Michael Jackson's Trials

Michael Jackson's Trials


The Ongoing Trials of The Late Michael Jackson

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Attorney vs. Attorney

It is reported that a gaggle of attorneys who represent both Michael Jackson, and the media, made their cases for and against rescinding Tom Sneddon's gag order on Friday.

Attorney Theodore Boutrous, who represents the media, pleaded that the removal of the gag would ensure that more accurate information would be distributed; ensuring that spurious gossip and innuendo would be quashed.

However, batting for Michael Jackson, Thomas Mesereau reversed Jackson's previous attorney's objections to the gag; and supported it.

Splendid stuff!

All of this guarantees even more coverage in the media.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Gagging For It

The prosecutors at Santa Barbara County are using the state Supreme Court to uphold a gag order in the Michael Jackson child molestation case.

The prosecutors noted that the Jackson case has fuelled intense public interest and is, not surprisingly, the focus of unremitting media attention. The gag order is, in their view, necessary to maintain an untainted pool of potential jurors.

It is understood that DA Tom Sneddon filed a letter on Thursday, noting that speculation one day soon becomes reported as fact.

News organisations around the world have been clamouring to have the gag order, which prevents anyone associated with the case from talking about it, lifted.

The Supreme Court has requested that all pertinent submissions be made to it by Friday. It will then have to exercise the "judgement of Solomon".

The use of such a gag order in the USA is, by all accounts, unusual. It seems that, according to the lawyer representing the news organisations (Theodore Boutrous), it is a violation of the first Amendment.

I feel that given the intense media interest in the case, and the push button nature of news flow, whether there is gag order or not; there will be leaks and speculation, outwith the control of either the prosecution or defence.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

The Price of Justice

I have already noted, in an earlier article, that the cost to date of bringing Michael Jackson to trial has crept up to $273K.

However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. According to a consultant, who works with Santa Barbara County, the eventual cost could be as high as $4M.

The costs cover all aspects of the trial; from the police needed to maintain public order, to porta potties.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Where Does the Money Go?

According to reports, that are just filtering into the net, on the 18th of December Michael Jackson paid a breach of contract lawsuit filed against him by German concert promoter Marcel Avramwas.

That day is significant, as it was the same day that District Attorney Tom Sneddon charged Michael Jackson with child molestation.

It seems that in March 2003 Michael Jackson was ordered to pay over $5M to Marcel Avram, who had actually sued Jackson for over $21M. The action was brought by Avram on the basis that he claimed Michael Jackson had pulled out of two millennium concerts.

It seems that, despite an appeal lodged by Jackson's lawyers, a settlement was made on the 18th of December.

There have been persistent stories about Michael Jackson's diminishing wealth, this payment will have exacerbated the situation (if these stories about his cahs flow are true).

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Vultures in the Background

I have reviewed quite a number of the news stories circulating about Michael Jackson, since his court appearance the other week.

All make the point that the appearance showed a more serious, and "conservative" Jackson.

They note that he has realised the seriousness of the charges being brought against him, and applaud him for his choice of lawyer and demeanour.

However, they all finish with similar tag lines akin to the following; "can he keep it up?".

One quote, from attorney Connie Rice, almost salivates at the thought of him doing something foolish:

"If I was his lawyer, I'd be doing stuff to try to shore up his image," she said. "But we're talking Michael Jackson here. He's sure to do something negative."

In my view the media are trying to egg him on to do something outrageous, so that they may then feed on the spectacle like vultures.

I would like to offer my views on this, for what they are worth.

The charges are very serious, Michael Jackson will do himself no favours by rising to the media baiting; he must keep a cool head and follow the advice of his attorney.

Falling for the media baiting game will do him no favours in court.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Grand vs. Petit

Here is a very brief overview of certain aspects of the jury system in the USA, pertinent to the Michael Jackson case.

The Sixth and Seventh Amendments to the Constitution of the United States establishes the right to a jury trial, in all federal criminal and certain civil cases.

There are three types of juries in the USA. The standard, and most common, is the "petit jury". Petit juries can cover both criminal and civil cases, and contain between 5-12 jurors.

One of the other two types of jury is the "grand jury". These can contain up to 23 people, and can act as either the charging grand jury (which decides if there is enough evidence for a trial to take place) and an investigatory grand jury (which determines whether evidence should be gathered to render a prosecution possible).

Michael Jackson faced a grand jury in April, which decided that there was enough evidence to go to trial.

He will then face a petit jury, which will decide his guilt or innocence.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Let the Courts Do Their Job

The period between now and the trial of Michael Jackson can, to some extent, be likened to a vacuum. As we all know, nature abhors a vacuum.

As people wait for the trial to commence they are desperate for "news/information" to fill the void.

One particular rumour that is apparently "doing the rounds", concerns an alleged letter that will be posted on the internet by the mother of one of the parties involved.

It seems, so the rumour goes, that she will try to rally support via the net.

I cannot vouch for the veracity, or otherwise of this rumour. However, this seems to be an apposite opportunity for me to venture my opinion on the relationship between the media and the judicial process.

The charges raised against Michael Jackson are very serious. Whatever peoples' views as to his innocence, or guilt, he is nonetheless presumed innocent until proven guilty. The forum for proving guilt is the court, not the net or the media.

Let the judicial system do its job; justice will not be served by pandering to peoples' prejudices outside of the courtroom.