Judge Rejects Solid Defense Arguments, 995 Motion MJEOL Bullet #211 995 Motion denied even given the admissions of regrettable behavior by prosecutors Why is the judge in the Michael Jackson case making excuses for prosecutors actions? While some may not go that far, other observers found the rulings on the defenses motions concerning the illegal Miller raid and the 995 Motion to be more than a little strange. More about the Miller raid in an upcoming MJEOL Bullet. Judge Rodney Melville, determined to start this trial in January 2005, was probably not going to throw out the prosecutions indictment even if Tom Sneddon himself dropped his pants and did cartwheels in the middle of the room in front of grand jurors. In his decision, the judge writes, Some instances remain where it appears that evidentiary objects might well have been sustained in a courtroom. In other words, there were things done by prosecutors that a judge wouldnt have allowed to continue if the defense was there and made an objection to it. But hey, thats ok according to Melville. However, he then claims that these instancestaken by themselveswerent sufficient to have prejudiced the entire proceeding. The only problem with that logic is that instance after instance after instance equals a larger situation that taints the proceeding. Maybe the judge didnt get that point. He refers to these instances as tangential. Wow. I had no idea that allowing the civil lawyer from the 1993 investigation to wax egotistically about how much money he could have gotten from Jackson was a tangential pointeven in the face of zero evidence that anything was offered to him or this family. It was such a tangential point that Sneddon let them testify in front of the grand jury on the first day. It was also such a tangential point that Feldman, and his sidekick Stan Katz, were further allowed to talk grand jurors into handing down a indictment; A sort of hey, believe me and these people because we know Jackson did it type of deal–without one shred of proof speaking to the validity of the allegation, according to court papers. A prosecutor, probably Sneddon, also vouched for his own version of events and accussed a witness of lying on the stand. Thats a tangential point too, huh? Prosecutors downplayed the significance of the defenses exculpatory evidence, some say insinuating that since the statements made by people with differing views werent made under oath, their views shouldnt count as much. From the defenses 995 Motion:
The District Attorneys improper commentary prevented the grand jurors from viewing the exculpatory evidence independently. Pointing out that statements are unsworn and hearsay to a grand jury made up of laypersons had the affect of asking the grand jury to discount exculpatory evidence as less valuable than the handpicked evidence presented by the prosecution. (see Defenses 995 Motion)
Mr. Zonen compared the presentation of those materials to be a grade school assignment. (RT 835:12016). He went on to inform the jurors that the statements of Mr. Jacksons counsel were made by them in their role as partisan advocates for the accused, not as witnesses. (RT 837:7-9).
Another tangential point, according to Melvilles decision, had to be the prosecutors keeping exculpatory evidence from the grand jurors. As discussed at length in MJEOL Bullet #162, prosecutors tampered with the defenses exculpatory evidence by completely taking out information while hiding portions of at least 10 of the 60 defense exhibits. If you remember, Jacksons former attorneys, Mark Geragos and Ben Brafman, handed over binders of information and 60 exhibits to be presented to the grand jury. Well, much of the information in those binders was redacted by prosecutors. This is from the defenses motion citing these actions:
Furthermore, the District Attorney removed 9 of the 60 exhibits and obscured portions of 10 other exhibits. (RT 838:2-5) So much of the evidence presented to the grand jurors was blacked out that it prompted one of the grand jurors to ask the prosecutor, [d]id you guys get any sleep this weekend. (RT 839:15-16).
Keeping exculpatory evidence from the grand jurors; oh thats such a tangential point! Tangential points, my $@!#. And again, Melville is breaking each point down into smaller points and claiming that theyin and of themselvesarent enough to toss the indictment. Taken in their totality, however, they pose a grave and serious situation which Melville doesnt seem to want to deal with. From Melvilles 995 Motion decision:
The tone set by the prosecutors in the exchange with the referenced attorney and with his client does seem regrettable. The necessity of inquiring in the areas of their testimony was an apparent result of the obligation under Penal Code 939.7 to present potentially exculpatory evidence to the grand jury At least on the printed page, the verbal exchanges would actually seem to favor the attorney, who appears to have strongly held his own. There is nothing about the exchanges, unpleasant as they may be, which would appear likely to intimidate the grand jury members themselves None of the cited instances would, on their own, justify the setting aside of an otherwise valid indictment. (see Decision on Motion Pursuant to Penal Code 995 pg 4-5)
Melville even admitted in his ruling that the way prosecutors acted sometimes seemed regrettable. Regrettable? Apparently not regrettable enough. This attorney, by way of deduction, may have been Russ Halpern, the attorney for the accusers biological father. If a prosecutor was arguing and bullying another attorney on the stand in front of you, would you be intimidated? I certainly would. Many observers of this case agree as well. Its not logical, some say, to claim that very heated exchangeswhere the DA of a county is basically calling a witness(es) a liar and offering up his own unsworn testimony in their placehave no affect on the grand jurors. Melville also concedes that the instructions about the conspiracy charge given to the grand jurors by Deputy DA Zonen were in error. He failed to tell the grand jury that there must be specific intent to commit a crime for there to be a conspiracy charge. From the motion:
As read by Deputy District Attorney Zonen, this instruction left out the words and with the further specific intent to commit those crimes. The partial instruction left for the moment the possibility that a mere agreement to commit a crime, without any actual intent to commit that crime, coupled with an overt act, might complete the crime of conspiracy. This misapprehension would be of great importance to a case where no crime was actually committed. This was a potentially significant error, as the prosecution did not seek indictment on the actual crimes of extortion, child abduction or false imprisonment directly, but the effect was diluted by several later corrections. (see Decision on Motion Pursuant to Penal Code 995 pg 6)
Yeah. But Melville found this ok as well. Its ok to misinstruct the grand jury just as long as someone else comes along and corrects your mistake. Should have known there would be an excuse for this as well. Further, Melville used everything the accusing family said, whether it was true or not as a basis for the ruling; or whether it made sense in the grand scheme of the prosecutions case or not. For example, the accusing family claimed Jackson himself called them and asked them to be in a press conference in Miami, FL. Its completely asinine logic to disregard the question of how in hell could Jackson have called them at their residence to ask them to be in a press conference if they all were allegedly being kidnapped and held hostage at Neverland. From the court documents provided to the public, there is zero evidence that this call ever took place. And even Melville pointed out that the mother couldnt accurately identify the person on the phone as Michael Jackson. I guess facts like this dont count when youre hell-bent on making this “case” go to trial, whether theres sufficient evidence or not. Here, we seem to have a similar situation where the sheer allegationand the judge whos made highly questionable decisions–is the driving force behind pushing this case forward. Another misnomer cited in his decision to deny the 995 motion on the basis of this conspiracy was the judge claiming a lawsuit would be filed against the BBC for the Living with Michael Jackson so-called documentary. First, this was not a BBC documentary. It was produced and backed by Granada TV and ITV, not the BBC. Second, there was no lawsuit filed against Granada TV by this family at the behest of Jackson. As a matter of fact, Jackson complained to the broadcasting commission in Britain, while the accusers mother reportedly released a statement saying that she never signed a form allowing her son to even be used in the documentary. This was reported back in February 2003. It seems as if this family can claim anythingeven if it doesnt happenand prosecutors will simply wrap a conspiracy to commit allegation around it. This is where a fair and impartial judge is imperative. Some would say that this case doesnt seem to have that one incredibly important factor. If you read the decision, youll read how Melville seems to be basing his ruling on the word of the people making the claim; and talking about their testimony as if its proven fact. Mr. Jackson personally explained to the mother than her children were in danger and that to deal with the threats she should cooperate with the filmmakers ,he writes. Says who? The accusers mother. There was no taped telephone conversation where Jackson is saying this, as far as the public has been told. And if there were, its almost a certainty, some observers say, that it would have been leaked to the media by prosecutors or police already (like the AG investigation, the sheriffs notes, the 1993 settlement agreement, etc). The judge even admits that there was some question that has been raised as to the ability of the familys mother to identify Mr. Jackson on occasion. WTH? So this person on the phone may or may not have actually been Michael Jackson; that is, if the conversation ever took place at all. Melville claims the boys were invited to sleep in the Jackson bedroom, despite the fact that Jackson has repeatedly said he never invites children into his room. He specifically said in a previous interview that if a child asks to come in his personal living quarters, they cannot unless Jackson gets permission from their parent/guardian. Melville says, They were not permitted to see the original documentary when it aired and they understood their phone calls were monitored. Who says they werent permitted to watch the documentary? The family. However it came out in court through the stepfathers testimony, that by the time the first documentary aired, he was already seeking payment from at least two British journalists for interviews stemming from that documentary. In a report dated August 20 2004, an NBC reporter actually tracked down one of the two British journalists, Alec Byrne, who spoke about it. From the report:
He also testified that before the documentary aired in America, two British journalists offered to pay for the familys story. Alec Byrne told NBC news exclusively he was one of these journalists. And that it was the stepfather who broached the subject of money:
BYRNE: The starting figure was $500 from myself. And thats supposedly when he consulted with the mother. TAIBBI: And it ended up at what? BYRNE: It ended up at $15,000.
There were only a few days between the British airing of the documentary and the American airing. If the family was already seeking payment for possible interviews from the likes of Alec Byrne, it doesnt make sense that they would have been intentionally kept from seeing the very documentary for which they were trying to get thousands of dollars as a result. I guess this didnt factor into the judges decision. *rolling eyes* Now, remember these are facts that were brought out in court. The fact that Melville can still stick by these conspiracy charges is beyond a number of people, especially given the testimony from the stepfather and the accusers mother. Keep in mind the conspiracy allegation and the location of these people at various times during the period when prosecutors claim a conspiracy was taking place. These people where all over the place: at the stepfathers residence, at their own residence, in Florida, etc. So how can the conspiracy/abduction charge stand given the fact that–by these peoples own testimony–they were not at Neverland the entire time? Came and went at various times? Brokered deals with reporters from their own home? Was at home when Brad Miller (remember him?) came to interview them? Was at Neverland at times which make the prosecutions allegations seem implausible? Melville writes, It is reported that [sic] a written directive that one of the children should not leave Neverland Ranch, was distributed to the security personnel. Says who? The media? And we all know how accurate they are, dont we? Excuse my condescending sarcasm. As far as we can tell from reading the court papers, there is zero evidence of this. How would they know that a directive was issued by security to keep any of them at Neverland for whatever reason? This further makes no sense because the family, by the mothers own admission during her testimony, was not at Neverland the entire time they were around anyone working for Jackson. Thus, I guess the directive was to keep them at Neverland unless the mother wanted to go shopping go on vacation eat out visit her boyfriend go to court to have her husbands child support payments increased? Get real. (see [Jackson] Case: Shakedown Admitted by Accusers Side). And it goes on and on with his reciting a litany of unproven allegations made in front of the grand jury. He does concede, however, that none of that testimony proved that Jackson was guilty of anything. Melville states in his decision:
None of this testimony suffices to establish conclusively at this stage that crimes actually occurred or that a conspiracy actually existed or that Mr. Jackson had any direct involvement or did anything wrong. Innocent explanations are entirely possible, and controverting evidence may exist.
No kidding! But there is a difference in wanting a trial to determine whats what, and simply allowing a case to go forward with no evidence to support a charge; especially since there may have been real exculpatory evidence which prosecutors purposely excluded from showing grand jurors. Something stinks here. We may find out sooner or later, but inevitably that stench will come to the forefront. Stay tuned for further information about the judges asinine and far-reaching decision concerning the Brad Miller raid. -MJEOL