commented on my cross-examination of the thirteen-year-old accuser in the Jackson case. She commented on my cross-examination question that she felt had won the case for the defense. That question was “why?”
I had studied this child accuser as he responded to the district attorney’s questions in direct examination. I thought I had a pretty good feel for this witness. To me, he was a thirteen-year-old boy “going on thirty.” In my opinion, this witness was clever, dishonest, deceitful, cool and with an obvious agenda. He had taken acting lessons and appeared to like being in the spotlight. I sensed this the moment he appeared in the witness box.
I believed that this child accuser was angry at Michael Jackson, but not because he had ever been molested. I believed he and his family had hustled celebrities like Chris Tucker, George Lopez and others and that his family thought they had “hit Lotto” when they met Michael Jackson. This was a low-income family whom Michael let move to Neverland at various periods. Because the thirteen-year-old boy suffered from cancer, Michael took them on trips, had a blood-drive and did all sorts of wonderful things for the family.
The accuser’s brother was one year older and wanted to be a producer. Michael helped him produce a video at Neverland and was constantly doing nice things to assist this family. But then, Michael got sick of them. He got tired of them leaning on him and began to pull away. The children started calling Michael “daddy.” The mother started calling him “daddy.” I believed that these false molestation claims began when the family realized they were on the way out.
As clever as this thirteen-year-old boy was, he was not smart enough. He had lied previously in a civil deposition where his mother made false claims that she was molested by security guards at JC Penny stores. In my cross-examination, I spent a lot of time trying to reveal to the jury who this thirteen-year-old really was. I could not have done so if I confined him to “yes” or “no” answers. You only learn who people really are when they talk and reveal themselves. I believed self-revelation was worth the price of relinquishing witness control.
I warmed up this witness for the key question. My questions went something like this:
“You and your family wanted to stay at Neverland, correct?”
“You wanted to take trips with Michael Jackson and did so, right?”
“You went on amusement rides with Michael Jackson, didn’t you?”
“Michael Jackson introduced you to people you could only dream about actually meeting, right?”
“And at some point you became very angry at Michael Jackson, didn’t you?”
This child accuser began to ramble about how Michael had abandoned him and his family. He never mentioned anything about child molestation!
Of course, I am not saying that any of you should copy this approach. Just think about it.
Shortly after the Bashir documentary aired in February 2003, the Department Of Children And Family Services conducted a thorough investigation into the relationship between MJ and the Arvizo family, and they absolutely cleared him! The Arvizo family willingly and vehemently defended MJ, and here are the results of the DSCF investigation:
After reading that, it’s easy to wonder why on earth would District Attorney Tom Sneddon even try to bring charges? Well, this article by K.C. Arceneaux (published on May 12, 2004, just a few weeks after MJ was indicted) should help answer that question! Arceneux highlights several disturbing examples of Sneddon’s outrageous bias against his political enemies, which shows that he is perfectly capable of becoming myopic in his zeal to convict MJ (a sentiment that has been echoed by nearly every person who I have cited in this post), and here is a short excerpt:
On the same day that the indictment was unsealed, there was another and far less public event unfolding, one that may have a future impact on the Jackson case. Serious allegations of a pattern of abuses among Santa Barbara law enforcement and the DA’s office, including District Attorney Tom Sneddon, were made by Santa Barbara County dentist, Thambiah Sundaram, in an interview on Online Legal Review Talk Radio. Sneddon is the DA prosecuting the child-molestation case against Michael Jackson. In the interview, conducted by Ron Sweet, Sundaram stated that there was opposition to a non-profit medical clinic he operated.
Sundaram said that when city officials were unable to shut down his clinic, he was arrested on multiple counts, including impersonating a doctor, grand theft, and malicious mischief. Sundaram’s wife was arrested, as well. An employee at the clinic was also charged, of committing a drive-by shooting. Neither Sundaram, his wife nor the employee were convicted. Sundaram said that he eventually won a judgment against Sneddon and the DA’s office for a substantial, six-figure amount, for causes including conspiracy, false imprisonment, and other violations of his civil rights.
Sundaram’s allegations are not an isolated instance. There have been many complaints and law-suits against the Santa Barbara DA’s office. The new counts against Jackson may be consistent with a pattern that Santa Barbara defense attorney Gary Dunlap has called “stacking charges.” In an interview on MJJF Talk Radio, on January 2, 2004, Dunlap gave his opinion that “stacking charges” was a common practice of the DA’s office, and claimed that this was a tactic used against him.
Dunlap can be seen in the video below discussing his run-ins with Sneddon, and in this post you can see that Sneddon literally left no stone unturned in his vain attempts convict MJ!
Here is how Sneddon stacked charges against MJ:
In the Statement of Probable Cause, dated November 17th, 2003, Det. Paul Zelis described an interview he did with Star Arvizo, who claimed the following (on pages 15, 23, & 50):
When asked, Star said Michael Jackson touched him inappropriately. The incident occurred when they were in a golf cart. Star was driving the golf cart and Michael was next to him. Michael then reached over and touched Star’s “testicles and penis” over his clothes with Michael’s left hand. He did not say anything to Michael and continued driving the golf cart.
Yet, Michael Jackson was never charged with molesting Star. Instead, when Tom Sneddon filed his initial felony complaint against Michael Jackson on December 18th, 2003, it consisted of the following allegations by Gavin, which allegedly occurred from February 7th through March 10th, 2003:
- 7 counts of lewd acts upon a child
- 2 counts of administering an intoxicant
However, in the grand jury indictment that was filed on April 21st, 2004, the dates of the alleged offenses shifted to February 20th through March 12th, 2003, and the charges were materially altered as follows:
- 4 counts of lewd acts upon a child
- 1 count of an attempted lewd act upon a child
- 4 counts of administering an intoxicant
- 1 count of conspiracy to commit child abduction, false imprisonment, and extortion
Now it’s easy to see how desperate Sneddon was to get the MJ case to trial! He completely rearranged his case when he became knowledgeable of the fact that the Arvizo family recorded the rebuttal tape, so he came up with the conspiracy charge to explain how they were “forced” to shoot it and remain at Neverland! And God only knows why he never charged MJ with abusing Star Arvizo! Here are a list of questions that you should ask to anyone who is willing to engage you in intelligent debate over MJ’s innocence:
1. How do you explain the discrepancy in the alcohol and molestation charges between the initial felony complaint and the grand jury indictment?
2. How do you explain the addition of the conspiracy charge, especially in light of the fact that the Arvizos went on numerous shopping sprees while at Neverland, and constantly asked to be returned to Neverland after leaving?
3. Why wasn’t Michael Jackson charged with conspiracy in the initial complaint? Sneddon investigated Michael Jackson for almost 6 months before raiding Neverland in November 2003. Shouldn’t he have known then about the alleged conspiracy?
4. Why weren’t the 5 unindicted co-conspirators charged, even after they refused immunity for their testimony against Michael Jackson?
5. Why wasn’t Michael Jackson charged with molesting Star, in addition to Gavin? In the statement of probable cause, he claimed to have been molested while riding a golf cart. Wouldn’t Sneddon want to use as many accusers as possible against Jackson?
6. Why did the start date of the alleged crimes suddenly shift by almost 2 weeks, and the end date shift by 2 days?
7. Why would Michael Jackson begin to molest Gavin and Star only AFTER the documentary aired? Why didn’t he molest them between 2000 and 2002?
8. Why would Michael Jackson begin to molest Gavin and Star AFTER he hired Mark Geragos in early February 2003? Why would he hire a lawyer to defend him for a crime that he had not committed yet?
William Wagener is also someone who is well known in the fan community for his advocacy work on behalf of MJ ever since 2005! He was one of the very few people in the media who truly bent over backwards to defend MJ, not so much out of a love of MJ (he admits in his comment below that he wasn’t a fan), but out of his antipathy for Sneddon! He knew Sneddon was maliciously prosecuting MJ, and he did everything he could to expose it. Here is a video from his extensive YouTube playlist, followed by a comment that he left in the comments section (which I’m copy here to bring it more exposure):
I attended the Michael Jackson so called trial, [ more like an inquisition ], of 5 months in 2005. I missed only 3 days and usually sat behind Mrs. Katherine Jackson or Tito Jackson.
I can certify that the Jury got it Right. More than any of the bias Media, inflecting innuendos, and the Sheriff who titlated the Media, with lies,
I can say without hestitation, Michael Jackson was innocent, 100%. Judge Melville should have dismissed the case for lack of the elements of any of the 10 felonys and it was clear to me.
I did 12 TV weekly shows on the Jackson 2005 trial while it was on going. They were only seen in Santa Maria, Lompoc and Solvang & Buelton, CA. Now parts are on my YOU TUBE channels: WilliamWagener, & WilliamJwagener
It was so obvious that the prosecutors were on a witch hunt, and that Sneddon wanted to go out of office as a “Hero” showing he slayed the pediophile, and had NO real evidence that Michael Jackson every harmed or violated a pubic hair on any child, ever.
Sneddon even persuaded his fellow BAR Assc. members in the State of California Legislature to change the LAW specifically so Sneddon could bring in the 1108 evidence to prejudice the Jury, which for Long Standing in USA and Common Law nations in general had not been allowed. LAW changed just to Nail one innocent person. That is a Witch hunt and in this case the real witches were the WARLOCKS from the Santa Barbara District Atty.’s Office [ aka the snake pit , which has a long record of convicting innocent men, who later are proven innocent and released after decades in prison ].
He had only carefully crafted lies from a cancer ridden diseased mind of Gavin and his mother, the mother of all liars, in this case, Janet Arvizo, who finally married a Jackson man in the military, just to have the Jackson name. How nutz is this woman?
So convinced was I after 5 weeks of lies and carefully crafted deception by Sneddon and Zonen that I stated at the Santa Maria, Airport Hilton Rally for Michael, that Michael would walk free, and be found NOT guilty. because in fact Michael was NOT GUILTY. The guilty people were the Prosecutors who committed three FELONYS in faking evidence to with: 1. the Fingerprint evidence, 2. the Phone conspiracy evidence [which Sneddon tried to withdraw from the JURY, after a policeman stated under oath to Mag Nicola, the 4th prosecutor, you got this all “Wrong”., and 3. the conspiracy between the evil prosecutors to fake the evidence and make it appear to jive with the practice scripted coached lies that Gavin Arvizo was caught in. I stood alone at that rally of 200 MJ fans, as the only Media person on TV weekly telling them, Michael was not going to be convicted of any of these lies. Aphrodite Jones was not there, but plenty of video was taken and its in part on my YOU TUBE channels.
Justice for Michael, is no longer possible. But a slice of Justice would be for a Common Law “WE THE PEOPLE of SANTA BARBARA COUNTY” to form, pick a foreman from among the 23, and INDICT all Four Prosecutors for at least the 3 name felonys listed above.
THIS simply MUST happen, or more similar crimes by a corrupted District Attys Office will continue. Where there is such a blatant documented crime of Members of the Calfornia BAR assoc. JUSTICE must , Justice does demand INDICTMENT, ARREST without bail, Conviction, and sentencing to LIFE in PRISON withOUT possiblity of parol, of these four “criminals in office”. I do not state that as hyperbula or fantasy. It must happen, there must be accountability, for JUSTICE’s sake, … and Michaels sake, even if you don’t like Michael. It is about Justice.
Unfortunately, that has NOT happened, because the network or what I call the Nutwork’ media was a part of the lynching of Michael Jackson, and 99% of the MJ fans know that and still FEEL that, and the MJ fans are correct, in this case at least, even if they are fanatical. Being Fanatical does NOT mean your always wrong. Jesus was fanatical about Love and forgiveness. He certainly was NOT wrong, even if they did crucify him illegally even under Roman Civil law. Jesus was innocent, even admited “My kingdom is not of this world”. They crucified him anyway after less than 5 days of mistreatment. Michael Jackson endured 5 months of bashing and horrible lies. His close friend, Majestic said to me, I was the only one who believed Michael Jackson would walk free. That is sad but probably true. For that reason I threw a Victory Celebration the day before the Jury verdict. I funded it out of my pocket. bringing Ernest Valentino from Germany first class, THAT is how convinced I was that Michael Jackson would walk free from the Santa Maria Courthouse, vindicated of EVERY charge and lesser included offenses. I did that to cheer up the fans. Unfortunately most were inconsolable or did not understand, because they had not watched my 12 tv shows.
These Four Criminals in office, Tom Sneddon, Ron Zonen, Gordy Auchincloss, & Mag Nicola deserve to be INDICTED, ARRESTED, CONVICTED and sentence to LIFE withOUT parol for High Treason. the Treason is violating the Law, faking evidence with pre-meditated wanton intent to frame an innocent man. I believe Sneddon knew he did not disserve to win any conviction, but believed with Ellie Cook on the Jury, an elderly former employee of a Judge, that he could possibly get his way even if the jury saw threw the faked evidence … which they clearly did.
To NOT indict them is to encourage more of the same calculated EVIL behavior by other District Attorneys. I also should mention, there was one policeman on the witness stand the spoke the truth against the carefully constructed lies of the Prosecutors, and people should remember, that not all sheriffs were in cahoots with Tom Sneddon, and this one spoke truth, and the Jury did not miss that point.
In pushing these false charges, the Four Criminals from the S.B. DA office not only started the decline emotionally and psychologically of Michael Jackson, leading to his death 4 years later, the destroyed the greatest Humanitarian of my generation. No one gave more of his OWN money to needy children around the world than Michael Jackson.
Not only did the Four Criminals in office destroy his name and reputation, and his life, they cheated his three children out of a father distracted wrongly for 2 years on this trial of non existent evidence, and 4 years later cheat the children of their father, cheat MJ siblings of a kind and generous brother, and Katherine and Joe of a son they dearly loved, and millions of MJ fans suffered to some degree with michael. This was a global crime against people who loved MJ’s love of dance, kindness, joy and life itself.
For this the Criminals from the snake pit, deserve to sit in Prison along with others they put in prison, some guilty, and some not guilty. THAT would be Justice for these criminal members of the California BAR Association.
I am the witness, who saw and connect the deceptive dots of the /Four criminals in office [ sneddon and cohorts] during the 2005 trial. I certify that the above crimes by the Prosecutors from the snake pit are REAL, and under Common Law, there is NO Statute of Limitations, and when the on going fraud of the Dist. Atty office is so obvious, even under their code it is not run out, because the Fraud to this minute has not been officially made known.
Michael Jackson was innocent, the Jury got it right on June 13, 2005, regardless that a pair of them may have been paid to appear on TV and yield a contrary opinion, now that Michael is dead and can not defend himself. Though I stand alone, in the above assertion, I must do so, or not be worthy of the God who placed me at that time and place as a witness. I was not a MJ fan at the time of the trial. To this day, I have profited not a penny from the trial, and I state this without prejudice, and only that there be a clear record. Michael Jackson was, is and now always will be innocent. I can only state what I know to be true from my observations, and I have been saying it since early April 2005, without waivering.
If asked under oath to a Common Law Grand Jury, I would state the above.
Finally, I will end this post with a reference to attorney Michael C. Barnes, a managing member of DCBA Law & Policy. Prior to establishing DCBA in 2004, Mr. Barnes served as confidential counsel in the White House drug policy office, where he provided executive direction on policies aimed at reducing substance abuse. During the Conrad Murray trial, he started a blog called “Please Sit Back and Relax“, and here is his explanation of the name and the purpose of the blog:
“Please sit back and relax.”
–Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor
Michael Barnes analyzing the Conrad Murray trial, 9/19/11
As I watch the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray for the death of Michael Jackson, I like the way Judge Pastor tells each witness as he or she takes the stand, “Please sit back and relax.” Judge Pastor’s style is kind and sincere. His substance is serious. In this sense, more people should be like Judge Pastor.
I work in two overlapping fields: law and policy. Many of the other attorneys I encounter would be much more effective if they adopted a more congenial demeanor. Our federal decision makers are likable enough to get elected and sometimes re-elected, but too many of them favor shallow politicking over digging deep into the areas that urgently need reform.
I chose psbar as the abbreviated title for my blog for a couple of additional reasons.
On “ps”: The analysis you will find here will be a post script to the often-recycled commentary you encounter elsewhere. I say what few others are saying.
On “bar”: Like a favorite coffee, snack, or beer bar, I intend this blog to be a place where you will be among friends and will want to return. Cheers to healthy disagreements.
Here is what you can expect to read about in the psbar blog:
- Legal headlines, starting with the Michael Jackson homocide trial
- Policy issues, focusing on both style and substance:
- Progress over politics
- Drug policy (check my credentials)
- The need for comprehensive reforms in federal spending, the tax code, Social Security, and government-funded health care programs
Thanks for your interest.
His analysis was desperately needed and thoroughly appreciated by the Michael Jackson fan community, as he was one of the few media pundits who went against the grain and railed against the “drug addict” caricature that the media – mainly HLN and TRU TV – pigeonholed MJ with. Here is an excerpt from one of the final updates he wrote about the trial:
The last time I called myself a fan of Michael Jackson was 1984, when I was in 4th grade. Between then and last month, I only peripherally observed Jackson while I was in line at the grocery store, in the same disengaged way I follow any other popular figure. I never even paid enough attention to form an opinion.
But I have an opinion now. Here are the conclusions about Michael Jackson that I have drawn as a result of this case:
- He surrounded himself with good people. With one prominent exception, the members of Michael Jackson’s professional and domestic staff who took part in this trial were genuine people who had a veritable commitment to Jackson’s personal well-being and professional success. Jackson’s fans include some extraordinarily faithful, compassionate, and intelligent individuals. “Intelligent” is an adjective I use with due caution and circumspection.
- He was a family man. Michael Jackson wanted his children to see him perform at his best. It was this motivation that drove the 50-year-old man to perform on the night before his death with the fitness and skill of a 25-year-old pop star.
- He had a kind heart. In his most uninhibited and vulnerable state of sedation, Michael Jackson described his deep-rooted desire to help children in need by establishing the Michael Jackson Children’s Hospital.
- He was vulnerable.
- Michael Jackson lamented that he did not have a typical, carefree childhood. Jackson’s desire to help children feel the joy of youth that he missed out on made him exceptionally susceptible to misconstruals of his intentions. He protected himself with complex privacy and security measures.
- Michael Jackson had severe and inadequately treated anxiety and insomnia, which led him to create for himself a rudimentary treatment plan that incorporated the use of a powerful anesthetic that mimicked the effects of sleep.
- He was exploited. Dr. Conrad Murray took advantage of Michael Jackson’s vulnerabilities. In exchange for the opportunity to introduce himself to women as Michael Jackson’s personal physician, and a fee of $150,000 per month, Murray threw caution to the wind and implemented Jackson’s self-designed treatment plan. Jackson died as a result.
Compare that to the garbage that was spewed daily from Nancy Grace, “Dr.” Drew, Joy Behar, and many other HLN personalities! This is why his blog is so important to fans who need to research the Conrad Murray trial and defend MJ against the drug addict myth. There were 11 updates throughout the trial, so there’s no need for me to repost them here, but definintely add Barnes’ blog to your list of favortite MJ blogs! He’s already on our blogroll!