Jackson’s Lawyers Join Media in Appealing Gag Order- Bullet #132 Michael Jackson’s attorneys have joined a petition in a California Supreme Court to strike down the gag order in the “case”. Reuters is reporting that today (April 23) news organizations asked the court to “..strike down a strict gag order imposed on the parties by Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville.” This joining of the media’s petition could be a result of the absolutely incredible amount of leaked info coming from the prosecution–or their sympathizers–concerning the results of this indictment. It is true the media was on a stake-out the day the indictment came down. Jackson co-lead attorney Mark Geragos complained in court to Judge Clifford Anderson that he found out about his client’s indictment from a news report. Anderson is the judge who initially handed down a ruling that Jackson’s attorneys weren’t allowed to contact witnesses in the case, but later reversed the decision. Not only was information about an indictment leaked to the media even before the paperwork was filed, but what the accuser is alleged to have said to psychologist Stan J Katz was also leaked weeks ago, possibly in its entirety, as well. The disclosure of these gory details is what the gag order what supposed to prevent. Needless to say, it failed miserably. With the astonishing lack of control the prosecution seems to have over keeping the details of the case secret, there may no longer be a reason for a gag order. All of the information is out in the public domain; being written about all over the world in various news publications. The point of discussion on various programs is the details of the “case”. Even I can repeat a partial laundry list of who is alleged to have testified in front of the grand jury without missing a beat. Everyone seems to have “sources” and an endless supply of speculation. Some information may be correct, while other information is completely off-base. The prosecution is definitely not at a loss for mouthpieces however, whether they are recognized mouthpieces or not; tabloid reporter Diane Dimond, Art Harris and the former Sheriff of Santa Barbara Jim Thomas immediately come to mind. In the petition to the court today, the attorneys representing media outlets write:

The protective order bars those who are most knowledgeable about a criminal case that has garnered intense public interest from speaking to the public about the case, cutting off the best sources of truthful, timely information (see article)

A part of the concern is the incredible secrecy around this case and the grand jury process—which came 4 months after prosecutors already set the media afire by arresting and filing charges against Jackson. Jackson’s attorneys will file a brief about the gag order early next week, according to the Reuters report. The AP provides a bit more detail. The brief from the media attorneys argues that Judge Melville has:

…overstepped his authority, trying to prohibit speech by people who have not even been subpoenaed for the case but are expected to testify.

So effectively, under Melville’s gag order, there are people gagged who may not even be called to testify in the case, but rather ‘could’ or ‘may’ testify even though they haven’t been so much as subpoenaed to do so. What the gag order really has done is allow the prosecutor to silence people that may not have favorable things to say about the accusing family; claiming they could be called during trial even though there may not be a chance in hell that they’ll actually testify for the prosecution. A perfect example of this plan in action is the attorney for the father, Russ Halpern. In MJEOL Bullet #73, it was reported that Russ Halpern, the attorney for the accuser’s father, appeared on Court TV’s Crier Jan 27. Halpern says he received a letter from district attorney Tom Sneddon claiming that he may be a potential witness in this Jackson case. Halpern told Crier:

I was told by him [Sneddon] that he thought that I might be a potential witness because I may be an impeaching witness.

Mr. Halpern further elaborated on this during an appearance on Larry King Live Feb 13:

KING: You’re not under a gag order, are you? HALPERN: Well, that is a good question. I was… KING: How would you be called? HALPERN: That’s a very good question. I received a letter from Mr. Sneddon claiming that I was a potential witness. I called Mr. Sneddon, and asked him how he thought that, and he said, ‘well, maybe you could be an impeaching witness’, discrediting other witnesses. I said ‘well which witnesses would I discredit?’ He named his own witnesses. I said ‘so are you telling me you’re going to call me as a witness to discredit your own witnesses??’ Of course he didn’t have a real answer for that. I also called Mr. Geragos’ office to ask them if they thought I was a witness. They agreed with me, thank you, that there was not anything that I could say that would be legally admissible. I’m not a potential witness. I think it was an attempt by the prosecution not to defend my client any further in the press. (see transcript)

Russ Halpern essentially became a threat to the prosecution when he started to release tremendously damaging information about the mother’s and the accuser’s past. Some of that information included the mother of the accuser being in a mental hospital in 1998, possibly undergoing recent mental health treatment, and has coached her children to lie during other legal proceedings. During an appearance on Feb 20 on Crier Live with tabloid reporter Diane Dimond sitting in, Mr. Halpern stated the following:

Well we know in 1998 that she was admitted to a lockdown facility. And also we’ve…we heard from people that are around her that she may have also recently admitted herself. Now we’re not sure of that at this time. However, I have observed her conduct…more properly put, my daughter who is an attorney had witnessed her conduct out in a hallway during some of our court proceedings. And she exhibited conduct that was consistent with a person who suffers from a bipolar disorder. And so uh, I’ve heard from other people that she also has that type of uh…characteristics that a person like that…

As far back as Nov 2003, Mr. Halpern has been commenting, or should I say, trying to warn the prosecution about this mother’s past behavior. Halpern told the AP then:

Halpern said the father [of the accuser] once showed him a script his wife had allegedly written for their children to use when they were questioned in a civil deposition. “She wrote all of their testimony. I actually saw the script,” Halpern said. “I remember my client showing me, bringing the paperwork to me.” (see Accuser’s Mother Writes Script of Lies)

Information about the prosecutors’ role in the family law case was also outed by Mr. Halpern. They apparently “interfered” with the family law case in Los Angeles between the father and the mother by sending letters to that judge in the case, professing that the father should not be allowed to see his children. Halpern also said during that Feb 20 appearance on Crier Live:

DIMOND: Do you somehow think that—not your wife, not talking about that—I’m talking about the district attorney in Santa Barbara, law enforcement. Do you think they’re trying to keep you away from your son for some reason? HALPERN: I can…let me speak to that. I can answer that better. They have interfered with this family law dispute. Mr. Zonen has sent a letter to the attorney for his [David’s] ex-wife. DIMOND: …he’s the assistant DA… HALPERN: Yeah. That’s the assistant DA who’s assigned to prosecute this case. In the letter he says he doesn’t think it’s a good idea for my client to see his son. He doesn’t specify why. And uh I find that very disturbing and so does my client obviously. But it’s extremely disturbing that he should be interfering with our case here. And I don’t know what his reasons are. I can only guess and I don’t want to speculate on that. (see video)

So there is at least one known account of a disingenuous attempt to use Judge Melville’s gag order to the favor of the prosecution in the case. No doubt the prosecution knew this would be possible to do which is why they requested a gag order to begin with. The seeking of a gag order was seen as a hypocritical move to some in the media from the very beginning. Appearing on Fox news show On the Record w/ Greta van Sustren (Jan 8), lawyers Ted Williams and Bernie Grimm, outright called Sneddon a “hypocrite” and blasted him for already prosecuting and finding Jackson guilty in the press. During the interview, Williams blasted Sneddon’s actions:

What a hypocrite! …The hypocrisy! This is the same man who went out to Neverland Ranch with 70 vehicles [sic] with the press in tow. This is a man who held two news conferences—and by the way, I counted. At one of the news conferences, he answered 123 questions. And all of a sudden, now he wants to stop Geragos from speaking when he’s spoken out?! And by the way, remember, when you charge an individual, there’s a charging document. You put everything in that charging document you want. And now you’re trying to shut Geragos up? This is ridiculous! (hear audio).

Bernie Grimm echoed these comments:

…Let me put it this way, Sneddon is a hypocrite. And let me quote a great lawyer, I just recently heard about this. This is beyond hypocrisy. Hypocrisy knows no bounds. Sneddon gets his charging document out saying that Jackson’s charge with lewd and lascivious conduct. So the entire public knows that. And not only that, but in his news conference on November 19, he says… “My feelings about this case and I’m sad that there’s another victim out there. I feel bad for the family. I feel bad for the victim. Beyond that, I think it’s sad for all the people involved in this thing quite frankly”. ‘I feel bad for the victim’? Well what happened to the trial? Is this, is it already over with? Is this, is Jackson already guilty? I mean this is, once he got his version out now he wants Geragos to stop talking.

His motives are further ripped apart by Williams who brings up another instance where Sneddon has tried to sway public opinion before requesting the gag order:

And not only that, he is the one who came out and said ‘I’m setting up a website for the media’. And so, and not only does he set the website up for the media, but this is the same person—and this is what is significant about this—he’s trying to stop the complete Jackson machinery: the family, Katherine Jackson, the father Jackson, Jermaine Jackson all of ‘em from talking!

By having this failed gag order removed, it would allow for the people with real and credible information on both sides to squash any nonsensical rumors and speculation about the “case”. -MJEOL

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