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Michael Jackson's Past Comes Back To Haunt Him

Michael Jackson's string of settlements and prior charges will be admitted into evidence at his trial. Up until today it appeared that the defense had the upper hand, refuting or impugning many prosecution witnesses. Now that prosecutors are going to be able to introduce into evidence prior molestation charges (including the 1993 case which Jackson settled for over $20M dollars) the case against the King of Pop seems a lot stronger.

March 28, 2005 (CourtTV/TSG) -- In a significant legal setback for Michael Jackson, a judge ruled today that Santa Barbara prosecutors can present jurors with evidence that the performer previously molested five young boys.

Judge Rodney Melville's bombshell decision came after a two-hour hearing during which Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon outlined several separate "prior bad acts" that investigators sought to present to the 12-member Superior Court jury.
Ruling from the bench after the hearing, Melville told a packed courtroom that he will allow prosecutors to present testimony that Jackson previously molested five boys, including actor Macaulay Culkin and choreographer Wade Robson. That evidence, Melville ruled, is admissible to show a pattern of "grooming" on the entertainer's part.

...Melville's decision appears to reflect his belief that admission of the prior incidents, none of which resulted in criminal charges against Jackson, would not serve to unfairly buttress the current case, which centers on allegations that the performer molested a Los Angeles boy, now 15, in early 2003.

The ruling is Melville's tacit acknowledgment that Sneddon's current case is not nearly as wobbly as Jackson lawyer Thomas Mesereau claims it to be, and that prosecutors would not improperly benefit from the introduction of "propensity" material allowed under California law. Section 1008 of the state's Evidence Code (an amendment signed into law in 1996) allows testimony about alleged prior bad acts so long as its usefulness is not outweighed by any potential prejudicial effect on a jury.

I think the point in the last paragraph is that where the "prior incidents" material the only damning evidence against Jackson in the current case it would not be admitted.

My impression (though I'm not following the day-to-day testimony) was that the defense was "winning" at this point. It appears that's (a) not the case, and (b) a media strategy employed successfully by Jackson supporters.

Comments (22)

Ah, 404(c), how you come in... (Below threshold)
Ray Midge:

Ah, 404(c), how you come into town and throw everyones' world upside down. Don't ever change.

I still don't think he did ... (Below threshold)

I still don't think he did anything.


Ray's reference is to Feder... (Below threshold)

Ray's reference is to Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b):

"Evidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts is not admissible to prove the character of a person in order to show action incomformity therewith. It may, however, be admissible for other purposes, such as proof of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident,..."

For CAL evidence cases, see this.

Actually, my reference was ... (Below threshold)
Ray Midge:

Actually, my reference was more to the law of my former (not CA) jurisidicton's 404(c), which was like 404(b), but specifically for past sex crimes,

Made allowable past sex crimes specifically to prove a sexual 'character trait' to prove present allegation is 'in coformity therewith. (Oh, how I loved that little 'jury waker upper') A complete and utter exception to the normal 404(b) rule. Not sure if CA has one strictly for sex crimes. The post made it sound a little to me like they did.

People, if your jurisdiction doesn't have one of these already, what are you waiting for? Don't be the last one on the block.

I still don't think<... (Below threshold)

I still don't think

Now there's a surprise!

Nah, he didn't do anything.... (Below threshold)
Old Coot:

Nah, he didn't do anything. Perfectly normal fellow. Probably setup by Karl Rove. Move along, nothing to see here. /sarcasm

Jackson is now claiming he ... (Below threshold)
Eneils Bailey:

Jackson is now claiming he is a victim of a conspiracy. To paraphase Hillary Clinton, "I am a victim of a vast butt hole wing conspiracy."

I don't know if he will get... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

I don't know if he will get convicted, but I have more than enough suspicion of his guilt that I wouldn't let my kids anywhere near him.

Evid. Code § 1101(b) allows... (Below threshold)

Evid. Code § 1101(b) allows evidence to come in if it is relevant to prove some fact such as motive, intent, preparation, or plan so long as there is sufficient similarity between the prior bad act and the current case.

§ 1108 allows evidence of a defendant's charged and uncharged sex crimes to be introduced in a sex offense case to demonstrate propensity to commit such crimes.

The difference is that § 1101(b) requires that the evidence be sufficiently similar to the facts of the current crime, while § 1108 does not. Also, § 1108 requires that it be evidence of an actual crime, whether charged or not.

They will use § 1101(b) to admit evidence of Jackson's seduction routines and § 1108 to get in his past sex crimes.

There were no surprises here. Mesereau knew it was coming in from the get go.

I think the point in the... (Below threshold)

I think the point in the last paragraph is that where the "prior incidents" material the only damning evidence against Jackson in the current case it would not be admitted.

Uh, no. Evidence that is more prejudicial than probative does not come in. The judge found the evidence more probative than prejudicial so it's coming in.

Innocent until proven guilt... (Below threshold)

Innocent until proven guilty.

There's more to the big picture than the molestation charges - I smell a money power play going on in regard to his holding of certain valuable music rights for Beatles songs, etc. If he ends up in a correctional facility for the insane, who will control his estate in the conservatorship?

So, BR, you think it's all ... (Below threshold)

So, BR, you think it's all Paul McCarthy doing?

Not follwing it either beca... (Below threshold)

Not follwing it either because it's not on tv and tabloids like the Scott murder case, so I assumed the Defense was winning as well - and I sill think they are.

If they really thought he was guity, I think we'd hear more of it on the news.


If they really thought h... (Below threshold)

If they really thought he was guity, I think we'd hear more of it on the news.

Nah. It's because everyone wants to hear about Terri Schiavo.

Michael Jackson better get ... (Below threshold)

Michael Jackson better get his a**hole ready for prison 'cause he's gonna become Billie Jean real fast!

It is fascinating from a le... (Below threshold)

It is fascinating from a legal point of view -

The prosecution is only calling one of five victims to the stand, they had asked to included evidence of 7 victims and the decision was to allow evidence on five victims, four by way of third parties......

For example Macaulay Culkin has denied time and time again that Michael Jackson ever molested him yet the prosecution is calling a third party who witnessed Michael doing something to MacCaulay. So one wonders will MJ's attorney call Culkin to testify?

Of course they are also using the evidence to show a similar pattern of "grooming" , the using of pornography, licking the boys's heads etc.

"For example Macaulay Culki... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

"For example Macaulay Culkin has denied time and time again that Michael Jackson ever molested him yet the prosecution is calling a third party who witnessed Michael doing something to MacCaulay. "

Okay, now this was just from talking heads that I heard yesterday, so admittedly I could have misunderstood (or they may have).

But apparantly what they are after in these cases more than actual molestation is the "grooming" proccess, where the molester slowly reels in the kid with alcohol, porn, etc before actually molesting them.

What these witnesses will be describing in most of these cases, is this grooming proccess. Which begs the question with Culkin and others, could the witnesses have seen this grooming, and maybe Michael never got to the molesting part. Not sure.

This info could be harmful, but if the actual victims aren't coming to the stand, I don't know how strong it is going to be. Granted the defense would rather not have it in.

I suspect that Culkin was g... (Below threshold)

I suspect that Culkin was groped while asleep --therefore, the necessity of third party testimony.

If true, it comes in under 1108 as an uncharged sex crime and under 1101b as m.o. since the brother testified he saw Jackson with his hand down his brother's pants when his brother was asleep.

Am I the only one who is di... (Below threshold)

Am I the only one who is disgusted by the thought of someone licking someone else's head? Boy, what a double entendre!

Julie, excuse my belated re... (Below threshold)

Julie, excuse my belated reply. No, I wasn't referring to Paul McCartney. Here's what I had read about testimony on Day 3 of the trial:

"The last witness of the prosecution, PR expert Ann Kite who was in the employ of Michael Jackson for six days before she was fired, also turned out to be to the defense' advantage.

In her testimony she claimed that Jackson was a 'victim of his own team' and that his aides were only interested in making as much money as possible out of Jackson, even resorting to embezzling. She said his image was poorly managed and that Sony had even planted an insider in his team. Sony Music has been desperate to get their hands on the Sony catalogue that Jackson owns, giving him the rights to the royalties of the biggest band ever, The Beatles."

That's from a Sri Lankan Sunday Observer report, but there are more articles on this subject.

Here's a bit more detail:</... (Below threshold)

Here's a bit more detail:

"Ms. Kite testified that she became concerned that the people around Mr. Jackson were not representing him properly. Through reporter, Rita Cosby, she contacted Mr. Jackson’s brother, Jermaine Jackson and had a 7 hour meeting with him regarding her concerns about the situation. She explained that she felt that Dieter Wiesner, Ronald Konitzer, Stuart Backerman, Marc Schaffel and Eric Dezenhall did not have Mr. Jackson’s best interests in mind and that they were embezzling large amounts of money from Mr. Jackson and conspiring against him. Ms. Kite testified that she was convinced they were trying to set Mr. Jackson up, that they were destroying him.

In a surprising twist, Ms. Kite mentioned that she had friends in high places at Sony that confirmed that someone in the Jackson camp was deliberately trying to set Michael Jackson up to steal his highly-coveted Sony Music Catalog. Ms. Kite explained that she learned that Ronald Konitzer, an adviser also named as an unindicted co-conspirator, might be working behind the scenes to allow Sony to take over his ownership of a music catalog that includes the works of the Beatles. The catalog is valued at hundreds of millions of dollars.

"You said that Mr. Konitzer was hired to isolate Michael Jackson and let him create his downfall so that Sony could get the catalog back, isn't that correct?" asked Mr. Mesereau.

"Not in those words," said the witness, but she added she was aware of the importance of the catalog and that she was informed "that Sony was waiting for the opportunity to get the Sony catalog back."

Ms. Kite also said Mr. Jackson's advisers often seemed to work against each other and did not have his best interests at heart. She said she had difficulty talking with them about a strategy to improve his public image.

"I couldn't discuss anything with anyone because they all had different agendas," Ms. Kite explained. When Mr. Mesereau asked if she told police that she thought Mr. Jackson was being "slammed by the team," Ms. Kite said “yes.”

During her testimony Ms. Kite repeatedly mentioned members of the Jackson team of whom she was suspicious. She acknowledged that she told sheriff's investigators during a nine-hour interview that she felt the people around Mr. Jackson were not acting in his best interest, including Schaffel, Konitzer and Al Malnik, a Jackson financial adviser....

She noted that she had learned that Malnik was a "reputed mobster" and brought “negative publicity." She also said she learned that Schaffel was a producer of gay pornography and thought his public association with Mr. Jackson would create more negative fallout. Under questioning by Mr. Mesereau, Ms. Kite said she had no information that Mr. Jackson was involved in gay pornography.

"The ones you are most suspicious of are Schaffel and Konitzer?" Mr. Mesereau asked her.

"The ones I was most suspicious of were those who were taking their eyes off the devastation that was happening to Michael Mr. Jackson," she said."

DID ANYONE THINK THAT MAYBE... (Below threshold)











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