February 28th – March 1st, 2005 Trial Analysis: Summary of Sneddon and Mesereau’s Opening Statements
I will begin my analysis of the 2005 trial of Michael Jackson by summarizing the prosecution’s and defense’s opening statements in this post. Before I begin, I want to give readers an overview of what I set out to accomplish with this arduous task of summarizing the entire 2005 trial (which began on February 28th and ended on June 13th), and I also want to show you one of the most important yet overlooked fundamental facts about the trial:
I have read many excellent pieces of work about the trial, mainly “The Michael Jackson Conspiracy” by Aphrodite Jones (many of her interviews are compiled in this post), as well as the different Associated Press daily trial summaries (which are stored on the MJ Upbeat, Michael Jackson Fan Club, and Genius Michael Jackson websites), CBS News daily summaries, and the Veritas Project (which was an investigative report written by fans to rebut the negative and inaccurate press, and gives the definitive timeline of the allegations, as well as important background information on the major players). I have also spent a considerable amount of time reading the testimonies of many witnesses, as well as numerous pleadings by both the defense and prosecution, and there is so much that I’ve learned that isn’t available in any of those aforementioned resources!
So I decided that since I have possession of all of the testimonies and court pleadings from the trial, that I will write a summary of each and every single witness so that I could help educate both current and future generations of Michael Jackson fans who may be unable to find or purchase “MJ Conspiracy”, or who simply want a quick reference for researching who said what, and when. And since I’ve been complimented numerous times by other fans about how I should write a book about the trial, this is the next best thing to actually doing so! In fact, in many ways blogging about the trial is more efficient than writing a book because I won’t have any time or space constraints, I won’t have to cave in to publisher’s demands as to what to include and exclude, and I can have links to other blogs, articles, and videos. You can use the “Testimonies at the 2005 Trial Summary and Analysis” category (located at the right hand side of the page) to quickly search through our archive of testimony summaries.
This is going to be a laborious and exhausting process for me, but in the end I feel it will be worth it, because I will be able to do my part to help educate both current and future generations of MJ fans with the complete truth of what happened during the 2005 trial. After receiving emails like the one below from fans who are in high school and college, and are using this blog to help them thoroughly and accurately research the allegations, I feel more emboldened than ever to bring my goal of summarizing the entire trial to fruition!
As someone who has been researching Jackson for almost 3 years, I must say that it’s very disappointing that there are many hardcore fans (and advocates for that matter) who have a very complacent and nonchalant attitude towards researching the allegations and knowing all of the intricate facts backwards and forwards (as I stride to do daily!). So many times I’ve talked to fans and advocates about the allegations, and the possibility of reading through all of the transcripts and pleadings, and they say things like “I don’t need to know all of the facts! I already know he was innocent, and set up by Sneddon! Besides, I’ve already read Michael Jackson Conspiracy by Aphrodite Jones!”, or words to that effect. To me, relying solely on “Michael Jackson Conspiracy” (or any other book or article about the allegations) is similar to relying exclusively on the Cliff’s Notes summary of Romeo & Juliet, instead of taking the time to actually read the play!
Reading “Michael Jackson Conspiracy” is not the end of your research on the trial; it is actually the BEGINNING of your research! You shouldn’t become stagnant and satisfied with the information that you know about the trial; you should strive to become as knowledgeable as possible, so that you can help spread that knowledge to others.
Because of the intense research that the admins of the blog have dedicated to investigating the allegations, we’ve been able to discover a lot of pertinent facts that we otherwise would not have known because they were not included in any other books or articles written about the trial. For example, because we have taken the time to read many of the court pleadings, our admin Helena was able to reveal to our readers that Jordan Chandler’s uncle Ray Chandler was subpoenaed to testify in court in September 2004 about the contents of his book “All That Glitters”, which was ghostwritten by Jordan’s father Evan Chandler and insinuates that Jackson was guilty in 1993. But Ray wasn’t subpoenaed by the prosecution, as you would assume, but by the defense! And despite the fact that he gleefully promoted his book in numerous television interviews, he took legal action to quash Mesereau’s subpoena to testify, and he won! The subpoena was sealed, and the general public was never privy to this information until well after the trial concluded. Helena did a multi-part series on Ray’s subpoena, and you can read them here. Similarly, she did a multi-part series on MJ’s art collection, which the prosecution tried to argue was homosexual and child erotica in order to prejudice both the jury and the general public.
I want to make it as easy as possible for both fans and skeptics to know exactly who testified in 2005, what they said, and what impact their testimony had on the case. I want to make bullet points out of all of the lies said about Jackson, and cross reference different people’s testimonies against each other to check for material discrepancies, similar to how we cross-referenced the discrepancies between June Chandler’s 2005 testimony and Jordan Chandler’s 1993 interview with Dr. Gardner, and how we did the same with Jason and Blanca Francia’s testimonies. (Additionally, I have compiled a list of journalists and lawyers who accurately reported on the trial in this post. They were certainly in the minority!) While many people may find these summaries to be long and boring (especially for some of the prosecution’s non-relevant expert witnesses), these summaries will be like a gift from heaven for students researching the case for their class projects, or for journalists and/or fans who decide to write books or essays about Jackson.
So having said all that, I will begin this series with my summary of the prosecution and defense’s opening statements from February 28th and March 1st, 2005. But first, let’s look at a major, significant, and substantial discrepancy between the charges that were leveled at Jackson shortly after his arrest and his indictment:
After MJ’s arrest on November 21st, 2003, there was rampant speculation as to who his accuser(s) was (were), what type of accusations the accuser(s) was (were) making about Jackson, the number of accomplices in Jackson’s inner circle that may have aided and abetted Jackson, etc. (You can watch the complete press conference of District Attorney Tom Sneddon and Sheriff Jim Anderson here on the MJ Truth Now website.) Here is a compilation of the media’s coverage of Jackson’s arrest:
On November 30th, 2010, journalist Charles Thomson conducted an interview with Jackson’s former manager Dieter Wiesner and spokesperson Stuart Backerman about the events surrounding the filming of the “One More Chance” video, which was cancelled on the second day of filming due to the Neverland raid. Here is what Wiesner had to say about Jackson’s reaction to finding out that Neverland had been raided, and that his new accuser was none other than Gavin Arvizo!
Dream Turns into a Nightmare
At roughly 8.30 next morning Stuart Backerman and Jackson cohort Marc Schaffel spoke on the telephone to discuss their departure for Europe the following day. Their conversation was interrupted by an incoming telephone call for Schaffel from Joe Marcus, a security coordinator at Neverland. “It was a weird hour for Joe to be calling,” says Backerman, “so Schaffel said he would call me back.”
A short while later Backerman’s telephone rang. “You gotta turn on the television,” said Schaffel. Backerman switched on his TV and saw the now famous helicopter images of police swarming Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. Led by District Attorney Tom Sneddon, 70 sheriffs from the Santa Barbara Police Department had been dispatched to raid Michael Jackson’s home. “Honestly,” Backerman recalls, “You would have thought it was an army battalion going into an Iraqi village. There were so many of them.”
His heart sank. “At that moment I realized that the European trip and the whole MJ Universe project was finished because by that point Diane Dimond was on, revealing that it was all over a second charge of child molestation.
“Michael was just getting ready to leave the 1993 allegations behind and rebrand himself. We’d just finished dealing with the Martin Bashir scandal and here it was again.” He sighs. “Here it was again.”
In Las Vegas, it fell on manager Dieter Wiesner to break the news to Michael Jackson. “Michael was still in his room,” Wiesner explains. “He was sitting next to the fireplace when I came in and he was very quiet. I had to tell him and it was not easy to tell Michael things like this because he was in such a good mood. He saw a future. When the Bashir situation arose he was very down. Now everything had changed and Michael was ready to do new things. Then, to go to his room and tell him such a bad situation… it was a disaster.
“I told him, ‘Michael, there is bad news but on the other side you have to see it as also good news. The bad news is the police are on the ranch.’ Michael was completely shocked. I was sitting next to him; I had my arm on his shoulder.
“He looked at me and he was really… You could see the blood going out of his face. He was deeply shocked. But I told him, ‘Michael, now you have the chance finally to clear up everything. Once and forever you can clear up everything.'”
News spread quickly amongst the crew. “I saw it on TV that morning and by the time I got to the hotel lobby, everybody else had already found out,” says a crew member. “So we went to work as normal and waited to see what was going to happen.
“Of course, when we got to the soundstage it was a complete zoo with paparazzi and fans. It had leaked where we were shooting. The day before, nobody knew we were shooting or anything.
“We waited that entire day for Michael to come and I think we went back a second day. Then he called finally and said, ‘I’m just not going to be able to come’.”
Jackson spent much of those two days crying, says Dieter Wiesner. “I was sitting with him day and night. He was shocked; he was crying… he didn’t know what to do. It was such a bad situation. We were supposed to go to Europe. He was ready to move on in his life and everything was prepared. It was just a beautiful situation and this news shocked him deeply. Really, it killed him.”
Two days after the Neverland raid Jackson’s depression turned to anger. When it emerged that the boy behind the accusation was none other than Gavin Arvizo, the boy whose hand Jackson had held in the Martin Bashir documentary, Jackson decided to fight.
“You know, when it was clear that this allegation was because of the Arvizos, then he started to really fight the situation,” says Wiesner. “Michael told me, ‘Dieter, you know what, they should bring this young boy into a big place, invite all the press and he should look me in the eyes and tell me that I did this.’ So he was ready to fight.”
That the allegation had come from the Arvizos made the ruination of the MJ Universe project even more galling for Stuart Backerman. “Sneddon didn’t have anything except the word of Janet Arvizo, and she was totally crazy,” says Backerman. “And I know that because I was there and I saw her. She had a track record as long as my right arm. Sneddon just wanted to get Jackson.
“It’s very frustrating to this day. We had the world’s greatest celebrity and he was more focused than he had been for a long time. But the whole thing got cut off by Sneddon.”
It’s important to note what Wiesner said that Jackson wanted to fight the charges, because after his arrest the media went crazy with wild stories about Jackson being suicidal at the thought of being charged with child abuse and facing jail time. (It also fit their narrative that Jackson was guilty, and hence suicidal.)
Shortly after Jackson’s arrest, the Statement of Probable Cause (written by Detective Paul Zelis) was released, and it included the alleged timeline of the allegations, as well as Det. Zelis’ own “diagnosis” of Jackson’s predatory characteristics.
One important fact that jumped out to me as I read this document is that, according to Det. Zelis, Gavin’s younger brother Star Arvizo claimed to have been molested by Jackson while riding on a golf cart at Neverland. Det. Zelis describes these claims on pages 12, 23, & 50:
When asked, Star said Michael Jackson touched him inappropriately. The incident occurred when they were in a golf cart. Star was driving the golf cart and Michael was next to him. Michael then reached over and touched Star’s “testicles and penis” over his clothes with Michael’s left hand. He did not say anything to Michael and continued driving the golf cart.
Yet, Michael Jackson was never charged with molesting Star! Instead, when Tom Sneddon filed his initial felony complaint against Michael Jackson on December 18th, 2003, it consisted of the following allegations by ONLY Gavin, which allegedly occurred from February 7th through March 10th, 2003:
- 7 counts of lewd acts upon a child
- 2 counts of administering an intoxicant
However, in the grand jury indictment that was filed on April 21st, 2004, the dates of the alleged offenses shifted to February 20th through March 12th, 2003, and the charges were materially altered as follows:
- 4 counts of lewd acts upon a child
- 1 count of an attempted lewd act upon a child
- 4 counts of administering an intoxicant
- 1 count of conspiracy to commit child abduction, false imprisonment, and extortion
Why is there such a discrepancy between the charges in the Initial Complaint and the Grand Jury Indictment? We’ll find out as we go through the opening statements, as we discover some important exculpatory information that was discovered by the prosecution shortly after the filing of the initial complaint, which completely rocked their world!
Here is Mesereau’s explanation as to why the prosecution added the conspiracy charge in their Grand Jury Indictment of Jackson; this excerpt is taken from the September 2010 Frozen in Time seminar, which is transcribed in this post:
The prosecution was out to get him in the best way that they could, and I understand that, but I think the person they chose as the victim, as the accuser, and particularly that person’s family, were really a disaster for them. They brought a conspiracy charge that Michael Jackson had masterminded a criminal conspiracy to abduct children, commit extortion, and falsely imprison a family. Michael Jackson couldn’t even imagine such behavior, let alone orchestrate it. And what that charge did for them, and I can’t get in the minds of the prosecutors, but here’s what I think they were doing, is that allowed the mother, who was really the lynchpin of that a lot of the case, to bring in co-conspirator hearsay under the exception. It allowed them to intimidate witnesses who were at Neverland because they would too fearful they would be indicted as conspirators. Great conspiracy here! The only person they charged was Michael Jackson. Everyone else was unindicted. She brings hearsay testimony in, the witnesses that can refute it are terrified to come to court for fear that they’ll be indicted, so they lawyer up. And plus, it makes Michael Jackson look like this “Mafioso-type” guru, which he’s not even capable of being.
On June 29th, 2004, Jackson’s defense team filed a massive 212 page motion titled “NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION TO SET ASIDE THE INDICTMENT”, which was an attempt to have Jackson’s grand jury indictment thrown out due to the following reasons (here are some of their bullet points):
The So-Called “Evidence” Presented to the Jury: much of the evidence presented was inadmissible over objection at trial.
The Indictment Constituted an Unwarranted Prosecution: Tom Sneddon and his prosecutors abused the grand jury process by bullying witnesses, allowed prejudicial material to be used as evidence, argued improper inferences to the jurors, etc.
The Admissible Evidence Is Insufficient To Establish A Strong Suspicion Of The Elements Necessary To Show Mr. Jackson Was Part of a Conspiracy: Innuendo, guilt by association, inflammatory and prejudicial material was presented as evidence and influenced the jury to indict.
Mere Association With The Perpetrator of a Crime Is Not Sufficient Evidence To Establish Participation In A Criminal Conspiracy: Mr. Jackson was the only alleged co-conspirator who was indicted despite the fact that, even under the prosecution’s version of facts, based on inadmissible evidence, he was the lease involved in the conspiracy of any of the alleged co-conspirators.
The Prosecution Presented The Grand Jury With A Tremendous Amount of Inadmissible And Irrelevant Evidence: The fact that prosecutors introduced inadmissible evidence, bullied witnesses, allowed extremely prejudicial material to come in, gave short shrift to the law, vouched for their version of facts over that of sworn witnesses, and argued improper inferences, is an additional basis to set aside the indictment.
For obvious reasons, I will not reprint the entire transcript of the opening statements (or anyone’s testimony, for that matter), as it is entirely too long and too boring for a blog. I intend to use bullet points to summarize the opening statements, however. Before I start with Sneddon’s opening statement, I want to give you a quote from Judge Rodney Melville’s statement to the defense, prosecution, and jury, about the meaning of an opening statement:
An opening statement is not evidence. Because it is not evidence, do not take any notes during the opening statement. Neither is it argument. Counsel are not permitted to argue the case at this point in the proceedings. An opening statement is simply an outline by counsel of what he or she believes or expects the evidence will show in this trial. Its sole purpose is to assist you in understanding the case as it is presented to you.
Here is a basic overview of Sneddon’s opening statement, taken from journalist Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone Magazine. I don’t think he could have put it more succinctly!
The prosecution’s case therefore boils down to this: in a panic over negative publicity, Jackson conspires to kidnap a boy and force him to deny acts of molestation that in fact never happened, and then he gets over his panic just long enough to actually molest the child at the very moment when the whole world is watching.
It is a fantastic argument, a bilious exercise in circular prosecutorial logic: conspiracy to commit conspiracy, false imprisonment for the sake of it, followed by a sudden act of utter self-destructive madness. And none of it makes sense, until you actually watch Sneddon operate in court.
And here is CBS News Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen’s reaction to Sneddon’s opening statement:
If style mattered over substance, and sometimes it does in court, than the defense has the advantage after the first day of the trial. Sneddon’s opening statement was plodding and included way too many dates, names and petty details. Moreover, it meandered willy-nilly back and forth along the timeline that jurors will need to grasp if they are to convict Jackson. By the end, the monologue seemed like a book about Russian history, where all the names are so jumbled together and unfamiliar that they lose most of their meaning. That’s not a recipe for a good start to a long criminal trial.
Now, there was only so much Sneddon could do with a case that involves so many different characters, most of whom he says were acting at Jackson’s behest. But surely Sneddon could have simplified the presentation more than he did. There will be plenty of time in this case to offer details and nuance and complexity– opening statements should be a time for clarity, for themes, for sucking jurors into a compelling story that they will keep with them during the long days ahead. Sneddon obviously didn’t lose the case Monday– I’ve seen plenty of terrible opening statements precede big trial victories– but he didn’t take full advantage of his opportunity, either.
Why would Taibbi and Cohen be so hard on Sneddon? Let’s find out! I will make a bullet point summary of the opening statements, but before we get to it, I would like to prove to you the authenticity of the court transcripts that I will be using to summarize the trial:
Here is an email correspondence between myself and the official court reporter who transcribed everyone’s testimony from the trial, Michelle Mattson McNeil, RPR, CRR, CSR #3304:
Here is a sample of the certification of the testimony that is included at the end of the transcript of each day’s testimony:
Here is an explanation what those certifications mean:
- Certified Shorthand Reporter: This credential certifies a candidate’s written knowledge and dictation. The candidate must score at least 75% on the written knowledge portion of the test. The dictation portion of the exam requires the candidate to attain 95% accuracy for 5 minutes at 200 words per minute (wpm) of variable material and 95% accuracy for 5 minutes at 225 wpm of two-voice testimony. The candidate must also transcribe both sections of the dictation portion within a three-hour time limit.
- Registered Professional Reporter: This credential certifies a candidate’s understanding and use of the English language, grammar and spelling, technology, medical and legal terminologies, and the ability to accurately write and translate varying types of material at high speeds. The nationally recognized RPR examination includes a three-part skills test and a Written Knowledge Test (WKT). The skills portion of the exam is a dictation test of literary matter at 180 wpm, jury charge at 200 wpm and testimony at 225 wpm. The WKT portion additionally tests those areas of knowledge needed to perform the duties of a court reporter, such as English language, relevant technology, diverse terminology, courtroom rules and procedures, transcript format, use of research materials, and professional responsibility.
- Certified Realtime Reporter: This credential certifies a candidate’s ability to write realtime at variable speeds ranging from 180 to 200 words per minute at a minimum “first pass” accuracy rate of 96%. The CRR candidate must possess the requisite knowledge to implement the necessary technology to immediately generate and provide an electronic file of the realtime transcript.
And to verify the authenticity of the court pleadings that I will reference throughout this series, here is information about theRemote Electronic Access for Extraordinary Criminal Cases website, which was set up by the Superior Court of Santa Barbara County as way for the media and general public to be able download the official court transcripts and pleadings without bombarding the staff with requests, which would have been unprecedented due to the unusual amount of interest in the case. Judge Rodney Melville discussed the formation of this website during the Frozen In Time seminar in September 2010, and here’s an excerpt:
On another level, we sought help from the judicial counsel. There were huge numbers of motions and declarations through the pretrial hearings. It totaled thousands of pages, and the clerk’s office couldn’t possibly handle the large demand for copies of everything that was filed. So we made application to the judicial counsel to have them amend the rule to already allow access to civil cases. We wanted that changed to allow electronic access to this criminal case and other unusual criminal cases. In a highly debated session, members of the judicial council voted 9-to-9 on this rule. This required the chief justice to break the tie, and he voted to allow us to have this new electronic rule allowing unusual criminal cases to be displayed electronically. Without this rule change, we would have required at least two or three more clerks, and certainly more sophisticated copying information, or support electronics. So to this day, whenever I see the Chief Justice I think him again for breaking that tie vote!
Here is a video that describes the creation of the website. Notice at the 5:35 mark, SBC Executive Officer Gary Blair mentions how the site prevents the media from sensationalizing documents that don’t even exist, and Richard Goldman, Dean of Santa Barbara College of Law, states that the site prevents the media from running rampant with speculation. (Although they still managed to do so anyway!)
So now there should be no questions about the authenticity of the transcripts or the pleadings. Let me now take the opportunity to introduce everyone to the judge, prosecution, and defense attorneys in the Jackson trial:
Judge Rodney Melville: Here is his bio from the Superior Court of California website:
Appointed to the Municipal Court Bench by Governor George Deukmejian in 1987, Judge Melville served in that capacity for 3 years. Elevated by Governor Deukmejian in 1990 he served on the Superior Court for 17 years. Judge Melville retired as Judge for the Superior Court in 2007. During his 20 years on the bench Judge Melville experienced every type of litigation and completed three terms of service as the Court’s Presiding Judge.
As a Superior Court Judge he had extensive experience in Criminal, Civil, Family Law and Probate matters. He was instrumental in establishing the Court’s first Substance Abuse Treatment Court. As a private attorney in the firm of Melville & Iwasko he distinguished himself as a competent and capable trial lawyer with his work in Criminal and Civil matters. During this time he became a State Certified Specialist in Family Law. Prior to moving to Santa Maria in 1971 he served as a deputy district attorney in the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office for 2 years.
Thomas Sneddon, District Attorney
Ron Zonen, Assistant District Attorney
By the way, Zonen mentioned the use of pretext phone calls in cases that he’s prosecuted, but Gavin refused to make one to Jackson in this case! Here is an excerpt from Mesereau’s closing statement on June 3rd, 2005:
16 But typically in this kind of investigation,
17 you have what is called a pretext phone call.
18 Typically, the police will get the alleged victim,
19 they will sit with the alleged victim, and they will
20 talk about making a phone call to the person who’s
21 suspected of committing the crime. And I’m sure
22 you’re familiar with this from television. They
23 will make the phone call. The so-called victim
24 makes the call, and the so-called victim is told to
25 ask certain questions that are incriminating in
27 For example, Gavin could have called Michael
28 Jackson and said, “Why did you improperly touch me? 12935
1 Why did you do that to me in bed? Why did you touch
2 me that day we were together? Why, when we were in
3 the wine cellar drinking, did you do this or do
4 that?” And typically the police are listening in,
5 and they’re recording it, and that becomes their
6 primary evidence.
7 Now, particularly in a case like this, where
8 you have no independent witnesses, with credibility,
9 watching the alleged molestation, and you have no
10 forensic evidence to support it, you would think, if
11 they did anything, it would have been a phone call
12 like that.
13 You know why they didn’t do it?
14 Look at that police interview. Gavin
15 refuses. Doesn’t want to make a call to Michael
16 Jackson. And Gavin is someone who has been schooled
17 by his parents to very effortlessly call
18 celebrities, one after another, after another, after
19 another. He’s not shy about phone calls. He’s not
20 shy about contacting Jay Leno, Chris Tucker, Michael
21 Jackson, Suli McCullough, you name it.
22 Why no recorded phone conversation with an
23 incriminating statement from Michael Jackson?
24 Because he knew if he did that, he wouldn’t get an
25 incriminating statement, because it didn’t happen.
26 Now, they’ll probably tell you he was
27 terrified, he was scared, he was traumatized to be
28 on the phone. That’s a bunch of baloney. 12936
Gordon Auchincloss, Assistant District Attorney: Here is his bio from the Santa Barbara County website:
J. Gordon Auchincloss has been a Deputy District Attorney for the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s office for twenty years. During that time, he has served as a Senior Deputy District Attorney, Acting Chief Trial Deputy and Acting Chief Assistant District Attorney. Over his career, he has successfully prosecuted over a thousand cases including murder, attempted murder, major sex crimes, major narcotics vendors and major white-collar crimes.
Raised locally, Gordon attended high school, college and law school in Santa Barbara. He currently sits on the board of the PARC Foundation and The Santa Barbara Children’s Museum and is a longstanding volunteer for The Counsel on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Fighting Back program acting as both a mentor and a Teen Court judge.
In July 2010, Gordon was appointed Chief Deputy District Attorney by District Attorney Joyce Dudley. In that capacity he is currently assigned to supervise vulnerable victim crimes including sex crimes and crimes involving domestic violence; financial crimes and misdemeanor operations. Gordon is also tasked with forming and supervising a new prosecution team to focus on White-Collar Crime including Major Fraud cases, Financial Elder Abuse and Cyber Crimes.
Thomas Mesereau & Susan Yu:
Brian Oxman (who was fired before the trial ended):
I want to take this moment to define the meaning of some very common courtroom jargon that readers will need to understand in order to comprehend what is going on in the courtroom as they read the transcripts:
Objection: An ‘objection’ is simply a kind of motion. An ‘objection’ is asking the judge to exclude evidence that the other side is seeking to offer. For example, you might object that a question calls for hearsay. Or, you might object that the information sought by the question is irrelevant. So, an ‘objection’ is asking the judge to make a ruling that an evidence that the other side seeks to offer is inadmissible.
Sustained: Sustained means that a judge has upheld an objection; so if a party objects that a question calls irrelevant information, for example, and the judge sustains the objection, then that question will not be answered and the adversary has to ask another question.
Overruled: Overruled is the opposite of sustained. This means that the judge disagrees with the objection, that it is not the thing that the objection is valid and will let either a question stand if the objection was to the answer of the question or will let the answer stand if the objection was to the answer.
Here are a list of the most common types of objections in a criminal trial.
COMMON TRIAL OBJECTIONS
1. “Objection, your Honor, the question is ambiguous.”
A question is ambiguous if:
It may be misunderstood by the witness. It is objectionable on the ground that it may take on more than one meaning.
2. “Objection, your Honor, the question is argumentative.”
A question is argumentative if:
It is asked for the purpose of persuading the jury or the judge, rather than to elicit information.
It calls for an argument in answer to an argument contained in the question.
It calls for no new facts, but merely asks the witness to concede to inferences drawn by the examiner from proved or assumed facts.
3. “Objection, your Honor, the question has been asked and answered.”
A question may be objectionable on the ground that the witness has already answered a substantially similar question asked by the same attorney on the same subject matter.
4. “Objections, your Honor, the question assumes facts not in evidence.”
A question assumes facts not in evidence if:
It presumes unproved facts to be true. Example: “When did you stop beating your wife?” This question assumes that the person has beaten his wife.
5. “Objection, your Honor, the question is compound.”
A question is objectionable on the ground that it is compound if:
It joins two or more questions ordinarily joined with the word “or” or the word “and.”
6. “Objection, your Honor, the question is too general.”
A question is too general, broad, or indefinite, if:
It permits the witness to respond with testimony which may be irrelevant or otherwise inadmissible. Each question should limit the witness to a specific answer on a specific subject.
7. “Objection, your Honor, the question is hearsay.”
A question is hearsay if:
It invites the witness to offer an out-of-court statement to prove the truth of some matter in court. There are many exceptions to the hearsay rule.
A question is irrelevant if:
It invites or causes the witness to give evidence not related to the facts of the case at hand.
8.”Objection, your Honor, the question is leading.”
A question is leading if:
It is one that suggests to the witness the answer the examining party desires. However, this type of question is allowed on cross-examination of a witness.
9. “Objection, your Honor, the question mis-states the evidence.”
A question misstates the evidence if:
It misstates or misquotes the testimony of a witness or any other evidence produced at a hearing or at a trial.
10. “Objection, your Honor, the question calls for a narrative answer.”
A question calls for a “narrative answer” if:
It invites the witness to narrate a series of occurrences, which may produce irrelevant or otherwise inadmissible testimony.
Question and Answer interrogation is the standard format. It allows opposing counsel to object to improper questions.
11. “Objection, your Honor, the question calls for speculation.”
A question is speculative if:
It invites or causes the witness to speculate or answer on the basis of conjecture.
Now, here is my summary of Sneddon’s opening statement:
1. In the year 2000, Gavin Arvizo was a young cancer victim who was knocking on death’s door. During his fight with cancer, Gavin and his family were introduced to comedian Jamie Masada, the owner of The Laugh Factory in Los Angeles. Masada sponsored camps each summer for underprivileged children, and grew fond of the Arvizo family due to Gavin’s sickness, and vowed to do anything he could to help. So Masada arranged for Gavin to meet Jackson via the Make A Wish foundation.
2. After several months of talking to Gavin on the phone, Jackson invited the entire family to Neverland in August 2000. On the last night of their stay, Sneddon alleges that Jackson asked Gavin to ask his parents for permission to sleep in his bedroom, and they said yes. That night, Sneddon alleges that Jackson and Frank Cascio showed pornographic material to Gavin and Star Arvizo on a laptop computer.
3. The Arvizo’s went to Neverland a few more times in 2000, but Jackson was not there. They didn’t go to Neverland at all during 2001. In the fall of 2002, Jackson invited them back to Neverland so that he could include them in his documentary with Martin Bashir. He wanted Gavin to explain to the world how much Jackson helped him during his time of need. Gavin came to the ranch, shot that scene, and went home the next morning, and there was no additional contact between Jackson and the Arvizos until just before the documentary aired.
4. Jackson and his inner circle received an advance copy of the final transcript of the Bashir documentary and realized that it would make him look like a child abuser, so (according to Sneddon) he reached out to the Arvizos and invited them to join him in Florida so that they could schedule a press conference with the media to deny the allegations of abuse that were insinuated from the documentary. The Arvizo family flew to Miami with Chris Tucker on his chartered jet on February 5th, 2003, the day before the documentary aired in the United States.
5. According to Sneddon, Jackson had five people in his inner circle that conspired to force the Arvizos into shooting a rebuttal video to deny any abuse, and to fly them to Brazil to escape the media attention. These five people were Frank Cascio, Ronald Konitzer, Marc Schaffel, Dieter Wiesner, and Vincent Amen.
6. On February 7th, Jackson, his children and their nannies, the Arvizos, Dr. Al-Farschian, the younger brother and sister of Frank Cascio, and others flew on a chartered plane back to Neverland. According to Sneddon, the Arvizos consumed alcohol on the flight, and Jackson caressed Gavin Arvizo’s face and licked his forehead as he slept next to him. Once they landed, the family was taken straight to Neverland.
7. During this time period, with multiple news networks airing hit pieces on Jackson (which Helena discussed in this post), and trying to get him to grant them an interview, and Schaffel was trying to put together a rebuttal to Bashir’s documentary called “The Footage You Were Never Meant To See” (which can be viewed side by side with Bashir’s documentary on this website). According to Sneddon, Schaffel told Janet that “the killers” were out to get her and her family, and that they needed to cooperate with Jackson and do the rebuttal video by reading a script that they were provided.
8. On February 12th, 2003, Janet asks Jesus Salas to take her and her family from the ranch, and he takes them to the residence of Janet’s parent’s, and then to the apartment of Jay Jackson (Janet’s then fiancé.) According to Sneddon, there were over 40 phone calls made to Janet by Frank Cascio to get her to come back to Neverland, and in these calls he promises Janet that neither Dieter Weizner or Ronald Konitzer will be there. He also told her that a trip to Brazil was in the works, and Jackson would meet the family there. Janet agreed to return to Neverland on February 17th, 2003, but left by herself and was driven back home by Chris Carter when she discovered that Weizner and Konitzer were there at the ranch.
9. The principal of the middle school that the Arvizos attended contacted the Los Angeles Department of Child and Family Services and lodged a complaint, and asked them to look into allegations that Jackson abused Gavin, and to see if Janet is an unfit mother. They contacted Janet and scheduled an interview with the family for February 20th, 2003. According to Sneddon, Frank Cascio gave Janet an ultimatum: either she agreed to film the rebuttal video, or she would not have access to her children. So Janet agreed to film it, and it was filmed and completed on February 20th, 2003.
10. According to Sneddon, the Arvizo children were all taken back to Neverland as soon as their interview with the DCFS was over (on February 20th), and Vincent Amen took Janet Arvizo to get duplicates made of the Arvizo family’s birth certificates in order to get expedited passports for their trip to Brazil.
11. On February 25th, 2003 the Arvizo family was taken from Neverland to the Calabasas Inn, and Amen and Tyson stayed with them in order to keep a watchful eye over them and make sure that they did not escape before their trip to Brazil. The family stayed there until March 2nd, 2003.
12. During that time, according to Sneddon, Amen checks out Gavin and Star Arvizo from school, and puts on the checkout form that the family is moving to Arizona. The family’s possessions are put into storage, and Amen paid two months’ rent in order to keep the family from losing their apartment.
13. According to Sneddon, the period of March 2nd to March 12th (the last day that the Arvizo family was at the ranch) is when Jackson started to abuse Gavin.
14. During this time, Jackson allegedly masturbated Gavin twice in his bedroom as Gavin laid on his bed, passed out from intoxication, and these two acts were witnessed by Star (who also allegedly witnessed numerous empty bottles of wine). There were two other occasions when Jackson allegedly masturbated Gavin without any witnesses present. On another occasion, as the brothers were lying in Jackson’s bed watching TV, Jackson allegedly entered the room wearing no clothes, and with an erection, and asked them to take off of their clothes, but they ran downstairs. On another occasion, Jackson allegedly told Gavin that he should masturbate because if he doesn’t, he may “go crazy and go out and rape a woman”.
15. On March 9th, 2003 Gavin allegedly told Jackson that he was worried that the alcohol that Jackson plied him with would be detected during his urine test, which was scheduled to be performed by doctors on March 10th in order to see if his kidney was functioning properly. Gavin allegedly confessed to his mother Janet that Jackson plied him with alcohol, and she was so upset that she allegedly sent Davallin to get her brothers from Jackson’s room, but to no avail.
16. The next day (March 10th), according to Sneddon, Amen took Gavin and Janet to Kaiser Hospital, and on the way there Amen claims that the bottle of urine spilled open, and most of the contents were lost, but Janet didn’t believe it at all, and thought that it was an attempt to prevent the alcohol in the urine from being detected by doctors.
17. According to Sneddon, Janet became so upset that she decided to finally leave Neverland once and for all, so she had Amen drive her to a beauty parlor that was located close to where her fiancé Jay Jackson was stationed. She called him and asked him to come down and take her home, and he did. But Gavin wanted to stay at the ranch, so he was brought back.
18. On March 11th, 2003 Janet Arvizo had to go to court for a divorce hearing, and she called Frank Tyson and told him that her kids needed to be with her in court, and he promised her they would be there, but instead he shows up alone. Out of frustration, Janet promises Frank that she and the family will agree to go to Brazil, but first they must visit her sick father at his apartment. The children are told to pack their bags, and they are brought from Neverland to their grandparent’s home (ironically, they did not want to leave Neverland).
19. Janet contacted attorney Bill Dickerman to help her get her furniture from out of storage, and to get the “Living With Michael Jackson” documentary pulled from the air due to its inclusion of Gavin without her consent. Dickerman referred the Arvizos to attorney Larry Feldman, due to his prior litigation against Jackson in 1993. Feldman referred Gavin and Star to psychologist Stan Katz, to whom they first disclosed their abuse, and Katz notified the authorities, which commenced the investigation and subsequent arrest and indictment of Jackson.
That was my summary of Sneddon’s opening statement; now here is Sneddon’s summary of the case from the PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR ADMISSION OF EVIDENCE OF DEFENDANT’S PRIOR SEXUAL OFFENSES, which was filed on December 10th, 2004 (pay attention to the dates that Sneddon claimed the Arvizo family left Neverland for the last time):
Statement Of The Current Case
Gavin Avizo met the defendant in 2001. He was 11 years old and was being treated for cancer. At the height of his illness he was not expected to live. Gavin and his younger brother, Star had previously attended a comedy camp at the Laugh Factory, a comedy theater in Los Angeles. The owner, Jaime Masada, introduced Gavin to a number of celebrities in an effort to boost his spirits and encourage his recovery. One of the celebrities Gavin asked to meet was Michael Jackson. Masada arranged the introduction.
Jackson called Gavin at the hospital and had a lengthy conversation with him followed by many more phone conversations. That resulted in an invitation to visit him at Neverland, Jackson’s 2800 acre ranch in Santa Ynez. The first visit was with the entire family, Gavin’s mother Janet, his father, David, his sister Davellin, and his brother Star. As early as the first visit Gavin and Star stayed in Jackson’s room in the main residence while his parents and sister stayed in the guest cottages away from the house. On that first visit Jackson gave Gavin a lap top computer. He then showed Gavin and Star how to access pornography on the Internet.
Gavin returned to Neverland many times thereafter, usually with his father, sister and brother. If Jackson was there the boys stayed with him in his room, usually in his bed. Jackson gave Gavin a sport utility vehicle. Although Gavin’s father drove it, the vehicle was a gift to Gavin. After the car broke down it was returned to Jackson. By age 12 Gavin was recovering from his cancer. These visits to Neverland began tapering off. By age 13 the boy lost contact with Jackson and had stopped visiting. Then in the spring of 2002 Gavin and Star were invited to return to Neverland by Chris Tucker, a celebrity previously introduced to the boys by Masada. Tucker took the boys back to Neverland to celebrate his son’s first year birthday.
Later in the fall of 2002 Michael Jackson called and invited the kids back. Gavin, Star and Davellin returned to Neverland for a visit. They were introduced to a man named Martin Bashir. Although the boys did not know it, Bashir was a journalist working on a documentary on Michael Jackson. Gavin had previously told Jackson he was interested in being an actor. Jackson asked Gavin to agree to be interviewed by Bashir, telling him it would be like an audition.
In February 2003 the Bashir documentary “Living with Michael Jackson” aired in England. It was highly critical of Jackson’s lifestyle and revealed his custom of sleeping with children not his own. Gavin was featured seated next to Jackson, holding his hand and leaning his head on Jackson’s shoulder. He was identified by his true first name.
Soon after “Living with Michael Jackson” aired in England, Gavin received a call from Jackson. Jackson asked that he come with him to Miami to appear in a press conference which hopefully would stem some of the negative publicity. Gavin said he would do so but only if his siblings and his mother came with him. Jackson objected to Gavin’s mother coming along, but he ultimately agreed.
Gavin, his sister, brother and mother were flown to Miami with Chris Tucker in a private jet. Gavin’s father, David, was no longer part of the picture. After years of abusing Janet, he was restrained by court order from seeing his wife or children. Jackson was well aware of the strife in the Arvizo family.
In Miami the family stayed at the Turnberry Resort hotel with many members of Jackson’s entourage. While Gavin and his family were in Miami “Living with Michael Jackson” aired in the United States. Jackson forbade any of the people with him in his suite, including the Arvizo family, to watch the program.
There was no press conference, and the Arvizo family returned to California and to Neverland Ranch two days later.
Mrs. Arvizo was informed by one of Jackson’s employees that she and her children had to move to Brazil for their own safety. From the time of their return to Neverland on February 7, 2003 to the time of their ultimate escape from the ranch on March 10th, the Arvizo children stayed exclusively at Neverland, except for a couple of days in Los Angeles and a few days in Calabasas in the company of Jackson’s employees, preparing for the Arvizos’ departure to Brazil. Jackson took them to “Toys R Us” in Santa Maria and treated them to a shopping spree. While in Calabasas they all purchased new clothes, presumably for their trip to Brazil. When Jackson was present at the ranch the boys stayed with him in his bedroom. Otherwise they stayed in the guest cottage. Davellin and her mother always stayed in one of the ranch’s guest cottages. Increasingly, Janet lost contact with her sons. She stayed in the guest cottage most of the day and had little interaction with the boys. Even Davellin started to lose contact with them. She did not go in Jackson’s bedroom and felt her connection with her brothers weakening.
The boys did not attend school, had no homework to do, and were given no responsibilities. They spent their days enjoying the many games, rides and race cars at Neverland. At night they retired to Jackson’s room. Jackson had nicknames for the boys, like ‘Rubba,” “Dodohead” or “Applehead.” When Jackson was there he drank heavily and encouraged the boys to do so as well. On one occasion he presented himself to the boys naked and assured them it was a natural thing. He asked them about masturbation and whether they did it. He simulated a sex act with a mannequin of a female child he had in his room. He told them a story of how a boy once had sex with a dog because he did not masturbate. He told them he had to do it or he would go crazy. When Gavin told him he did not do it, Jackson became offended, told him he was lying and that Gavin did not trust him. Jackson offered to teach him how to do it.
Although Gavin was drinking regularly when Jackson was there, he has a clear recollection of at least two incidents of being in Jackson’s bed and Jackson masturbating him with one hand inserted in his underwear while masturbating himself with his other hand. Gavin said there may have been other events but he was too intoxicated to be certain.
Gavin’s brother Star witnessed two separate acts of Jackson molesting Gavin, which caused Star to stop sleeping in Jackson’s bedroom. On both occasions Star came into Jackson’s bedroom late in the evening to go to sleep. Jackson’s bed was located in the upstairs portion of his bedroom suite. To get there, Star had to open the door affording access to the downstairs portion of the bedroom suite by entering the combination on the keypad for the door’s lock. Star could then walk up the stairs to the bedroom itself. As he was climbing the stairs and neared the top, Star reached the level where he could see Jackson’s bed through the railing that separated the stairwell from the bedroom area. He saw his brother Gavin and Jackson in the bed, lying side by side. On both occasions it appeared to Star that Gavin was asleep or unconscious and that Jackson was masturbating Gavin and himself.
On each occasion, Star turned before reaching the top of the stairs, left and went to the guest cottage to sleep. Star did not sleep in Jackson’s bedroom thereafter.
Janet had to use subterfuge to finally get her children away from Neveriand. She had her parents call and tell the kids they (the children’s grandparents) were ill and wanted to see them. Janet negotiated with one of Jackson’s men for a day visit by the children with their grandparents, and the kids were delivered to her parents’ home in El Monte. The children did not want to leave Neverland. Gavin, in particular, was upset at learning he would not be allowed to return.
After leaving Neverland on March 11, 2003, Janet and her parents in El Monte received numerous phone calls from Jackson’s employees encouraging Janet and the children to return to Neverland. They did not do so. Jackson’s employees had emptied her apartment and moved all of the family’s possessions into storage and refused to tell Janet where. Janet contacted a lawyer in an attempt to get her property returned. Janet also asked attorney Bill Dickerman to attempt to stop the airing of “Living with Michael Jackson,” because she had been given no prior knowledge of her son’s involvement in the production of the documentary, and because the airing of the program was exposing her children to public ridicule. She knew nothing of her child being molested at the time.
Dickerman referred them to Attorney Larry Feldman who had previously sued Michael Jackson for molesting another 13-year-old boy, Jordan Chandler, ten years earlier. Attorney Feldman immediately referred the boys to psychologist Stan Katz. It was to Dr. Katz that the boys first disclosed the sexual abuse. That commenced a lengthy and extensive investigation resulting in the indictment of Michael Jackson.
Before I continue, I want to show you an obvious discrepancy in Sneddon’s timeline, and this is the first of many that you will see throughout this trial. In Sneddon’s motion from December 2004, he stated that the date of the Arvizo’s “escape” from Neverland was March 10th, 2003, and later stated that it was March 11th, 2003! But in his opening statement, he said they left Neverland for the last time on March 12th, 2003!
24 I believe that the records from the ranch
25 logs and the testimony from individuals involved
26 here will show that from basically March the 2nd to
27 March the 5th, that the defendant and the Arvizos
28 were on the ranch together. That again, from March 115
1 9th until March 12th, when the Arvizos left for the
2 last time, that the Jackson — Michael Jackson, the
3 defendant in this case, was present.
I also want to point out two things that literally jumped out at me as I read Sneddon’s Opening Statement: first, he admitted that Neverland was a beautiful place that Jackson has used to bring happiness to underprivileged and sick children! So if Sneddon himself doesn’t doubt that Jackson truly cared for children, nobody else should!
1 THE COURT: Mr. Sneddon. Go ahead.
2 MR. SNEDDON: Thank you, Your Honor.
3 Ladies and gentlemen, the scene for most of
4 the events that occur in this particular case is
5 going to be the defendant’s home, Neverland Valley
6 Ranch. And I think you’ll get a very good feel for
7 the ranch through videos that are going to be shown
8 probably by both sides, as well as snippets of tape
9 and footage that is shown in the Martin Bashir
11 But for just a moment, since probably most
12 or none of you have an idea of what the ranch is
13 like, I want to take you on a little visual tour of
14 what it is.
15 And I want to say, first and foremost, that
16 the ranch is something that is a beautiful thing.
17 And it’s been used for beautiful causes. For the
18 children, the underprivileged children, for the
19 children who have been suffering, who have been
20 brought there to share a day or a weekend on the
21 ranch. It’s something very good.
22 But just like so many things in life,
23 something very good can end up being, on another
24 occasion, in another setting, something very bad.
25 And several of the witnesses in this case
26 are going to tell you that some of the young
27 visitors at the ranch, that stay on and that visit
28 with Mr. Jackson, and who are there on a prolonged 45
1 basis, begin to change because of the personality of
2 the ranch.
Second, Sneddon also admitted that Martin Bashir tricked Jackson into trusting him to portray him in a positive light with that documentary. So if Sneddon himself didn’t doubt Bashir’s treachery, then nobody else should!
20 Marc Schaffel, through his contacts in the
21 media, had received an advanced copy of the
22 transcript of the Bashir documentary. And he
23 immediately contacted Ronald Konitzer. And they
24 immediately contacted Michael Jackson. And it was
25 apparent to anybody who saw it that even though the
26 video starts out in a very favorable way to the
27 defendant, that the totality of the video was
28 clearly not what the defendant anticipated, what he 71
1 expected, but it was clearly a boomerang on a
2 comeback attempt, and they saw it as a public
3 relations disaster.
4 The entire video was broadcast in England
5 for the first time on February the 3rd of 2003 to 17
6 million people in Europe on a show called “Trevor
8 As I said, Bashir was less than
9 complimentary, and he expressed open disbelief and
10 concern about Jackson’s admissions and his behavior
11 with children, both his and others.
12 So there will be no argument about the fact
13 that somehow Bashir had tricked the defendant into
14 going into this topic or somehow misled him down a
Now that we’ve heard Sneddon’s opening statement, I want to show you what Jackson’s confession would look like if he would have written one. This is designed to be a parody of what it would look like, but it’s based completely on the prosecution’s case! This parody appeared originally on the MJJR.net website (the author’s own commentary appears in red):
I’ve often criticized the media for lacking objectivity when dealing with the allegations against Michael Jackson. It suddenly occurred to me that I was being completely hypocritical. How unfair of me to assume that he is innocent just because the father of his first accuser admittedly plied his son with a memory altering drug and was caught on tape discussing a plan to destroy Michael Jackson. I now see the error of my ways and have decided to entertain the notion that Michael Jackson might be guilty. I’ve taken on the role of the accused and looked at this from the perspective of a guilty man. Here’s what I came up with:
Hi, I’m Michael Jackson, the most selective pedophile in the world. While most child molesters have hundreds of victims, I have a one boy every ten year average. The thing is, I’m only attracted to kids who have greedy, lawsuit-happy parents. Remember back in 1993? Let me refresh your memory.
Evan Chandler, the father of my first victim, demanded $20 million in return for his silence. I had every intention of paying him off eventually but I decided to let him turn me in first. I figured it would be fun to be publicly humiliated, strip searched, investigated by the police and all that other great stuff that comes along with being accused of sexual abuse. There was that little problem of going to jail but luckily for me, I came up with this brilliant plan to pay the boy not to testify (gee, what a concept! I wish I’d thought of this when Evan Chandler first tried to blackmail me). It seems, however, that there’s a typo in the settlement document because apparently it says that the boy and his family could have still testified against me in a criminal trial… WHOOPS!
Even though my stupid lawyers messed up my witness tampering plan, I still got off because the kid didn’t want to testify against me in the criminal trial. Neither did his parents; it seems that once they got their paycheck, the Chandlers no longer felt it was necessary to get justice for their poor molested son. Talk about good luck, huh? The first boy I decided to molest just happened to have parents who were willing to prostitute their kid. Evan even asked a judge to allow him to release an album of songs about the abuse. Cool, huh? That Evan Chandler is a great guy.
For the next ten years I went cold turkey. That all changed after a little documentary called “Living with Michael Jackson” aired. I knew the kid who was shown on the documentary for almost two years and never touched him until after I paraded him around on national television and talked about our innocent, non-sexual sleepovers. Then everybody started saying that something sexual was going on and I thought, “Hey that’s not a bad idea. But shit, he’ll probably turn me in if I molest him so lemme hire a lawyer first.” Then I called Mark Geragos and asked him to defend me in a crime that I hadn’t committed yet!
Once I had the right legal representation, everything was set. The family and I were still on friendly terms at this point but I kidnapped them all, stole their furniture and forced them to say nice things about me on camera. Why did I go to all that trouble? Well, I wanted to improve my image after the Martin Bashir documentary aired (don’t ask how the furniture fits into all of this). For some reason, however, I didn’t include the footage of the family in my rebuttal video to Bashir’s documentary… kinda defeats the purpose of my kidnapping scheme, huh? After getting their statements on tape, I then molested the boy even though the whole point of the conspiracy was to convince the world that I wasn’t a child molester. Wrap your head around that one.
Now you’re probably thinking I’m a total asshole at this point but I swear, I wasn’t that bad to the family. I bought them gifts, gave them my credit cards, allowed them to go on shopping sprees, let them visit their civil lawyers – how many other child molesting kidnappers extend such privileges to their victims? Shit, I even let the mother phone a friend and everything. From what I hear she actually told her friend – let’s call him Jamie Masada – that I was holding her against her will. Hey, don’t look at me. It’s not my fault that the idiot didn’t bother contacting the police!
Anyway, things were going according to my plan until I found out the Department of Children and Family Services and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department were going to launch an investigation. Luckily, my entire staff knew about what was going on, accompanied the kid to his interview and intimidated him into saying nothing was wrong. For some reason, the DCFS and the SBCSD didn’t pick up on the fact that the family was being held hostage. Strange huh? Oh well, in the words of my man Tom Sneddon, “it’s LA, what do you expect?” Wait a minute… his department investigated too. Ah, whatever, either way I was cleared of any wrongdoing. Although it was a close call, I decided to molest the kid after being investigated by authorities. Makes sense, right?
My plan hit another glitch when the family escaped from Neverland. For whatever reason, they didn’t go to the police after their great escape (phew!) and I was even able to talk them into coming back. I then came up with a cunning plan to ship them off to Brazil to prevent them from speaking with authorities once I was finished molesting the boy… you know, because there is no way of contacting the Santa Barbara Police Department all the way from Brazil.
There was still the possibility, however, that the family might come across a telephone or a computer in Brazil (a bit far-fetched, I know) so I got Geragos to force the whole family into signing more documents that say I didn’t do anything wrong. So basically, my entire staff, Mark Geragos, the DCFS, the SBCSD and all of my friends and family members who visited the ranch during that time period are also to blame. This was a mass conspiracy that was designed just so I could molest this poor boy and steal his mother’s furniture.
Yep, the prosecution’s case makes perfect sense…
NOTE: While this page is supposed to be satirical, the above scenario is solely based on information that has come from the prosecution’s side. Seriously.
Here is my summary of Tom Mesereau’s Opening Statement:
1. Janet Arvizo tried to scam Jay Leno by having Gavin call him and ask for money, and Leno told police that he heard Janet in the background coaching Gavin, and felt uncomfortable and ended the call.
2. The Arvizos accused comedian George Lopez of stealing $300 dollars from them, which Lopez strongly denied, and it lead to a permanent falling out between him and the family.
3. They tried to get actress Vernee Watson (who played Will Smith’s mother on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” sitcom) to let them move in with her and loan them money, but she refused.
4. Louise Palanker loaned the Arvizo family $20,000 dollars to renovate Gavin’s room to accommodate his illness and make it habitable, but they didn’t pay the builder who redid his room and instead bought expensive electronics.
5. The Arvizos tried to reach out to heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson, comedians Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey, and local Los Angeles weatherman Fritz Coleman.
6. In 1998, Janet sued JC Penney and accused their security guards of battery, false imprisonment, and infliction of emotional distress. In 1999, she amended her lawsuit to claim that she was also sexually assaulted, her nipple was squeezed 10 to 20 times, and was molested in her vaginal area. Her ex-husband David Arvizo said that Janet coached her kids into lying, and Mary Holzer, a paralegal, said that Janet told her that she had lied about the JC Penney case, but Holzer never came forward because she had been threatened by Janet.
7. In October 2001, Janet filed for welfare despite having received a settlement of $152,000 dollars from JC Penney.
8. In November 2001, Janet told the LAPD that David Arvizo had molested their daughter Davellin 12 years earlier, and had falsely imprisoned them and made terrorist threats. During this time, she also told police that Jackson, NBA star Kobe Bryant, and weatherman Fritz Coleman would each help her sue her ex-husband. So that makes three different people who Janet accused of falsely imprisoning her (JC Penney guards, David Arvizo, and Michael Jackson. This is a symptom of paranoid schizophrenia, which Janet was diagnosed with by a psychiatrist during her JC Penney lawsuit litigation. )
9. Despite Gavin being fully insured under David Arvizo’s medical insurance plan, Janet approached the Mid Valley News newspaper and asked them to put an ad in their paper to solicit donations from readers, and had the money deposited into a bank account that was in Gavin’s name, but she was the signatory and able to withdraw money. Employees from the newspaper also went to her apartment on Thanksgiving Day and offered her a turkey, but she was upset because she wanted money instead.
10. The Arvizos first visited Neverland on August 27th, 2000. In October 2000, Janet had Gavin tell Jackson that she was without transportation, so Jackson gave them an SUV, but Janet didn’t want her name on the registration because she never disclosed it on her welfare applications and other requests for public assistance, including disability.
11. In October 2001, Janet began to receive $104 dollars per week in disability, but didn’t disclose her JC Penney settlement on her application, but a week later she bought a new car for $23,000 dollars and also applied for welfare and food stamps. And when she filed for welfare and food stamps, she did not report her disability income, either!
12. Here is a list of items that the Arvizo family bought and charged to Jackson’s credit cards during their “imprisonment” at Neverland:
A.) February 11th, 2003: Full leg wax at bare Skin Salon for $50 dollars, lip wax and bikini wax at Aromatherapy Day Spa for $140 dollars.
B.) February 21st, 2003: Hair Products at Lisa’s Beauty for $28.91, bras and Jockey bikinis at Robinson-May for $92.24.
C.) February 25th, 2003: clothes at Anchor Blue for $448.04, and clothes at Robinson’s-May for $115.83, and cosmetics at Lisa’s Beauty for $34.29.
D.) February 26th, 2003: clothes at Pacific Sunware for $26.80, clothes at Jockey for $454.64, clothes at Banana Republic for $416.18, clothes at The Gap for $64.32, clothes at Levi’s Outlet Store for $436.77, clothes at Abercrombie & Fitch for $74.69, clothes at Robinson’s-May for $88.06 and $160.58, and shoes at Foot Locker for $91.44.
E.) February 27th, 2003: daywear treatment for $129.36, cosmetic and facial soap for $30.85, slippers for $28.12, all at Robinson’s-May, feminine hygiene products and other items at Rite-Aid for $62.09, various items at Anchor Blue for $92.01, a haircut for Gavin for $20 dollars, a manicure and pedicure for Janet for $51 dollars.
F.) May 3rd, 2003: clothing at Anchor Blue for $29.23, and cosmetics at Robinson’s-May for $71.86.
G.) March 10th, 2003: another manicure and pedicure at Lovely Nails for $115 dollars. The grand total of all of their purchases was $3,312.05.
13. After the Bashir documentary aired, Janet wanted to get distribution rights, and her then fiancé Jay Jackson wanted millions of dollars in lieu of a new house and the cost of Gavin, Star, and Davellin’s college tuitions completely paid by Jackson! Here is his exact quote: “Michael Jackson can give us a house. Michael Jackson can pay for college. Michael Jackson can pay for benefits. That’s not enough. We want big money.”
14. Bashir decided to use Jackson’s love for Princess Diana to get him to agree to do the documentary. He used Uri Gellar as an intermediary between he and Jackson, and told Gellar about he could help bring to fruition Jackson’s plans to establish an International Children’s Day, and his plans to meet the Secretary General of the UN Kofi Annan in order to help fight AIDS in Africa. When Gellar arranged a meeting between the two, Bashir showed Jackson a crumpled up letter purportedly from Princess Diana, in which she “praised” him for his 1995 interview with her. Jackson believed Bashir and agreed to do the documentary, but with some conditions: his children’s faces would not be shown on camera, he would get a chance to edit and review the documentary before it aired (which ultimately never happened), and all profits would go to charity. (Uri Gellar wanted a percentage of the net proceeds, but he worked it out with Bashir and didn’t involve Jackson.) You can read this post for more information about how Bashir tricked Jackson into doing the documentary.
15. After the documentary aired, Gavin and his family denied any wrongdoing on Jackson’s part numerous times to authorities (such as the DCFS), private investigators (such as Brad Miller, an employee of Mark Geragos), and to the world in the rebuttal tape that they shot (but was never aired). The Arvizo family never called police to complain about being forced to do the rebuttal tape, or to stay at Neverland. Janet was in contact with several police officers that she associated with from previous years, and she was also in contact with her then-fiancé Jay Jackson, and never complained about being kidnapped and held against her will.
16. In the weeks after the documentary aired, while the Arvizo kids were at Neverland, their behavior changed drastically; they were rude to employees, they memorized the codes to the Ferris Wheel and used it without permission, they threw rocks at Jackson’s animals, they broke into Jackson’s wine cellar and drunk alcohol on their own volition, and they found some of MJ’s pornographic magazines and looked through them.
17. Jackson wasn’t at or even near Neverland during most of the dates that the alleged crimes were committed. From February 20th to March 12th, 2003, Jackson was only at Neverland approximately four times.
18. Janet Arvizo was very excited about the prospect of travelling to Brazil to meet Jackson, until she realized that Jackson’s inner circle were trying to profit off of him and keep her from what she thought was her rightful percentage of the revenues of the rebuttal video. It was Marc Schaffel’s idea for the Arvizo family to go to Brazil because he travelled there, often due to his business contacts and production facilities there. He went there anyway, even after the Janet declined his invitation.
19. On February 8th, 2003, 60 Minutes journalist Ed Bradley and the President of CBS Entertainment Jack Sussman arrived at Neverland with a film crew in order to shoot an interview with Jackson about his reaction to the Bashir documentary. Mark Geragos was present at Neverland as well, because he had the full intention of participating in the planned interview with 60 Minutes. But the interview is cancelled when MJ discovers that Jordan Chandler’s declaration (AND NOT A DEPOSITION! Read this post for more details.) from 1993 has leaked unto the internet, and as a result Jackson was too devastated to go through with the interview. During his time at Neverland, Ed Bradley spoke with the Arvizo family, and they offered nothing but praise to Jackson, so it was extremely puzzling to Bradley that they would later go on to accuse Jackson. He spoke about his interactions with them in this 2004 interview with Larry King:
20. On February 13th, 2003 Frank Cascio records a phone conversation that he had with Janet Arvizo, and in that conversation she says the following: “Yeah, it’s like we’re family, you know, Frank.”, “I love you so much. You don’t know how much I love you. Your little sister and your little brother.”, and “I know we’re family, Frank. Me — you, me, my kids, are family. You, Marie Nicole, my kids, Baby Rubba, are family. Michael, Marie Nicole, you, me, are family, and my parents, that’s all I got.” She also grabbed MJ’s hand and her children’s hands, and asked them to kneel down with her and pray with “Daddy Michael”, which made Jackson incredibly nervous and upset.
21. On February 16th, 2003 Janet Arvizo was interviewed by Brad Miller, a licensed California private investigator who was employed by Mark Geragos. He hired him to investigate the background of the Arvizos because he was concerned about them possibly having a litigious history (which they did!), and possibly making false claims against MJ. He tape records his interview with her, and during this interview Janet praised Jackson for being so kind to her family during their time of need, and she described the abuse she endured at the hands of her ex-husband David for many years, among other things. She made no complaints whatsoever of being fearful for her life, or feeling trapped at Neverland and held against her will. Gavin told Miller that he and his brother slept on MJ’s bed while MJ slept on the floor, and nothing inappropriate ever happened.
22. On February 20th, 2003 the Arvizo family shot the rebuttal video willingly and happily. Included in the video were such statements as: “Daddy Michael rescued us. Took us into his fold, became the surrogate father.” & “God’s grace as God works through people, so does the devil. But God elected to work in Michael to breathe life into Gavin and to my two other children, and to me a much necessary love in a very traumatic time in our life.”
23. After shooting the rebuttal video and completing her interviews with the DCFS on February 20th, 2003 Janet contacted attorney William Dickerman, who then contacted Mark Geragos in an effort to get Janet’s furniture returned to her. Janet had originally asked that her property be put in storage, that her back rent be paid, and she and her daughter Davellin complained about wanting to move into a “nicer place in the Hollywood Hills”. Jay Jackson complained that he wanted millions of dollars for the Arvizo’s cooperation in the rebuttal video, and he said that a free college education for each of the children wasn’t enough. Dickerman wrote numerous letters to Geragos, and never once mentioned any alleged abuse by Jackson. In late March 2003, Janet (while out running errands) runs into one of the DCFS social workers who interviewed her, and still didn’t complain of any alleged abuse, and on April 16th, 2003 the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department closes their investigation of MJ and conclude that no criminal activity has taken place.
24. After departing from Neverland for the last time, Janet told one of her associates in the LAPD that “Something big is happening, and I got a lawyer.” After the police began their investigation in June 2003, Janet told repeatedly them “I need money, I want money.” and “You know, my kids have till the age of 18 to file civil suits.” On May 15th, 2003, Larry Feldman met with the Arvizo family, and referred them to psychologist Stanley Katz, and on May 29th Gavin disclosed the alleged abuse for the first time. Katz notifies Feldman and Dickerman on June 5th, 2003, and instead of going straight to the police with their claims, they notify the DCFS on June 13th, and their investigation begins. Also, while having lunch with talk show host Larry King, attorney Larry Feldman told King that Janet Arvizo “wants money”. (Mesereau didn’t mention the date of this meeting, but I believe it was in 2004.)
25. The prosecution changed the dates of the alleged abuse in between the filing of the Initial Complaint in December 2003 and the Grand Jury Indictment in April 2004 (this was discussed above.) The prosecution originally stated that Gavin originally claimed to have first been abused by Jackson BEFORE the shooting of the rebuttal video and interview with the DCFS on February 20th, but then they stated that Gavin claimed to be abused AFTER the shooting of the rebuttal video and interview with the DCFS.
26. The sheriff’s department searched Jackson’s bedrooms for DNA evidence belonging to the Arvizo children, but none of their DNA was found. (Read this post, this post, and this post for more information on the DNA evidence that was found at Neverland.)
27. On a side note, Mesereau mentioned the fact that Jackson’s attorney David LeGrand tried to investigate certain people in Jackson’s inner circle (Schaffel, Konitzer, and Wiesner) for fraud and embezzlement, but he was terminated before the investigation was complete. Here is an excerpt from his opening statement:
13 MR. MESEREAU: He didn’t. This is what
14 Dieter and Konitzer were planning to do with regard
15 to Mr. Jackson: Now, as for his involvement,
16 referring to Michael Jackson, Michael is an
17 entertainer and not a businessman. He does not like
18 business. He does not care about any formalities,
19 proper procedures, detailed briefings, et cetera.
20 Any one of those elements kills his creative energy.
21 He wants to stay out of that. That is the reason
22 why he gave us an extensive power of attorney.
23 Do you know what a power of attorney is,
24 ladies and gentlemen. I’m sure some of you do.
25 Maybe you all do. It’s giving away to somebody an
26 ability to sign for your affairs and represent you
27 in signing things and doing things from a legal
28 point of view. It’s a very serious act when you 190
1 give someone a power of attorney. But they got one
2 out of Michael.
3 They said further, “His intention was
4 definitely not being bothered with signatures here
5 and there, every other day, and with personal
6 meetings with each and every member of the team. We
7 realized that some might feel insulted, but it’s not
8 personal. Signatures and meetings with Michael
9 will, in general, not happen. Only in very special
10 cases, exceptions will be made.”
11 We will prove to you that these so-called
12 business advisors made a concerted effort to keep
13 Michael Jackson away from a lot of what they were
14 trying to do on his behalf and to control his
15 affairs, particularly the music business.
16 On January 11th, 2003, this is what one of
17 them wrote: “Yes, I and Mr. Weizner, whom you met
18 in Las Vegas, are authorized to engage you. We
19 shall gain control of financial affairs, records,
20 documents, agreements, and also operations, anything
21 else belonging to Michael Jackson in their
22 possession or control.”
23 They identified two phases of activity they
24 were going to pursue: One, take-over. Two, cleanup
25 operation, clean up old business. And they said
26 they were going to create what they called “The
27 Michael Jackson Universe.” This was their business
28 proposal for managing and controlling all of Michael 191
1 Jackson’s business, while he spent his time creating
2 and writing and choreographing and the things he
3 loves to do.
4 We will prove to you that, unlike what you
5 were told, he didn’t know a lot of things they were
6 doing, because they intended that he not know what
7 they were doing. And they weren’t telling him a lot
8 of what was going on.
9 We will also prove to you that a lawyer
10 named David LeGrand was, at one time, retained to
11 help Mr. Jackson. David LeGrand had been a
12 securities law prosecutor. As a securities law
13 prosecutor, we will prove that he had prosecuted
14 people for financial crimes, stock fraud, not
15 following proper procedures and disclosures if
16 you’re selling stock or securities. Things of that
18 David LeGrand began to smell that something
19 was wrong, and he confronted Dieter and Konitzer
20 with his suspicions, even writing to them and
21 saying, “Why are you withdrawing money. Who told
22 you to do that. Who gave you permission. Where’s
23 it going. What are you doing with it.”
24 They then were able to convince Michael
25 Jackson to fire LeGrand. But before that happened,
26 David LeGrand commenced an investigation into the
27 activities of these alleged co-conspirators, Dieter,
28 Konitzer, Schaffel and others. He hired a 192
1 top-flight investigative firm in New York to check
2 out their backgrounds, to check out what they were
3 doing, to see if they were hiding things overseas,
4 to see if Mr. Jackson was being, as he said,
5 defrauded, and to see if they were engaging in acts
6 as what he described as self-dealing.
7 But they were able to get to Michael and
8 stop the investigation by getting him to fire
9 LeGrand, because they convinced him that LeGrand was
10 doing something wrong.
11 An investigative report was prepared. It
12 wasn’t completed, but it was prepared.
I will continue this series with the testimony of Martin Bashir, and then the testimony of Anne Kite, who was hired to perform public relations work for Jackson in the aftermath of the Bashir documentary, and she’ll discuss in further detail LeGrand’s investigation into Wiesner and Konitzer………………
Here is the link to the testimonies of Martin Bashir and Anne Kite: http://vindicatemj.wordpress.com/2012/05/13/march-1st-2005-trial-analysis-martin-bashir-and-anne-kite-direct-examination/
Here is a link to another great summary of the timeline of events leading up to the trial: http://doubledutchblogs.wordpress.com/2010/02/16/events-prior-to-the-trial-2/
UPDATE May 12, 2012
I want to thank everyone who has offered their support to me as I undertake this immense task of summarizing the entire 2005 trial. I have already read the first 10 days of testimony (only 56 more to go!!), and I can’t wait to show everyone all of the lies that Jackson’s accusers hurled at him! There are so many contradictions, inconsistencies, and discrepancies that I will surely have to make several posts to summarize all of the cross-references that will be included in each day’s summary. I truly wish that I had started on this project sooner, but I was caught up with fact checking all of the other lies that I have refuted over the last few months.
The comment below by my good friend Erin Jacobs is representative of 99.999999% of the feedback that I have received. Thank you Erin!