April 29, 2005 | 3:52 p.m. ET

America and the inability to admit mistakes (Dan Abrams)

Why is it sometimes so hard for the powerful or famous to say, I was wrong?  First example— Maggie Gyllenhaal, the indie actress, told the press at the Tribeca Film Festival last week, that the U.S. was “responsible in some way” for the September 11 attacks.

Maybe she misspoke— she might recognize that she made the wrong comment at the wrong time at a film festival created to revive the very neighborhood devastated by the terrorist attacks.

But no, after the public outcry began, rather than just apologize and say she didn't mean to suggest that the innocent victims had it coming to them, she just added fuel to the fire, saying we have to be brave enough to ask questions about America's role in the world or we risk betraying the victims of 9/11. 

Okay, now she's either just incredibly ignorant or just unwilling to say she was wrong. I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she just can't say the words, "I blew it." 

If you look at the news and events this week, it seems she is not alone in her inability to say "we were wrong."

Yesterday, the CIA's top weapons hunter issued his final report on Iraq and concluded after 18 months of investigation, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The administration used the weapons as the primary justification for the war.  People like me supported the war for that reason. 

But even after this final report, there’s still no admission that we were wrong and it is not coming. 

Why should we admit we were wrong? Because the United States' credibility is on the line. If we don't admit that we made a mistake in that regard, we lose even more credibility with the world.  When you're fighting a global war on terror, the rest of the globe matters a lot. That doesn't mean the administration has to apologize for the war. It can still rightly say the war has achieved certain important objectives, nor should it have any impact on whether to pull our troops from Iraq.  But the administration shouldn't be so reluctant to say we got that wrong.  All this reminds me of the show “Happy Days” and the Fonz. He would always say "I was wr-wr-wrong." But at least Fonzie tried.

Maybe he recognized that it is better to say that than for everyone else to know it and wonder why can't he/she/they just fess up? 

E-mail Sidebar@MSNBC.com

April 28, 2005 | 2:35 p.m. ET

Michael Jackson’s number one fan to the rescue ( Stacy Brown , MSNBC contributor and Jackson family friend)

Michael Jackson has many fans the world over, some of which have come out daily to the Santa Maria courthouse to support the embattled pop icon.

Obviously, if they all could, his fans would love to take a turn on the witness stand and extol the virtues of Michael Jackson. They would absolutely live for that moment.

One of Jackson’s fans did get that moment: Debbie Rowe. In fact, she took the stand and quite probably struck the deathblow— not just to the conspiracy case against Jackson, but the molestation charges too.

Debbie Rowe, the mother of Jackson’s two oldest children, has been a fan for years. In fact, Rowe was absolutely ecstatic when her then boss, Dr. Arnold Klein, informed her that Jackson wanted to speak privately with her. That conversation was about having children for Jackson. Imagine that: having a baby for the man you idolize, the biggest star in the universe.  For Rowe, she didn’t care too much about the money, and unfortunately, the children either.

Rowe testified how she and Michael are “friends.” In the midst of all that, she attacked Jackson’s alleged unindicted co-conspirators, the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department, and prosecutors.

Rowe has gone in the complete opposite direction that prosecutors had promised in their opening statement when they promised that Rowe would testify to being scripted in the rebuttal video.

Her reversal has nothing to do with being under the gun of Tom Mesereau. Rowe did much of her damage on direct. She spoke of how she wanted so badly to be reunited with the children and Jackson. Each time she spoke of the children, she failed to separate the desire from seeing them with the undying desire to see and be around Michael Jackson. In testifying about her participation in Jackson’s rebuttal video to the Martin Bashir documentary, Rowe said she agreed to be interviewed only after being promised that she would see the children AND  Jackson. When Rowe decided to give up her parental rights in 2001, it was in large part because even when she visited with the children Jackson wasn’t there. Rowe said she’d have eight-hour visits every 45 days and always under the guidance of a nanny. She said she didn’t like that arrangement at all. It was really no use in continuing with that set up and Jackson made it a bit easier for her by buying her a lavish home in swanky Beverly Hills and throwing in some cash.

In an interview last year, Rowe took Entertainment Tonight on a tour of her home and noticeably absent from the home were any photos of the children she bore for Jackson-- a disturbing sight for any parent who may have watched the interview. The truth is that Rowe really wants more to be in Jackson’s company than anything else.

Giving up her children must have been easier for Rowe because she was pleasing her idol. He had expressed a desire to have children and, as she testified, “Anything I could do to make [Jackson] happy” she’d happily do.

Many in the Jackson camp were not at all concerned about the prospect of Rowe testifying. As Jackson spokesperson Raymone Bain insisted, “Jackson has been very kind to Rowe.”

Artists really don’t owe their fans anything except a good performance. Rowe, as a fan, got much more than that from Jackson. She received personal attention, some cash, a house and notoriety.

The prosecution in this case was somehow suckered into calling Debbie Rowe, thinking that this most loyal and devoted fan would spill the beans on Jackson. Big mistake!

Bob Jones, a loyal and former employee of Jackson, was extremely reluctant to testify but was compelled to tell the truth, as he knew it to be. I am not saying that Rowe has lied about anything on the witness stand. But her loyalty is unlike that of Jones, who as an ex-employee knew the difference of being a fan and just another guy. (In the interest of disclosure, I have to say I am writing a book with Bob Jones.)

Unfortunately for the prosecution, they miscalculated the word “fan.” That word, as we know, is short for fanatic. Despite being shut out for nearly six years by Jackson, Rowe is still a huge one. And like most of Michael Jackson’s fans who have forsaken the notion that Jackson’s career is all but over, Rowe still believes that he will return to the top of the music world one day.

All she wants is a front row seat and a ticket to Neverland.

E-mail Sidebar@MSNBC.com

April 27, 2005 | 12:25 p.m. ET

Debbie Rowe and the surreal life of Michael Jackson ( Stacy Brown , MSNBC contributor and Jackson family friend)

Debbie Rowe now becomes another in a line of mothers who prosecutors have called in the case against Michael Jackson.

Some have said that Rowe may be the single most important witness in the case. Her supposed intimate knowledge of the superstar and their “marriage” has increased the interest in what is fast becoming a dull proceeding in Santa Maria.

Rowe, whose confidentiality agreement with Michael Jackson is trumped by the criminal subpoena, married Jackson in November 1996 only three months prior to the birth of the couple’s first child. The agreement she signed with Jackson reportedly says that Rowe cannot volunteer comments on Jackson’s personal life; and prohibits Rowe from talking publicly about the singer’s purported drug use and sexual behavior.

While these clauses appear very odd, pundits have asserted that if the doors were opened during testimony for Rowe to talk about Jackson’s sexual habits (or lack thereof), and the paternity of their two children, it would probably be bad for Jackson.

Many have suggested that Rowe was artificially inseminated, and some have pointed to the seemingly exclusive Caucasian features of 8-year-old Prince Michael I and 7-year-old Paris Katherine Jackson as proof that the children are not biologically Jackson’s.

What does any of it have to do with child molestation? Mostly nothing. However, a closer look at recent words from two people prominent in the Jackson camp may at least shed some light on the heated battle Rowe is in.

Joseph and Katherine Jackson’s attorney, Debra Opri, took to the airwaves Monday night and said  "Rowe was hired as a breeder." "Forgive my candor," Opri told CNN Headline News' Nancy Grace. "But (Rowe) is nothing to me but a breeder. She was hired to carry Michael's children, to bear them and to sell them to him and that's what she did." Opri went on to say that Rowe "sold (the children) from what I understand to be $1 million for 10 years."

On the same night, Jackson’s spokesperson Raymone Bain chimed in on a conversation about Rowe and Jackson's sexual relationship. When Larry King Live guest Stacey Honowitz mentioned the possibility of Rowe testifying about intimacy between her and Jackson, Bain countered that if Jackson never had sex with Rowe, it still doesn't mean that he is a pedophile.

"Well, just because he doesn't want to have sex with Debbie Rowe doesn't mean that he doesn't want to have sex with women," Bain said.

The somewhat gross exchanges between Bain and Honowitz worsened when Honowitz intimated that perhaps Jackson (a man who told journalist Martin Bashir that he'd rather climb a tree than have sex) either didn’t want to have sex with women or have sex at all.

"Well, I don't know that Debbie Rowe can get out there and say that," Bain said. "Because I don't think she would have that information or know that."

Rowe and Jackson divorced in October 1999 and she agreed to stay quiet about personal details concerning Jackson’s life. She also agreed to give up her parental rights and not to communicate with Prince and Paris.

Throughout the course of this trial, defense attorneys have cited one specific theme for all of the witnesses in this case, as well as the reason for the prosecution of Jackson: Money.

Despite watching mother after mother come forward with tales of lurid acts by Michael Jackson to their sons, there still seems to be things even weirder.

The other parents in this case (the former maid, the 1993 accuser’s mother and the current accuser’s mother) have testified that they received gifts and money from Jackson either before or after he allegedly molested their children.

And in my opinion, Debbie Rowe is the signature to all that's weird and, perhaps, criminal. Rowe has admitted to basically accepting payments from Jackson in return for her children. In a televised interview, Rowe referred to the arrangement of having children and turning them over to Jackson as “a gift to him.”

Jackson, in an interview conducted shortly after Paris' birth, spoke of how he snatched the newborn from the hospital “placenta and all” and drove the approximate two-hour drive from St. John’s Hospital in Los Angeles to Neverland.

This case doesn’t appear as much about money as it seems to be more about the surreal life of Michael Jackson and the strange people who’ve gone along for that ride.

E-mail Sidebar@MSNBC.com

April 26, 2005 | 7:03 p.m. ET

Oxman firing: No harm, no foul?  ( Stacy Brown , MSNBC contributor and Jackson family friend)


Brian Oxman has known and represented members of the Jackson family for a number of years—sometimes even complaining about a lack of pay—but all the same willing to stand up on their behalf.

Long history with the family
I remember in 1997 when the trial of a man later convicted in the drowning death of Delores Jackson (Tito's ex-wife) was taking place in a Los Angeles courtroom. I accompanied Jermaine, Jackie, and Randy Jackson to court and we ran into Brian Oxman. 

Oxman was at the court defending another client, but once he realized the Jackson brothers were there he dropped everything for the photo-op. As we sat in court awaiting the preliminary hearing for Donald Bohana, who was later convicted in the drowning of Delores Jackson, someone told Oxman that his case on a lower floor in the court was pending and the judge was seeking him.

Oxman didn't budge. His loyalty to the Jacksons took precedence despite being summoned by a judge. Many had speculated that Oxman's loyalty to the Jackson brothers, particularly Randy, was a plot by Oxman to get in Michael Jackson's inner circle. Some of the evidence to back up those claims was Oxman's repeated appearances on television news outlets claiming to represent Michael Jackson.

The superstar's lawyers responded by sending letters to Oxman, a practice that continued even after Jackson was arrested in November 2003, insisting that Oxman identify himself not as a Michael Jackson attorney but a family representative.

Missteps in the recent molestation case
It was nearly a year ago that Oxman joined Thomas Mesereau Jr. at a summit meeting with Jackson in Florida. That meeting led to the unseating of Mark Geragos and Benjamin Brafman as counsel for Michael Jackson in the current criminal case.

Now, Mesereau has booted Oxman after the two had reportedly carried on a feud that was said to include everything from Oxman's showboating to his snoozing in court. It also came about one month after a television network aired a tape of Oxman apparently arguing with someone about another attorney, believed to be Mesereau, on the case.

The firing was followed by a contentious showdown outside of court between the two legal eagles.

“He won't be missed,” one insider said of Oxman Monday. “It wasn't like he was doing any of the arguments or that anyone ever took him serious.”

One of the many things that seemed to annoy the Jackson camp was Oxman's inability to “get things right.” When Jackson hurt his back and appeared late to court last month, Oxman claimed that Michael “tripped and fell while trying to get dressed.” The question most wanted to know following that seemingly lame excuse was if Michael Jackson were attempting to get dressed, why was he only wearing pajamas to the hospital and then to court.

For it would have made sense, he would have had to continue putting on the clothing Oxman had alleged he was trying to wear.

Certainly Jackson's unkempt hair and lack of clothing that day suggested that there was absolutely no attempt to dress on Jackson's part. His spokesperson, Raymone Bain, did reply with a much more plausible explanation. Bain said Jackson had reached out to several people at about 5:15 a.m. and said he couldn't move. He was advised to go to the hospital.

Last year, Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville fined Oxman $1,000 during a preliminary hearing in the Jackson case for questioning psychologist Stan Katz about his patients, trying to establish that he had a conflict of interest after counseling Jackson's young accuser and private investigator Bradley Miller (who had once worked for Jackson's former lawyer Mark Geragos).

Despite repeated reminders that Katz could not break doctor-patient confidentiality in this way, Oxman persisted, prompting Melville to snap, “A $1,000 sanction, immediately payable. We will take a recess. I'm not going to put up with this.”

Ironically, on the morning of Oxman's firing, a television news magazine show reported that prosecution witness Rudy Provincio mentioned discussions between Oxman and alleged co-conspirator Vinnie Amen. Provincio supposedly said that Oxman was trying to convince Amen to get Jackson's '93 accuser to write a letter vindicating Jackson.

Prior to Oxman joining the Jackson team, a source that had contact with the '93 accuser claimed Oxman had the young accuser's cell phone number and repeatedly called him. If it could be proven that Oxman was contacting the accuser, it could blow up in Jackson's face.

Regardless— most observers believe that Oxman's firing has absolutely no bearing on the case. It was just another example of Jackson's anxious and sometimes chaotic state.

E-mail Sidebar@MSNBC.com

April 26, 2005 | 5:03 p.m. ET

Curbing sex crimes: It's about enforcement, not more laws (Dan Abrams)

The new legislation designed to crack down on sex offenders is often nothing more than political grandstanding. Tough new laws mean little if those laws aren't enforced. 

Take the case of John Evander Couey: It turns out that Florida state authorities alerted county sheriffs back in November that Couey, a registered sex offender, had failed to respond to a letter verifying his address and was therefore considered a missing sex offender. 

The sheriff's office in Citrus County— where Couey had last reported living— says it never got the letter.  They say the state got the sheriff's address wrong so the county never even knew Couey hadn't checked in.

A wrong address? If they had gotten the letter, Couey might have been arrested and been behind bars rather than on the loose in February when Jessica Lunsford was abducted. And that's just one example. 

Couey wasn't considered a high priority offender even though we learn that he twice asked the state for psychiatric treatment because he believed he had a “mental problem” and “could not control his sexual attraction for young children.” In 2003, after Couey had served time for numerous drug-related criminal offenses, his probation officer allowed him to take a job as a construction worker at a middle school. His probation officer at the time claimed no one told him Couey was a registered sex offender. One year later, he took another construction job at a school in Citrus County where Jessica attended. He was registered as a sex offender there but no one checked his criminal record before hiring him. 

And last summer, after spending two months in jail on a probation violation, he was supposed to report into a probation officer. He never did. 

So no one knew he changed his address, was living 150 yards from Jessica Lunsford, and no one went looking for him until days after Jessica had gone missing. 

The new Jessica Lunsford Act tries to address some of the holes in the system. Tougher sentences make sense, but the rest of the proposals— electronic tethers, tougher reporting requirements, limited areas for offenders to live—  just aren't going to do the job without better enforcement. 

New laws make headlines, but they need to allocate more than that $21 million set aside under the new legislation for enforcement. If there's an attached electronic monitoring devices to all sex offenders, who's going to track them?

Before I offer praise to lawmakers, I want to know that those laws are going to make a difference. 


April 25, 2005 | 4:54 p.m. ET

My take on filibuster and the threat of the 'nuclear option'

Should the Senate change its rules and put an end to judicial filibusters?  “My Take” is that it's dangerous business for the Senate to be changing rules because they don't like the outcome. As they often say in court, "Tough cases make bad law." I think it's probably true here. 

In a videotaped statement Senator Bill Frist presented on Sunday— part of a program produced by the conservative Family Research Council— Senate Democrats were accused of blocking some of President Bush's judicial nominees because they are opposed to judges who are “people of faith.” Like many Christian conservatives, the Family Research Council wants to put an end to Democrats blocking some of the president's appointments by threatening a filibuster.

Are the Democrats really holding up these judges because of the judges' religious beliefs? 

I think the Democrats need to be intellectually honest here and concede that they are in part opposed to some of these judges because of the strong religious beliefs that these judges have. There is no such thing as a judge who comes as a blank slate.

That said, it's also entirely fair to scrutinize and possibly reject a candidate for the appellate courts who elevates his or her religious beliefs (however sacred) over the law of the land. If those religious beliefs come to define their legal rulings, it reflects an inability on the part of the judge to let man's law— rather than God's— law define their positions. 

April 25, 2005 | 4:50 p.m. ET

On the show Monday (Cory Gnazzo, Jamie Rubin and "The Abrams Report" staff)

Could Jessica Lunsford's kidnapping and murder have been prevented if authorities had done their job?  According to the St. Petersburg Times, it turns out a letter sent to the Homosassa County, Florida sheriff's office about John Couey, the convicted sex offender who confessed to killing Lunsford, never arrived at the office. As a result, the sheriff didn't follow up when Couey failed to report his whereabouts to the state. How could that be?  Dan talks with Florida's attorney general.

And there are reports of disarray among Michael Jackson's defense team. First we hear that Jackson attorney Brian Oxman could have been fired, then Oxman told reporters the team is in "disarray."  So which is it?  Dan will try to get to the bottom of it.  And, judge Melville ruled today Jackson's ex-wife Debbie Rowe will be allowed to testify for the prosecution.  So just what do prosecutors hope she will say?

Plus, as she continues to serve out her sentence, Martha Stewart is allowed out of her house to work and attend work-related functions.  But did she take it too far by attending a gala celebration last week?  She told her probation officer that attending Time magazine's party for the 100 most influential people (she was one of them!) was for work, but is schmoozing with other influential types an important part of her job?  Dan talks to a prison consultant who was also former federal prisoner under house arrest himself.

Don't forget, Dan reads your e-mails at the end of every show so keep them coming! Send them to Dan now: mailto:abramsreport@msnbc.com

April 22, 2005 | 6:57 p.m. ET

Prediction: The Jackson trial will have a hung jury (Susan Filan, Conn. state prosecutor and Abrams Report regular)

Susan Filan

Thursday was my fourth and final day at the Michael Jackson trial in Santa Maria, California.

Michael Jackson arrived looking almost spry and chipper, a big change from his demeanor the last three days which seemed dark and dour. He wore new trousers, a new blazer with its infamous armband, and a robin's egg blue vest. The atmosphere in court felt like school kids on the last day of school before vacation... there is no court Friday and court ends early again today because the judge has to rule on a raft of legal motions before resuming testimony on Monday. 

Judge Melville keeps a very unusual schedule. Court begins promptly at 8:30, goes until 9:45, breaks for ten minutes, goes until 11:30, breaks for fifteen minutes, goes until 1:15, breaks for ten minutes, and ends for the day at 2:30. If you are not back in the courtroom by the end of a break, you are locked out of court. There is no lunch break. During break, there is mad dash for the rest room and always a long line. I hardly have enough time to turn on my cell phone, check my messages and return my calls. I have to move quickly during each break— I am breathless from the pace!

When court resumed Thursday morning, we heard more from Brian Barron, the former Neverland Valley Ranch security guard, now a Guadalupe police officer. The defense continued its painstaking cross exam about the logs, which was some of the most boring testimony in trial history. At one point, it was so bad, the judge looked at the clock and said, “For a minute, I thought the clock was going backwards.” Everyone laughed. Poor Barron worked the night shift the night before and was exhausted during his testimony. Finally, near the end of his testimony, the defense lawyer said, “This is the last page I am going to show you.” “Excellent,” replied Barron without missing a beat. Laughter erupted in the courtroom.

On redirect, the prosecution was able to establish two things: One, there was a mistake in the logs with respect to the dates— so the accuser's mother was not wrong about the time frame (clearing up the previous day's confusion). Two, that in all his five years at Neverland, Barron never saw a sign posted anywhere at Neverland which prevented a guest from leaving. This is a key point for the prosecution.

The judge ruled on several motions at the end of the day. The state is not allowed to call its expert witness on battered women syndrome. This is not only a correct legal ruling, it saves the prosecution from going down the rabbit hole. Had their expert testified that the accuser's mother was a battered woman, the defense would have tried to show she was a batterer and not a victim. This would be another trial within a trial, unnecessarily prolonging the case creating one more legal sideshow.

There is only so much one should heap upon a jury that has much to sort out and sift through. Plus, it does not look good when you have to call an expert witness to explain your own witnesses' testimony. Even though the prosecution looked really disappointed, I think the prosecution is better off without this witness in the long run. It falls under the “Be careful what you wish for” category.

The prosecution scored one victory in that Chris Carter, the former Neverland security guard who is incarcerated in Nevada on state and federal armed robbery and kidnapping charges, can testify even though he is going to invoke his Fifth amendment right against self-incrimination. Usually, once you invoke the Fifth, you can't testify at all. Judge Melville is going to allow him to take the Fifth outside the presence of the jury. The court will let the jury know that the witness is locked up in a Nevada jail but, the defense cannot ask him any questions about his pending charges. He will say that he saw the accuser with alcohol at Neverland, another piece of corroborating evidence for the prosecution.

The state is also going to put on one more 1108 (prior bad acts) witness before they rest.
It does not seem likely that the state can finish their case next week, but the case feels like a horse heading for the barn. The state is going to have to fight hard to keep the case on track once the defense gets going, and prepare its rebuttal case at the same time.

The popular opinion is this jury will not be able to reach a verdict, and we will have a hung jury. Anyone for Michael Jackson Two?

E-mail: Sidebar@MSNBC.com

Read Dan's take on Why Michael Jackson will not be convicted .

April 22, 2005 | 4:00 p.m. ET

Your Rebuttal (Dan Abrams)

Last Friday, I said on the show (and the blog) that Tom DeLay is at it again — this time attacking Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and his use of the Internet and foreign law. Delay is just trying to deflect attention away from his own ethical and legal troubles. Many of you agreed:

John V.:
“That had to be the most straightforward no-nonsense assessment I've heard on national TV of Tom DeLay's ethics.  If only other TV personalities would be so frank and honest about the behavior and hypocrisy of many of our leaders in and around D.C.”

Linda Hall:
“You're right on the money with Tom DeLay.  He keeps trying to deflect the spotlight away from his ethical problems while pretending to champion other issues.”

Cheryl Coulter, Bloomington, Minnesota:
“Your comments about Tom DeLay were far too reserved. He's ruthless, unscrupulous and dangerous and he needs to be confronted.”

Teresa C., Oklahoma City:
“He may be an exterminator, but he's an expert at the theory of lawyering. If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the facts and law are against you, yell like hell.”

Sandy and Les Henry:
“It appears to me that you're either an opinionated buffoon or a simple buffoon.  When he made his remarks about Justice Kennedy, I knew as a layperson that the remark about the Internet was intended to mean that Justice Kennedy should be looking to the American Constitution for a validation and not international law on the Internet.”

Really? Then why did he first comment about Kennedy's “outrageous use of foreign law” and then say, and I quote, “and not only that, he said in session that he does his own research on the Internet. That's just incredibly outrageous.” 

Come on, DeLay figured out later there's nothing wrong with that and tried to “clarify what he had said.” I still believe what he's doing is shameful.

April 22, 2005 | 3:38 p.m. ET

Time for Novak to take responsibility (Dan Abrams)

Imagine this: Someone leaks a covert CIA operative's name to a reporter, likely in an effort to embarrass her husband. The reporter publishes the name in a column and then as the investigation into the source of the leak wraps up, that reporter appears to be in the clear, but another reporter who never even published the name is facing jail time for failing to disclose her source. 

That is the absurd result of the ongoing investigation into who leaked CIA operative Valerie Plame's name. 

I say it's time for the reporter, Robert Novak, to take some responsibility for the mess he's created. His media colleagues Judith Miller of The New York Times and Matt Cooper of Time magazine have been ordered jailed for refusing to tell a grand jury who told them about Plame.

Miller never published the name and Cooper published it on the Time Website only after Novak made it public. Yet, they're running out of legal options. This week, they lost their final appeal in the federal court of appeals, an appeal to the U.S. SupremeCourt is now their only hope. Yet Novak still refuses even to say whether he disclosed his sources,  putting Miller and Cooper at a distinct legal disadvantage. 

Now in the spirit of full disclosure, my father, Floyd Abrams, is defending both Miller and Cooper in the case. But I'm not talking here about his position, which is that they should not have to disclose their sources. (I agree, but I'll save that for another day.) What I find appalling is that Novak won't say what he did or didn't do. He won't even say whether he was called before the grand jury to testify. 

It seems pretty clear he's not in any legal trouble. If did he disclose his source, then Miller and Cooper could argue the prosecutor doesn't even need them to testify. 

If he invoked his right to remain silent, they could ask whether Novak, as the central figure,  shouldn't have to testify before they do. 

Look legally, he's perfectly free to come clean about what he did. Ethically, he should feel obligated to do it.  It seems pretty clear someone with a political agenda leaked the name to the conservative Novak hoping to hurt Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had been critical of the Bush administration. 

And when this administration is prepared to seek jail time for a New York Timesand Time reporter, while the conservative Novak— who is the source of the problem to begin with— gets off scot-free, there are inevitably going to be political questions.  Novak should help dispel that notion by just explaining himself before his colleagues end up serving time in part for his hubris. 

E-mail DAbrams@MSNBC.com

April 21, 2005 | 6:51 p.m. ET

Neverland logs and guard's testimony confusing (Susan Filan, Conn. state prosecutor and Abrams Report regular)

Susan Filan

Wednesday was day three for me at the Michael Jackson trial in Santa Maria, California. We heard from Brian Barron, the 60th witness for the prosecution, and the only witness to testify today  (Court ended early, at 11:30 a.m. instead of the usual 2:30 p.m.).

Now a Guadalupe, Calif. police officer, Barron used to moonlight at Neverland Ranch as security guard for Michael Jackson. A red head with a clean cut, youthful appearance, Barron was a credible witness with no axe to grind. Barron told the jury that there was a sign posted at the security gate at Neverland Ranch: "John Doe is not allowed off the property." This was posted on a grease board at the gate and was kept in a Neverland security log corroborating the accuser's mother's testimony that the family was held against their will and were not free to leave Neverland.

On cross-exam, Barron testified that it was Neverland policy not to allow children to leave Neverland without permission if they were not supervised by an adult or accompanied by a parent. But if that was standard procedure, then why go out of the way to make sure John Doe does not leave Neverland? Why put it on a grease board? Why put it in a log? It sounded sinister when we heard it in the courtroom and it was a significant point for the prosecution.
The rest of the cross centered around a detailed and painstaking examination of the Neverland log book. This was significant because it appeared that some of the dates in the log contradict the mother's testimony as to the time frame of when they were at Neverland and when they were in Miami.

The prosecution is going to have to clean up any misunderstandings the cross-exam created with respect to dates and time frame. While this discussion may seem hypertechnical, and the testimony may have seemed dull and dry, it is a necessary piece of the puzzle to get straight.  The logs are tricky but important.

Thursday will be about more from Brian Barron about the logs, and then the prosecution will argue its motion about whether it may put an expert witness on the stand to testify about battered women's syndrome.

The accuser's mother, who claims she was a battered woman, survived the defense attorney's battering on the witness stand. After five days on the witness stand, it will be up to the jury to decide whether Tom Mesereau merely bruised her credibility or killed her outright. The prosecution wants her testimony to make sense to the jury and they think the jury will better understand her, and therefore more readily believe her, if they understand the way battered women think, act, react, and behave.

The feel in the courtroom is a mix of exhaustion and elation as the prosecution nears the end of its case. But there is also an air of wonder... is this it? Has the state proved its case? If the state rested next Friday and the defense said: "No witnesses, the defense rests," has the state proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt? The defense has promised a six week case, and the state will continue to try its case through its cross examination of the defense witnesses, but what if, next Friday, it was over? Who won? That is the $64,000 question.

More from me tomorrow on Thursday's day in court.

April 21, 2005 | 4:46 p.m. ET

More scapegoating from DeLay (Dan Abrams)

House majority leader Tom DeLay at it again, trying to deflect attention away from his own ethical and legal troubles by scapegoating our nation's federal judges. 

Now he's moved up the judicial food chain and is onto the U.S. Supreme Court, attacking Justice Anthony Kennedy .  DeLay said Tuesday, “We've got Justice Kennedy writing decisions based upon international law not the Constitution of the United States.  And not only that, he said in session he does his own research on the Internet.  That's just incredibly outrageous.
You want to know what's incredibly outrageous?  That DeLay, who  found out today that his colleagues in the House will launch an ethics investigation into his fundraising activities,  is offering any sort of legal analysis.  The former “exterminator” hardly has the gravitas to provide useful commentary on any of the justices' opinions.  In fact, after learning that it is entirely appropriate for justices to use the Internet, he tried to clarify his comments, saying that he was only criticizing the use of foreign law. 

Look, it's his right to express his opinion. Let's just make sure we understand what he's suggesting and why. DeLay now wants to hold hearings on the clause in the Constitution that says judges can serve their full terms as long as they do so with good behavior. DeLay would like to become the arbiter of good behavior on the court.  That's right— DeLay, who is currently part of a criminal investigation in Texas, now the subject of another investigation by his House colleagues, and who last year was three times found to have violated House ethics rules,  wants to “define what good behavior means for the justices.” 

DeLay is now threatening to “dismantle and reorganize the courts.”  I'm certain DeLay has chosen Justice Kennedy, a Reagan appointee and a devout Roman Catholic, because Kennedy has disappointed those like DeLay who hoped Kennedy would just tow a party line rather than evaluate cases individually as judges and justices are supposed to do. 

As the DeLay investigation heats up, I expect to see an equivalent rise in the heat of his rhetoric— because after all, if the entire system is corrupt, then allegations of his corruption just won't mean all that much, right?

E-mail Dan at DAbrams@MSNBC.com.

April 20, 2005 | 4:46 p.m. ET

Moments of levity inside the Jackson courtroom (Susan Filan, Conn. state prosecutor and Abrams Report regular)

Susan Filan
Tuesday was day two for me at the Michael Jackson trial. The accuser's mother finished her testimony on the witness stand. She was not decimated by Mesereau as predicted, but he did put some dents in her credibility. 

After the accuser's mother testified, the accuser's grandmother testified. There were some moments of levity in her testimony. She needed to testify through a Spanish interpreter. At one point, she said to the prosecutor on direct examination, "Could you please speak up, I cannot hear you." The prosecutor looked puzzled, but began to project his voice loudly toward the witness. But it was the interpreter who could not hear the questions, not the grandmother. When this became apparent, the prosecutor said, "Oh, I was wondering why she needed to hear me if she could not understand me!"

The whole courtroom erupted into peals of laughter. The jury was howling. It took a few moments for all to settle back down. It was much needed comic relief from the tense testimony of the accuser's mother.

Slideshow: Michael Jackson trial Another humorous moment was when the grandmother was interrupted by a defense objection, again. The judge overruled the objection. The judge instructed the witness to answer the question, and the witness asked, “Why does he do that— tell me to answer,” referring to the Judge. The prosecutor, without missing a beat shot back, “Because he can.”  Again, the courtroom burst into laughter. The jury loved the grandmother as a witness, and she restored good will in the courtroom again between the jurors and the prosecution. It was obvious that the jury was tired of the accuser's mother and they had begun to hold it against both the prosecution and the defense. 

A school counselor testified that the accuser and his brother were absent from school for more than ten days. He contacted their mother and told her she had to get the boys back in school pronto, or take them out of school and return their textbooks. She indicated she could not withdraw them, but someone else would. Who came with a note from the mom to take the boys out of school? None other than Vinnie Amen, one of the unindicted co-conspirators. This could be seen as significant corroboration for parts of the mother's testimony. The counselor also testified that the boy was a discipline problem in school before he was allegedly molested.  The defense tried to use this to show that the boy's behavior was not different after the alleged molestation occurred, as his mother and grandmother had claimed. This could be helpful to the defense, but it sounded more like a “blame the victim” strategy that I think will backfire. Just because he was a “bad boy” in school does not mean he was not molested or that he was not truthful in court.

All in all, it was another fascinating day in court. Michael Jackson looked pale and frail again today, but he quietly sat through all the testimony, still as a mouse, stiff as a rod. He conferred with his attorneys in a huddle from time to time. Michael's mother was the only family member again today, and she was not in court for all the testimony. 

Judge Melville was in good spirits. Everyone seemed buoyed by the fact that Wednesday is half day, and that there is no court on Friday. Certain motions must be ruled on by Thursday, one of which is whether the state may call an expert on battered woman syndrome.

That's all for now, stay tuned for more from Santa Maria tomorrow at the Michael Jackson trial...

E-mail: Sidebar@MSNBC.com

April 20, 2005 | 1:57 p.m. ET

My first day at court (Susan Filan, Conn. state prosecutor and Abrams Report regular)

Monday was my first day visiting the Michael Jackson trial. I arrived with NBC's Mike Taibbi and saw all the media tents outside the small brick courthouse. I met the pool coordinator and got my press credentials. Then all the press people lined up to enter the courthouse. I passed through the security check (yes, the same one you see Michael Jackson pass through every day), and was whisked through, courtesy of MSNBC analyst Jim Thomas.  The sheriff's deputies began to check my shoes, but laughed when they saw my high heels. I took my seat next to Jim Thomas and studied the jury box. 

The jury sits in movie theater seats, two rows long. The actual jurors sit closest to the witness box and the alternates sit closest to the public. Their notebooks were neatly piled on their seats waiting for them after their weekend break. Some jurors had already filled four and five steno pads, held together by a rubber band.  At 8:15 a.m., Tom Mesereau wheeled in his voluminous notebooks and began stacking them on a table in anticipation of his continued cross-exam. The three prosecutors came in shortly thereafter and took their seats at their table, but did not have nearly the amount of material the defense had (their office is in the building and if they need something they can probably leave the courtroom to get it).  The sheriffs gave us their "rules of the road" orientation, which they take very seriously, and to which the press half-heartedly listened, having heard it all before.  "Yeah, yeah" was muttered under breath.

Very close to 8:30, with the press, the fans, and the public seated, Michael Jackson's mother entered the courtroom wearing a bilious green top. She unceremoniously took her seat, alone, quiet, and seemingly sad.  She was alone for the whole day; no one sat near her.  The whole row was reserved for family, but she was the only one there. Michael Jackson followed next, accompanied by his bodyguard (the umbrella does not come into the courtroom).  I thought every one would swivel around to see Michael's entrance, with hushed anticipation, like at a wedding when all eyes crane to see the bride, but there was little interest in his arrival.  Even his own lawyers seemed non-plussed to see him.  The sketch artist was the most interested, with her binoculars ready, anxiously trying to see what he was wearing today. As he arrived, she called out his attire, to herself, but audibly, "Green shirt, black jacket, arm band? No arm band, yes arm band, kind of a Gucci looking armband."  I realized during his split second entrance, that was her best look at him for the day. Once he is seated, he basically disappears, flanked by lawyers, and hidden by the podium. He sits so quietly, and so still, I kept thinking I was in Madame Tussaud's wax museum— he looked just like a wax doll of himself.  His skin is so pale (tons of white powder), he is beyond skinny— he looks small and frail, nothing like the mega super star King of Pop he once was.  He looks incapable of making music or dancing, or that he ever could.  He looks odd, strange, waif-like, but his hands are gnarled and they look oversized and old.

The jurors were now in their seats, making no eye contact with anyone as they entered, but laughing and talking amongst themselves, comfortable with each other, familiar with the drill. 
At exactly 8:30, a doorbell rang, and it was the judge entering the courtroom in his robe.  The judge is also a thin, small man, nearly the same size as Michael Jackson, but he looks alert and alive. Mesereau began his questioning of the witness, the accuser's mother.  This is the 54th witness, and Monday was her fourth day on the stand.  She is crucial to the conspiracy counts with respect to kidnapping and false imprisonment.  She is a unique witness with her own agenda, who would not comply with the court's, the prosecution's or the defense's wishes— that she simply answer the question asked.  She turns every question into an opportunity to voice her view of the case and of Michael Jackson, declaring at one point that now the world knows who Michael Jackson really is... "Now I am aware he didn't care about children.  He only cares about what he can do with children... That he's managed to fool the world. What he puts out in the world is not who he really is.  Now the people know who he really is."  The defense quickly moved to strike, their motion was swiftly denied. 

Even though the cross exam was diffuse, rambling, disorganized, too long, laborious, and inelegant, Jackson's attorneys did elicit two damaging admissions from this witness that could alone unravel her credibility and cause the jury to disregard her testimony.  First, four days before she made the infamous rebuttal documentary, she made an audiotape with Brad Miller extolling Michael Jackson's virtues, which she says was all true and came from the heart.  But four days later, the praise she heaps on Michael Jackson in the rebuttal video, essentially saying the same things, was all scripted for her and she was forced against her will, under duress, to say it. This is a huge problem because it is illogical.  It makes no sense. 

Second, after she escapes from Neverland for the final time, and goes to attorneys, she does not tell them what bad things happened at Neverland because she wants to go to the police first and because the police tell her not to tell her attorneys, for fear this would compromise their investigation. Problem: She does not go to the police until several months after she sees the lawyers, by her own admission. Again, this defies logic.

But, at other times, she held her own against Mesereau and fought back.  Whereas he may have thought she would be an easy witness to discredit and destroy, she was not putty in his hands. She was a difficult and complex witness whose testimony raised difficult and complex legal issues. For example, what to do about the JC Penney lawsuit? What to do about her taking the Fifth Amendment because of allegations of perjury and welfare fraud?  She cannot be disbelieved in whole, nor can she be entirely believed.  The jury will have to pick and choose, and may choose not to choose, meaning her testimony could be a wash.

The day ended with the prosecution on redirect. In a dark courtroom, they showed pictures of the witness' bruised face, thighs, calves, and hand, after she had been assaulted by JC Penney security guards.  Her suit brought a settlement amount of roughly $150,000.  But the defense claims the bruises were the result of her husband's beating. She has said she was a closet battered woman.  But her son's arm was in a cast and in a sling.  Did his father do that, or did JC Penney?

Signing off now, Susan Filan, a prosecutor from Conn., in from Santa Maria, California. 

April 19, 2005 | 4:18 p.m. ET

Jackson accuser's mom a bad parent? ( Stacy Brown , MSNBC contributor and Jackson family friend)

After leaving the witness stand in the Michael Jackson child molestation case I happened upon the next witness, a strikingly good looking woman wearing a cream colored suit. Her nervous child-like eyes enhanced her beauty as I nodded hello to this woman whom I didn't know but had heard so much about. I wanted so badly to speak to her, not in a romantic way, but for 12 years I had this one thing that I had always wanted to say to her, to ask her.

The woman was the mother of the 1993 boy who accused Michael Jackson of child molestation. She testified that Jackson cried when she objected to the singer sharing a bed with her then 13-year-old son. She said he pleaded with her and she gave in. I wanted so much to ask her: Why? Why would you allow your son to sleep in bed with a grown man, never mind that he is Michael Jackson?

Many people have insisted that Jackson's own children, 8-year-old Prince, 7-year-old Paris and 3-year-old Prince II (or Blanket), be taken away from Jackson. In fact attorney Gloria Allred once petitioned Santa Barbara authorities to investigate Jackson's children's welfare— citing the molestation charges, Jackson's admission that he sometimes shares his bedroom with children, and the November 2002 incident in which he dangled young Blanket from a hotel room balcony.

From all accounts, Jackson is not only a fit parent, but a very good one. His ex-wife and the mother of his two oldest children, Debbie Rowe, has publicly stated that Jackson is a great dad. (Rowe is currently seeking an amendment to her agreement with Jackson that nullifies any rights she had as the children's mother.) Jackson's family has always maintained the superstar is a great father as well. I had the privilege of seeing Jackson and his three children recently and, although it was for about one hour, I must say the children appeared to be extremely well-behaved, immaculately dressed and groomed. Jackson appeared to have a complete grip on parenting.

But as I admired the beauty of the 1993 accuser's mom at the Santa Maria courthouse, I also thought about all of the parents who have allowed their sons to sleep with Jackson. Not just those claiming to be victimized by Jackson. I thought of a couple of Australian kids and their parents, Kit Culkin (his superstar son Macaulay maintains nothing ever happened); the parents of former child star Emmanuel Lewis (who also maintains nothing ever happened between he and Jackson); the maid and her son we heard from earlier in this trial; and, of course, the most flagrant offender, the mother in the current case.

If ever Allred or anyone else for that matter want to speak of taking someone's children, the current accuser's mother should top the list. She's at best, a confused woman who appears to have an out of this world view on how to protect her children from danger. At worst, she has lied about a most serious charge and has made a child, a surviving cancer patient, the subject of ire and ridicule for a very long time. She is, hands down, the prosecutor's worse nightmare and Tom Messereau's dream. “Now I know what Neverland is all about,” she rambled at one point. “Alcohol, porn and sex with boys.”

Objection your honor!

The objection is really to the thought of her as a mother. Whether you believe the allegations from 1993, Jackson was accused of molestation. And, even if he weren't, why would a mother put her child in such a situation? Jackson, if nothing else, has proven to be irresponsible. The defense in the case conceded that children were at least able to break into wine cellars at Neverland, run around at will and create havoc, and get their prepubescent hands on pornography.

This mother says she saw Jackson lick her son's head, yet allowed her son to sleep with Jackson afterward. Yet she points at Jackson in court and bellows “You have fooled the world.” If this case and the others that preceded it are all about money, as the defense asserts, then it is the true definition of fool's gold. These parents are, to borrow a phrase from the '93 accuser's deposition, pimping their sons out.

Whether Jackson is acquitted or found guilty, there is a line of mothers that I wouldn't mind seeing prosecuted for neglect.

E-mail Sidebar@MSNBC.com

April 19, 2005 | 2:14 p.m. ET

Bankruptcy law overhaul long overdue (Dan Abrams)

Remember when it used to be shameful to declare bankruptcy? It was something only a compulsive gambler, or a father who didn't want to pay child support, would do.  Having to admit that one couldn't pay any of his or her debts had a stigma attached to it. 

Well, over the past two decades, “going bankrupt” has become just another business decision. Nearly 1.6 million Americans filed for bankruptcy in 2004, more than double the number who filed a decade ago.  It just seemed all too easy to decide you can't pay anybody back and so you file for personal bankruptcy under Chapter seven, which means your debt is wiped clean.  It's left those of us who pay our credit bills on time, or don't miss a car or mortgage payment, to foot the bill in the form of higher interest rates and excessive banking fees, as much as $400 each year.  Change is long overdue. 

Congress wisely voted to change that last week , passing the largest overhaul of U.S. bankruptcy laws in over 25 years. Under the new law, whether someone can wipe their debt clean depends on how much money he or she makes.  If you make enough to afford at least $100 a month, you're on the hook for at least part of your debts.  The American Bankruptcy Institute says up to 20 percent of bankruptcy filers will be affected by the new law.  Certain Democratic opponents argued the bill is going to hurt working class people who have suddenly lost their job, have gotten a divorce, or have unexpected medical bills.  They claim the new law is just an effort to protect credit card companies and banks. 

But regardless of the motivation, it's good policy.  It is about personal responsibility:  You buy the goods, you got to pay.  The laws are being abused, making it too easy to declare bankruptcy and just wipe away debts.  Someone has to pay for the money that was owed. 

With any change, there will be some honest people who would have been better off under the old system.  But remember, if you don't have enough money, the new law won't change the protections already afforded by bankruptcy. 

I don't want to hear about any more people having their debts wiped away and still keeping the Lexus.  This new legislation will help prevent that. 

April 18, 2005 | 2:56 p.m. ET

Jackson fans have their say (Stacy Brown)

Michael Jackson's loyal fans, responded in full force to my article last week "Jackson needs a reality check."

The faithful wanted to point out that they felt, as a Jackson family friend, I have totally sold out. Even his sponsored website, MJEOL.com, suggested that it was I who needed the reality check. Some of the messages even crossed the line of threatening; those were promptly forwarded to certain friends (bodyguards), local law enforcement as well as the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

I did find a couple that were well thought out and well written. Simon Cameron, an apparent avid fan of Jackson's, says: “It is everyone's moral and legal right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

Cameron is absolutely correct and it is refreshing to see that even one of Jackson's loyal followers understand that there is a chance that Jackson could be found guilty in this case. It should be noted that I have never expressed an opinion on Jackson's guilt or innocence.

Cameron further notes that coverage from Court TV, specifically Nancy Grace and my friend, Diane Dimond (who is also an NBC News analyst), seems slanted against Jackson.

Grace is a former prosecutor who often takes a hard line on her show after all defendants, not just those named Michael Jackson. She was also a close friend of the late Johnnie Cochran, who once represented Jackson.

Dimond is notoriously despised by the Jacksons because of her hard-hitting reporting on the Jackson allegations in 1993 and her breaking news on the current case. Dimond, I submit, is simply doing her job.

Then there is a fan who calls herself "Rachel Darkside." She compliments me for not referring to Jackson as “Jacko” and then rails against me for collaborating with former Jackson confidante Bob Jones on a book.

As I stated in court, under oath, I am a writer and it's what I do. Indeed members of the Jackson family have come to me to ask why would I team with Bob Jones on a book. As I've pointed out,  and reminded them, I've also written books for Jermaine Jackson and Rebbie Jackson.

My question is why is there an automatic assertion that Jones and I would write claiming that Jackson is a child molester.  Neither of us has ever made that assertion. I testified in court that I would have refused to take part in such a project out of respect and LOYALTY to the Jackson family.

Make no mistake; I have absolutely no obligation to the Jacksons, only to be truthful. Some have indeed criticized what they have perceived as my opinions. However, the last time I checked, we are all entitled to opinions. I just so happen to be in a position to voice them.

I have also been criticized for being a prosecution witness. I was subpoenaed— meaning I had no choice in the matter. I did not contact authorities seeking to testify against Jackson.

Let me make another thing clear. I have never had a relationship with Michael Jackson; I have never stated that anywhere. My relationship has always been with the majority of his family. I have attended every Jackson concert tour since 1980 and feel that he is the most exciting pop music performer ever.  I was even invited to attend a rehearsal for the 2001 anniversary celebration. However, I have absolutely no desire to mingle or associate with Jackson. He probably feels the same, which is fine.

It was interesting to hear from scores of Jackson fans since my last column. Even from an F. Adams, who suggested that perhaps I come work at McDonald's with him.

April 15, 2005 | 4:14 p.m. ET


Whether Michael Jackson is a child molester or not, the current trial has shown how isolated Jackson (and his fans, and those close to him), are to reality.

Here is a man who comes to court each day in the costumes he performs in, despite the seriousness of the charges he faces. He is given preferential treatment by local law enforcement; the same police department he had claimed “roughed him up” after his November 2003 arrest.

Jackson's motorcade is met by police officers once it exits the 101 Freeway at Main Street in Santa Maria. The police escort sits and waits for the King of Pop at a Burger King restaurant and fans also wait there to get a glimpse of their idol.

There are also those who wait along the route to the courtroom, as if it were a parade, holding banners of support for the embattled singer.

Jackson, who has frequently complained of media coverage, seems to enjoy the walk from his SUV to the courthouse as he plays both to the handful of fans outside the court and television cameras that capture his every wince, wave and peace sign.

Jackson's publicist, Raymone Bain, appeared recently on national television complaining about a bias in the media coverage. This is a ridiculous assertion considering that most of the trial coverage is being reported not by actual journalists, but mostly by defense attorneys hired as analysts for the major networks.

These defense attorneys vigorously spin the case in Jackson's favor at every turn, leaving many viewers to conclude that not only is the prosecution's case weak, but charges should never have been bought in the first place. Even when seemingly damaging testimony against Jackson emerges, those same defense attorneys often find a way of claiming that this testimony only helps Jackson.

Jackson has encouraged fans to pray for him and to continue supporting him. Some even send “news articles” they've written about the case to various media outlets. These “articles” are often inflammatory against prosecutors and the alleged victim in the case and his family.
Thankfully, no reputable media outlet has reported these “articles.” 

Many fans have, with the cooperation from Jackson's camp, maintained Websites touting his innocence (some obviously blinded so much by the superstar that they think he's still the same good looking man who graced the cover of the Thriller album in 1982).

Fans also show up outside the court with signs and banners that ridicule the accuser and his family, showing little regard that the boy, his brother and sister are all very young and very much affected by the proceedings. Remember, the accuser doesn't have anyone outside the courthouse promoting his cause.

Many of these fans have dedicated their lives to Jackson, who, as a token of his gratitude, have invited some to Neverland for rallies and parties, and on each occasion has never personally greeted any of them.

Seemingly lost in all of this is the young boy at the center of these molestation charges against Jackson. Prosecutors argue that Jackson molested the then 13-year-old cancer patient in 2003. The defense has argued that the boy's mother has put the teen up to lying about the allegations.

Either way, the boy, much like the 1990 accuser we saw testify earlier in this case and the 1993 accuser, who received a more than $20 million settlement from Jackson, will suffer for the remainder of his life. If the charges are true, the teen will have to live with the horrors of being a victim, a nightmare that multiple rounds of therapy will need to cure.

To be fair, neither side has shown an awful lot of credibility.

The mother of the accuser had to plead the Fifth Amendment when it came time to testify. She apparently didn't want to incriminate herself in a welfare fraud case that may or may not be pending.

Remember, despite the obvious and overwhelming change over the years in his appearance, Jackson maintains that he has had only two surgeries on his nose to improve his singing and nothing else.

Jackson admits to sleeping in the same bed as young boys despite the trauma of a highly sensational child molestation allegation that dogged him in 1993.

“It's not sexual,” he says. “I tuck them in. It's very charming, it's very sweet.”
The young boy claims he once felt abandoned by Jackson because the star had stopped paying attention to him. Lawyers argue that this is also an indication that nothing ever happened to the boy.

While the case has months to go and it's too early to decide whether or not Jackson is a child molester, some things are clear: One, the family accusing Jackson certainly has major issues that probably require professional help.

And, as for Michael Jackson, the creator of some of the most exciting memories in the history of popular music? He has clearly wandered off by himself into isolation. It's an isolation that some say extends far beyond mere eccentricity— and into an area where people just don't (and perhaps shouldn't) trust.


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