June 10, 2005| 6:35 p.m. ET

Waiting games— and bets

Jurors in the Michael Jackson case are heading home for the weekend after wrapping up a sixth day of deliberations in the star’s child molestation trial . So far the jury has spent 28 hours behind closed doors without reaching a verdict. This leaves Michael Jackson’s future up in the air— and lots of speculation on the final outcome.

Some of it is just idle speculation around the courthouse. But there’s also serious speculation on the Jackson verdict with dollar signs attached. These range from offshore betting sites to Dublin-based online trading exchange intrade.com. The Website claims their traders called every state and the District of Columbia correctly in the 2004 election.

Here’s how it works: Traders can choose from one of two sets of charges (the molestation charges or the administering an intoxicating agent to a minor charges). Then they choose to bet whether Jackson is guilty or not. They decide to buy or sell depending on their prediction.
As the percentage chance of guilty goes up or down in the minds of the traders, some people are losing while others are making money. 

For example, before Jackson attorney Tom Mesereau made his closing arguments, the smart money was on him to sway the jury. Guilty contracts dropped down to 35, meaning they generally believed there was just a 35 percent chance of a conviction. But when the traders found his closing disappointing, contracts for “guilty on molestation” went up from 35 to 45— meaning those who had bought at 35 were making some big money. The “he is innocent” crowd who had put money on an acquittal were suddenly losing money. If they wanted out they would have to pay the difference.

As the jury deliberations have continued, many are thinking a compromise verdict could mean Jackson is only found guilty on the alcohol charges. Right now a “lewd act” conviction for Jackson is trading around 50 percent with “intoxicating liquor” over 72.

As that “market” trades up and down on the futures… let’s not forget that Michael Jackson’s future really hangs in the balance. It’s hard to imagine Jackson going from the magical place called Neverland— with almost 3,000 acres of child-like fun complete with amusement park rides and a petting zoo— to the confines of a drab eight by 12 foot jail cell in the California Department of Correction if he is convicted.

In the mean time, if you have questions about the Michael Jackson trial, send them to us.  We’ll try to answer some of them on the air with the “Abrams Report” legal team. And don’t forget, when there is a verdict in the Jackson trial, “The Abrams Report” will bring it to you live from Santa Maria whenever it happens.  So stay tuned.

E-mail DAbrams@MSNBC.com

June 10, 2005 | 11:58 p.m. ET

As we wait for the verdict amidst all the tension, I confess my real "sin" (Stacy Brown, Jackson family friend and MSNBC contributor)

MSNBC

The tension can be cut like a knife.

Fans are venting more frustration at media types while family acquaintances have stalked the court's grounds, some with raging attitudes. Michael Jackson is in and out of the emergency room and his publicist is on a campaign to convince reporters that she is still employed.

Such is life in Santa Maria as we await a verdict in the child sex case against the King of Pop. Security has been noticeably beefed up as tempers have begun to flare with each passing moment and rumor . Court TV and NBC News Analyst Diane Dimond had to be protected by a producer from raging fans who stormed near the media area after a shocking and bizarre appearance by Joseph Jackson earlier in the week.

Jackson's biggest (not necessarily in physique) fan, a guy known as "BJ," was reportedly given a restraining order for what seems to be the zillionth time he's misbehaved in the eyes of law enforcement and the media.

Jermaine Jackson's "assistant," Lawanda Lane showed up at the courtroom too. For years I've helped Lane with personal things. But now Lane views me as the enemy and she gave our great host of the Abrams Report, Dan Abrams, an earful. "Fire Stacy Brown, fire him," Lane screamed at Abrams outside of the NBC tent. She gave no reasonable explanation and departed.

She would later threaten to another NBC staffer, "Stacy better watch his back." Should I be worried? I coincidentally received a call from a prominent Santa Barbara Sheriff's Detective who encouraged me to report all real or perceived threats and that they would be handled immediately. The thought of being protected by Santa Barbara County's Finest is extremely comforting.

For those who haven't been following, I have co-authored a book with former Jackson publicist Bob Jones and while the book is not yet in stores, many are already ordering it on barnesandnoble.com and Amazon.com. That fact has drawn the Jackson family's ire.

The book, “Michael Jackson: The Man Behind The Mask” (Select Books, Inc.) is simply a chance to get the true story behind all the rumors, accusations, ugliness and mystery surrounding the King of Pop. It's not from a journalist or celebrity pundit, but from Jackson's own former public relations agent. Because of his unique position at Jackson's right hand, Bob Jones is the one person in the world who can offer such a naked inside view of the world Michael Jackson has created for himself: the drastic changes in his appearance, his Neverland ranch, his friendships with a series of young boys— from poor kids with serious health problems to famous child actors.

So that's my sin. That's what's drawn some of the ire and raised some of the tension that so easily can be cut with a knife.

E-mail: Sidebar@MSNBC.com

June 9, 2005 | 4:55 p.m. ET

Short day of deliberations

Jurors in the Michael Jackson child molestation case briefly resumed deliberations Thursday, the day after the pop star made another trip to the hospital for follow-up treatment to his back problems.

Jurors met for only two and a half hours Thursday — their fifth day of deliberations. They began just before 8:30 a.m. PT and finished at 10:55 a.m.

No reason for the short day was given, but the judge noted before the start of deliberations that he understood some jurors had obligations to attend graduation ceremonies for family members. Click here for more from MSNBC.com .

On last night's show 'The Abrams Report' pondered what long deliberations mean, and if that it is an indicator of the verdict. Click here to read Susan Filan, Dan Abrams, and Michael Corodoza's thoughts on the subject— plus, see how other celebrity trials fared in length .

June 9, 2005 | 4:20 p.m. ET

Why I’m tired of the glorification of Hollywood’s bad boys (Dan Abrams)

The latest example of a bad boy in the news is actor Russell Crowe accused of throwing a telephone into the face of the concierge at a New York hotel. Crowe was led out in cuffs and charged with assault and criminal possession of a weapon.  His spokesperson says the concierge gave the star “attitude.”

Last week, actor Christian Slater was in court after being arrested for groping a woman on a New York City street. I'm betting both incidents will only add some Hollywood cache to the stars’ bad boy resumes.

But these types of cases should be different.  We’re not talking about battling paparazzi or downing a few too many drinks one night.  If true, these cases just show disrespect for fellow human beings, average, every day citizens. 

There seems to be a sense that these celebs are above it all and that in Hollywood it may just help them. It seems to give them some sort of weird bad boy credibility. After all, many in Hollywood still revere director Roman Polanski even though he's a wanted fugitive in the United States. He pled guilty in 1977 to having sex with a 13-year-old, who said he plied her with drugs and alcohol. He fled the country before being sentenced. 

The term "Hollywood bad boy" connotes a sort of James Dean or Steve McQueen-like toughness.  But, why?  It doesn’t mean you’re tough when you physically lash out at the people who are working for you or physically harass people you don’t know. That’s just pathetic.  It would be nice if the “industry” would treat these people accordingly. 

E-mail: DAbrams@MSNBC.com

Russell Crowe plays Hardball with Chris Matthews tonight. He's talking about his new movie, "Cinderella Man" — plus the Oscar winner apologized about his recent arrest, saying "When you're this far away from your own family -- and, you know, I haven't been a husband and a father for that long, and I'm just only getting used to that abject loneliness of being on the road. But, you know, bottom line is, I'm sorry for the whole incident." Click here for a preview article .

June 8, 2005 | 7:01 p.m. ET

Division within the Jackson camp?

Breaking news: In an unusual development, lawyers for both sides met in chambers with Judge Rodney Melville on Wednesday and a statement was expected around 3 p.m. PT. A statement from defense attorney Tom Mesereau Jr. was released just after 3 p.m.

"I have not authorized anyone to speak or hold any press conferences on behalf of Michael Jackson or his family," Mesereau said. "A gag order is in effect which the defense team will continue to honor."

Mesereau's statement appeared to be directed toward Jackson spokeswoman Raymone Bain, who discussed Jackson's spirits and health in a brief session with media Wednesday, and at the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who appeared earlier in the week to discuss Jackson's condition.

"The spokesperson can't speak for him?" asks Dan Abrams. "This seems to be a mess within the Jackson team."

"He's had 3-4 spokespeople..." explains MSNBC analyst Stacy Brown. "Raymone Bain just happened to be the one who stayed the longest."

Bain had earlier insisted she was appearing with the blessings of Jackson's camp: "If Mr. Mesereau didn't want me here I wouldn't be here so don't listen to so many rumors." Click here for more from MSNBC.com .

Bain insisted in a telephone interview with the Associated Press that Mesereau's statement
wasn't about her.

"It appears Mr. Mesereau is concerned about a number of people who have been going to the court, using the court as a forum. People have been passing out their books and he's concerned about that and he wants people to know he has not authorized that," Bain
said.

She said she runs everything she says by Mesereau and does not violate the gag order because she talks about how Jackson is feeling and not about the case.

Click here for an Abrams interview with Raymone Bain late last week.

June 8, 2005 | 6:12 p.m. ET

Rev. Jesse Jackson calls 'Abrams Report' report psychological warfare

Plus, there’s controversy swirling outside the courthouse over ‘The Abrams Report’ exclusive look at the Santa Barbara county jail where Jackson would likely be taken if convicted. Jesse Jackson says that piece was part of the psychological warfare being waged by prosecutors.

Click here for that report . What do you think of the reverend’s opinion?

Write us at Sidebar@MSNBC.com

Updated!  June 9, 2005 | 2:29 p.m. ET

Former Santa Barbara County Sheriff Jim Thomas, who gave the tour on 'The Abrams Report' gave his reaction: “You‘ve got to remember we're in the news business. And the issue is that Michael Jackson has two ways to go after the verdict is read.  He either walks out the front door and goes home— or he goes out the back door and to a sheriff's van and goes to jail. They have talked extensively about what would happen after he left, if he went home and the celebration that would take place. I think it's fair for the public to know that if he went out the other door what would happen and what the sheriff would do to ensure that he remains safe and well-treated. That was the intention of that report and I think it was well-received.” 

Dan agreed. “I responded to a viewer Tuesday night who wrote in saying ‘You‘re presuming Michael Jackson is guilty by showing where he might have to go if he's convicted.’ My response was 'So what— we can‘t talk about the possible sentence he might receive?  We can‘t show the possible places as to where he may have to go?'”

This morning, on MSNBC Live, Dan pointed out that two weeks ago, he also interviewed Rev. Jackson about Michael Jackson’s plans if he were found not guilty . In that interview, Rec. Jackson hinted at the possibility of Jackson building a theme park in South Africa.

June 8, 2005 | 1:10 p.m. ET

Two weeks ago, our friend NBC News Correspondent Mike Taibbi wouldn't predict a Jackson verdict but would only say this:  "The only prediction I'll make is that within two weeks I’ll be working out of my 30 Rock office and walking my dog at night in New York City."

Today, Mike is still in Santa Maria working the trial. So, we here at the Abrams Report virtually brought his dog to him— via a surprise appearance on 'The Abrams Report.'

Here's some fun video of their TV reunion from last night's show:

Video: Scoop Taibbi

Isn't the dog's name appropriate for one of NBC's hardest working reporters?


June 7, 2005 | 3:51 p.m. ET

Behind closed doors (Susan Filan, MSNBC analyst and former Conn. state prosecutor)

Just what is the jury doing in their deliberation room?  The first thing they do is choose the foreperson .  After that, they have to find a way to proceed in an orderly fashion.  We know they asked a question at 9:50 on day one of deliberations but we have no way of knowing what the question is.  Ordinarily, in most courtrooms, questions from the jury and requests for readback are presented to the bailiff by way of a note.  The judge calls the lawyers into the court room, brings the jury into the box, the note is made a court exhibit for the record, and the court stenographer is in place.  The question is read aloud, and the Judge answers it on the record.  In this trial, however, the Judge simply goes back into the jury room with the stenographer and the lawyers.  

Thus, we are in the dark which is a shame for two reasons.  First, since the court room is open to the public and a trial is a public proceeding, this part of the trial should be public also. Second, questions from the jury are extremely interesting indicators of what is happening in deliberations.  Sometimes, you can tell what count they are on, and if they are leaning toward conviction or acquittal.  We are reading tea leaves during deliberations and we are without a very important clue.

My guess is the jurors' question was simply a procedural one and probably had to do with the jury instructions.  They are 98 pages long, and perhaps they wanted to know if they had to read and review them before beginning deliberations.  The Judge's answer would be they are allowed to proceed in any manner they choose.  Next, the jurors might take a quick vote to see where people stand with respect to the various charges.  In a long and complicated case as this one, I doubt they took a quick vote.  More likely, they had to devise a strategy for tackling deliberations.  Sometimes, jurors have a huge grease board and are making a list of all the witnesses, and all the exhibits they want to review.  They probably want to replay several videos, and the video of the accuser's first disclosure in particular.  My guess is after reviewing witnesses and video, they will venture their first vote.  Then depending on where people stand, they will begin to discuss and debate, referring to their notes and their memories.  And then the going gets tough.  

Friendships that were formed no longer matter.  Alliances change.  People take their vote very seriously and are not quick to change their opinion.  The undecided are up for grabs.  I believe it will take some time for this jury to go through all the evidence, exhibits, and testimony.   It is still possible that there will be a mixed verdict: acquittal on some charges, conviction on some charges, and hung on some charges.  My prediction is that this jury will deliberate for 5 to 7 court days before rendering their verdict.

Stay tuned for more from the courtroom from Susan Filan, MSNBC legal analyst, and former CT prosecutor.

E-mail SFilan@MSNBC.com

June 7, 2005| 1:19  p.m. ET

Verdict watch (Susan Filan, MSNBC analyst and former Conn. state prosecutor)

I arrived at court Monday thinking it would be an easy day.  I brought two books I have been trying to read throughout the trial, one is the biography called “Michael Jackson, the Magic and the Madness” by J. Randy Taraborrelli and the other is “The Importance of Being Famous” by Maureen Orth, a behind the scenes look at the “celebrity industrial complex.”  I also brought laptop so I could write.  In my experience, waiting for a verdict is a waiting game—  the goal is to pass the time without going crazy.

"Liar" chants  and rumor mills
Monday was anything but quiet.  It seemed like there were even more fans than during the trial, and they were much more vocal in their support of Michael Jackson and in their derision of the media.  They chant and rant and call us “liars” and worse.  They hate us.  We are the villains here.  The second  distraction was the appearance of hordes of new media overnight.  The place is swarming with photographers, reporters, camera and sound crew and correspondents from 30 different countries.

The third distraction was the rumor mill.  One moment, someone would say, “The jury has a question.”  Another moment, “They are switching out a juror and bringing in an alternate because a juror’s granddaughter was on Good Morning America and is talking about a book her grandmother wants to write.”  I was outside the whole day trying to find out what was going on.  At one point, Joe Jackson arrived at the courthouse, sounding confused, saying “Where is my son?  I want to be with my son.”  Michael Jackson is not here… he is waiting for the verdict at Neverland.   Michael’s other brother Randy arrived at court, but no one knew why.  Several of Jackson’s black Escalades left Neverland and that started another raft of rumors.  Is he coming to court?  Could that mean a verdict?  Is he going to hospital?  Is he really ill?  The rumor mill decided the cars just went out for a car wash and Jackson was not in them.

What about Jackson’s trips to the hospital?  His trips over the weekend sent the media into a tail spin.  Is he really sick?  Or is this just another media ploy to get attention.  No one disputes that Michael Jackson looks sickly and weak.  Rumor has it he now weighs around 87 pounds and that he was at least 120 when the trial began.  The Jackson who jumped on top of his SUV and danced after his arraignment has turned into a fragile man who is so thin, he looks like a twig that could snap in half.  He shuffles as he walks into court, and it seems to take an effort for him to lift his hand to wave to his fans.

Is Michael Jackson wasting away because he is an innocent man who has been vilified?  Or is he wasting away because he knows that his past has finally caught up with him and he cannot bear how his world has come crumbling down?

Reverend Jesse Jackson says Jackson feels betrayed by those closest to him.  Still not taking any responsibility for his actions, he blames those around him for the situation he is in… a situation of his own making, whether he innocently shared his bed with young boys, or whether he seduced them.

The world's eyes on U.S. justice system
There is considerable international attention on this trial.  The world is watching and waiting for the verdict.  Monday, I was interviewed by journalists from the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, England and Canada.   The Netherlands does not have a jury system and wanted to know how ours works.

With the world watching, and the international media attention this trial has attracted, it is my fervent hope that this jury will deliberate fairly and wisely, without sympathy or bias for the accuser or the accused.  With the world watching, this case is not just a referendum on Jackson’s guilt or acquittal, but it is a referendum on our criminal justice system.  The Netherlands wants to know why anyone would rather be tried by a jury than a judge.  The British seem to have a prurient fascination by the combination of a mega super star on trial for such salacious charges.  The Czechs want to know if Jackson can receive a fair trial.  The cornerstone of our criminal justice system is a fair jury trial.  If Michael Jackson cannot receive one, under the daily scrutiny of the international medial, then who can?  Or is there different justice for a celebrity?  I think the world is watching and waiting and soon enough, we will know.  A quick three hour O.J. like verdict would not have been good.  As of now the jury has had the case for two hours on Friday, and six hours on Monday.  With over 130 witnesses, over 680 exhibits, 10 counts and 28 overt acts, 98 pages of jury instructions, and a thirteen week trial, this jury has its work cut out for them. 

Let’s hope they are not influenced by the media, by celebrity, by the hope of future book deals or personal profit.  I have a vested interest in this trial ending on a high note, whether it is an acquittal, conviction, hung jury, or any combination thereof.  I need to believe this jury listened to the evidence and decided the case fairly and squarely.  Then, we as Americans can hold our heads high, and let our international friends know that we do indeed have a most magnificent system of criminal justice.

Stay tuned for more from the courtroom from Susan Filan, MSNBC legal analyst and former Connecticut prosecutor.

E-mail SFilan@MSNBC.com

June 6, 2005 | 4:32 p.m. ET

Just what kind of weirdness? (Daniel Horowitz, criminal defense attorney and friend of The Abrams Report)

SANTA MARIA, CALIF.— 14 weeks of trial have been distilled down to the two videos played at the end of closing: One was the statement of the young accuser to the police, and the other was the Bashir documentary outtakes showing a side of Michael Jackson that is both innocent and wistfully childlike.

Everyone knows that the accuser and his family are liars and manipulators but this doesn't mean he wasn't molested.

Everyone knows that Michael Jackson is more than weird, he is a universe unto himself. But is it a universe of innocent love and naïveté or one that is a carnival fun house filled with animals, rides and a wicked perversion?

There are simply not enough hard facts to pick one side or the other and that alone means that there is reasonable doubt.

So as those of us reporting on the case wait for the verdict in hotel rooms far from our families, the jurors go home, play with their children, spend time with their families and undoubtedly imagine how they would feel if Michael Jackson asked them to allow their children to come to Neverland and sleep in his bed.  For any normal person, the very thought of your child in the bed of a grown man, any grown man, is a sickening, terrible thought. No number of house-cleaning chimpanzees, celebrity animal parties, video games or amusement park rides can cover the fundamental horror of a man age forty who pretends to be a twelve year old child.

But is the horror that we feel a glimpse into the cavern of loneliness of Michael Jackson's life or is it a glimpse into the heart of a vampire, who lives off the spirit of the child until all that is left is a hollow shell, sitting cross legged and cross armed, on a police station videotape?

E-mail Sidebar@MSNBC.com

June 3, 2005 | 7:05 p.m. ET

Jackson family wounds (Stacy Brown)

MSNBC
SANTA MARIA, CALIF.— It was a true Michael Corleone moment. A scene from "The Godfather."

On Friday, outside the Santa Maria courthouse, Jermaine Jackson and I met face to face.

I hadn’t seen the second most recognizable male Jackson since I decided to write the soon to be published tome, "Michael Jackson: The Man Behind The Mask" (Select Books) with former Jackson publicist Bob Jones.

I also hadn’t seen Jermaine since I was called to testify for the prosecution in April. Sporting a three-piece suit and his trademark curled and manicured hair; Michael Jackson’s big brother took a peek at me and began shaking his head.

I asked him to not shake his head and instead offered my hand for him to shake. I could hear that famous Godfather music playing in my head as Jermaine uttered, in true Don Corleone fashion, “Nobody goes against the family.”

“You were one of our best friends,” Jermaine spoke in a scolding tone. “But, you went against the family and nobody goes against this family.” A number of eyewitnesses, including NBC producers, Jackson fans, sheriff deputies and others witnessed the confrontation.

“He should talk about going against the family,” a popular columnist said to me. “Jermaine himself has betrayed that family more than anybody on the outside ever could.” Another pretty famous person said, “Jermaine, nor anybody in that family can talk about loyalty.”

Perhaps these people were correct in their thoughts. But, it was also another strong indication of how stressful these days are for the Jackson family. “It’s so much pressure, so much stress,” former Michael Jackson manager Frank Dileo told me. “I wouldn’t worry much about it,” Dileo said, apparently feeling that I was wounded and needed some soothing. “You know how this family operates. Once this is all over and a little time has passed they will all sit down with you and things will be fine.”

Dileo was correct; the stress has apparently gotten the best of them.

At one point in the courtroom prosecutor Ron Zonen began his rebuttal arguments and Rebbie (making her first appearance), Janet and Latoya Jackson all stood up and walked out of the courtroom.

“Probably not the best of moves as the jury doesn’t take those kinds of display too kindly,” said NBC News Analyst and former Santa Barbara Sheriff Jim Thomas.

The Jacksons are really the wounded and it’s really for the best that Dileo is there to help them because he’s the right man for the job. Since he and Jackson parted company in 1990, Jackson’s career has seen a steady decline.

If Jackson is acquitted, Dileo is the man that maybe able to help rekindle some of the fire from the glory days of “Thriller” and “Bad.”

But for now, as we sit and wait for the verdict, the wounded must be afforded the chance to recover.

E-mail: Sidebar@MSNBC.com

June 3, 2005| 5:40 p.m. ET

An emotional Michael Jackson, as the case gets handed to the jury (Dan Abrams)

Video: Jackson jury begin deliberations SANTA MARIA, CALIF.— About a minute before everyone left the courtroom, as Michael Jackson was standing at the counsel table preparing to leave, I noticed him dabbing his nose and his eyes with a tissue. 

I waited around to see what he looked like, and it was clear to me that Michael Jackson had tears in his eyes.

At the end of this process, you had the family of Michael Jackson, Randy and Rebe Jackson leaving that courtroom, looking somber, serious, and realizing this is the moment of truth. I think that Michael Jackson, too, realized that this jury now has his life in their hands. That emotions were flooding Michael Jackson was clear—subtle, but it was clear. 

As of now, we expect that it will take at least an hour from the time the jury announces that they have a verdict, to the time the verdict is read. This is because the judge will be allotting for time for Michael Jackson to return from Neverland, and for alternate jurors come back and watch the verdict (some of them live far away, but the judge has requested for their presence).

If you talk to law enforcement officials in this area, they will tell you that, on and off, they’ve been concerned with the possibility that Michael Jackson might not stick around. He is not in custody, bail has not been revoked, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they kept an eye on Jackson’s whereabouts to get a general sense of where he is at all times.

E-mail DAbrams@MSNBC.com

June 3, 2005 | 1:10 p.m. ET

Is a Jackson conviction likely? A recent mood shift in Santa Maria courthouse suggests, yes (Dan Abrams) 

SANTA MARIA, CALIF.— Is there a wave of pessimism sweeping through the Jackson camp?  Sources are telling us that the Jackson camp is slowly losing confidence that Michael will be acquitted— or that there'll even be a hung jury. Are Jackson supporters now fearing the worst?

I've been talking to reporters who are covering this case and initially, I sensed a huge divide amongst the journalists about what they thought the jury would do. I don't think I'd ever seen a high-profile case where there was that much of a divide. But suddenly, I am getting the sense that many more reporters are entertaining the real possibility that Michael Jackson could get convicted.

Jim Moret, “Inside Edition” senior correspondent agreed with me. “You felt a shift,” he said on last night's "The Abrams Report." “I think that shift has really been since the defense case started. It seemed as if they came in on top after the prosecution's case. They could have simply rested their case and maybe walked.  Now, it almost appears as if they dug a hole for themselves that they've been trying to dig their way out of.”

According to MSNBC contributor and Jackson family friend Stacy Brown, the Jackson camp is now the most nervous it has been. “They're feeling that now, more than ever, there is a good chance that Michael may be convicted.  Although, again, I must say, they maintain that he's innocent.”

This pessimism is a stark contrast from the beginning of the case, according to Stacy. “Everyone was confident. Everyone felt that it should never have gone this far.”

Defense Attorney Ron Richards— who earlier in the trial coverage claimed that the case was a “slam dunk for the defense”— observes that his sources within the defense team are not proceeding with that swagger that they once had. “They're a little scared, which may be good, because I think they really need to regroup and focus on the accuser for the remainder of their closing argument.”

For Richards, Tom Mesereau is in an uphill battle. “The defense [closing argument] didn't start out too well Thursday. For 30 minutes, we sat in the court while they were trying to fix their Power Point presentation. I think it distracted him.”

Jim Moret countered that he thought Tom Mesereau did a great job by the end of the day.  “He spoke from the heart. He was very passionate. And he really directed this back to one accuser, because there's only one accuser in this case, no matter what the litany of 1108 witnesses, these past bad acts. So I think the jury has a lot to consider.”

E-mail: DAbrams@MSNBC.com
 
Stay tuned for more Jackson trial coverage tonight at 6 p.m. ET. When the jury gets handed the case, "The Abrams Report" will be on full watch for the verdict.

Related links:

June 1, 2005 | 2:45 p.m. ET

Does doing the right thing make someone a villian? (Dan Abrams) 

Word came Tuesday that this country's most famous whistleblower has finally come forward and identified himself; “Deep Throat,” the source who provided the confirmation needed by “The Washington Post's” Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, while reporting the Watergate story.  According to an article in “Vanity Fair” magazine, W. Mark Felt, the number two at the FBI at the time, has admitted it was him.  “Deep Throat” did something he was not officially supposed to do but he did it for the sake of the country. 

He helped uncover a web of corruption at the highest level of government.  The Nixon administration hated the fact that it was leaked, not because it was bad for the country, because it was bad for the administration.

I wonder how that sort of heroic act would be viewed today.  The same goes for Daniel Ellsberg, the man who photocopied the Pentagon papers and provided them to Congress and “The New York Times.” The release of those documents helped get us out of the Vietnam War.

Those who warned the release would harm national security have since conceded it did nothing of the sort.  But I'm worried that these days Mark Felt and even the reporters themselves would be assailed as partisan— much more so than they were back then.  Whichever party was in power would go into attack mode and leave the nation unable to appreciate why the information was released. 

Look at the case of Jim Taricani, a reporter at NBC's Providence, Rhode Island station who refused to reveal a source that gave him a videotape of a local official appearing to accept a bribe.  Taricani.  He was convicted of criminal contempt and sentenced to six months home confinement for refusing to reveal his source. 

That source came forward voluntarily, but it didn't matter.  Taricani became the bad guy with the judge in the case stating publicly that he should have gone to prison, but was too ill to serve a prison sentence so he instead he got home confinement.

I sometimes wonder whether Richard Clarke, the Republican terror expert who served in four administrations and criticized the Bush White House's lack of focus on al Qaeda before 9/11, would have been appreciated in a less divisive time.  I don't know.

In many of these cases, it's in the public's interest to know, even if it's embarrassing to whatever administration.  Some leaks do benefit the country, just like “Deep Throat” did over 30 years ago.  And I would argue that going forward, not every government official who provides information should be viewed as a villain.

E-mail: DAbrams@MSNBC.com

June 1, 2005 | 1:05 p.m. ET

Sex offender laws:  Couey accomplices should pay too (Dan Abrams)

The more we learn about the case of little Jessica Lunsford, the more disgusting and frustrating it becomes.  Up to this point, we knew 9-year-old Jessica had been kidnapped, raped, and eventually buried alive with her stuffed dolphin in her arms.  Her alleged killer, John Couey, confessed and we knew that two of his relatives were questioned about Jessica while Couey was in the home. 

An additional 1,400 pages of information were released yesterday in Florida, generating new questions about whether Couey's sister, her boyfriend, and his niece (with whom he was living), should also be held accountable for Jessica's death.  According to the new documents, after killing Jessica, Couey told his niece that he'd kept Jessica alive and hidden in his bedroom in his sister's home for at least three days before he finally buried her alive. 

She said nothing about it. Couey's sister and her boyfriend were also living in the house and apparently doing drugs with Couey at the time.  They all knew Jessica was missing.  The Lunsford house was less than 100 yards away and the neighborhood was swarming with police.  The police questioned Couey's housemates twice during the search for Jessica.
It now seems clear Jessica was alive and hidden in the house while the police were there looking for her. 

How could three people be living in a mobile home together for three days without knowing a little girl was being kept prisoner there?  Couey's housemates claim they never heard anything and that Couey kept his bedroom door closed.  But the new documents reveal that Couey told police his sister's boyfriend actually came into his room while Jessica was hidden in his closet.  The boyfriend even sat on his bed, Couey said, the same bed where police later found Jessica's blood.  Couey told police his sister's boyfriend was so high that it's possible he didn't notice anything. 

Well, I don't buy it.  Police initially arrested Couey's housemates, charged them with resisting or obstructing an officer.  Both Couey's sister and her boyfriend failed to tell police that Couey, a sex offender, who they knew had violated parole, was staying there.  Prosecutors quickly decided they could not pursue any charges. 

“Florida does not have a statute which makes it a crime to lie to a police officer in all situations nor is there a law which requires a person to disclose the whereabouts of a registered sex offender.” 

Fair enough.  That was the law, which has since been changed.  But that was the law.  Unfortunately, without any evidence that they knew she was there, they couldn't prosecute in Florida.  Those who demanded prosecution just based on that fact, the fact that they lied about having a sex offender in the house, was right in spirit, wrong on the law. 

But this new information, I believe, changes everything:  There is now a legitimate case to be made for obstruction of justice or even accessory to a crime.  If those three were living in a mobile home with Couey and Jessica for three days, there is an argument they must have known that she was there.  That's a crime, a serious and despicable one.  It's time to put these lowlifes away.

E-mail: DAbrams@MSNBC.com 

June 1, 2005| 10:14 a.m. ET

Soon, it's going to be all about the jury (Susan Filan, MSNBC analyst and former Conn. state prosecutor)

Tuesday morning court reconvened as usual, at 8:30 a.m., but there will be no jury to receive evidence and hear testimony. Instead, lawyers and the judge did legal battle over the jury instructions .

Do not underestimate the importance of jury instructions. They are the road map by which jurors will decide their verdict. The “directions” this judge gives this jury will determine the route of their deliberations. This is why the attorneys must argue so vigorously to make sure their “road map” of the case is the one the judge gives the jury.  Usually, the judge knows how he wishes to instruct the jury well before the case is over and is just asking for input from the attorneys so the record will be complete in case of appeal.  But in this case, I understand there are some issues that have never been put to a jury before, thus the lawyers and the judge are in uncharted territory and must work together to prevent reversible error. 

Jury instructions are the first place an appellate lawyer looks when filing an appeal. The rule is that the trial attorney cannot set up the judge to make a mistake and then claim that as an issue on appeal. The rule is that the trial lawyers have to work closely with the judge to make sure the jury instructions are right. You have an opportunity to place your objections to unfavorable instructions on the record, but you don't have the right to trick the judge into making a mistake and then seeking to overturn a conviction on appeal.

In California, the judge has the option to give the jury instructions before or after closing argument. Judge Melville has not indicated his preference, but most believe he will pre-instruct this jury and then the lawyers will deliver their closing argument.

The jury will not be summoned back to court until the jury instructions are complete and both sides have had enough time to prepare their summations.

Once the jurors are back, court will resume and before you know it, this jury will have this case. We will then be in verdict-watch. O.J. Simpson's verdict came just three hours after deliberations began. Speculation has already begun as to how long this jury will be out. After almost 14 weeks of trial, over 138 total witnesses, and 684 exhibits, how long they will take is anybody's guess. Some feel this jury has already decided this case and are just going to select a foreperson and take a vote. Others feel that the jury will go back and pore over the testimony of each witness and look at each exhibit before rendering their verdict. It is unlikely that they will be sequestered. 

In a few short days, we will no longer be thinking about the lawyers. In fact, they will fade from view with no role to play during deliberations. All eyes will be on the jurors, and like reading tea leaves, every request for a read back, every sigh, and every movement will be subject to scrutiny by those of us trying to divine their verdict before they know it themselves.

Stay tuned for more from the courtroom from Susan Filan, MSNBC legal analyst and former Connecticut prosecutor.

E-mail Sidebar@MSNBC.com

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