In continuation of the series on reporting about the prosecutorial misconduct during the grand jury and before, more information found in the grand jury transcripts reveals just how argumentative and one-sided the process was. If you remember, prosecutors were alleged to have bullied witnesses, became involved in personal arguments between witnesses and vouched for their version of events to grand jurors while accusing other witnesses of lying. They are also accused of a host of other actions where they defense cite examples of their misconduct during the grand jury process. Jacksons attorneys cite an exchange between Sneddon and a witness, where inadmissible information was used to further muddy the waters against Jackson:
502:3-12 Q. What is ________? A. A business that _________ set up to produce Michael Jackson projects, I assume. Q. Okay. Who are the principals in that business? A. If theres any principal other than ______, then Im not aware of it. Q. Do you know if Michael Jackson is involved in that company? A. I would assume he would have been. Absolutely. But— ______________ 533:12-22 A. I think __________ worked with Michael, from what I understand. I dont think he was paid — Q. They were partners in something? A. Yeah exactly. Q. Partners in what? A. I dont know exactly. Let me think about that. __________ and Michael — ________ has a merchandising contract with Michael that I dont think hes done much with. But I think thats one thing they were developing. And I think he was sort of an advisor to Michael.
Lets recap, shall we? I assume, Im not aware of it, I think, from what I understand, I dont think, I dont know exactly, Let me think about that. Are prosecutors really going to make their case with testimony like this? There seems to be no way this person should have been called to discuss anything about Jackson and the alleged co-conspirator because they clearly didnt know much of anything. This reads like some crap from a ridiculous US Weekly article or comments from a media reporter asked to speculate about relationships between Jackson and his associates. One know-nothing female witness claimed that Jackson may have used one persons cellphone to speak with some of these alleged co-conspirators. This could explain why prosecutors have been searching cellphone records. There was no foundation as to whether this person could be believed. Based partly on this persons sheer speculation about what Jackson may have done, prosecutors are getting search warrant after search warrant. The total is now up to 54 according to the latest tally from ABC Newss Cynthia McFadden. 54 search warrants. If prosecutors havent gotten their proof by now, there probably wasnt proof to begin with; meaning there was not a conspiracy. The fishing expedition continues, I guess. Maybe Judge Anderson, the judge that is signing off on these search warrants, will cut prosecutors off at 100. Jeez. Continuing to blast away at the lack of evidence supporting a conspiracy charge, Jacksons attorneys highlight how the above testimony would be inadmissible in trial anyway:
None of the witnesses presented the grand jury with admissible testimony that Mr. Jackson had any involvement in a criminal conspiracy. The prosecution argued that Mr. Jackson must have participated in the alleged conspiracy because he was the reason the other alleged co-conspirators knew each other (RT 1836). This is precisely the kind of unreasonable influence that is insufficient to support a finding of probably cause.
The first overt act alleged by prosecutors apparently involves an alleged phone call of which there is no proof it actually took place. Defense lawyers say the only evidence of this overt act was the testimony of that female witness who said Jackson could have used someone elses cellphone, but provided no proof or first-hand knowledge that this ever happened. I could speculate that the world will end in 2 seconds. Should that be cause for inciting a panic? Of course not. Another witness alleged there was a phone call between her and Jackson. Jacksons attorneys completely dismiss this:
The only evidence of this was the disjointed testimony of _______. Her testimony about the telephone call, however, was not admissible over objection at trial because there was no foundation to establish that she was speaking with Mr. Jackson on the telephone. Without that foundation, the evidence has to be excised and there is no basis for this particular Overt Act.
There was no evidence presented to the grand jury to support that Jackson was even on the phone; no evidence that he called her (the unnamed witness); and confusing testimony in which she says it may have actually been someone else other than Jackson with whom she talked on the phone. This testimony would have to be taken out of the equation. Once it is excised, there would be nothing to sustain the conspiracy charge against Jackson. And without Jackson, there is no conspiracy built around him with other alleged co-conspiratorsas prosecutors claim. Further, some of the overt acts listed by the prosecution seem to be totally irrelevant to the charges brought against Jackson, says his attorneys. Continuing their well thought-out arguments over why the indictment may not be worth the paper on which its written, defense attorneys hammer away at the evidently extreme amounts of irrelevant information presented to the grand jury:
The sheer quantity of inadmissible evidence is overwhelming. The prosecutors used little or no discipline in regulating what was to come before the grand jury. It was impossible to excise this material after the fact and conclude that the grand jurors would have come to the same conclusion.
The 1993 lawsuit also comes into play during this current process. In 1993, an accuser and his family filed a lawsuit against Jackson for molestation. The suit was ultimately settled reportedly through Jacksons insurance company(ies) in which Jackson agreed not to settle the actual molestation allegations, but rather a negligence allegation:
g. The Parties recognize that the Settlement Payment set forth in this paragraph j are in settlement of claims by Jordan Chandler [1993 accuser], Evan Chandler, and June Chandler for alleged compensatory damages for alleged personal injuries arising out of the claims of negligence and not for claims of intentional or wrongful acts of sexual molestation. (page 7) (see 1993 settlement agreement)
All of the molestation allegations were dropped by the accuser and the settlement didnt stop the accuser from testifying against Jackson in any way; then or now. Jacksons attorneys say the district attorney focused one witnesss testimony–about 1993 case–on inflammatory information; much of it irrelevant:
The District Attorney focused ________s testimony on inflammatory and irrelevant areas from the very beginning and prompted ______ to inform the grand jury that the lawsuit resulted in a settlement These types of questions and answers violated Mr. Jacksons right to due process from the moment the grand jury began to hear testimony and guaranteed that the grand jury would not be able to function as an independent body with the obligation to protect citizens from unfounded allegations.
If you remember, there were reports that Larry Feldman and Stan Katz were called to testify in front of the grand jury. Feldman is the attorney who represented the first accuser after the 93 accusers father fired two previous attorneys: Gloria Allred and Barry Rothman. Feldman is also one of the beneficiaries of the 93 settlement. Stan Katz is one of the two psychologists involved in the 93 case. The first, and reporting, psychologist from 93 was Mathis Abrams. Katz is also the psychologist Feldman made this current accuser see. But whats interesting about this is that, according to Santa Barbara police notes, Katz told the authorities this current accuser was referred to him in preparation for a lawsuit Feldman was going to file. The following is from a March 2004 NBC report:
Mr. Feldman actually referred these kids to me because they had come to him in this lawsuit Feldmans going to file.
Thus by Katzs own admissionand documented in Sheriffs notesFeldman was preparing to file another lawsuit against Jackson in this current case BEFORE this current accuser ever talked to a psychologist and confessed to molestation. Why? What happened to that lawsuit? Tom Sneddon is what happened to that lawsuit. Reportedly, Seddon stepped in and made the accusers attorney solemnly swear not to file a lawsuit against Jackson until the criminal process was resolved. In a Jan 29 2004 article from Santa Barbara News-Press, Dawn Hobbs writes:
As he launched his investigation against Michael Jackson, District Attorney Tom Sneddon reportedly sought assurance that the family of the boy accusing the entertainer of child molestation would not make a multimillion-dollar deal like another young accuser’s family did a decade ago. A source close to the boy’s family in the current case told the News-Press on Wednesday that Mr. Sneddon asked the attorney representing the family to “solemnly swear” not to file a lawsuit against Mr. Jackson during the criminal investigation and prosecution of the singer. (see article)
Theres the answer to the question as to why they havent filed a lawsuit yet. And of course if they went against his wishes, he is under no obligation to support their seeking of financial compensation. How does this tie-in with the 93 settlement being brought into the grand jury discussion? Well there is a very pertinent back-story about the settlement that grand jurors probably never got to hear; like for example the accusers father threatening Jackson and asking for $20M before the allegation was ever made. The settlement has also wrongly been blamed as the reason why Sneddon couldnt pursue a criminal case against Jackson in 1993. A non-matching description, no corroborating evidence and no other accusers are the reasons why the case couldnt proceed. You can bet none of the above information was revealed to grand jurors or else they may have come to a different decision. Possibly, just as in 1993, the 93 accuser may not be cooperating with prosecutors today either. That 93 case was a source of questions in this current grand jury. And Jacksons lawyers assert that it had the affect of poisoning the proceedings. They even cite quotes from the grand jury transcripts where grand jurors were asking questions about the 93 case even after limiting instructions were given to them. Speaking to certain witnesses, Sneddon engages in leading the witness, hearsay, assuming facts not in evidence and speculation about the role of said witness when reporting the accusers changing story to Child Services. Defense attorneys again pull direct quotes from the grand jury transcripts. An example of leading where a prosecutor is asking the question:
75:3-7 Leading Q. Eventually you had another contact with the Department __________ Services in Los Angeles as a result of their failure to incorporate some information to a report that was leaking to the media, correct? A. Yes
The prosecutor shouldnt be testifying as to what the witness did and for what reason the witness did it. The witness himself should be putting this information on the record. The report brought up in that exchange was the summary memo of a 2 week investigation by the Department of Children & Family Services in which the accuser, his siblings and mother all deny that any abuse occurred. They also admit that Jackson is never alone with the accuser and that the sister accompanies her brothers to Jacksons house. An example of assuming facts not in evidence involved comments from Jacksons former attorney, Mark Geragos:
76:14-19 Assumes Facts not in Evidence Q. And youve heard media reports, and especially from Mr. Geragos who represents Michael Jackson, making statements to the public that the mother, _______, is greedy and is after Mr. Jacksons money. I want to ask you a question. A. All right.
Sneddon also attacked witnesses on the stand in front of grand jurors as well, in such a way that wouldnt be allowed at a regular trial. From the defenses motion:
During the formative period in the relationship of the prosecutor to the grand jurors, Mr. Sneddon made it clear that he was to be personally believed and that the witnesses were not. His behavior was outrageous. These witnesses include [redacted list of people]. Mr. Sneddon made it very clear that these witnesses would be treated as hostile from the moment [unreadable] and outrageous tactics in an attempt to discredit their testimony.
The motion continues:
The grand jury transcripts demonstrate that he subjected Mr. ______ to bullying tactics and to improper cross-examination style questioning, while favored prosecution witnesses such as [redacted list of people] were treated with a kid gloves approach designed to bolster their credibility in front of the jurors.
Remember, what we see are redacted versions of a much longer and much more detailed defense motion. The original defense motion is 127 pages long. There is so much more to discuss about the contents of the grand jury transcript and what defense attorneys are claiming prosecutors did to get their indictment against Jackson. Stay tuned. -MJEOL