Sneddon Using Grand Jury as Cover? MJEOL Bullet #115 There has been much debate over the latest step by the prosecution in the Jackson case to convene a grand jury months after already arresting and charging Jackson. Some legal experts have openly questioned whether or not the grand jury is being used to hide an imploding or weak case. Another possibility could be that these prosecutors arent getting the information they wanted and will instead use the grand jury for discovery and to force it to trial, which would buy even more time to look for any alleged evidence. This possibility was slightly raised by Gerald Lefcourt who appeared on At Large w/Geraldo Rivera (Fox) March 28. Lefcourt says that Sneddon has gotten a lot of negative criticism for bringing this case. He also may not want to give in to an inevitability. Lefcourt says:
Theres a lot of questions about the charges. But some day if he gets a grand jury to do what grand juries do, which is indict, he could say it was a grand jury decision that caused this trial and use that for cover (see Video).
Using a grand jury indictment for cover? Lets look at that. Sneddon could do whatever he can to present one-sided information to sway the grand jury to hand down an indictment. Then, he could always fall back on the excuse that he was only pursuing this case because the grand jury thought it should go to trial. Thus, if these people are shown to be lying about these allegations, he can say its the grand jury that wanted to further the case. If these people change their stories, he can say it was the grand jury that wanted to send the case to trial. If Jackson is acquitted on all charges, he can say it was the grand jury who found there was a strong suspicion that Jackson did it. It is already common knowledge that witnesses can say whatever they want to say to convince the jury members to hand down an indictment. Their testimony isnt cross-examined by anyone with any knowledge of what the other side may have in their defense. Harvey Slovis who was a guest on Fox News Live (March 28) said point blank:
Slovis may be vocalizing what other analysts, experts, and pundits dont yet have the guts to publicly admit. Some people discussing this case cant seem to get past their own personal, unfounded dislike of Jackson before they can call a spade a spade 100% of the time without insulting Jackson in the process. The excuse of Jacksons perceived bizarreness prevents some from rightly pointing outwithout hedgingthat this case stinks to high heaven and that a grand jury at this point is a ridiculous step. So what is the real reason why a grand jury is being convened at this point in time and why was the option of a preliminary hearing not chosen? According to prosecution sympathizers, the current district attorney simply wants to protect the alleged victim and other witnesses. However, this excuse doesnt wash because he doesnt even have to call the accuser in to testify if he does want to; as grand jurors could be informed of his allegations through a police offer he talked to. He also wont be able to protect these people from being cross-examined if there is a trial. At least one person who has had run-ins with Tom Sneddon says that the district attorney likes to work in secrecy. This person, Gary Dunlap, is currently suing Sneddon and others for $10 million in federal court for racketeering, witness tampering, invading his civil rights and a slew of other charges. Dunlap, an attorney prosecuted by Sneddon, and who was acquitted on all charges, says:
Sneddon and his office prefer to do things in secret. Thats why they hate this media focus thats been put on this case. Because they operate best, you know, under the covers. That was one of the things that I accused them of. (see Attorney Suing Tom Sneddon- MJJF Radio interview -TRANSCRIPT).
Former prosecutor and CNN legal analyst Chris Darden is another legal type that has began to notice the holes in this case. He appeared on CNN March 29 to discuss the latest developments. Darden says by Sneddon going to a grand jury now, its a clear indication that the prosecution is still scrambling to get a case together:
I think its fairly obviousis that it clearly indicates that the prosecution really doesnt have its stuff together. I mean, weve seen a situation here where they obtain an arrest warrant, arrest Michael Jackson without filing charges, promised to file charges by a certain date, filed later than that date. Then, upon filing criminal charges, now they come back three months later and they want to indict Michael Jackson (see News from CNN: Chris Darden – TRANS)
Even the attorney who formerly represented the 93 accusers father, Richard Hirsh, has a problem with this step. Hirsh, also appearing on At Large w/Geraldo Rivera March 28 implied that using a grand jury as a way to avoid a preliminary hearing is just as telling as well:
But of course if the case is so weak that it cant withstand a preliminary hearing, which is a very small burden in Californiaits only a strong suspicion of guiltif he cant get past that burden then the case shouldnt be going to trial in any event (see Rivera: Grand Jury discussion March 28 2004 ).
Rivera has also expressed a similar opinion as that. Its been reported that as late as March 18, the prosecution was still raiding locations in search of some mythical evidence which they should have had a year ago if they wanted to pursue this case. Itll be interesting to find out what judge is granting all of these search warrants as well. And so what if theres an indictment? An indictment only means that the people who the prosecution let the grand jurors hear from were convincing enough to send the case to trial. It doesnt at all mean that what the grand jurors were told is true. In fact, Chris Darden says that a grand jury indictment is proof of nothing. He also says he recently defended a client who was acquitted on all charges after a grand jury handed down a 30 count indictment. Speaking to the CNN shows host, Wolf Blitzer:
BLITZER: As you well know, there’s an old expression in the law that a good prosecution can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. Is that fair? DARDEN: I think it is very, very fair. Eighteen months ago, I defended a case. There was a grand jury indictment out of L.A. County, 30 counts. My client was acquitted of all 30 counts. And a grand jury indictment doesn’t guarantee anything. Nothing at all.
Can Sneddon hide behind a grand jury indictment-if there is one- if in the end he has to explain why the hell this case even made it to trial? A number of people do think the case will collapse; its just a matter of when. It is unclear if he would use that excuse as a way to get this own butt off the hook if it does finally collapse in front of the millions of people who will be watching it closely thanks to the media and Jacksons celebrity. Stay tuned. -MJEOL