Guest: Quintin Cushner, Diane Dimond, Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, Mercedes Colwin, Stacy Brown, Richard Gabriel, Adrian Britton
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, day one of the People v. Michael Jackson. I‘m live at the courthouse in Santa Maria, California, where Jackson could be coming out at any time.
ABRAMS (voice-over): Dressed in all white—what his family calls a symbol of innocence—he left his usual entourage behind and faced 300 of his neighbors, some who could soon be chosen to decide his fate.
MICHAEL JACKSON, ACCUSED OF CHILD MOLESTATION: I will be acquitted and vindicated when the truth is told.
ABRAMS: Jackson speaks out in a taped statement saying he‘s offended by the allegations that he was just trying to help the family of a sick child. Plus, prosecutors may think they may have strong evidence against Jackson but there are some major hurdles to overcome. They are relying on a family with a questionable past.
The program about justice starts now.
ABRAMS: Hi everyone. First up on the docket and for the full hour, the trial of the people of the state of California versus Michael Jackson. Jackson accused of giving alcohol to a 13-year-old boy and then sexually molesting him. But from his entrance today you‘d think Jackson was striving into the backdoor of an auditorium for a sold-out concert instead of the front door of a courthouse where the 46-year-old could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Jackson wore the white of innocence with a jewel encrusted vest and belt. A flunky with an umbrella kept him in the shade like a virgin bride at a reception. While fans in white greeted their hero with screams, signs, and applause, inside Jackson passed through metal detectors before entering the courtroom where two panels of 150 prospective jurors were paraded in front of Jackson‘s lawyer and jury consultant and a deputy D.A. About 750 jury prospects have been called and they‘re saying that this could take up to a month.
I‘m joined by “Santa Maria Times” reporter Quintin Cushner, who was inside the courthouse today. Quintin, give us a sense, first of all, of Michael Jackson, how he was looking at these prospective jurors, what was he doing vis-…-vis his lawyers?
QUINTIN CUSHNER, “SANTA MARIA TIMES”: Well, he was more aware than I‘ve ever seen him, frankly in a courtroom. He rose along with his attorneys as the potential jurors entered and smiled politely at the people who may very well decide his fate.
ABRAMS: And yes, give me a sense. What were they asking—I mean the only issue today was can you serve effectively on a five, six-month trial, right?
CUSHNER: The only issue today was hardship, which means are there circumstances beyond your control that prevents you from serving on a six-month trial? The potential panelists who were claiming hardship had to appear in front of the judge and tell the judge what were the reasons that they could not serve. Most of them were financial in nature. Some had to care for their very young children or very old parents, for example.
ABRAMS: Any interaction between Jackson and the prosecutors?
CUSHNER: Jackson did not so much as look at Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonan, although the respective lawyers did say hello to each other at the beginning of court today. ABRAMS: But, you know, I think people have this vision of Michael Jackson sitting in the courtroom blowing kisses at the jurors. None of that happened.
CUSHNER: This was not the Michael Jackson that we‘ve seen before. This was someone who was very engaged, speaking with his lawyers before the potential panelists showed up in court and very attentive throughout the proceeding.
ABRAMS: Quintin Cushner from the “Santa Maria Times”, thanks a lot for coming on the program. Appreciate it. Now while...
CUSHNER: Thank you.
ABRAMS: ... Judge Rodney Melville has placed a gag order on both sides, he allowed Michael Jackson to put out a video statement, an effort to respond to leaked grand jury transcripts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: In the last few weeks a large amount of ugly, malicious information has been released into the media about me. Apparently this information was leaked through transcripts in a grand jury proceeding where neither my lawyers nor I ever appeared. The information is disgusting and false.
Years ago I allowed a family to visit and spend some time at Neverland. Neverland is my home. I allowed this family into my home because they told me their son was ill with cancer and needed my help. Through the years I have helped thousands of children who were ill or in distress. These events have caused a nightmare for my family, my children and me.
I never intend to place myself in so vulnerable a position ever again. I love my community and I have great faith in our justice system. Please keep an open mind and let me have my day in court. I deserve a fair trial like every other American citizen. I will be acquitted and vindicated when the truth is told. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: All right, here‘s how the accuser‘s family responded to Jackson‘s statement, this is according to ABC News. “It is immensely unfair to allow Michael Jackson to put an unfair spin on his relationship with the two young boys and at the same time preclude the victims or their family members from responding. The truth will come out at trial.”
“My Take” on this, I don‘t know why everyone is so concerned that a statement from Michael Jackson saying he‘s innocent is going to affect anyone. Shocker. Jackson says he‘s innocent.
Diane Dimond is Court TV‘s chief investigative editor and an NBC News analyst. She has been following this case since he was first accused back in 1993. Mercedes Colwin is a criminal defense attorney. Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom is a former California prosecutor and Court TV anchor, and Stacy Brown is a Jackson family friend and MSNBC analyst.
You know Diane, is this such a big—Jackson puts out a statement. It‘s kind of interesting to hear him talk. But people are saying, oh, it‘s going influence the prospective jurors. What, they‘re going to be shocked that Michael Jackson says he‘s innocent?
DIANE DIMOND, COURT TV CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE EDITOR: Well he‘s been saying that all along Dan. You‘re exactly right. You know, I was more interested in not what he said, although I did find it interesting that Judge Melville allowed—approved this statement which specifically talked about the family. I was more interested in the timing of it.
You know, about 10 or 12 days ago the judge approved this statement for him to either read or give out and we‘ve been waiting for it. He didn‘t do that. He didn‘t disseminate it to all of us. He gave it to one person, Geraldo Rivera, at FOX News, my old partner on CNBC. But FOX News never ran it and so I think—I‘m getting the impression that Michael Jackson wanted this message out and he put it out on the eve of jury selection for the timing of it all. Again, I agree with you.
DIMOND: I don‘t think that statement changed anybody‘s mind.
ABRAMS: Yes, Kimberly, let‘s assume that‘s true for a moment. Let‘s assume he waited until the day before jury selection. So what.
KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE NEWSOM, FORMER CALIFORNIA STATE PROSECUTOR: You know, I still think it‘s inappropriate. I don‘t know how the judge allowed this to go forward. I still think it‘s a comment even on the evidence of the case. He‘s responding to leaked grand jury documents, a smoking gun that Court TV obtained, and that is evidence that will be coming into the case. He‘s making statements about the victim and their family and I think it‘s inappropriate. And I think it‘s very curious...
GUILFOYLE NEWSOM: ... suspicious timing on the eve of trial. It shouldn‘t happen. He‘s turning this into the...
GUILFOYLE NEWSOM: ... O.J. Simpson trial, again just like O.J.
GUILFOYLE NEWSOM: He entered his plea already Dan. He doesn‘t need to say anything more than that...
ABRAMS: Look, that‘s a separate question...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dan...
DIMOND: ... I got...
ABRAMS: Hang on one second. Hang on a second...
DIMOND: ... the impression that this might be the testimony we see from Michael Jackson because I‘m not convinced he‘ll take the stand.
ABRAMS: Well that...
ABRAMS: I don‘t think he‘ll take the stand...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dan, it‘s outrageous...
ABRAMS: All right. Hang on, Mercedes...
MERCEDES COLWIN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I‘m champing at the bit here, Dan.
ABRAMS: No, I got to let you focus the issue though. I wanted you to respond...
ABRAMS: ... to what Kimberly is saying because I think she‘s got a point about, you know, this is—he is talking about the evidence. He‘s like—he‘s basically saying this kid is a liar and it wasn‘t—there‘s no proof that this kid or the prosecutors leaked the grand jury documents, so why does he get to respond in this way?
COLWIN: I think the reason was because Judge Melville thought to himself, how grossly unfair the grand jury minutes that were mostly sealed for all time are suddenly leaked and this man has jury selections about to start. He has the opportunity to respond. That‘s the only reason. He wanted a level playing field and he felt how grossly unfair it was for a defendant...
ABRAMS: You think it‘s really leveled the playing field...
COLWIN: ... with these allegations. I think it did. Absolutely.
ABRAMS: Come on...
COLWIN: He‘s sitting there...
ABRAMS: Oh, so these prospective jurors...
COLWIN: ... because here‘s...
ABRAMS: ... are going to say you know what, I—here‘s what they‘re going to say? They‘re going to say I didn‘t know anything about this case. But wait a second. I just saw Michael Jackson on TV and he said he didn‘t do it. Oh, my goodness.
ABRAMS: That is going to change everything.
COLWIN: You know what Dan? Here‘s the message he‘s telling you. I have been with thousands of boys. There have only been two or three allegations. I—these are a family that are looking for money. Well sure, that‘s something that they‘re going to try to develop during the trial to discredit him and these are sort of the themes that he‘s got to go through at some of the extremes. He‘s got to discredit this family because the crux of this case is going to the credibility of this family...
ABRAMS: Yes, except...
COLWIN: ... and he‘s taken...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you know what...
ABRAMS: As Diane points out...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dan...
ABRAMS: ... he‘s sneaking in his testimony here because you know he‘s not going to testify. Go ahead Diane. Go ahead...
DIMOND: But you know what? To also be fair, I think that Michael Jackson got across a very, very important point. And that is, you heard from one side. You heard these grand jury leaked testimony transcripts, which, by the way is a felony to release those, but for whoever did it, but my lawyers were not there. These people were not cross-examined. They just got to say what they said and nobody...
DIMOND: ... got to hold their feet to the fire and that‘s important for people to know.
ABRAMS: Stacy Brown, give me a sense of the timing here—any indication from the family members or the friends that Michael Jackson wanted to wait until the beginning of jury selection to release this statement?
STACY BROWN, JACKSON FAMILY FRIEND: Oh there‘s no doubt that he had preferred to wait, Dan, and if you also look at that statement in addition to everything that the panelists have been saying, he also mentioned—reiterated his love for his community which in this sense in this case, is the Santa Barbara County community that‘s going to sit on that jury. So that was his way obviously of connecting to this jury and saying, hey, I‘m one of you.
ABRAMS: Yes, I‘m one of you...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That‘s a tall order, though, Stacy...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
ABRAMS: Yes, that‘s a tall order. All right. Everyone‘s going to stick around because we got a lot more coming up. The question, which one of Michael Jackson‘s Santa Barbara neighbors is the ultimate juror for the prosecution and the defense? Jury selection is underway.
And keep in mind this is by no means a slam-dunk case. There are a lot of questions about the accuser‘s family, their motive. We‘ll get into the prosecution pitfalls coming up.
Plus, I‘m not the only one at the Santa Maria courthouse today. Shocker. This place is flooded with reporters from all over the world. We‘ll give you a little ABRAMS REPORT tour of the grounds.
Your e-mails firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and where you‘re writing from. I respond at the end of the show.
ABRAMS: Coming up, 300 people showed up for the start of jury selection today in the Michael Jackson case. Who‘s on the prosecution‘s wish list? Coming up.
ABRAMS: Michael Jackson arriving back from lunch only hours ago as day one of his trial got underway here with the jury selection.
ABRAMS: All the screams, all the fans. It‘s pretty wild. Anyway. All right. What I want to do here is I want to get into what kind of jurors are you looking for? You know, this is the first step of the process. Three hundred of the potential jurors called in. Both sides will claim, oh, I‘m just looking for fair and impartial jurors. Don‘t buy it for a second.
The defense and the prosecution have ideal jurors in mind. One who will sympathize with their side. One who will decide in their favor. But just who is that person?
All right. “My Take”—we‘ll start with the prosecution. I think they want generally conservative—and here‘s a little debatable one—women. People who appreciate the horrors of molestation and yet who are unimpressed by Michael Jackson, people who might think of him as effectively a freak from down south in Hollywood. We‘re joined now in addition to our panel by juror consultant Richard Gabriel who helped pick the jury in the O.J. Simpson case.
All right, Richard, give me a sense of your ideal prosecution juror.
RICHARD GABRIEL, JURY CONSULTANT: Well, Dan, you‘re right. Every juror profile is developed in lieu of what you anticipate both sides‘ themes to be. Pro prosecution wants jurors who are what I would call rigid authoritarians, very morale, very strict rules about touching and displays of affection. I think the prosecution also wants jurors that clearly have some sort of experience about sexual abuse either themselves or others in the background. And I think they also are looking for types of jurors who basically think that the world is a dangerous place and you can‘t trust strangers. I think the defense, on the other hand, really does...
ABRAMS: Hang on. We‘ll get to—wait, wait. We‘ll get to the defense in our next block. Let‘s stick to prosecution here.
GABRIEL: OK. Kimberly, give me a sense, again, if you‘re picking this jury, you know that there are some pitfalls in your case. What are you looking for in terms of an ideal prosecution juror?
GUILFOYLE NEWSOM: Someone for sure that‘s not drinking the Michael Jackson Kool-Aid that isn‘t amused by Neverland and a grown man acting like he‘s 5 years old. That‘s who I want on this case. I want people who buy homes, who care about sex offenders living in their neighborhood. They want to protect the community.
So I‘m right on with what Richard is saying, but you definitely don‘t want people that believe in fanciful notions like Neverland. People that are grounded in the real world that know the difference between right and wrong and that it‘s inappropriate to sleep in a bed with a young child if you‘re a grown man.
ABRAMS: Diane, you‘ve gotten to know this prosecution team about as well as anyone. Do you have any sense of what they‘d be looking for in a juror?
DIMOND: Well I think that both of your two guests have hit the nail on the head. I would also add, I think that they‘re probably looking for older people rather than younger people. They‘re looking for persons that openly say yes, I go to church. Don‘t forget, Tom Sneddon is a very devout Roman Catholic. He has nine children of his own and I think the faith issue, people who say they believe in family values, I think that that‘s what they‘re looking for. Someone who has a definite sense of there is good and there is evil in the world.
ABRAMS: But I mean isn‘t there a concern, Diane, when if you get too much into family values that this is the mother here, you know, could be effectively put on trial for her parenting ability.
DIMOND: Yes. Absolutely. However, I think that there—when you get—I wanted to say Christian, but any sort of religious group, they have more forgiveness in their heart for people who make mistakes. And I think when this mother takes the stand, she will say—openly admit I made a mistake. Here—this—I thought this was a wonderful guy who had saved my son‘s life literally, knew him when he was sick in bed and we were planning his funeral and made him well again, but I made a terrible error in judgment. That‘s the feeling I get...
ABRAMS: Yes, but I‘m not convinced it‘s going to be as eloquent as that after reading some of the grand jury...
DIMOND: It might not work.
ABRAMS: ... transcripts. All right...
DIMOND: And I saw her testify...
ABRAMS: All right, let me take a quick break here.
DIMOND: I saw her testify here and you‘re right. She—English...
ABRAMS: Yes, let me take...
DIMOND: ... may not even be her first language.
ABRAMS: Let me take a quick break here. We‘re going to talk about the other side. What would be—you‘re Michael Jackson‘s attorney, right? What is your dream juror who walks in apart from like a guy who‘s dressed up like Michael Jackson out here doing a moonwalk?
Plus, the family of Michael Jackson‘s accuser could make you wonder what is actually motivating them to come forward. This is not the first time they have taken a case to court with an arguably questionable story. We‘re going to get into some of the prosecution‘s problems coming up.
ABRAMS: This is a before and after shot. The before shot is Michael Jackson, of course, doing that little shimmy on the car when he was in court last year. And Michael Jackson, much subdued, much reigned in arriving in court today but still has that all white outfit on. We saw a very different Jackson today.
You know, it‘s—his attorneys have strongly advised him, you know, don‘t do it. Don‘t do it. All right. So let‘s talk about what the defense—we‘re in the middle of jury selection here, day one of the trial. I‘m sitting right in front of the courthouse. I want to know if you‘re Michael Jackson‘s team exactly what do you want.
“My Take”—I think they want men, maybe even divorced men who feel they‘ve been falsely accused by their exes. The defense needs a jury made up of open-minded people, people willing to question authority. Richard Gabriel, give us your ideal defense juror.
GABRIEL: Ideally I think the defense wants to look for people who have what I would call nurturing family values. They are very open and affectionate with their children. They have a large circle of friends and family. They don‘t mind their kids going down the street and having sleepovers at friends‘ houses and because they essentially trust those people. I also, quite frankly, think that they‘re looking for people who are hard-evidenced jurors.
They don‘t necessarily trust the word of kids and I think they‘re looking for judgmental parents, people who go to what Diane was saying about, people who will judge these parents and figure maybe that there‘s motivation. There‘s a civil lawsuit waiting in the wings here, and I think that‘s the sort of skepticism that the defense is looking for to think also there‘s an ulterior motivation and the prosecution and the press, that there‘s this sort of a vendetta that Tom Sneddon has and they‘re looking for that healthy skepticism plus the sort of open family orientation to accept basically I think the lifestyle choices that...
GABRIEL: ... Michael Jackson‘s going to have to say he does to say this is why I felt this was appropriate...
ABRAMS: Yes. All right...
GABRIEL: There‘s nothing...
ABRAMS: Mercedes, your ideal juror.
COLWIN: Well I want a juror that wears sequins glove and shoes, but other than that I really think...
COLWIN: ... women are better, undoubtedly better. And I think because we‘re going to trial this month and if we start to look at the chronology of events, she was made aware that her child may have been molested. The first phone call she makes is to a lawyer, not to legal authorities. And not just to any lawyer, but to a lawyer that represented the first accuser in the Michael Jackson scenario 10 years ago.
And then you start to question, well you‘re going to look at that chronology and you say to yourself a female juror will sit back and say well I‘m a mother. The first call I‘m going to make is I‘m going to call the authorities. I‘m not going to call some lawyer. So that‘s the first step.
The second step that you need is a juror that‘s going to look and be very, very clinical. You can be swept up in emotion here. This is going to be a very emotionally impacted case because you have a child that was desperately ill. You have a mother that was obviously overwhelmed by the circumstances. And a lot of fodder could be made of that as prosecutors and they can do it very effectively. And if a juror is not someone that has a very strong constitution, looks at these cases clinically, they could be swept up with the emotion and they can convict Michael Jackson. So we want to make sure that it‘s a very clinical, hard-nosed juror and preferably women.
ABRAMS: Hard-nosed, I don‘t know about that. Clinical maybe, but you know, hard-nosed—anyway. All right, look, you know, this is an art. Richard Gabriel spends a lot of time studying this and we always appreciate having him on. Richard, good to see you. Thanks a lot.
GABRIEL: Thanks Dan.
ABRAMS: Everyone else is going to stick around because coming up, the prosecution may have fingerprints and they say maybe even DNA, but they‘re also relying on a family with a shady past. What other pitfalls will the prosecution face?
And stepping outside the courthouse, you‘d almost think you were in the Olympic village. Michael Jackson supporters and members of the foreign press from all over the world are camped out around me. I‘ll give you a brief little tour coming up.
Your e-mails email@example.com. Please include your name and where you‘re writing from. I respond at the end of the show.
ABRAMS: Coming up, live from the Michael Jackson trial in Santa Maria, California. Prosecutors say that they‘ve got a strong case, but this is a family that is right for cross-examination. We‘re going to break down the possible pitfalls for the prosecution coming up. First the headlines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SONG: Tom Sneddon is a cold man. Tom Sneddon is a cold man. (He just a dog...)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: There will finally be a courtroom showdown between the man singing that song, Michael Jackson, and D.A. Tom Sneddon more than a decade after Sneddon first tried to file charges against Jackson. That case ended with Jackson settling with something over $20 million. Sneddon hopes this one will turn out different. They have fingerprints, DNA and a child accuser.
But there are potential pitfalls for prosecutors. A troubling timeline, other abuse allegations, and credibility issues with one of the main witnesses. The accuser‘s mother in this case.
“My Take”—this is going to be a close case. Anyone who says it‘s a slam-dunk is fooling him or herself. Kimberly Guilfoyle, to you what is the biggest—if you were the prosecutor in this case, what would you be most concerned about in terms of what the defense is going to do to these witnesses?
GUILFOYLE NEWSOM: I‘ll tell you, the thing I think about every single day is the audiotape that I heard, Dan. It was prepared in light of the Martin Bashir documentary where I heard the accuser in this case and his little brother repeatedly saying that Michael Jackson never touched them in any way that was inappropriately, that he was a father figure to them, that they were lucky that he came into their lives.
Over and over again denying any wrongdoing on the part of Michael Jackson. They also have that in sworn affidavits as well. That is going to be powerful tools for cross-examination and impeachment in that courtroom.
ABRAMS: And they also have the Children and Family Services, if we can put that up, you know, having done some sort of investigation...
GUILFOYLE NEWSOM: That‘s correct.
ABRAMS: How in-depth it was is the subject for debate. But right there—On 2/14/03, a child abuse referral was made. The allegations were for general neglect by mother and sexual abuse by an entertainer. The investigation concluded—and it continues—the allegations of neglect and sexual abuse to be unfounded.” Diane, you know, this is a problem. I mean—and let‘s throw in the timeline also. I‘m going to ask my producers to put up the graphic of this. The timeline here is a huge problem I think for prosecutors. The notion that they make this Martin Bashir‘s documentary, the Jackson team freaks out, decides all right we need to make a rebuttal video, and then Michael Jackson decides, you know what? This is a good time to start abusing the boy.
DIMOND: That is a problem. It is absolutely a problem. And when they first filed the charges, the timeline was about like this and then when the indictment came, it was a smaller different amount of time. I‘ve got to think the prosecutors have some explanation for that.
You know, when you talk about the tape that Kimberly heard earlier and the affidavit she saw, the prosecution will counter that they were made early on and after the child started going to a psychologist and finally revealed, that‘s when the truth was known. Well it‘s up to this jury what the truth is, but this last week a very important thing happened. The state got the right to bring in a child molestation expert who will talk about the mythology of child reporting and when they report and how long it takes them to report.
So I think you‘re right. This is not a slam-dunk case, not by any means. Tom Mesereau has dropped hints in here that he‘s going to attack this mother for lying, for getting her children to lie, for filing past suits, she and her husband, against deep pockets, J.C. Penney‘s. He‘s going to talk about a resume she filed once for a job where she said she wanted to be a private investigator type and that she would make a good witness if she was put on the stand. There‘s a lot that...
DIMOND: ... a lot of ammunition in Tom Mesereau‘s belt.
ABRAMS: And that J.C. Penney story really has always troubled me. I mean there is the mother claiming she was sexually assaulted in some way by this...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eighteen months later.
ABRAMS: ... J.C. Penney security guard and also saying that the kids were effectively imprisoned. Here‘s what the lawyer for J.C. Penney had to say about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was an incident and it turned into, in my opinion, a scam to extract money from J.C. Penney.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Mercedes, how much of that...
ABRAMS: Mercedes, how much of that comes in, in the case?
COLWIN: Well I mean I‘m sure there‘s going to be some motion to discuss whether it comes in or not, but it‘s based on credibility. This is perfect for cross-examination. It‘s going to come in. I mean certainly she‘s going to be confronted with it. There might be some confidentiality provisions that are going to be triggered because it was a civil lawsuit. It was settled out of court. We know it was $200,000.
We‘re not certain how that number came bandied about, but I‘m sure there‘s some provision into the talks about confidentiality. And it‘s going to be an issue that the judge in all likelihood will allow in for cross-examination purposes to test this woman‘s credibility. Now they‘re not going to be allowed...
ABRAMS: You know,...
COLWIN: ... to bring in any folks from J.C. Penney to talk about it. It‘s strictly the circumstances surrounding the incident, what she did it about it, that there was a lawsuit, and that she did derive some settlement out of it.
ABRAMS: Yes, apparently...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you know, Dan...
ABRAMS: ... it was like $137,000.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... if I could jump in...
ABRAMS: Go ahead Diane.
DIMOND: ... I think one other big bullet in Tom Mesereau‘s belt is this family was being held against their will at Neverland. Why did the mother come and go three times and leave her children there? She was, of course, a divorcee. She had a boyfriend who she has since married and they have a little boy now. But she literally left the children on the ranch, went away to be with him, and came back and forth. Well that doesn‘t really sound like someone who‘s being held against their will. ABRAMS: Yes. So Kimberly, how do you overcome this? I mean this is not just one problem. It‘s a series of problems that range from credibility of these witnesses to simple common sense. It says so wait a second...
GUILFOYLE NEWSOM: Right.
ABRAMS: Four days, six days a week before the boy‘s abused, mom and boy are out there saying nothing happened, everything‘s good, we love Michael Jackson. And then after that Jackson decides, OK, the coast is clear now so I‘m going start molesting this cancer patient. I mean...
GUILFOYLE NEWSOM: Right.
ABRAMS: ... how do you get over all of this?
GUILFOYLE NEWSOM: Well you have to have corroborative evidence and that can come in the form of other eyewitnesses that were percipient. For example, if the accuser‘s young brother comes forward and testifies with specificity as to what he saw—and we know what some of the allegations are—and physical evidence, computer files, pornography found inside the home, things that we know about in terms of having the accuser‘s fingerprint and Michael Jackson‘s fingerprint on a magazine like that. Those type of things could be persuasive to the jury. And other bad acts, prior incidences where Michael Jackson...
ABRAMS: That‘s the key...
GUILFOYLE NEWSOM: ... clearly shows the intent and there are other people with the same M.O. was followed as was in this case, the same kind of touching...
GUILFOYLE NEWSOM: ... the same type of mannerisms. That will speak to the jury no matter how shady the mother comes off to be.
COLWIN: But that‘s...
ABRAMS: Yes and what about...
COLWIN: ... going to be the biggest problem, though, Dan. Because maybe he will be convicted because of that particular bad act that happened 10 years ago if the judge allows it. But the constitutionality of that law is going to come into question if Michael Jackson is convicted in this case...
COLWIN: ... I think it‘s outrageous.
ABRAMS: ... do you really think—Mercedes, do you really think—we‘re talking about a brother, right? The little boy‘s brother was 12 at the time, allegedly witnesses some of the molestation, right? He‘s now 14. If this whole family is creating this story, you don‘t think that a good lawyer is going to be able to get a kid to break on the witness stand? I mean a kid, he‘s going to be 14...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh he better be very careful about that, Dan.
ABRAMS: ... and the claim is...
COLWIN: They have to be careful...
ABRAMS: ... the claim is that the kid is 14 who witnessed it and he was 12 at the time. And that he‘s going to be able to withstand as is his brother cross-examination by a seasoned attorney if he‘s lying.
COLWIN: I‘ve had children as young as 4 where cross-examination is very, very—obviously you have to treat these children very delicately because that jury is going look at you...
ABRAMS: Right, but 4-year-olds...
COLWIN: ... and that‘s a very fine line...
ABRAMS: ... are not making up stories.
COLWIN: But there‘s a...
ABRAMS: Right, but 4-year-olds aren‘t making up stories.
COLWIN: ... fine line for defense attorneys to deal with that—for those kids, certainly for the brother. But the bottom line is this. If this whole J.C. Penney issue comes up, they were also witnesses. They were allegedly abused by these security officers in that case. So it‘s already a pattern where the mother uses her children in circumstances for her own financial gain.
COLWIN: We‘ve seen it once. It can happen again.
ABRAMS: All right...
COLWIN: I think that the worst part for Michael...
ABRAMS: Diane, very quickly, go ahead...
COLWIN: ... Jackson is (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
ABRAMS: Diane go ahead, quickly.
DIMOND: I totally agree. I think he‘s going to aim the big gun at the mother, not at these two kids. You never win any points when you beat up on kids.
ABRAMS: Oh I think he‘s going to have to. I think he cannot—Kimberly, do you disagree with me? I‘m not saying he goes after them with the big guns, but the bottom line is I don‘t think you can let a kid who‘s now 15 sit on the witness stand, look at your client...
GUILFOYLE NEWSOM: Right.
ABRAMS: ... and say that guy molested me, say OK, you know, I‘m sorry. I‘m sorry you‘re feeling so hurt...
GUILFOYLE NEWSOM: Yes, no way...
ABRAMS: I don‘t think you can do that.
GUILFOYLE NEWSOM: No, he‘s going to go after them. Mesereau is very good and everybody is fair game in that courtroom. These are very serious allegations and they‘ve got to be able to withstand cross-examination. Bottom line, though, Dan, the most important aspect of this case is happening right now—jury selection. If the prosecution, they‘re picking their juries through Howard Varinsky who did dog mauling, Peterson, Martha Stewart for the prosecution...
GUILFOYLE NEWSOM: ... if they get right jury, my money is on them. That‘s it. ABRAMS: Really? All right. Well we shall see. I think this is going to be a tough case for the prosecutors. But, all right, Mercedes, Kimberly, Stacy—hey Stacy, sorry we didn‘t get to talk to you a little bit more. But thanks for sticking around. Appreciate it.
Diane is going to stick around for one more segment. Coming up, Michael Jackson‘s fans cheered him on as he entered the courthouse this morning.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Michael Jackson...
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ABRAMS: And for those who couldn‘t make it down here, the international press is covering every move Jackson makes. Literally. Plus even with all these fans, foreign correspondents, I say this is not the next O.J. Simpson case. It‘s my “Closing Argument” coming up.
ABRAMS: A couple hundred fans of Michael Jackson‘s showed up here at the courthouse. All morning they‘ve been playing music, putting up signs, chanting Michael Jackson‘s name, chanting insults at the prosecutor in the case. What‘s striking is while there are a couple of hundred of them, nearly 1,000 people asked for one of these, media credentials. You need it to even get into this area. Take a look behind me. Literally rows and rows of media and a lot of them international from around the world. Remember, this is just the jury selection process. Imagine what it‘s going to look like once the actual trial begins.
Just imagine. That was the scene a couple of hours ago this morning and it‘s really—it‘s only the beginning. Since the O.J. Simpson trial, which I covered from inside the courtroom, we‘ve seen a few other high-profile cases. The Peterson case was one of the biggest. But remember, Scott Peterson never had any worldwide number one hits or rock videos or ran around calling himself the King of Pop. And I don‘t remember seeing many Japanese or German reporters chasing Amber Frey for exclusives.
So what can we expect for this case? Just how big is the interest worldwide in this case? Joined now by Adrian Britton, ITN correspondent and Diane Dimond joins us once again. All right, Adrian, give us a sense of how much interest there is in England as to this case.
ADRIAN BRITTON, ITN REPORTER: Oh Dan, there‘s no doubt at all there is tremendous interest in this case. Just heard somebody, a few seconds ago, talking about O.J. Simpson. I mean bear in mind even though the O.J. Simpson trial played very heavily back in the U.K., when O.J. was arrested or before he was arrested, people didn‘t really know who he was so that trial played out quite heavily. There is no doubt at all this trial is going to dominate news bulletins. Michael Jackson is a phenomenon in the U.K. as he is in many other international countries.
ABRAMS: Do you guys love the high-profile trials as much as we do?
BRITTON: Yes, I think we do. I mean never forget the British obsession in the media to sort of build people up and knock them down again. You‘ve only got to look at how the media deal with the royals to learn that one. But certainly, sort of high-profile cases, the media circus, it is attractive to a British audience. But you know, even though you‘ve had high-profile cases, Scott Peterson and so on, that has never really played out in the U.K. at all. I remember being in the States last year for about three months when it was beginning to unfill (ph). Massive story here, but went back home. Nothing whatsoever. But the Michael Jackson trial no doubt at all it‘s going to be right high up there on the news agendas.
ABRAMS: Diane, very quickly, you‘ve been surprised by the number of countries represented here.
DIMOND: I was just looking at my notebook here. The U.K. has at least four crews, Norway, Spain, Ireland. Hungarian TV is here. German, Japan has five crews, Canadian, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) press. Am I surprised? No, I‘m not. I—remember, this is a worldwide icon. There is nobody on the planet except maybe some African tribes somewhere that lives alone that has never heard of Michael Jackson. It doesn‘t surprise me...
DIMOND: ... except that it is only jury selection. You‘re absolutely right...
ABRAMS: Right. Right.
DIMOND: What‘s going to happen during the trial?
ABRAMS: All right. I got to wrap it up. Adrian Britton, good to see you. I‘ll be seeing you out here a lot.
BRITTON: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Diane Dimond thanks a lot.
DIMOND: You bet.
ABRAMS: Diane is part of a documentary that takes a look into Michael Jackson‘s mind airing tonight on Court TV at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time.
Coming up, not all high profiles are created equal. Now I covered O.J., Ramsey, Scott Peterson. So how does this one compare? My answer may surprise you. My “Closing Argument” is next.
ABRAMS: Everyone is always asking me, do I think the Michael Jackson case will be the next O.J.? My answer coming up.
ABRAMS: My “Closing Argument”—the answer to the question, will the Michael Jackson case be the next O.J.? Will the nation be transfixed? For the sake of this show, I hope so, but I‘m not so sure. What makes high profile cases fascinating are the layers, not the lawyers. The who done it or could he have done it aspect of the case, and the fact that people, all of us feel like we have a stake in the outcome in some of the most interesting ones. We came to care about JonBenet Ramsey, for example, and asked ourselves whether the parents really could be suspects? Every nugget brought us one step closer to knowing what might have happened. Same applies to O.J. and Scott Peterson.
Many came to feel like they knew them or knew what really happened and consequently cared about the outcome. The Laci Peterson case, so many could relate to the couple. Laci and Scott just seemed like the people next door. Could he have really killed his pregnant wife? Inquiring minds wanted to know, but that was murder. In the Jackson case, it is a question of did he fondle a boy and if he did, what was his intent? Now apart from the severity of the crime, there‘s actually something more repugnant about following all the details involved in this kind of case. Furthermore, few can really identify with Michael Jackson. He seems so foreign.
And since the alleged victim is a child, he will be shielded from the public so no one will really get to know him either. And unlike these other cases, it‘s not that hard to believe he could have done it. It‘s just not that long a leap from sleeping in the same bed. It certainly doesn‘t mean he did it. It does mean that the fascination factor may be surprisingly low. Despite the fact that Jackson is one of the best-known people in the world, I just don‘t know that the world will care all that much about what happens. Look, I think it‘s going to be a fascinating trial. Then again, I find everything from Supreme Court arguments to the Robert Blake case fascinating.
Coming up in 60-second our “OH PLEAs!” story. I give it two thumbs up, but wait until you hear why one alleged burglar can‘t do the same.
ABRAMS: We‘re back. I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”. On Friday, a report that female Army interrogators used questionable methods to elicit information from some suspected Muslim terrorists at Guantanamo Bay. Techniques that included wearing miniskirts and thong underwear, sexual touching and even pouring of fake menstrual blood on prisoners. I asked whether this was so different from the lies and deception police use all the time in situations where there‘s a lot less at stake. I said they probably crossed the line here a little, but that it is really not such a big deal.
Sean Wyland writes, “You talk about crossing the line just a little bit. How would you feel about a guy who raped a girl just a little bit? The cruel treatment by the U.S. military is fully inexcusable.”
See, you know, Sean you‘re the problem. Even small violations, according to you, are another Abu Ghraib. You‘re not able to distinguish. You‘d probably want to make sure no investigator at home ever lies. If they‘d obtained useful information, I would probably excuse the conduct, but I‘m just not convinced it was even good interrogation technique.
Kelly Morgan in Ontario, Canada. “While I‘m not actually persuaded that walking around in a tight T-shirt and underwear to obtain information is an effective technique, I do know that I would never call it inhumane. Stupid, yes. A waste of time and effort, probably. But to label it as abuse is appalling when compared to the torture that so many men, women and children of Iraq suffered under Saddam Hussein and his sons.”
Mark Luedtke, “There is absolutely nothing wrong with humiliating a terrorist in order to get valuable intelligence. Assuming it‘s successful, not for someone‘s perverted fun, why are we even discussing it?”
Finally Doug Fraser. “Torture my (blank). Sounds like a free lap dance to me. Americans being interrogated should be so lucky.”
“OH PLEAs!”—a fingerprinting tip for the NYPD and a thumbs down for one burglar from Brooklyn. Twenty-year-old Franco Beaumont broke into a sneaker and clothing outlet, at least that‘s what the police say, while trying to shatter a window in the back of the store. He severed his thumb from the tip to the first joint, but despite the loss of his digit, Beaumont went on to thumb through the goods at Krazy Gear sporting goods store stealing $20 in cash, a pair of jeans, four pair of sneakers, 20 T-shirts, two jackets, a sweatshirt and a video camera, according to the authorities.
The cops arrived at the scene of the crime and were pleased with a helpful tip Beaumont left them, his severed thumb. They brought it down to the station for fingerprinting and found a match. The police weren‘t exactly worried he would hitchhike out of town so they tracked Beaumont down at his home two days later. They knew they had their guy when Beaumont opened the door with a bandage over his thumb. They arrested him on burglary and criminal trespass charges. A rule of thumb to all would-be criminals, wear gloves and take your fingers with you.
That does it for us tonight. I‘ll be back in New York tomorrow. See you at 9:00, by the way, a special Michael Jackson.
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