Sneddon’s case against Michael Jackson was bulls-it. That was the logical conclusion of a brilliant journalist such as Matt Taibbi. However, the few articles that evenly reported the Michael Jackson 2005 trial drowned in a slime of packed lies.
The havoc, the shame, and the scam should have been debited to the Californian Legal System, which allowed a trial based on circumstantial evidence and in total conflict with the American statute, which clearly states that:
“YOU ARE INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY BY A COURT OF LAW.”
Michael Jackson was arrested in November 2003, days after sheriff’s deputies executed a search warrant at his Los Olivos ranch. MJ tried on 10-count indictments, but in April 2003, he was charged with four more counts of child molestation; four counts of providing alcohol to a minor to facilitate that molestation, one count of attempted molestation, and one count of conspiring to hold the boy and his family captive at his sprawling 2700-acre Neverland compound.
Sneddon’s intricate conspiracy charges —that Jackson held hostage the family of his so-called victim and plotted to fly them to Brazil—were proven to be ludicrous. Attorney Tom Mesereau had no difficulty illustrating to the Jury that family members had gone on a shopping binge during their supposed confinement, including body waxes for the alleged victim’s mother and various orthodontic works for the children. Moreover, Testimonies declared that the family “escaped” and returned to Jackson’s Neverland ranch at least three times, once in a Rolls-Royce, but never called anyone for help.
Prosecutor Tom Sneddon slandered Jackson publicly, creating a situation where Michael ultimately was forced to face two trials: one in the courtroom and the other in the newsroom. Jackson was ridiculed and dehumanized by the media – and not just in the rags. The awful headlines that trumpeted prosecution claims while burying more subdued and smaller articles about the defense arguments contributed to winning the public opinion.
The media found Jackson guilty before the trial even began. Yet, to this day, there are still people who speculate on the charges’ acquittal formulation, saying that the “not guilty” verdict means “lack of evidence.” Actually, it does not work like that. Lack of evidence produces the dismissal of the judgment, not a verdict of “not guilty.”
When someone is formally charged and gets into a courtroom, no one is ever found ‘innocent.’ That’s how USA Law is constructed. A verdict of not guilty constitutes an acquittal. At trial, an acquittal occurs when the Jury determines that the prosecution hasn’t proved the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case should never be brought to court. Prosecutor Sneddon was aware of the evidence’s poor quality yet indicted Jackson anyway. Moreover, the parade of witnesses with poor credibility did more than undermine the prosecution’s case. It also sent an ugly message: this prosecutor wanted to get Jackson even if he had to suborn perjury. And to procure substantial prejudices against the defendant, the prosecutor’s misconduct produced pieces of evidence then proved false. But after all, we have to be thankful that the smart and thoughtful Jury did the right thing.
In his closing argument, Tom Mesereau called the family a pack of scam artists trying to pull off “the biggest con of their careers.” However, he was kind enough not to say the same about Santa Barbara’s District Attorney’s office.
With this short introduction, I will let you go through a collection of articles, videos, and pictures of what happened on June 13, 2005.
June 1: Judge Melville gives the Jury the rules of Jury Deliberations.
Jurors, who listen to 98 pages of legal guidelines to help them decide the case against the pop star, will hear closing arguments starting this morning. Michael sat motionless, staring at the jury, as Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville recited dense legal language for more than 90 minutes. The judge has ruled that one of the lesser charges against the singer can be revised, increasing the likelihood of a guilty verdict.
Judge Rodney Melville agreed to a prosecution request that the jury could consider a lesser charge of giving alcohol to a minor. Mr. Jackson had been charged with providing alcohol to a minor to enable a felony, a charge which carries a sentence of two to four years. If convicted of the lesser charge, which is a misdemeanor, not a felony, Mr. Jackson would face a fine and the possibility of less than a year in jail. The jury will consider a lengthy indictment that includes four charges of committing a lewd and lascivious act on a minor, one charge of attempting to commit a lewd act on a minor and one of conspiracy involving child abduction, extortion and false imprisonment. The conspiracy charge alone alleges 28 overt acts. The jury only has to find that Mr. Jackson was involved in one of the acts to find him guilty of conspiracy. Should he be found guilty of all charges, he faces up to 20 years in prison. With Melville’s instructions fresh in their minds, jurors will hear closing arguments starting this morning before retreating into the jury room for their first discussions about the case. The defense and the prosecution each had long as four hours to make their final appeals in a cliffhanger trial that has careened from one dramatic piece of evidence to the next over nearly 14 weeks of testimony. Among Melville’s instructions were rules for considering a videotape played just days ago that maybe one of the most powerful weapons in the prosecution’s arsenal. In the 2003 video, Jackson’s young accuser haltingly told Santa Barbara sheriff’s deputies that Jackson had molested him. The nervous 13-year-old boy on the tape was a marked contrast to the wisecracking, sometimes prickly 15-year-old who testified at the trial in March. Defense attorneys tried to show that the accuser’s mother coached him to come forward with the molestation allegation so the family could sue Jackson. Melville reminded jurors that they could view the videotape only to observe the boy’s demeanor and gauge whether he was parroting a fabricated story, and not to decide whether he had been molested. The other videos include “Living With Michael Jackson,” a British TV documentary in which the pop star admitted that he enjoyed nonsexual sleepovers with children. The worldwide uproar following that broadcast prompted a “rebuttal video” from Jackson in which the accuser and his family lauded him as a loving father figure. Jurors saw the rebuttal video several times in the trial and are likely to see snippets again. Prosecutors allege that Jackson held the family hostage to force them to make the video. The defense had used the tape to argue that the boy and his family, so enthusiastic about Jackson before the camera, were not captives. In his instructions, Melville also said the jury might opt to find Jackson guilty of a misdemeanor — furnishing wine to a minor — rather than the more serious charge of administering alcohol in order to commit a felony. That instruction may offer jurors some room to negotiate. At the end of the court day, Jackson and his entourage left without comment.
June 2: Ron Zonen gives his closing statement, followed by Tom Mesereau, who doesn’t have time to finish.
The Michael Jackson trial reached a climactic phase yesterday as the prosecution and defense presented starkly different views of the singer to a jury expected to start its deliberations today. For the prosecution the trial was “about the exploitation and sexual abuse of a 13-year-old cancer survivor by an international celebrity”, said the deputy district attorney Ron Zonen. The defense lawyer Thomas Mesereau told the jury: “The issue before you is the life, future, fortune and reputation of Michael Jackson. That’s what is about to be placed in your hands.” While both sides concurred on the momentous nature of the decision facing the jury, that was about all they agreed on. Both teams focused much of their closing arguments on the credibility of Gavin Arvizo, the 13-year-old accuser in the case, and his family. Mr Jackson is accused of sexually molesting Gavin Arvizo and conspiring to imprison the Arvizo family. If found guilty on all counts he faces up to 20 years in prison.”If you don’t believe [the Arvizos],” Mr Mesereau said, “Michael Jackson must go free.” Mr Zonen told the court: “There are two themes, that Michael Jackson inserted himself into the Arvizo family, not the other way around,” and that, “Janet Arvizo never asked Michael Jackson for a penny.” He then launched a withering attack on Mr Jackson’s defence. Reminding the jury that Mr Mesereau had made several promises in his opening statement, Mr Zonen said: “He was inviting us to judge him. Let’s begin the judgment.” The defence, he said, had promised evidence that the Arvizo family had tried to “shake down” numerous celebrities for money. He said the promised parade of celebrities had failed to materialise and those who had testified had not backed up Mr Mesereau’s assertions. He also disputed the defence’s assertion that Mr Jackson, 46, had taken time out from his career to help the young cancer patient. He had, Mr Zonen admitted, made numerous calls to the boy. “That’s what he does with all the boys who end up in his bed,” he said. “That’s how Michael Jackson functions. That’s what he does. That has nothing to do with benevolence.” He went on to describe Neverland as “the world of the forbidden. Michael Jackson’s room was a veritable fortress with locks and codes which the boys were given … They learned about sexuality from someone only too willing to be their teacher.” Pouring scorn on the prosecution’s conspiracy charge, Mr Mesereau said: “Does he look like the kind of person capable of masterminding a criminal conspiracy of this magnitude? It’s absurd.” He also defended Mr Jackson’s practice of inviting children into his bedroom, arguing that Mr Jackson was often taken advantage of by the children. “They like you to think it was all Michael Jackson taking these innocent lambs and corrupting their lives. That’s all baloney,” he said. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/jun/03/michaeljacksontrial.music
June 3: Tom Mesereau completes his closing arguments.
Michael Jackson’s fate is now in the hands of the eight women and four men of the jury, who began their deliberations shortly after noon on Friday with the task of deciding whether he is a predatory pedophile or Peter Pan. Lawyers for Mr. Jackson and for the state ended their closing arguments on Friday with two videotapes portraying him in starkly different lights. The defense showed a videotaped interview in which Mr. Jackson proclaimed his innocent love of children and complained that he was maligned and misunderstood by other adults. “No matter what you do,” Mr. Jackson says in his breathy voice, “there’s always some jerk, some mean-spirited person who wants to bring you down.” The other tape, shown by the prosecution for the second time in a week, shows the accuser, then 13, haltingly telling a police detective how Mr. Jackson served him alcohol and molested him in bed at Mr. Jackson’s Neverland ranch near here. “You have just witnessed the worst seven minutes of this young man’s life,” said Ronald J. Zonen, the deputy district attorney who delivered the closing argument for the prosecution. “This is an absolutely sincere revelation by a child about a man he had been close to.” Outside the courtroom, crowds have grown somewhat this week as the denouement of the 14-week trial approaches. On Friday morning, about 75 fans stood outside the fence ringing the courthouse, jeering reporters and chanting, “Michael’s innocent.” They cheered again as Mr. Jackson left the courthouse shortly after noon accompanied by his parents and his brothers Jermaine and Randy. On most days, only a handful of Jackson fans showed up. Mr. Jackson’s sisters, Janet, LaToya and Rebbie, were in court as his lead lawyer, Thomas A. Mesereau Jr., ended his closing argument with a ringing denunciation of the accuser and his family as grifters who were “trying to pull the biggest con of their careers.” The pop star’s sisters left the courtroom before Mr. Zonen took to the lectern to complete his summation. “They found listening to their brother being vilified like that very difficult,” said Raymone K. Bain, a Jackson family publicist. Mr. Jackson faces 10 felony counts – four of child molesting, one of attempted child molesting, four of administering alcohol to aid in the commission of a felony, and conspiracy to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion. If convicted on all counts, he could be sentenced to more than 18 years in prison. Calling the accuser’s family “con artists, actors and liars,” Mr. Mesereau said that the accuser, his brother, his sister and his mother had repeatedly lied on the witness stand.”It only takes one lie under oath for you to throw this case out of court,” he told the jury. “Just one.” “This case is a fraud,” Mr. Mesereau said. He concluded by saying to the jury, “Ladies and gentlemen, this has been a nightmare for Michael Jackson.” He acknowledged that Mr. Jackson had mismanaged his fortune and had been foolish to befriend the accuser and his family, who have now turned on him. But he said voluminous evidence in the trial had shown them to be dishonest and not to be trusted in anything they said. “Under the law and the facts,” Mr. Mesereau said, “you must return a verdict of not guilty on all counts. It’s the only right verdict.” Mr. Zonen reminded jurors that no one had contested that Mr. Jackson shared his bed with a succession of young boys, in one case over the period of a year on two world concert tours. “Why would Mr. Jackson do it? Because he could,” Mr. Zonen said. “He has no restraints on his impulses.” He said that Mr. Jackson had prepared the accuser, who is now 15, for weeks before ultimately molesting him on at least four occasions. “This child was in love with him and would do anything he said,” the prosecutor said. “His opportunity was there and the child was ripe.” He answered Mr. Mesereau’s assertion that the accuser’s family had repeatedly committed perjury by saying that the defense could point out only about 40 minutes of inconsistent testimony during the 12 days that family members spent on the witness stand. Before sending the jury off to deliberate, Judge Rodney S. Melville of Santa Barbara Superior Court delivered a few last-minute instructions. He told the jurors, who are not being sequestered, to be in no rush to reach consensus and not to enter the jury room with fixed opinions. “You are not partisans or advocates in this matter,” the judge said. “You are the impartial judges of the facts.” Ms. Bain, the Jackson family spokeswoman, said that Mr. Jackson was relieved that the trial was over and was proud of his defense team. “He is hoping and believing that the jury will acquit him of these false charges,” she said. She said that he was healthy, despite his gaunt appearance and at times glazed look in his eyes. “He is not falling apart,” she said. But Ms. Bain added that the next days, as the jury deliberates, will be difficult. “This is the hardest part now,” she said, “the waiting game.”
MEANWHILE, THE MEDIA CIRCUS SPENDS ITS MISERABLE TIME MAKING BETS WITH UK TRADERS
June 3-13: Here is an excerpt:
Jurors in the Michael Jackson case is heading home for the weekend after wrapping up a sixth day of deliberations in the star’s child molestation trial . So far the jury has spent 28 hours behind closed doors without reaching a verdict. This leaves Michael Jackson’s future up in the air— and lots of speculation on the final outcome. Some of it is just idle speculation around the courthouse. But there’s also serious speculation on the Jackson verdict with dollar signs attached. These range from offshore betting sites to Dublin-based online trading exchange intrade.com. The Website claims their traders called every state and the District of Columbia correctly in the 2004 election. Here’s how it works: Traders can choose from one of two sets of charges (the molestation charges or the administering an intoxicating agent to a minor charges). Then they choose to bet whether Jackson is guilty or not. They decide to buy or sell depending on their prediction. As the percentage chance of guilty goes up or down in the minds of the traders, some people are losing while others are making money. For example, before Jackson attorney Tom Mesereau made his closing arguments, the smart money was on him to sway the jury. Guilty contracts dropped down to 35, meaning they generally believed there was just a 35 percent chance of a conviction. But when the traders found his closing disappointing, contracts for “guilty on molestation” went up from 35 to 45— meaning those who had bought at 35 were making some big money. The “he is innocent” crowd who had put money on an acquittal were suddenly losing money. If they wanted out they would have to pay the difference. As the jury deliberations have continued, many are thinking a compromise verdict could mean Jackson is only found guilty on the alcohol charges. Right now a “lewd act” conviction for Jackson is trading around 50 percent with “intoxicating liquor” over 72. As that “market” trades up and down on the futures… let’s not forget that Michael Jackson’s future really hangs in the balance. It’s hard to imagine Jackson going from the magical place called Neverland— with almost 3,000 acres of child-like fun complete with amusement park rides and a petting zoo— to the confines of a drab eight by 12 foot jail cell in the California Department of Correction if he is convicted. MSNBC.com
Worldwide on the News
June 3, 2005: Jennifer London Defense Cl. arguments
June 6, 2005: Abrams Reports MJ’s prison cell.
June 7, 2005:Jennifer London visits Jesse Jackson
June 9, 2005: Jennifer London/verdict watch
June 9, 2005: Katie Couric/ MJ in hospital
June 9, 2005: Dan Abrams/Jesse Jackson
June 10, 2005: Jennifer London/ Fans at the courthouse
June 11, 2005: Frank Cascio/J. Tacopina on Court TV
2005 June 13, MSNBC Full Coverage Before the Verdict
Michael Jackson is NOT GUILTY!
Michael Jackson Exit The Courtroom After The Verdict
Michael Jackson went back to Neverland after the verdict reading (wonderful video shot by french fans who followed MJ during his sad journey)
The Neverland Party
Abrams Report/ MJ not guilty
June 13, 2005: Dileo reacts after the verdict
June 14, 2005: Today Show/ Couric, Mesereau
“Good Morning America” Interviews the Jury that Acquitted Michael Jackson.
For Tom Sneddon, A Broken Record By Libby Copeland Wednesday, June 15, 2005
How bad is it to be Tom Sneddon now? For the second time in 12 years, Michael Jackson has gotten away from him. Anyone who sat in that courtroom in Santa Maria saw that Sneddon could be cranky and, perhaps worse for such a high-profile trial, bland. Jim Thomas, a former Santa Barbara County sheriff turned NBC commentator, said that on Monday evening he and Santa Barbara County District Attorney Sneddon and others involved in the prosecution engaged in some post-game analysis at the house in Santa Maria where Sneddon and members of his team had been staying during the trial. They had dinner. There were no tears. Sneddon even talked a little about golf. But he was “disappointed,” Thomas says. “They were all disappointed, because they believed this boy.” The boy, of course, is the 15-year-old who accused the pop star of molesting him two years ago. His testimony was followed by the testimony of his mother, a combative, melodramatic witness who helped torpedo the prosecution’s case. On Monday, several jurors said they disliked her and doubted her motives…..You can read full article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn…061401676.html
I would like to conclude with the article excerpt of Ishmael Reed dated June 29, 2009, THE PERSECUTION OF MICHAEL JACKSON.
Last Thursday, while working on some writing deadlines, I was switching channels on cable. On CNN they were promoting “Black In America,” an exercise meant to boost ratings by making whites feel good by making blacks look bad, the marketing strategy of the mass media since the 1830s, according to a useful book entitled “The Showman and the Slave,” by Benjamin Reiss. The early penny press sold a “whiteness” upgrade to newly arriving immigrants by depicting blacks in illicit situations. By doing so they were marketing an early version of a self esteem boosting product.
One of the initial sensational stories was about the autopsy of a black woman named Joice Heth, who claimed to be George Washington’s nurse and over one hundred years old. It was the O.J. story of the time. Circus master, P.T. Barnum, charged admission to her autopsy, which attracted the perverted in droves.
And so, if the people broadcasting cable news appear to be inmates of a carnival, there is a connection since the early days of the mass media to that form of show business. According to Reiss, early newspapers were not only influenced by P.T. Barnum, but actually cooperated with him on some hoaxes and stunts.
I would classify CNN’s “Black in America” as a stunt. In preparing for a sequel to the first “Black In America,” which boosted the networks ratings (the O.J. trial saved CNN!), CNN rolled out the usual stereotypes about black Americans.
Unmarried black mothers were exhibited, without mentioning that births to unmarried black women have plunged since 1976 – more than that of any other ethnic group. Then we got some footage that implied that blacks as a group were homophobes even though Charles Blow, a statistician for The New York Times, recently published a chart showing that gays have the least to fear from blacks.
Recently, the media perpetrated a hoax that blacks were responsible for the passage of Proposition 8, the California proposition that banned gay marriage. An academic study refuted this claim, but that didn’t deter The New York Times from hiring Benjamin Schwarz to explain black homophobia. Schwarz is the writer who wrote in The Los Angeles Times that blacks who were victims of lynching in the south were probably guilty.
In the last “Black in America,” Soledad O’Brien, CNN’s designated tough love agent against the brothers and sisters, scolded a black man for not attending his daughter’s birthday party. The aim of this scene was meant to humiliate black men as neglectful fathers. Ms. O’Brien won’t be permitted by her employers to mention that 75 percent of white children will live at one time or another in a single-parent household and that the Gov. of South Carolina’s not showing up for Father’s Day isn’t just a lone aberration in “White America.”
How would CNN promote a “White in America?” The thousands of meth addicts who have abandoned their children? The California rural and suburban white women who do more dope than Latino and black youth? The suburban Dallas white teenagers who are overdosing on “cheese” heroin? Why not? Can’t get State Farm, Ford, and McDonald’s to sponsor such a program? All of these companies are sponsoring “Black in America,” the aim of which is to cast collective blame on blacks for the country’s social problems. For ratings. You can read the full article here: http://www.counterpunch.org/2009/06/29/the-persecution-of-michael-jackson/