Guest: Jim Moret, Michelle Caruso, Daniel Horowitz, Bill Fallon, Michelle Caruso, Daniel Horowitz, Jim Moret, Bill Fallon, Susan Filan
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, closing arguments set to begin in the Michael Jackson trial this week. So, how did the case go?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS (voice-over): Prosecutors promised they’d prove Jackson molested the alleged victim, gave him alcohol and conspired to keep him and his family quiet. Did they do it?
Did the defense succeed in discrediting the family? What about all the witnesses we didn’t hear from? Michael Jackson’s fate could be in the hands of the jury in a matter of days.
The program about justice starts now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Hi everyone. Welcome to a special Memorial Day edition of the program. We’re heading into a big week in the Michael Jackson case: closing arguments set to begin. We’re going to spend the hour looking back at the case that was and wasn’t. And looking forward to what will likely happen, with the verdict.
First, let’s remember, facing 10 charges: one count of conspiracy to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion for allegedly keeping the family at his ranch in an effort to get them to say nice things about him on tape. One count of an attempted lewd act on a child; four counts of lewd acts on a child; and four counts of administrating—administering an intoxicating agent with the intent to molest a child. We’re all talking about the same child.
So, did the prosecution deliver on the promises laid out in the opening statements?
D.A. Tom Sneddon lay began his opening remarks on February the 28th by talking about the documentary that set everything in motion, a documentary where Jackson admitted that he shared his bed with children.
Quote, “This is a case about conspiracy. It’s about the train-wreck situation caused by the Bashir documentary. It’s about the world’s reaction and how it created the motive for the once superstar’s desperate attempt to salvage his once very powerful musical career. This is also a case about Michael Jackson’s exploitation of a 13-year-old boy and cancer survivor.”
Sneddon spent two months and went through 85 witnesses. His goal, to prove, quote, “There’s only one person responsible for the conduct and consequence of what happened, and that person is sitting right here in the courtroom, and that’s the defendant, Michael Jackson.”
So, did he deliver? Joining me for the hour, the people who I’d want to hear from on this case: MSNBC legal analyst, former Connecticut prosecutor, Susan Filan, who is out at the trial; “Inside Edition’s” senior correspondent and attorney Jim Moret, who has been there since day one;
“New York Daily News” reporter Michelle Caruso, who knows as much about this case as anyone; criminal defense attorney Daniel Horowitz; and Bill Fallon, who is the great former Massachusetts prosecutor.
All right, let’s start with you, Michelle. Look, you’ve been there since day one. What do you think? I mean, has Tom Sneddon delivered?
MICHELLE CARUSO, “THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS”: No, he has not proved his case. I think the conspiracy was a joke.
The only conspiracy we heard in this courtroom was the conspiracy to make a videotape. There were probably some overzealous actions by some of Jackson’s henchmen, but there’s no conspiracy to kidnap anybody. People are going out to dinner, getting leg waxes. It was—the conspiracy was ridiculous. It wasn’t proved.
I think when you come to the molestation charges, it will come down to whether...
ABRAMS: Go ahead.
CARUSO: ... whether you believe this child or not. And I think that both in cross exam during the prosecution’s case and in the defense case, they have raised so much doubt, this family, about their credibility. It looks like they’re grifters out of “Paper Moon.”
I don’t think you will find 12 people who could agree to believe this child under the circumstances.
ABRAMS: Well, Michelle has skipped to the end, giving us her prediction as to what’s going to happen here.
Let me—let me read one thing that Tom Sneddon said in his opening statement. All right? He said, “You will learn how” No. 7 -- “You will learn how Jackson and Jackson’s own employees and the co-conspirators all felt that the Bashir documentary was like a moving landslide and if it wasn’t stopped, it was going to destroy everything in its path, including Michael Jackson.”
Jim Moret, I think there’s no question they’ve shown that. Right? They’ve been able to show, this documentary where Michael Jackson talks about sleeping with children, there’s nothing wrong wit it, meaning in bed, et cetera. They’ve shown that the documentary was a disaster, haven’t they?
JIM MORET, “INSIDE EDITION” SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And it was, by any count. It was a disaster, a P.R. nightmare, a train wreck as Tom Sneddon called it.
But if you call it a conspiracy to set forth this rebuttal tape, then everybody in Hollywood is guilty of a conspiracy. This stuff happens all the time. It’s called damage control. There’s no crime in putting together a videotape to prop up the image of a celebrity who’s been destroyed by another videotape.
And I think Michelle is right; as far as this conspiracy, there’s a conspiracy to create a videotape. But I don’t believe the false imprisonment claims, the extortion claims. I just don’t think that those will resonate with the jurors.
ABRAMS: But Jim, they have a very different tape when it comes to the molestation. We’ll get to predictions later in the program.
All right. This is another point that—that Tom Sneddon made in his opening statement about this conspiracy. All right?
“It was Jackson who told the accuser and his mother that there were people out there who wanted to kill them, who told them that it was dangerous out there for them, and that the accuser was in danger. It was Jackson who wanted the accuser to join him in Florida. And it was Jackson who told them that he wanted the accuser to participate in a press conference. And it was Jackson who told them that a strong statement supporting him, Michael Jackson, would go a long way to making these killers go away.”
You know, Susan, look, they’ve kind of shown that some people talked about the dangerous people out there, et cetera. You had Michael Jackson ex-wife testifying about that whole idea that there were threats out there to the family or whatever.
But—but how does that show that Michael Jackson, himself, was orchestrating this conspiracy to keep the family—I mean, this is the crazy part. This has always been the crazy part of the prosecution’s case, that Michael Jackson supposedly hasn’t molested the boy yet, and yet feels that he has to keep this family hostage at Neverland to make them say nice things about him?
SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean, you’ve always said, Dan, and rightly so, that the time line is a huge problem for this prosecution. But there’s a couple of other things going on here about that kidnapping and false imprisonment.
The defense presented credible evidence. It was actually the boy and his family that sought out Michael Jackson, wanting to go to Florida with them, rather than Jackson spiriting them away.
Secondly, talking about killers, the paralegal in the J.C. Penney lawsuit is the woman that planted the idea in our minds that maybe it’s this mother herself that talks about killers and threatening people. And it’s funny, because everything that the mother accuses Jackson of doing, she’s actually done herself.
FILAN: She accuses them of scripting. Well, it turns out she may be the one who’s scripting.
ABRAMS: So Bill Fallon, are you willing to just—are you just willing to, as a prosecutor, throw out the conspiracy charge? And I don’t mean that literally, but I mean figuratively, say, “There’s no way we’re going to win on this conspiracy charge”?
BILL FALLON, FORMER MASSACHUSETTS PROSECUTOR: Not if I’m the prosecutor trying the case. Now, I wouldn’t have brought it to begin with.
Except for the fact, Dan—and I’ve really thought about this over the months we’ve been talking about this—it is possible that jurors might say, “You know what? We do think something was going on. We knew that there’s a smoky—where there’s smoke there’s fire. But maybe Jackson just wasn’t involved in that.”
And I think that some juror might say, you know, “He wasn’t involved, but if these henchmen,” as Michelle just referred to them—and henchmen are people who commit illegal acts, I might add. “If these henchmen were involved in doing something to Jackson—about Jackson’s situation, they might have felt there was something wrong there.”
And I think that that is the only reason and, of course, my theory that you didn’t want these guys up there testifying against this victim in any event or the accuser, as some people call him. So they kept them off the stand in that sense.
But remember, it’s not a good thing if they think there is a conspiracy, even if they find Michael Jackson not guilty.
ABRAMS: The conspiracy doesn’t make any sense to me. I mean, I can understand why they would have wanted the family to say nice things. I can understand why—why the, quote, “henchmen” might have even been there saying, “Look, this is real important to Michael,” you know, making all sorts of comments.
But Michael Jackson hadn’t done anything wrong to this boy at this point, so why would they have a problem doing nice things for him? She’s going around saying how much she likes him at this point.
FALLON: Dan, you know what? But they might also have this feeling, and that’s where it comes into what did Jackson want to happen here? The kid left open that little window that he might have been abused before then even though it wasn’t charged.
These are people who know a little of Michael Jackson’s, if you will, background. We just had a guy testify that he’s drunk around the kids, he’s drunk with them. He’s sleeping with these kids. They all know it.
Some of these people closed their eyes and maybe they felt, “You know what? There’s worse things that go on here. And maybe at the end of this documentary, everybody’s down on Michael Jackson, these people are going to jump out with the truth.”
I mean, I’m not saying that’s what they thought...
FALLON: ... but I’m just—I’m looking for a little light here. I’m not sure I would have charged it to begin with.
ABRAMS: All right. So Daniel, let’s talk with the molestation charge
Look, the couple where the brother says he saw Michael Jackson molesting the kid, I think that’s going to be real tough, because there are sorts of questions about how coincidental it was that the brother happens to walk in. How is it Michael Jackson wouldn’t have known that the boy was standing there. He says he happened to have walked into the bedroom twice. Lo and behold, both times, there’s Michael Jackson touching himself while he’s touching the boy. I think it’s going to be real tough.
But what about the boy’s own account? This boy saying, “Look, I remember two times I was molested by Michael Jackson.” You put that in the context of all the other stuff that’s happened here, where Michael Jackson, you know, according to the prosecutors, has this history, this pattern of molesting children. They say, “You know what? This is entirely consistent with everything he ever did with these other boys.”
DANIEL HOROWITZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Dan, that’s the biggest weakness for Michael Jackson, is that the jury probably believes or tends to believe that Michael did molest somebody in the past. So it’s an easy jump to say that he did it to this older brother.
However, the fact that you found so many inconsistencies in the younger brother’s supposedly, I would think, the more innocent of the two brothers’ stories, means that the older brother himself might also be a grifter, just like the younger one.
ABRAMS: All right. One-word answer from everyone on this.
Prosecution case stronger or weaker than you expected? Michelle.
CARUSO: Weaker than I expected. When I saw the conspiracy case, that they put it on.
ABRAMS: Right. Yes. Jim Moret, on the whole, stronger or weaker than you expected prosecution case?
ABRAMS: Susan Filan?
FALLON: Stronger as to defense.
ABRAMS: Wow, a real divide on the panel. Stronger—I say that it was slightly weaker than I expected. But about, you know, sort of about what I kind of thought they’d do.
All right. Everyone’s going to stick around. Coming up, the defense. Jackson’s attorney promised he’d show Jackson did nothing wrong and he himself was the victim of a family of scam artists. Did they do it?
And what about the promises that jurors would hear from Jackson himself? Well, they did hear from him, sort of. We’ve got the best of what Jackson had to say on tape.
Plus, what would a celebrity trial be without even more celebrities? We look back at the parade of famous and sort of famous people who testified in this case and what they had to say about Jackson.
Your e-mail: Abrams@MSNBC.com. Please include your name, where you’re writing from. I respond at the end of the show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM MESEREAU, MICHAEL JACKSON’S LAWYER: Believing that children are the true example of God’s beauty, innocence and purity, Michael Jackson has devoted as much of his life to helping the world’s children. He has donated millions of dollars to helping children with disease, helping children with AIDS, and traveling the world to emphasize the importance and welfare of our children. Michael Jackson would never harm a child.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Well, that’s the question.
We’re back, in the home stretch of Michael Jackson case. Closing arguments set to begin this week.
Now we move to the defense. Fifty witnesses over two and a half weeks took the stand, in theory, to defend Jackson, whose attorney made a lot of promises in his opening statement. Tom Mesereau explained, quote, “An opening statement is a contract. You make promises, you better fulfill them. Because at the end of the trial, the jury’s going to know whether you did or you didn’t. I am going to make some promises in this case. I am going to fulfill them, and I want you to judge me accordingly at the end.”
He went on to attack all the prosecutor’s allegations, quote, “If the prosecutor is to be believed Mr. Jackson conspired to imprison a family, abduct children and extort. If he is to be believed, Mr. Jackson molested children and gave a cancer patient child alcohol to reduce his inhibitions and molest him. And I’m here to tell you that these charges are fictitious. They’re bogus. And they never happened.”
So the question, of course, is, you know, how did the—how did the defense do? Let me read—I want to read one more—it’s No. 15 -- from the opening statement of Tom Mesereau. And this, I think, is the crucial point. “We will prove to you the mother, with her children as tools, was trying to find a celebrity to latch onto. They were trying to find a celebrity to create their life and give them advantages they didn’t have. And they were looking far and wide for that celebrity. And unfortunately, for Michael Jackson, he fell for it.”
Michelle Caruso, look, there is no doubt that this defense team has completely obliterated the credibility of this mother. I don’t think anyone is going to say that somehow this mother comes out looking OK emerging from this case.
But what about the boy? He’s the one making the allegations. He was the cancer victim. He’s the one sitting on the witness stand, saying, “This man sitting across from me is the one who molested me.”
How good a job did the defense do of undermining the boy’s credibility?
CARUSO: I think they did a pretty good job. I think we’ve got these kids as tools of mother. That was a very key phrase by Tom Mesereau. When you see this mother and you watch her in action, you can’t help but believe that she would be a force to reckon with if she was your mom and you would do what she wanted you to do.
And the woman, I think anyone who saw her would say she was imbalanced and these children were her puppets.
And as you herd from celebrity after celebrity, even though Jay Leno didn’t go as strong as the defense wanted, you still heard a pathetic kid on the phone: “We have these problems. I’m sick. We love you.” They didn’t get as far with Jay Leno.
But look at what Chris Tucker said, and George Lopez. There was one after another. They got $20,000 from a comic called Luis Polanter (ph). They had their hand out in every direction.
ABRAMS: But Michelle, he was a cancer victim, right? I mean, it’s true that he was suffering from cancer. It’s true that they needed money.
CARUSO: Yes, absolutely. Well, at one point in time, the mother received a $32,000 cash settlement, sitting in her bank account, which she hides the existence of from everybody while continuing to put her hand out.
CARUSO: So I think the defense did raise reasonable doubt that these people did exploit the boy’s cancer to take advantage of celebrities.
ABRAMS: But Bill, that’s—that’s the problem that the Jackson team
has, it’s these people. Meaning you have to believe not just that Mom is -
· is trouble, not just that Mom would have or could have done this with her kid, but really that that’s what happened here.
I mean, look, the defense doesn’t have the burden of proof, but effectively that’s the theory, is that Mom got the boy to do this. And there’s a little bit of evidence that Mom might have but there wasn’t a lot of evidence that Mom did in this case.
FALLON: Difficulty here, Dan, you know, again, back to what we said here months ago, the grifter versus the groper. There’s no doubt the mother is a grifter with a capital “G.” Came across a little clod (ph) here. Not sure how much of a grifter the father was. I’m not sure if she’s a domestic violence victim that came out through the defense case, if that really hurt the mother as much or helped the mother. Not that she’s going to be believable, but it might be—explain her situation.
We do have the kid with cancer. Let’s be candid: if this kid was not a cancer victim, he wouldn’t be here. But at least Michelle is acknowledging that he has cancer and somehow somebody didn’t make that up. I think the jury is going to do the same.
The question becomes how credible is the kid. I would tell you the kid with the grifter mother would not alone be able to prove the groping Jackson. I still go back, and I know I’m repetitive over the months, but the 1990 victim is the one who is going to give this jury the trouble, because they’re going to say, before we had the grifter, even though they got a couple million dollars, from what I understand, they came across so credible, that’s going to give this kid some credibility.
And one thing everybody’s missing that just happened, the drinking Michael Jackson, if Sneddon knows how to play this, is going to be good man Michael Jackson, when he’s drinking the way he is, might do these little victimizations. And I would characterize them almost as little victimizations but nonetheless, victimizations, and therefore he’s not the regular Michael Jackson and he could have done it.
ABRAMS: The defense said in its opening statement, “We will prove to you that the kids at times were out of control, broke into the wine cellar, were caught drinking alcohol themselves, without Mr. Jackson even being present or knowing about it. They also were caught breaking into the refrigerator in the kitchen, drinking alcohol, and they were caught grabbing alcohol from a cupboard.”
Jim Moret, did they show that?
MORET: I think they did, and they did more that that, actually. They showed teachers from his former school, before he knew Michael Jackson, showing that this kid was a disciplinary problem. He wasn’t an angel who was corrupted by Michael Jackson. And that’s the strongest part for the defense.
ABRAMS: Why does that matter?
MORET: It’s true. Well, it matters because, you know, you have this cancer victim that should be a very sympathetic victim. And frankly, after watching him on the stand and listening to him under cross-examination, he wasn’t as sympathetic as you would imagine he should be. And that’s because you came away thinking, “I wonder if this is really a good kid. I wonder if he’s making this up.”
You know, the mom raised a number of questions. Did the apple fall far from the tree? That was the question that you were thinking.
And—and I think that to show that this kid was a disciplinary problem, that he got in trouble at school over and over and over again. And then you bring evidence that he was with alcohol or perhaps used alcohol, used—looked at adult materials outside of Jackson’s control, that’s significant, I think.
ABRAMS: But Susan, why do we care about that in this case, and yet in so many other cases we’d say they’re trashing the victim. They’re trashing the victim. You know, they’ve got to stop going on this attack.
I mean, the defense has gone after a cancer victim, who’s a boy.
FILAN: Yes, and here’s the problem I’m having. OK, we’ve got some credibility issues with the mother. We may or may not have credibility issues with the boy.
But listen, are we saying now you’ve got to be an A-plus person. You’ve got to have done well in school and never upset a teacher, never scribbled graffiti on anything, in order to be able to be believed that you were sexually molested?
We’ve set the bar now for victims so high and the bar so low for defendants, that we’ve really flip flopped the tables. And that’s the problem that I’m having here.
I concede there are troubles with this case, but I do not concede that this boy coming forward on the witness stand under oath, saying, “It happened to me,” coupled with other boys in the past who have been groomed the same way and have been treated the same way, that we can’t believe him?
FILAN: I’m so glad you brought that up, Dan.
ABRAMS: All right. But you know, we’ll see, because I think that there’s more to it than that.
Very quickly again, same question to everyone. Defense case, stronger or weaker than you expected? Let’s try and go the same order: Michelle?
CARUSO: Little weaker.
MORET: A little weaker, I think.
FALLON: Weaker, except for the paralegal, who was a knockout. She’s the case. Other than that weaker. It was kind of the prosecution putting it on.
HOROWITZ: Stronger. Chris Tucker is the toughest man in the world.
He beat Sneddon.
ABRAMS: I think it was—for me it was slightly stronger than I expected, even though some of them backfired, I think. Who’s laughing, Jim?
MORET: Me, Jim. Yes.
ABRAMS: Why are you laughing? Because I said they were slightly stronger?
MORET: You’re the contrarian in the group.
ABRAMS: No, I’m telling you, I was—I was fearing that a lot of—thinking a lot of these defense witnesses were going to backfire, and some of them did but some of them dealt what we expect.
MORET: I think—I think the defense helped the prosecution so much in the first six witnesses, that it turned the case around.
ABRAMS: All right. All right.
FALLON: Dan, and Tucker wasn’t as strong because he didn’t cooperate with the police. Jurors don’t like that.
ABRAMS: Who cares?
FILAN: And Tucker was not—he really wasn’t and he did help the prosecution.
ABRAMS: All right, all right, all right, all right. That was a one-word answer?
Coming up, George Lopez to Jay Leno, the Jackson trial delivered, at least in the celebrity testimony. We’ll look back at what they had to say.
And Jackson never did take the stand, but jurors got to hear plenty from him on tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL JACKSON, MUSICIAN: I call it my giving tree because it inspires me. I love climbing trees in general, but this tree I love the most because I climb up high and I look down on these branches and it gives me—I just love it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Taking a look back at the tape from the trial.
ABRAMS: Coming up, from Liz Taylor to Quincy Jones and Jay Leno, the defense witness list sounded like a page out of the reservation book from a famous restaurant, but did the celebrities deliver?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: How great is he as a man?
ELIZABETH TAYLOR, ACTRESS: Well, he is one of my closest friends. And we know more about each other probably than any two people. And I love him and he loves me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Oh, that might be frightening, to go through that history.
Elizabeth Taylor just one of many celebrities on the defense witness list who never took the stand to defend Michael Jackson. The list read like a Hollywood’s who’s who, mostly of the 1970s, Barry Gibb, Quincy Jones, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder. They were people like David Blaine and Kobe Bryant as well. Kobe seemed surprised to hear he was a potential witness in the case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Michael Jackson’s attorney today says you are on the list to defend Michael Jackson in court, the defense list.
KOBE BRYANT, NBA PLAYER: Am I? Am I really?
QUESTION: Yes. That is what he said.
BRYANT: All right.
QUESTION: Are you good friends with him?
BRYANT: Yes. I’ve known him. Yes, I’ve had conversations with him and things like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Well, while many were never called, others did make it to the stand. There was former child star Macaulay Culkin defending Jackson’s habit of sharing his bed with boys and said Jackson was never inappropriate with him.
Comedian George Lopez was named as a defense witness, but called by the prosecutors to say that the family never asked him for money, even though the defense said that that is what he would say. “Tonight Show”’s Jay Leno, who was a mixed bag for the defense. He said he had reservations about the boy reaching out to him, but that the accuser and his mother never asked him for money, as the defense maintained.
And the defense’s final witness, actor Chris Tucker, told jurors he warned Michael Jackson after he became suspicious about the accuser’s mother and even about the boy himself.
All right, Daniel Horowitz, look, these celebrities on the whole did not deliver for Michael Jackson. George Lopez did not say what the defense said he would say. He said, look, they never asked me for money. I don’t know what the defense team is talking about. Jay Leno said, in essence, I candidate quite as suspicious as the prosecutors, the defense team made it out to be of this family and I was never asked for money.
And Larry King, they promised about. He said—in the opening statement, Tom Mesereau said: “We will also prove that her lawyer,” referring to the accuser’s mother, “Larry Feldman, Larry Feldman, who the prosecutor acknowledged had sued Mr. Jackson a long time ago, we will prove to you that this lawyer was having lunch with CNN talk show host Larry King and told him she wants money.”
Larry King was not permitted to testify.
So, did the celebrities on the whole, you think, hurt Michael Jackson?
DANIEL HOROWITZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think they helped Michael Jackson, Dan. They did not deliver the knockout blows that maybe Mesereau was looking for.
ABRAMS: Remember what he said. He said, it’s a contract and you can hold me to the contract.
HOROWITZ: I know. And that was a mistake. It seems that the latest trend with defense attorneys is to promise to much in openings.
But I think, in reality, what the jury takes away from this and what I took away, particularly from the Tucker testimony, when I sat in the courtroom, is that there is a circuit, that you work the circuit of celebrities to get money when you are a disadvantaged or poor kid, and you have no ethics.
It seems that, if you reach out to one star and that star helps you out of caring, that’s great. But this kid was working the stars. And that came away, when even Jay Leno said, hey, I got uncomfortable with this kid. I call 15 to 20 kids a day to help them, but this one, basically, out of all of them, the implication was, made me uncomfortable.
Well, fast-forward to Chris Tucker and then Michael Jackson, and you see that Jay Leno’s instincts were correct.
ABRAMS: I don’t know. I just didn’t take away from the testimony quite that, Jim Moret. And I didn’t take away that Jay Leno was saying that this kid in particular made him so uncomfortable. I mean, it sounded to me like Jay Leno was basically saying, look, I remember this kid calling. There was something about it which was a little odd, but that’s about it.
JIM MORET, “INSIDE EDITION”: Well, and you are right. And he didn’t the defense, like they promised.
But Daniel is correct in one sense. And that is, this family was working the room, so to speak. They were reaching out to celebrities.
This is a very poor family from East Los Angeles and they tried to
insinuate themselves into the lives of various celebrities. Some felt
taken advantage of. Some didn’t. Chris Tucker said he was a bit
suspicious. He had given them $1,500. He took them on various trips. And
he said on the stand that he warned Michael Jackson
ABRAMS: “I told him to watch out for the accuser’s mother, because I felt suspicious about her. I took him in the room and I was trying to talk to him. I said, Michael, something ain’t right.”
MORET: Well, and Michael apparently didn’t listen.
All right, we will take a break. When we come back, to me, it was the most entertaining part of the case. Jackson may not have taken the stand, but we got to hear plenty from him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL JACKSON, DEFENDANT: When you say bed, you are thinking sexual. They make that sexual. It is not sexual. We are 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: I can’t get enough of that stuff, the Michael Jackson tapes coming up.
ABRAMS: Coming up, the tale of the tape. Jurors heard Michael Jackson talking about everything from being Peter Pan to his chimp’s bathroom etiquette. We take a look back at Michael Jackson on tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: I’m not afraid to say it. If there were no children on this Earth, if somebody announced that all kids were dead, I would jump off the balcony immediately. I’m done. I’m done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Michael Jackson didn’t take the stand to defend himself, as his attorney seemed to be promising in his opening statement, although I remember saying that I wasn’t sure that’s what he was saying.
For example, he said about the dirty magazines found in Jackson’s home
· quote—this is in the opening statement: “Mr. Jackson will tell you he found those kids going through his magazines and grabbed them from them and locked in his briefcase. Michael Jackson will tell you he got a very bad feeling and intuition. The accuser’s mother grabs Michael’s hand and as her children all hold hands and she says let’s all kneel down and pray with our daddy Michael.”
Well, Tom Mesereau didn’t quite deliver on that part of the—quote -
· “contract,” as he called it in his opening statement. But the jury still heard from Jackson on the video that sparked the investigation, leading to the charges in this case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN BASHIR, DOCUMENTARIAN: But when people hear that children from other families have come and they’ve stayed in your house, they’ve stayed in your bedroom...
JACKSON: Well, very few.
BASHIR: Well, you know, but some have, and they say, is that really appropriate for a man, for a grown man, to be doing that? How do you respond to that?
JACKSON: I feel sorry for them because that’s judging someone who just wants to really help people.
Why can’t you share your bed? The most loving thing to do, is to share your bed with someone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Just share your bed.
Michelle Caruso, these tapes were the testimony of Michael Jackson.
On the whole, did they help or hurt?
MICHELLE CARUSO, “NEW YORK DAILY NEWS”: I think they show—I think they in one way help, because it shows a guy that has so much—such a strange psyche.
This is not a normal adult. And I think, in that sense, it at least gives a context to the very, very inappropriate behavior that he has displayed with children over the years. I make no excuses for what he has done. And I don’t think it is proper and I don’t think it is good. But, when you see him talk and you listen to him, you realize this man does not live in our world. He doesn’t think like a normal adult.
ABRAMS: And that’s the defense here. The defense is, yes, Michael Jackson slept in bed with boys. Yes, Michael Jackson is really, really, really weird, but he is not molesting these kids.
BILL FALLON, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Dan.
ABRAMS: Who is that?
FALLON: I think that the important thing here, Michelle, is, he used the word in the film. And I agree. It shows he’s just Wacko Jacko, which is what the defense has to jump on to now.
But he uses the word, they better not judge me. If I’m the prosecutor, I’m saying, that’s what this is about. We are a society that judges this behavior. And if Johnnie Cochran, God rest his soul, were alive and he were the prosecutor here, he would be doing that fine line game. You call that his testimony.
As a prosecutor, I would be saying, you heard testimony from this boy. You heard testimony from this other boy and this witness. Then you saw a scripted film.
ABRAMS: All right.
FALLON: And the thing is, I think you have to be very careful, but it is going to make a difference and some juror is going to say, I know we can’t comment on Fifth Amendment, but there is a difference between testimony and evidence.
But here’s what...
CARUSO: I wouldn’t call this testimony. I think that is a real mistake, to say this was testimony. This was un-cross-examined babbling by Michael Jackson.
ABRAMS: Right. Right.
CARUSO: I only say that it helps him in explaining his psyche.
ABRAMS: Here he also specifically addresses the 1993 settlement. Remember, the jurors know he settled. In theory, they don’t know for how much, 20-something million. But they don’t know that. And here was Martin Bashir asking Jackson about that settlement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BASHIR: The reason that has been given for why you didn’t go to jail was because you reached a financial settlement with the family?
JACKSON: Yes. Yes. I didn’t want to do a long drawn-out thing on TV like O.J., and all that stupid stuff. You know, it wouldn’t look right. I said, look, get this over with. I want to go on with my life. This is ridiculous. I’ve had enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: That’s a big point, Daniel. I mean, all joking aside about what is on this tape, that’s an important point on the tape of Michael Jackson explaining why he settled this case. Enough?
HOROWITZ: Well, it may be enough, Dan.
You know, the whole reason the conspiracy charge was filed was so that this entire Bashir documentary could be played for the jury. So, as a whole, it favors the prosecution. But to the extent that Mesereau can take parts of it and weave Michael’s story out of it, I think that it will ultimately help the defense. It can be enough.
But the jury has to want to believe, just like, in Peter Pan, you have to believe in Tinkerbell.
FALLON: The thing is, you don’t compare yourself to O.J., though.
ABRAMS: And I agree. I agree. And you also—you say, you know, exactly what he says, what you might not want to say.
This, as we go to break here—and we are going to talk to more about this in a minute. This is not exactly what I think you would want to say about—I guess maybe it helps the defense.
We’ll take a break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BASHIR: Chimps would help you clean the house?
JACKSON: Yes, yes. They would help me clean up my room. They would help me dust. They would do windows. They would flush the toilet after they would use the bathroom. And...
BASHIR: You let the chimps use your own bathroom?
JACKSON: Sure, yes. Of course. Bubbles would go himself. He would sit at the table and he picks up his spoon and his fork and he eats and he is very polite and very intelligent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: I was just—I was hoping so much that he was polite. That is so nice to know.
We’ll take a break. More on the Michael Jackson tapes coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: If I come home from a hard day at the studio and I come home to my deer or my chimps and I can hug them. And they don’t ask you anything. They don’t complain. They don’t—they just want a hug and some love and get on with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: You know, as much as we mock these tapes—or at least I do
· about these absurd comments made by Michael Jackson, Jim Moret, this is the defense, right? The defense is, as Michelle Caruso just said a moment ago, that he is not sort of living amongst us.
MORET: Well, I think the defense is saying, don’t look at this case through your eyes. Look at the case through the eyes of this person who lives in this alternate universe named Michael Jackson.
We saw tape of where he lives. Neverland is a bizarre place. There are portraits of him, Michael Jackson, surrounded by kids of all nationalities. There is an amusement park. There is a zoo. He says he is Peter Pan. You have to look at this case through his eyes and believe what he believes, that, you know, he is a child trapped in a 45-year-old body.
ABRAMS: But do you?
I mean, Susan, I guess that is the question is, do jurors have to look at this through the eyes of Michael Jackson or can they look at it through their own experience and say, you know, sorry, I just—I don’t buy it?
SUSAN FILAN, PROSECUTOR: Hey, Dan, I have got some swamp land in Florida you might want to buy.
What, are you kidding me? I mean, this is just too preposterous. They are going to have to evaporate this case and Michael Jackson and his testimony and the outtakes on the Bashir documentary through their own filter of common sense. And I have to refer back to the Leno line, which I thought so was funny, where he says: It wasn’t sex. It was just love, us sleeping together in the bed. And he says, hey, great, I guess that line is going to work for all men now.
It’s just a very difficult sell. And if that is the defense’s case, yes, he drinks, yes, he sleeps in bed with boys.
FILAN: But, hey, nothing happened and you have got to believe us and the only proof—I know they don’t have the burden of proof, but the only thing they are using to make that claim is the outtakes and Macaulay Culkin, they’re on thin ice there.
ABRAMS: Well, but, Bill, you have got to concede, right, that Michael Jackson is—he is an odd guy and it’s not ridiculous for the defense to say he is really, really weird, and he is making these really weird statements well before he is facing criminal charges.
FALLON: Dan, you know, I come down in the middle of this, which is surprising here.
I think, actually, the prosecution does both. Defense has to go with that story. The prosecution says, ladies and gentlemen, we acknowledge the craziness of him, the wackiness, but what we don’t acknowledge is his ability to live in that alternate reality and do what he does, unjudged by the world and the laws that we have here. And that’s where I think Mesereau might lose it if he doesn’t kind of acknowledge that, even under our world, he doesn’t commit crimes.
And Sneddon might lose it even he doesn’t acknowledge, we know he’s a little crazy, but get into, you use your standards in saying, whether he thinks it’s a crime to not to be childlike and slightly sexual, it is a crime and we don’t care if, in Neverland, it is a crime.
ABRAMS: All right.
When we come back, my guests and I predict what the jury is going to do, how long it will take them, coming up.
ABRAMS: So, what is going to happen in the Michael Jackson case?
Back with me is my A-plus legal team.
All right, Michelle Caruso knows this case like the back of her hand.
Your prediction, Michelle. Let’s break it down into three categories, the conspiracy count, the molestation charges, the alcohol charges, your prediction for the verdict and how long it will take them.
CARUSO: All right.
Conspiracy, I say acquittal. Molestation charges will hang. I predict it would be like a 9-3 type hang on the molestation, 9-3 in favor of acquittal on the molestation. Alcohol, acquittal because it never got proved up. And I think a deliberation of about six to seven days, because of the conspiracy, the 28 overt acts, are going to take some time to deliberate.
ABRAMS: Jim Moret.
MORET: Well, I think, as to conspiracy, I agree with Michelle. I think acquittal.
I think that, as far as molestation, there may be a compromise. I think there are four counts, two that were alleged by the boy and then two that were witnessed allegedly by the brother. I would throw the brother’s out and look at the two of the boy. I think there may be a compromise on this jury. That 1108 testimony, the past bad acts, was so powerful...
MORET: ... that I think this jury may come back with a conviction on one of those counts and possibly one of the alcohol counts, because there was some evidence that Michael Jackson drinks a great deal more than any of us knew and shares his bed a lot with kids and may do so when he’s drunk.
ABRAMS: Susan Filan.
MORET: My gut feeling is one and one.
ABRAMS: Susan Filan.
MORET: In, say, five days.
FILAN: Dan, I think that there’s going to be an acquittal on conspiracy, acquittal on alcohol, hung jury on molestation. I think it is going to take 10 days. There are so many exhibits for this jury to look at. So many things were put into evidence...
FILAN: ... that were published to the jury at the same time. In my experience, jurors want to touch every piece of paper before they render a verdict.
ABRAMS: Daniel Horowitz.
HOROWITZ: Four days, not guilty.
I think he is actually innocent, Dan. The only caveat is that all you need for a conviction on lewd conduct is a sexual interest and any type of touching, even a pat on the hand. So, they might hang on that. But I think he’s innocent, so not guilty.
ABRAMS: Well, a pat on the hand is not lewd conduct.
HOROWITZ: Well, if it is for your prurient interest, it can be.
I have a guy with a sock puppet in his shirt being found guilty on that basis. So, it can be. That’s the problem with this law.
ABRAMS: Bill Fallon?
FALLON: I’m with Jim on this.
And I’ve come up to thinking there might be a guilty. I thought it was going to be hung on the serious charges. Longer time, if it is hung, shorter time, if it is not, at least a week.
ABRAMS: Conspiracy, not guilty. Everyone agrees. I agree. Molestation and alcohol, I’m going to predict that there will be a hung jury. But I do think it is possible that, if they reach a compromise, that they’ll find him guilty on an alcohol charge, not on the molestation. And I predict a deliberation of seven days.
All right. So, we’ll see.
Susan Filan, Jim Moret, Michelle Caruso, Daniel Horowitz, Bill Fallon.
That does it for us for this Memorial Day. Thanks a lot to the panel.
I’ll see you tomorrow from the Michael Jackson case in Santa Maria.
Coming up next, “HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS.”
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