updated 6/9/2005 2:21:51 PM ET 2005-06-09T18:21:51

Guest: Ron Richards, Jim Moret, Michael Cardoza

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up live from Santa Maria, California, on the night before the jury gets the Michael Jackson case, it seems many are suddenly wondering whether Michael Jackson could actually get convicted. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS (voice-over):  After Day One of closing arguments, some, even within Jackson‘s own camp, with a new sense of concern the case is not going so well and that Jackson could actually be headed to prison? 

And in the closing arguments, prosecutors say Michael Jackson is a predator who prepped numerous children for molestation by plying them with alcohol and showing them pornography.  Jackson‘s lawyer calls the accuser and his family con artists and liars, and argues the prosecution‘s case makes no sense.  The program about justice starts now. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Hi, everyone.  Live from Santa Maria, California, outside the Michael Jackson case, where hours from now the jury will be deciding Michael Jackson‘s fate.  Closing arguments have been completed.  They began today.  They‘ll continue tomorrow.  We‘re going to get details in just a minute. 

But first, is there a wave of pessimism sweeping through the Jackson camp?  Sources telling us some, even in his defense team, his family, are no longer so confident that Jackson will be acquitted or even that there‘ll be a hung jury, that many are now fearing the worst. 

So joining me now is a group of people who represent different groups and constituencies here at the courthouse:  MSNBC analyst and Jackson family friend, Stacy Brown; defense attorney Ron Richards, who has got a lot of sources in the defense camp; “Inside Edition” correspondent Jim Moret, who‘s certainly been talking to all the reporters here at the courthouse, as well. 

All right, first of all, Stacy Brown, what is the sense you‘re getting from the family members of Michael Jackson as to the possibility of Jackson getting convicted? 

STACY BROWN, MSNBC ANALYST:  Well, Dan, surprisingly enough, I‘ve talked to several people.  And some in particular in the family who are pessimistic now.  They are feeling that the worst is yet to come.  And they‘re feeling that, now more than ever, there is a chance, a good chance, that Michael may be convicted.  Although, again, I must say, they maintain that he‘s innocent. 

ABRAMS:  Wow, I mean, this is a stark contrast to what we saw at the beginning of the case.  I mean, is it not, Stacy? 

BROWN:  Oh, it certainly is.  Everyone was confident.  Everyone felt that, as we‘ve heard, that it should never have gone this far.  But now that we are here, the mood has definitely changed a whole lot.  And I‘m surprised—I have got to tell you, I‘m stunned at the mood it has changed the way it has. 

ABRAMS:  Ron Richards, what are your sources in the defense team telling you? 

RON RICHARDS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well, as you know, Dan, the defense didn‘t start out too well.  For a rare time, for 30 minutes, we sat in the court while they were trying to fix their Power Point presentation.  And it took a long time for the attorney to get acclimated to not having the computer work properly.  And I think it distracted him. 

My sources tell me that they really are in an uphill battle to try to convince this jury that Michael Jackson is not a monster.  And they are not proceeding with that swagger that they had, and they‘re a little scared, which may be good, because I think they really need the night to regroup and focus on the accuser tomorrow. 

ABRAMS:  An uphill battle, Ron Richards, an uphill battle?  I mean, this is coming from you, who‘ve been saying since Day One that this is basically a slam dunk for the defense? 

RICHARDS:  Well, I don‘t know if I said that.  What I said is, I‘d like to see both closing arguments and the rebuttal before I make predictions, but I will tell you that the prosecution argument was good.  And I think that the defense has a lot of ground to cover, and they‘re putting him to the task. 

ABRAMS:  All right.

Jim Moret, I have to tell you, I‘ve been talking to reporters who are covering this case.  And I don‘t think I‘ve ever seen a case where there‘s been this much of a divide, in a high-profile case, amongst the journalists, the people who‘ve been watching every day, not what they think about whether he‘s guilty or not, but what they think the jury will actually do. 

There has long been a divide among reporters covering this case, but, Jim, I‘m suddenly getting the sense that many more are entertaining the real possibility that Michael Jackson could get convicted. 

JIM MORET, “INSIDE EDITION”:  I think you‘re right.  And you‘ve been here a couple of days.  You‘ve talked to a lot of people.  You felt a shift. 

I think that shift has really been since the defense case started, to be quite honest with you, because it seems as if the defense was coming in after the prosecution‘s case.  And it looked like they were on top.  They could have simply rested their case and maybe walked. 

And yet, what happened?  It almost appears as if they dug a hole for themselves that they‘ve been trying to dig their way out of. 

Now, that said, I thought Tom Mesereau did a really great job today.  That‘s true that he did have a problem getting his Power Point operating with the computer.  But you know what?  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, Dan.  They really do. 

ABRAMS:  You know, Jim, two observations.  First one, just a personal one of what I saw Michael Jackson in that courtroom.  He looks terrible.  I mean, Raymone Bain, his spokesperson, is saying that he‘s not sick, that he‘s just tired. 

But watching him there, he looks sickly.  I mean, as he‘s walking out of the courtroom, I was looking at the fans who were all waiting for something from Michael Jackson.  And it seemed almost like he had a weight on his arm that made it hard for him to even wave to them. 

MORET:  To be quite honest with you, he actually looks better than he did a few days ago.  We‘ve watched him.  And you really saw the contrast, Dan, when we saw this rebuttal video that was shot just a couple of years ago.  He had to be 20, maybe 25 pounds heavier. 

We‘ve watched him since the beginning of this case get thinner, and grayer, and look older.  And he‘s got a brace on his back now.  And he walks like an older man. 

But I talked to Raymone after this case.  And I did notice in Michael Jackson leaving the courthouse that did seemed boosted a bit by Mesereau‘s performance today.  But you‘re right.  He‘s been in the doldrums, to say the least.  And he just doesn‘t look good.  He doesn‘t look healthy at all. 

ABRAMS:  And, Jim, you have said before that the final tape that was played for these jurors, which was effectively the final witness, was that boy, the accuser in this case, the first time he told the story to the authorities that Michael Jackson molesting him.  Because he wasn‘t so great on the witness stand. 

But in that first time, when he‘s talking to the sheriff‘s office about exactly what happened to him, he apparently seems much more reluctant to talk about it, much more authentic as a witness.  And many here are saying that, beginning at that point, that it really changed some minds. 

MORET:  Well, you know what?  I have three children.  And when I looked at that tape, I was looking at my kids when—two of them, when they were 13, and the demeanor.  You know, the judge said don‘t look at this for the truth of the matter asserted.  Look for the demeanor. 

And I‘ll tell you something.  The demeanor of that boy was extremely believable.  If he‘s an actor, that kid is a great actor.  And I think that that revelation stunned a lot of people. 

Because you‘re right, Dan, on the witness stand, that boy, who should have been a very sympathetic witness having survived cancer, was frankly not very sympathetic.  But in the tape, I think he came across very well. 

ABRAMS:  I mean, I should say that Raymone Bain, the spokesperson for Michael Jackson, was on the program earlier.  And she said there‘s no more concern than there ever was about this case, that they‘re confident that Michael Jackson will be acquitted. 

But, you know, Ron Richards, the fact that we‘re even talking this way on the eve of the jury getting the case, the fact that so many who are here are now—you know, because when you talk to people out in the public, they say, “Oh, he‘s going to get off.”  Right?  “Michael Jackson is not going to get convicted.” 

But I‘m starting to get the feeling that this is one of the cases where the people who were watching each and every day are increasingly believing—and I think somewhat stunningly—that Jackson really could get convicted of a serious charge. 

RICHARDS:  And Dan, that‘s because the prosecution was effective at preventing them from putting on character evidence.  They distanced Michael Jackson from the jury.  And they‘ve done a good job dehumanizing him. 

And I think that you‘re going to see Mesereau hug Michael Jackson tomorrow.  He‘s going to show how much money is at stake from a civil suit.  And I think he‘s going to spend a lot of time trying to re-humanize Michael Jackson because the jury has lost sight of his humanity. 

ABRAMS:  What did you think, Ron, of the significance of that videotape?  And we‘re going to get to the closing arguments in just a moment.  I‘m going to take a break.  We‘re going to go through exactly what the prosecutor and defense presented.

But what do you make of Jim Moret‘s point about the significance of that final videotape? 

RICHARDS:  Well, it was a good move to put in the videotape.  And it was significant because the jury got to see a 13-year-old boy.  And I watched the 15-year-old, of course, testify in this case, and he was a lot less sympathetic. 

He was going to a military-type school.  And he was a lot more abrasive and combative.  But a little 13-year-old really pulls out people‘s pathos.  And I think that‘s what tugging at these jurors.  They‘re thinking, do they want to release this guy back into the community?  And that‘s what they‘re grappling with. 

ABRAMS:  Let me do this.  Let me take a break here. 

Stacy Brown, thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

Ron and Jim are going to stay with us, because coming up, the closing arguments in this case.  The prosecution and the defense getting a final opportunity to speak to these jurors.  We have got loads of quotes of exactly what was said in what many say could be the make-or-break point in this case. 

We want to know what you think about Jackson‘s chances.  Have you changed your mind?  Go to our Web site, vote in our on-line survey.  That‘s abramsreport.MSNBC.com.  We‘ll have the results at the end of the show. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back live at the Michael Jackson case where the jury will likely begin deliberating tomorrow. 

But today in closing arguments, prosecutors came out swinging against an increasingly frail-looking Michael Jackson.  Quote, “This case is about the exploitation and sexual abuse of a 13-year-old cancer survivor at the hands of an international celebrity,” prosecutor Ron Zonen said in the first few moments of his final argument.

And rather than conceding that the young accuser‘s mother has some credibility problems, Zonen went on the offensive, repeatedly telling jurors the mother, quote, “never asked for one penny from Michael Jackson and to this day has never asked for any money from him.  She‘s never asked for anything from him.” 

He said much of her testimony, about effectively being imprisoned at Jackson‘s Neverland ranch, was corroborated by other witnesses and even by a conversation she said she didn‘t know she was being taped.  Zonen quoted extensively from defense attorney‘s Tom Mesereau‘s opening statement where Mesereau had said it was a contract, the opening statement. 

Quote, “Let‘s begin that judgment,” Zonen said.  He went through many of the witnesses who did not testify as promised by the defense and said repeatedly “Mr. Mesereau either knew or should have known it wasn‘t true.” 

But the most powerful argument, I think, was about other boys allegedly molested by Jackson.  They displayed a screen with Jackson in the middle, a sort of composite picture, with the four young boys around a picture of Michael Jackson. 

And when it came to the most powerful and credible boy, a youth pastor, now in his 20s, who testified for the prosecution, Zonen said, quote, “If you believe that boy testified truthfully, then Michael Jackson is a child molester.” 

In addition to books with pictures of naked boys, they displayed porno magazines with titles like “Barely Legal,” and “Finally Legal,” found in and near to Michael Jackson‘s bedroom, quote, “Why is he in possession of those magazines?”  Zonen asked.  “Because he has 13-year-old boys in his room.”

He went on, “Are you comfortable with a middle-aged man who possesses this book getting into bed with a 13-year-old boy?”

Continuing now with my legal panel, MSNBC legal analyst former Connecticut prosecutor Susan Filan, criminal defense attorney Michael Cardoza, and back with us are Ron Richards and “Inside Edition‘s” Jim Moret. 

All right, Michael Cardoza, let‘s start with this prosecution closing argument.  What do you make of it? 

MICHAEL CARDOZA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  I‘ll tell you what.  You know the biggest decision that was made was when Tom Sneddon, the district attorney of Santa Barbara County, decided not to do the closing statement.  And remember, the rule from the judge, Judge Melville in this case was, whoever makes opening statement makes closing arguments.  Somewhere along the way they changed that. 

I think it was brilliant to let him...

ABRAMS:  How do you think he did? 

CARDOZA:  A-plus, a-plus.  He did an outstanding job with the facts he had.  But I‘ll give the same grade to Tom Mesereau.  He did an outstanding job, too.  Tomorrow, I really expect that, when the D.A. gets back up there, he‘s going to finish on a very emotional high and send the jury off on, as I say, that emotional high to get back in the jury room.  The emotions will quickly wear off, though. 

ABRAMS:  Ron Richards, I‘m going to read to you from the closing arguments of the prosecution, number four.

“We are supposed to believe what he said,” meaning the accuser, “was all made up, because in the future he would make money?  He‘s a 15-year-old child.  The suggestion this child would subject himself to this sort of ordeal, that it‘s all planned or plotted, is nonsense, unmitigated rubbish.”

I mean, that was sort of the theme was the idea that, come on, they‘re really going to make this all up in advance for money? 

RICHARDS:  Well, Mesereau‘s going to really point out tomorrow that these Beverly Hills, Century City, high-flying personal injury lawyers have a lot of money to make if Michael Jackson is convicted.  And he didn‘t really explain to the jury how much money we‘re dealing with.  But if he‘s convicted, this family may get between $50 to $100 million, and I think that could give him a motive to exaggerate a little bit. 

ABRAMS:  And I‘m going to continue here.  I want to read as much as I can from the opening statement—from the closing arguments. 

“The accuser‘s mother never asked for one penny from Michael Jackson.  In fact, she never had a conversation with Michael Jackson other than the first time that she met him in June of 2000 at the occasion the whole family went to Neverland, when the boy was sick was cancer.”

You know, Susan Filan, that‘s the theme that the prosecutor kept coming back to, Ron Zonen, was, “Look, you guys can talk about money all you want.  The bottom line is, mama wasn‘t asking for any money.” 

SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  That‘s exactly right, Dan.  And what he also said—what Ron Zonen also said was, “Look, who went after this family?  It was Michael Jackson who solicited this family to Neverland.  It was Michael Jackson who had them as his guests.  It was Michael Jackson who brought them to Miami.  It was Michael Jackson who put them up in the various hotels.  Michael Jackson is the one that inserted himself into this family and not the other way around.” 

And I don‘t think the jury had quite thought of it just that way until he said it.  And they weren‘t taking very many notes, but they were completely absorbed by what he was saying.  It was as if they had already understood all of the facts that they had heard.  But now watching it be put together for them, they were kind of spellbound, I thought. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, all right, there is about to be a fire truck running by here.  So let me get someone who is not right here.  Who is the furthest away from here?  Let‘s see.  I think everyone is kind of nearby.  All right.  It‘s sort of passing.  All right. 

So number one here—and this is an effort by the prosecutors to say

this is not just about this boy.  That it‘s the same M.O. from Michael

Jackson over time.  Quote, “Virtually all the witnesses from the 1993 case

said the same thing, ‘I am family.  I am your father.  You have to trust

me.‘”

Jim Moret, again, this to me was the most important theme, was trying to make this case seem just like one of many, in the sense that he said the same things to different boys on different occasions, because the truth is that the evidence in the 1993 case may be stronger than the evidence in this case. 

MORET:  Oh, I think there‘s no question.  But there was another point that was made, frankly, with that quote, and that is that so many of the things that this boy‘s mom said that sounded crazy, “Call me daddy.  Let me call you son.”  Two of the defense witnesses, the moms of two of the boys that were brought up, the first—you know, out of the shoot for the defense, frankly, said this very same thing.  Michael Jackson would try to say, “Trust me.  Let me call you son.  Call me daddy.  Consider us a big family.”

You know, that is very disturbing.  But I‘ll tell you, I really think that Ron Zonen may have missed the mark in one sense.  And that is he was trying to portray the mom as something that she‘s not.  And that is, just as a victim.  I think the mom is very savvy.  And that was my big problem with that closing argument. 

ABRAMS:  I agree, look, and that‘s why I disagree with those who have been saying that this was the greatest closing argument.  It was a good closing argument, but I think that he spent much too much time trying to say that this mother is effectively a saint and a victim. 

Susan, you disagree? 

FILAN:  No, what I thought he did is I thought he pretty much said, “Look, credibility up is to you.  Think about her what you will.  But here‘s what you can‘t argue with.  You cannot argue with the corroborating facts.”  She couldn‘t have possibly known nine months later, when there was a search warrant executed at Neverland, that there were going to be corroborating pieces of evidence found that back up her story.  The crazy things she said turned out to have truth to them.  I don‘t think...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  But more importantly, Ron Richards.  Ron Richards, listen to this though.  This is—and I don‘t think he hit this home hard enough.  And he did address this.  But the question is, if mother is telling son what to say, then how would mother have known, for example, that there was a mannequin in the bedroom, and the fact that mother says she saw Michael Jackson licking her son‘s head?

Well, how would mother know that some of Michael Jackson‘s own insiders, like Bob Jones and others were going to say, “Yes, I saw Michael Jackson lick a boy‘s head.”  How do you address that, Ron? 

RICHARDS:  Well, that‘s a real big logical leap or an assumption as wide as the Grand Canyon.  Just because Michael Jackson had bizarre behavior with other boys doesn‘t mean he molested this boy.  And what‘s funny is, Ron Zonen intentionally left out in his closing argument the three boys that came into this court and said nothing happened.  And he‘s going to get slammed tomorrow morning for that because he totally averted that. 

ABRAMS:  But who cares?

(CROSSTALK)

RICHARDS:  And now it looks like he‘s hiding it. 

ABRAMS:  But, Ron, let‘s assume you‘re right.  Let‘s assume you‘re right, Ron.  Let‘s assume that they got those other boys wrong, that they never should have mentioned them.  If he did molest three others, and they‘re wrong about three, it‘s still a disaster.

RICHARDS:  Well, it could be a disaster, but we have to really focus

back on who this accuser is and the fact that there‘s some facts that the

accuser was able to—or the prosecution was able to corroborate later on

·         doesn‘t mean that he molested them.  I think that Mesereau did an effective job of showing how problematic this family is. 

FILAN:  But, Dan, Dan...

ABRAMS:  When it comes to licking the head, he said, “You would no sooner lick the head of a 13-year-old boy than would you lick the bottom of your shoe.” 

Michael Cardoza, go ahead. 

CARDOZA:  Hey, I‘ll tell you what.  With this case, it‘s going to boil down to something real simple.  If this jury walks back into that jury room and looks at the five prior acts of misconduct, they look at those.  If they believe any one of those, Michael Jackson is in deep trouble. 

But if they don‘t believe that any one of those happened, and certainly Mesereau tried to argue those away, if they don‘t believe they happened, it‘s a not guilty in this case.  They‘ll come out of the jury room fairly quickly.  Because standing alone, this case doesn‘t pass the beyond a reasonable doubt test.  The only way they can convict Jackson in this case is if one of those five, the jury believes that, and they‘re not going to let a pedophile go.  It‘s real simple.

ABRAMS:  Go ahead, Susan.  I agree with that completely. 

(CROSSTALK)

RICHARDS:  So do I. 

FILAN:  The other thing I think Zonen hit really hard was he said to this jury, “Don‘t leave your common sense outside the door.  And ask yourselves, you‘ve all been selected because you‘ve got common sense.  You‘ve dealt with teenagers.  You‘ve dealt with 13-year-olds.  How do you get them to do anything with some big, future promise of some”...

ABRAMS:  Here‘s what I want to know...

(CROSSTALK)

FILAN:  You may motivate them but...

ABRAMS:  I want to know whether, in the defense case tomorrow, whether Tom Mesereau is going to tell these jurors, “Look, even if you believe that Michael Jackson may have acted inappropriately with another child, that shouldn‘t mean he gets convicted here.” 

Everyone‘s going to stick around.  I know everyone‘s going to want to answer that one.  But that‘s coming up. 

Also, con artists, actors, liars.  Jackson‘s defense team goes after the accuser‘s family calling them all sorts of names.  The defense‘s closing argument is next. 

And we go behind the scenes at Camp Jackson and show how you the fans, the media and the lawyers spend their days. 

Your e-mails, abramsreport@MSNBC.com.  Please include your name, where you‘re writing from.  I‘ll respond at the end of the show.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, the defense closing argument.  Were they able to poke holes in what the prosecutor did?  First, the headlines. 

(NEWSBREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL JACKSON, DEFENDANT:  When you say bed, you‘re thinking sexual.  They make that sexual.  It‘s not sexual.  We‘re going to sleep.  I tuck them in.  I put like little like music on.  We do a little story time, read a book.  It‘s very sweet.  We put the fireplace on.  We give them hot milk.  We have a little cookies.  It‘s very charming.  It‘s very sweet. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Except that the prosecution, in its closing argument, laid out a case that involved pornography, naked figurines, all sorts of nastiness in that bedroom. 

So, we talked about the prosecution‘s closing argument.  Now we move

on to the defense.  Attorney Tom Mesereau focused on the credibility of the

accuser and his family, making it simple—quote—“Do we believe the

accuser‘s family beyond a reasonable doubt?  There‘s no way in the world

you can find this family trustworthy beyond a reasonable doubt and said,

“If they can‘t do that, they must set Jackson free.”  He also called the

family—quote—“con artists, actors and liars” and the accuser‘s mother

·         quote—“concocted false claims of sexual touching.” 

That‘s in the J.C. Penney case, a civil case.  The pattern holds true with Jackson.  First, it‘s false imprisonment.  Then it‘s extortion.  Then it‘s sexual molestation. 

So, what about the prosecution‘s contention that the mother never asked Jackson for money?  Mesereau responded with an argument similar to one made by prosecutors about Jackson and boys, that she develops relationships first and that Jackson was a wealthy target.

As for the claim of lewd acts on a child, Mesereau called it—quote

·         “the slow evolution of a claim of molestation.”  He even made a somewhat bizarre argument, saying—quote—“Jackson is not the kind of guy capable of masterminding a conspiracy.”  Instead, he went on to say, he‘s the sort of type who might have wanted to have celebrity animal parties. 

Ron Richards, I talked about this earlier, but is he basically saying to these jurors, look, Michael Jackson is really, really weird, but he‘s not the kind of guy who is going to be sitting there working out this and that and details, et cetera? 

RICHARDS:  Yes, remember the passage about Michael Jackson sitting in the tree and he drew this visual that Michael Jackson is there working in his tree and he is very creative and childlike?

I think he is conceding to the jury that Michael Jackson is a creative artist and is much different than you and me.  And he has got to address this, so the jury doesn‘t penalize him for his normal behavior. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Go ahead, Ron.  Yes, go ahead.

RICHARDS:  Yes.  One other critical thing he pointed out was this family‘s evolution with the civil plaintiffs attorneys, how, after four months of meetings, then they filed the police report.  And I think that‘s important. 

And he‘s going to show this jury, who has a little bit of a bias towards attorneys from L.A., that these L.A. lawyers are coming up here to make a killing.  I think he‘s going to point that out tomorrow. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARDOZA:  Hey, Ron, you‘re one of those L.A. lawyers, aren‘t you?

ABRAMS:  Yes, exactly.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  “Michael Jackson is an idealist, is naive, but not criminal in nature.  This prosecution is engaged in a barbaric attempt to dehumanize Mr. Jackson.”

All right, so, Jim Moret, you said before that you thought, like me, that I think that Ron Zonen did a good job, although both of us, I think, felt that there were areas that he could have been better.  I kind of felt the same way about Tom Mesereau. 

MORET:  Although I really think that he was trying to hit one point home.  This—really, in some ways, it reminded me back to the Simpson trial with that Johnnie Cochran.  If it doesn‘t fit, you must acquit.  I was almost waiting for him to say, if there‘s reasonable doubt, you must let him out.  He kept hitting this reasonable doubt, reasonable doubt.  You have to acquit.

And he has a folksy quality about him.  Let‘s face it.  He was connecting with these people.  And he said, look at this man.  This is not the kind of person that would do what this accuser and his family are saying.  And they were really vilifying the accuser and his family.  And he did hit home on this dehumanizing factor. 

He said, a lot of this is basically Tom Sneddon, the district attorney, out to get Michael Jackson.  He‘s been after him for 12 years.  And that‘s why he brought in the finances.  That‘s why he brought in all of this pornography, because he wanted to embarrass and humiliate Michael Jackson.  And that may resonate with people. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  And, Susan Filan, if there‘s reasonable doubt in this case, it‘s going to be because of the following line.  “This is a family where children have been taught to lie and children have been taught to con,” because you have to explain why the boys, both boys—remember, we‘re talking about two brothers, the boy who it happened to and then his brother, who says that he witnessed Michael Jackson abusing his brother, would make it up.

And that‘s the theory, is that momma taught the kids to lie in a civil case and she‘s teaching them to lie here. 

FILAN:  You know, I‘m in the minority, Dan.  I was a little bit disappointed with Mesereau‘s closing argument today. 

I didn‘t think he had the fire in his belly.  I didn‘t think he had the passion that he needed to persuade this jury to overlook their common sense on some basic fundamental points that the prosecution made.  I thought he said one thing and he took about two hours, or three hours, to say one thing, which is, they‘re liars.  Reasonable doubt.  Acquit. 

And he didn‘t do much more.  And I think he‘s got to.  He didn‘t deal with the facts.  He didn‘t deal with the evidence.  He didn‘t deal with the corroboration.  He didn‘t deal with the prosecution‘s theory of the case.  He just pretty much said, look, I don‘t have much to say here.  I‘ve only got one thing to say.

(CROSSTALK)

FILAN:  I know.  I‘m in the minority.  I understand that.  But I thought he had one theme and he hit it over and over and over again. 

ABRAMS:  Michael, real quick.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Michael, quickly.

FILAN:  I will give him one other point. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Hang on. 

Michael, real quick. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARDOZA:  Dan, one thing you said about, you have got to believe the family are a bunch of liars.  No, you don‘t, because this jury could come out and say, you know, we‘re not saying Michael Jackson is innocent.  We just couldn‘t believe this family beyond a reasonable doubt.  We‘re not saying they‘re liars.  We just can‘t trust them. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  No, no.  But if you don‘t—if you can‘t trust them, there‘s got to be a reason you don‘t trust the kids. 

CARDOZA:  Absolutely.  That‘s what I‘m saying.  But you don‘t have to call them a liar. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  It‘s got to be more than just momma—no, no, but it has got to be more than just that momma is a liar.  It has got to be somehow that mom is somehow able to translate that to the kids.  You have got to have some reason not to believe a boy...

CARDOZA:  Oh, absolutely.  That is what happened in the...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... who‘s coming forward and talking about something very embarrassing that happened to him. 

CARDOZA:  Right.  Right.  But, remember, in the Penney‘s case, he, the son, testified for the mother in that.  And that obviously was a cooked-up civil case.  So it‘s been done before.

ABRAMS:  Exactly.  That‘s what I‘m... 

CARDOZA:  That‘s why they don‘t believe this kid.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Look, and if they don‘t, that‘s fine, but I‘m just saying it is the issue.  That is the crucial issue. 

CARDOZA:  Oh, absolutely.  You‘re absolutely right. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Everyone is going to stay with us.  Everyone is sticking around. 

Coming up, we‘re going to talk more about—we have got more quotes from the defense‘s closing argument.  Whew.  And, also, there‘s a lot more coming up, too tomorrow.  Tomorrow, I think is going to be the fiery, fiery day. 

Remember, go to our Web site.  Tell us what you think.  Remember, we talked earlier in the show about what seemed like a shifting tide here?  What do you think?  ABRAMSREPORT.MSNBC.com.  Do you think Michael Jackson is going to get convicted?  We‘ll have the results at the end of the hour. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Continuing our look at the closing arguments in the Michael Jackson case, I‘m live in Santa Maria.  More on the defense coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK) 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARTIN BASHIR, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER:  Can you ever do anything that‘s right? 

JACKSON:  No.  No.  No.  No.  No.  No matter what you do, there‘s always somebody that will say something about it.  They have—they‘re opinionated, you know, no matter what do you.  No matter how well your—how good your intentions are, there‘s always some jerk, some mean-spirited person, to try to bring you down. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Well, that is what Michael Jackson thinks is happening to him in a courtroom behind me. 

The closing argument from his attorney began today.  The prosecutor went about three hours.  The defense attorney went about two-and-a-half hours.  They both will get to go again tomorrow.  Then the jury gets the case. 

One big issue that came up, though, was the prosecutor citing defense attorney Tom Mesereau‘s comments from the opening statement and saying, remember all those promises he made to you?  Well, what happened? 

Remember, the opening statement, here‘s what Tom Mesereau, Michael Jackson‘s attorney said.  He said: “An opening statement is a contract.  You make promises.  You better fulfill them, because, at the end of the trial, the jury is going to know whether you did or you didn‘t.  I‘m going to make some promises in this case.  I‘m going to fulfill them.  And I want you to judge me accordingly at the end.”

For example, he said: “In the fall of 2002, just as they were visiting Neverland”—they meaning the family—“hustled Jay Leno, George Lopez and weatherman Fritz Coleman in Los Angeles.”  And the point that the prosecutors are making is, those people all came into the courtroom and said, no.  These people testified that that never happened. 

Tom Mesereau, the defense, stands up.  “One of the first comments he

makes, I just heard the prosecution start their closing argument with an

attack on me.   When a prosecutor does that, you know they‘re in trouble”

What about that, Susan?  Are they in trouble? 

FILAN:  Oh, not at all.  I disagree with that entirely.

First of all, I thought what Zonen did was perfectly appropriate. 

Mesereau did make a contract and he did say, hold me to it and judge me.  And so, Zonen put that back before the jury.  And for Mesereau to take that as a personal attack on him, I didn‘t agree with that at all.  It was an attack on the case.  It was an attack on the presentation.  It wasn‘t an attack on Mesereau. 

(CROSSTALK)

FILAN:  And for Mesereau to say, oh, then you‘re in trouble, I thought it reduced the level of the argument—closing argument down.

(NEWS BREAK) 

ABRAMS:  Ron, it wasn‘t a smart thing for Mesereau to say in the opening statement, was it? 

RICHARDS:  No, it wasn‘t.  But, you know, opening statements aren‘t evidence.  And he did point out that the prosecutor promised Debbie Rowe would say something.  She didn‘t.  The prosecutor promised Christopher Cox.  Where is he?  He‘s in lockup. 

So, he put it back at him.  I think it‘s a nonissue.  And it‘s a waste of time. 

ABRAMS:  Michael? 

CARDOZA:  I‘ll tell you, I agree it was a waste of time, because, as he said, opening statement is not evidence. 

And Mesereau could get right back at him and say, you know, I didn‘t put those witnesses on, because you didn‘t prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt, so I didn‘t have to do it.  So, don‘t tell me I promised something.  I did.  But I thought they‘d have a whole lot more evidence, like they promised.  So, it‘s nothing. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARDOZA:  The jury will blow right by that.

ABRAMS:  I think we all agree.  We all agree.  All right. 

Well, see, and that‘s one of the reasons I didn‘t think that Zonen‘s closing was so fantastic.  He starts with this nitpicking at Mesereau‘s opening statement.  It‘s like, all right, yes, OK.  Little point.  Little point.  It doesn‘t go to the heart of the case. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  This does, though.  And this is defense attorney Tom Mesereau in his closing argument today. 

He says: “What‘s the motive for all this?  The accuser was angry.  He felt Michael Jackson had abandoned his family.  And that sums up this case when it comes to the accuser.”

Jim Moret, I‘m not entirely sure I understand that, though.  Was the point that Mesereau was making is that‘s why this boy might make up this story?  I thought it was about money? 

MORET:  I—well, I think you‘re—it is about money, frankly.  I think that‘s what Tom Mesereau was saying, because he said, if they win this case—he looked at the jurors and said, if you vote to convict Michael Jackson, you‘re going to be making this family very, very rich. 

And you look at the thread.  Look at all of the celebrities.  They may not have asked for money specifically, but they put themselves in situations where these people felt obliged to give them money.  They felt sorry for them.  They tugged at their heart.  They used sympathy. 

ABRAMS:  All right. 

MORET:  Tom Mesereau said that this family used this boy‘s illness to get money from family—from other families.

ABRAMS:  Got to...

MORET:  So, it‘s all about money. 

ABRAMS:  Got to wrap up it. 

Susan Filan, Michael Cardoza, Ron Richards and Jim Moret, I‘m out of time.  Thanks. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, what life is like for us here at camp M.J., a behind-the-scenes look at how we spend our days and get the show on the air. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  For over three months, the area outside the Santa Maria courthouse has been transformed into what‘s been commonly referred to as camp Jackson.  You know, there was camp O.J., camp whatever.  Home to hundreds of media outlets broadcasting the Michael Jackson case across the globe and to some die-hard Jackson fans. 

Our friend Lisa Daniels takes a look behind the scenes. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LISA DANIELS, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Here we are at camp M.J.  Every morning, we pull up to the parking lot, get out of the cars and the first thing we show is this security badge. 

Without this badge, you‘re not allowed in.  And there are no exceptions.  In fact, security is so tight here that you‘re not even allowed to stop the car and get out.  The first day, we didn‘t realize that, and we were immediately slapped with a fine. 

Behind me, you can see all those satellite trucks.  That‘s what we call satellite row.  That‘s how the news organizations get the pictures to you at home.  Over here is the biggest police presence.  You can see they‘re stationed directly across from the crowds.  Now, on TV, this pool of people look a lot bigger.  Every day, there are usually about 50 or 60 people, but today is closing arguments.  So, it‘s a very important day of the trial.  I‘d say there are about 100 people here. 

Now, every morning, we watch as Michael Jackson comes up in his black SUV.  These gates look bigger than on TV,  but they‘re just ordinary gates.  Michael Jackson walks through this parking lot into the courtroom amid a lot of cheers and screams. 

Here we are in the middle of the Jackson crowd.  This crowd of people is heavily pro-Jackson.  You can see the signs.  “Michael, Ireland Believes in You.”  “Sneddon Makes Me Sick.” 

And then there are the T-shirts. 

Can we see your T-shirt? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sure. 

DANIELS: “Tom Sneddon is a Cold Man” and a lot of others. 

Then, we also have people dressed up to show support.  This woman is dressed up as Michael Jackson. 

Why did you decide to go the whole nine yards and dress up? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  This is how I show my support.  Some people wear T-shirts.  Some people wear hats.  And this is what I do. 

DANIELS:  And there really isn‘t a prosecution fan in sight.  This crowd is heavily pro-Jackson. 

Here we are underneath the main tent.  As you can see, there are lots of journalists out here from all over the world.  In fact, these folks are broadcasting back to Japan.  And you‘ll notice that there are many more people than just journalists out here.  There are also camera operators, field producers, segment producers.  Many of these people have been living out here since February 28.

This tent has really become their home.  Now, over my shoulder, if you look very, very carefully, you can see a green wall.  We call that the green monster, ironically.  That‘s where the press gets their daily briefings every single day. 

And here is where the NBC family broadcasts out of.  This green hut is what we call home.  It‘s called Peacock Tower.  It‘s been specially designed and specially constructed just for the Michael Jackson trial.  Nina (ph) coordinates everybody, from the producers to the journalists. 

She makes sure that we get on the air.  And she‘s always very busy. 

Now, let‘s move inside Peacock Tower.  Welcome.  And here is where all the hard work gets done.  As you can see, it‘s not the most spacious of headquarters, but we do get the job done.  As you can see, there‘s some on-air talent, like Jennifer London for MSNBC.  Then there‘s the people behind the scenes.  And, of course, you have got the ABRAMS people.  You can‘t forget about those hardworking folks, like Caroline (ph), who is always working very hard behind her computer. 

Now we‘re going to go upstairs.  I am going to show you where we get the pictures and the images to you.  And this is what we call the climb of terror, sheer terror.  Every time we do a live report, we have to carefully walk up these steps.  I have to tell you that there are a couple of people who almost fell to their deaths while climbing up these steps.  But this is really the final stage of the entire process.  We have got people like Andy Sipowicz, who work very hard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Welcome to Peacock. 

DANIELS:  Otherwise known as Sandy (ph).

Now, we have people on sound like Mark (ph). 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Good morning. 

DANIELS:  And then, after all is said and done, this is the chair where we broadcast to you. 

And I‘ll tell you a little secret.  This is from where Dan is broadcasting to you right now—Dan, back to you. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Ah, thank you, Lisa.  Very good.  Yes. 

You know, I would love to see someone dressed up as Tom Sneddon one day out there with the fans, like wear sort of a frumpled kind of suit and stuff. 

Lisa Daniels, thanks a lot.  All right. 

Up next, will Michael Jackson get convicted?  We have got the results of our online poll at ABRAMSREPORT.MSNBC.com coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Now to the results of our online vote. 

The question, do you think Michael Jackson will be convicted?  First, on the molestation charges, 49 percent say he will be convicted; 51 percent say he will be acquitted.  Oh, what a divide.  Well, it says 41 and 59.  Wait, is it 49 and 51 or 41 and 59?  Which one is it?  Which one?  The one on the screen is right?  All right, I apologize; 41-59 is the actual divide there.  So, it seems most of you think he is going to be acquitted. 

For conspiracy, it‘s running at 29 for conviction vs. 71 percent for acquittal.  On the charges of giving an alcohol to a minor to assist in the commission of a lewd act, 57 percent of you think Jackson will be convicted.  It sounds like a lot of people think there will be a compromise; 43 percent say he won‘t. 

But when it comes to what you really think, 64 percent of you think Jackson is guilty; 26 percent think he is not. 

That does it for us tonight.  I will be back here live tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. Eastern time for the regular edition of the program. 

Coming up next, SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY with Joe Scarborough.  He got has an exclusive with Edward Nixon, former President Nixon‘s youngest brother. 

See you tomorrow.  I‘m here until there is a verdict.  Let‘s call Santa Maria home.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

Content and programming copyright 2005 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2005 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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