Who is trying to destroy Michael Jackson?

  June 14, 2005

If you read everything we wrote about Michael Jackson, BEFORE he was charged, you will note that it is the very same as what Tom Mesereau said AFTER he was acquitted. In other words, the mere fact that Michael Jackson was arrested was an inexcusable travesty of justice and this interview makes that absolutely clear:

KING: How do you psychologically prepare a client for something like -- like for example, do you make him aware that he might be in jail that night? Do you discuss that at all, or do you only go the positive routes?

MESEREAU: It depends on the client, Larry. You have to be candid with your client. You have to explain the possibilities and the options without sounding defeatist. And at no time did I ever take a defeatist attitude with Michael Jackson, because I always thought we'd win this case.

KING: What kind of client was he?

MESEREAU: He's a wonderful client. He's one of the easiest clients to deal with that I've ever experienced. He's very kind. He's very gentle. He's very cooperative. He's a very, very honorable, decent person. And I thoroughly enjoyed representing him, and I consider him a friend.

KING: Was there any thought of him taking the stand?

MESEREAU: Yes, there was. When I gave my opening statement, I intended to put him on the stand, and he intended to testify. As the case developed, it became very clear to me that he didn't have to.

We had cross-examined very effectively. We had shown the jury a videotape of a two hour and 45-minute interview with Michael Jackson, where he explained his life and his philosophy of music and living and his experiences growing up. And when we put all that together, we decided there was nothing really to be achieved by it.

KING: Was there ever a point, Tom, where you were, during this, down?

MESEREAU: You know, Larry, it's interesting. All trials have ups and downs. And all trials have surprises.

But in this case, I felt that we were very aggressive from the opening bell, in our opening statement, in our cross examination of their initial witnesses. And our plan was to be extremely aggressive and put them on the defensive as quickly as possible. And I think we achieved that.

So, we had a lot of good days in this trial, particularly in their case, and particularly in our case. And I was always confident.

KING: There were some who were saying the prosecution was obsessed with Michael Jackson. Do you share that view?

MESEREAU: Yes, I do. I share it completely. I think they were not objective about this case. They were not objective about their witnesses. They were not objective about the theories they tried to prove, which were unprovable, because they were false. And I think their obsession really hurt them.

KING: You think it goes back to the settlement years back?

MESEREAU: I don't know where it began, Larry. It would appear around that time there developed an obsession about Michael Jackson in this prosecuting agency, but, clearly they were not being objective when they put this case together.

KING: Now, why, Tom? I mean, they had people come to them. They had a lady come to them, the son telling them stories. They had other people who were witnesses. Why did they make a mistake in going ahead with this?

MESEREAU: Well, first of all, they never thoroughly investigated the accusers and the accuser's family, in my opinion. And if you look at the early interviews with the accusers, you'll see the police basically accepting their story before they even investigated who they are.

It was really us that found all the problems with these witnesses, what their history, with their backgrounds. The prosecution almost turned a blind eye to what was really going on. And I think even in the middle of the trial, they were trying to deny reality, and it caught up with them.

KING: How big a factor was Macaulay Culkin?

MESEREAU: He was a big factor. He was a wonderful witness for Michael Jackson. And I will always have tremendous respect for Macaulay Culkin. He's on top of the world. He didn't have to go to bat for his friend. And he did it anyway.

And there never was any doubt that he was going to come and testify. He always said, "I want to be there. I want to help Michael Jackson, and I want to tell the truth." He was a big factor, and he was a man of really strong character.

KING: Do you like to talk to jurors after trial, win or lose?

MESEREAU: I do. I haven't had the opportunity to do it here, but, yes, I do. You always learn things from jurors. And I've never had the privilege to be a juror myself. So -- and I've always liked to have the opportunity, but I never did. I always get bumped off when I get called for jury duty.

KING: I would imagine. We had one of the -- we had the foremen on last night. We also had one of the jurors who said he believed that Michael Jackson was or is a pedophile. It's just that this prosecution didn't prove this case. How do you react to a statement like that? MESEREAU: Well, I think he's wrong. Michael Jackson is not a pedophile. He's never been a pedophile. The prosecution has spent years trying to put together a story which they hoped they could prove and failed to prove. Michael Jackson is not a pedophile. He's never molested a child, nor would he ever even conceive of doing such a thing.

KING: So these were concocted stories?

MESEREAU: Well, certainly, they were concocted by the main accusers, and certainly, the prosecution tried to create the impression that other people were molested. And they all came in and said they weren't.

KING: The amazing thing, though, is when you have a guy who's certainly different from the norm, an older -- a man who sleeps with boys, to get a jury, as my friend Edward Bennett Williams used to say, what you have with a jury is to get the jury to put themselves in your client's shoes. If the jury can put themselves in your client's shoes, you win.

How does someone put themselves in Michael Jackson's shoes?

MESEREAU: Well, first of all, Larry, this notion that he sleeps with boys was a concoction by the prosecution. What he said very openly was that he allows families into his room.

Now, his room is the size of a duplex. It's two levels. He's had mothers sleep there, fathers sleep there, sisters sleep there, brothers sleep there. The prosecution concocted this little saying about sleeping with boys, because they thought it would turn off the jury, and they failed.

But yes, we did have to explain who Michael Jackson was to the jury, that he's a very creative spirit, a very gentle soul, a brilliant musician, a brilliant choreographer, and a very sensitive person who's very concerned about the world and the problems in the world. And he has a very childlike spirit and essence to him, and he attracts children all over the world.

We did have to explain who he was. But this is a country which prides itself on diversity, on the freedom to be who you are. And we never diverted our attention from who Michael was. We never tried to make him look like anything but himself. He never tried to dress differently for the courtroom. Our whole intention is to show who Michael is and be proud of it and embrace it.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Thomas Mesereau, Michael Jackson's very successful defense attorney. We'll have more questions. We'll take your calls, as well. He's with us for the full program. Don't go away. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THOMAS SNEDDON, SANTA BARBARA COUNTY D.A.: When a victim comes in, the victim tells you they've been victimized, and you believe that and you believe that the evidence supports that, you don't look at their pedigree. We look at what we think is what's right. You do the right things for the right reasons. If it doesn't work out, that's why we have a jury system. But we did the right thing for the right reasons. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Thomas Mesereau is our special guest.

What's it like in your gut? Now, you can be as confident as you wish, but when they walk in, before those words are uttered, what goes through you?

MESEREAU: You know, Larry, it's a very tense, uncomfortable moment. You never really get used to it. Your heart skips a few beats. And it's something that I never look forward to, in a sense, because it's never easy.

KING: Did you, at all, clutch Jackson's arm or he your arm?

MESEREAU: Yes. When the verdicts were being read, I did grab Michael's hand. And he seemed to appreciate it. I wanted to show him my support. And I also wanted to send the message, "We are winning this case."

KING: What did he say to you when all 10 counts were read?

MESEREAU: He said the word, "Thank you, thank you, thank you." His first reaction was gratitude. Gratitude to God, gratitude to his defense team. Gratitude to his family and friends. That's really all he said.

KING: And that's the joy of a criminal defense lawyer, right?

MESEREAU: You bet.

KING: What happened -- he posted bail, did he not? Is that returned immediately? How is his -- what, did he take a lien on the house? How is that done?

MESEREAU: Well, that was done early in the case. It was done, actually, before I was -- appeared on the case as council of record. And bail was posted by a bail bondsman. It was secured by property.

KING: And is that then torn up immediately?

MESEREAU: Yes, yes. When he was acquitted, the provision was made for bail to be revoked, and he moves on and he's free.

KING: When your friend, Mark Geragos, who was on this program last week, he was highly critical of pundits, television pundits, 24 hour news, round-the-clock people knocking, making forecasts. He was even giving thought that maybe the British system of not allowing coverage of trials is better. What are your thoughts about pundits? MESEREAU: By the way, I used the word "revoked." Bail was exonerated, not revoked.

KING: Good.

MESEREAU: I share Mark Geragos' comments. I think that we have developed an industry of would-be experts who are not professional, who are not experienced, who are very amateurish about their comments about what's going on in courtrooms and who are willing to give opinions when they're not even there. And I think it has become the theater of the absurd, and I think it reached its lowest level in this case.

KING: What was it like for you to -- you weren't under an order not to watch it. What was it like to watch it?

MESEREAU: Well, I didn't watch it that often, Larry. I was too busy working on the case.

KING: But you knew it was going on?

MESEREAU: I knew a lot of it was going on. When I would take a break in my apartment while I was preparing, I would turn on the TV set. And a lot of it was appalling: the factual inaccuracies, the obvious bias among people like Court TV, who I felt was really an arm of the prosecution through this case. It was very amateurish and very unprofessional and very disturbing.

KING: Would you say it is -- it is hard or impossible to predict an outcome of a trial you didn't attend?

MESEREAU: It's very hard, because you don't know the chemistry of the courtroom. You're not watching the interaction between the witnesses and the jury and the judge and both sides. There's just so much that you miss if you're not there. And plus, how do you compress, you know, six to eight hours of testimony into a sound bite? You can't possibly be accurate.

KING: What about the British system? Once an arrest is made, no coverage?

MESEREAU: Well, there's certainly a lot to be said for that. I frankly like freedom of the press. But it's reaching an absurd state when it comes to trials in America.

We are obsessed with celebrity trials. It's become an industry of pundits who really are trying to be movie stars and not real legal experts. And it's just -- it just reached the bottom of the barrel in this case.

Fortunately, the jury was not affected. They did the right thing.

KING: The prosecutor, Mr. Sneddon, said that there is celebrity justice, like in California. Blake is an example. This is an example, O.J. How do you react?

MESEREAU: That's sour grapes on his part.

I'll tell you what celebrity injustice was in this case. It was sending 70 sheriffs to raid Michael Jackson's home in a search. It was putting more experts, more sheriffs and more investigators on this case than they do with serial killers. That's what I call celebrity injustice.

So in a sense, he's correct; he just is looking at it the wrong way.

KING: Does...

MESEREAU: Michael Jackson was treated differently because he was a celebrity.

KING: Does, though, a celebrity have an edge in that we can assume going in most of the people like them?

MESEREAU: I don't consider that necessarily an edge. I think that jurors tend to be very mindful that they're not supposed to treat celebrities differently, and they might even go -- bend over backwards to make sure they don't do that.

So, there's a lot of injustice that's directed at celebrities. They're bigger targets for prosecutors. They're bigger targets for sheriffs and police officers. They're bigger targets for people who want fame and fortune.

KING: What do you make of -- what's your assessment of the performance of the prosecution in the courtroom?

MESEREAU: They were extremely aggressive and extremely prepared and very determined. I think their biggest problem was they were not objective about their case. They believed things they wanted to believe. They tried to prove theories that were absurd. And they tried to demonize Michael Jackson in a way which looked absolutely ridiculous when you really took a close look at the evidence. And they went way over the edge, and it hurt them.

KING: Weren't you very concerned, though, when that tape was allowed in at the end?

MESEREAU: I was concerned. I didn't think there was a legal basis for it. But after looking at it a second time and realizing how many conflicting statements this accuser had made in that interview and how that interview showed the police officer was willing to accept his story before he even investigated the case, the more I looked at it, the more I thought it would probably help us. And based on some of the juror's comments, it did help us.

KING: Emotionally, is it hard to press when you cross-examine an accuser, a young accuser, a mother?

MESEREAU: Well, you have to gauge your cross-examination to the witness. You don't want to look like a bully. You don't want to look like you're -- you're really taking advantage of your position.

However, you have to adjust, depending on the personality in front of you. Some young kids are -- have a level of maturity that's extremely high. And as Chris Tucker said about the accuser, he was very cunning and very smart. We had to take all of that into account and factor our cross-examination accordingly.

And I think you also want a cross-examination -- you want to cross-examine at different speeds with different tones, and you want to do whatever you think will be effective for that particular witness.

You can now compare what we wrote about Michael Jackson on February 14, 2003, December 26, 2003, April 28, 2004, May 1, 2004, May 2, 2004 and May 10, 2004 and note that we were absolutely right, so why did the authorities use countless amounts of taxpayer dollars to destroy Neverland?

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Michael Jackson and Dr. Conrad Murray
Michael Jackson and Dr. Conrad Murray




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