June 14, 2005


'The Mother ... Was a Disaster' (Henry Weinstein and Maura Dolan, June 14, 2005, LA Times)

Eight months ago, defense attorney Thomas A. Mesereau Jr. made a strategic move that may have provided the key to Michael Jackson's court victory: He hired a new private investigator and told him to focus relentlessly on the accuser's mother.

Scott Ross had worked on the Robert Blake defense, digging up unsavory items about the actor's murdered wife. The information allowed defense lawyers to argue that someone other than Blake, who was charged with killing her, had a motive. Moreover, the details gave jurors a reason to dislike the dead woman.

Mesereau wanted a repeat performance, and he gave his investigator a simple, blunt instruction, Ross recalled Monday: "I want you to do to [the mother of the alleged victim] what you did to Bonny Lee Bakley."

Monday, as the Jackson jurors talked about their deliberations, they made clear how well Mesereau's strategy had succeeded.

"What mother in her right mind would … just freely volunteer your child to sleep with someone, and not so much just Michael Jackson but anyone, for that matter? That is something mothers are naturally concerned with," juror Pauline Coccoz of Santa Maria, a 45-year-old mother of three, said at a post-verdict news conference.

Juror Eleanor Cook, a 79-year-old grandmother, spoke of her distaste for the mother's demeanor. The juror "disliked it intensely when she snapped her fingers at us," she said. "I thought, 'Don't snap your fingers at me, lady.' "

Juror Susan Rentschler, 52, of Lompoc, said she was "very uncomfortable" with the way the mother kept staring at jurors as she testified.

Mesereau's strategy triumphed. But ironically, it was a decision by prosecutors that made it possible.

Rather than file a narrow case against Jackson that would have turned on only the testimony of Jackson's youthful accuser, Santa Barbara County Dist. Atty. Tom Sneddon gambled that a broader indictment would have a greater chance of success. The indictment included a conspiracy charge centering on accusations that Jackson's aides had conspired to kidnap the mother and keep her at Neverland, the star's ranch.

"The prosecutor went for every strategic advantage. He thought he could broaden the case with the conspiracy charge," said Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson. "By doing that, he made the mother the focus of the case, and it backfired on him."

All well and good to punish the mother who let her child be assaulted, but convict the pedophile too.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 14, 2005 8:27 AM

Next time get a better looking, more charismatic mother, you know someone who looks more like Michael Jackson.

A question I haven't seen covered by the media, are Jackson's legions of fan who adore him in droves, a. more weird; b. as weird; or c. less weird than Jackson himself.

Posted by: erp at June 14, 2005 9:23 AM

Note that of the three examples of how the jury disliked the mother, not one had anything to do with Mesereau's effort. Two were behavior of the mother in the court room itself and the other was common knowledge before the trial started. Now I understand why the Times is impressed by the putative strategy of the Democratic Party.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at June 14, 2005 10:47 AM


All of the above? Well, one of them decided to go to the trial instead of JPII's funeral because she liked MJ better. If you had heard some fans' reactions on the ABC radio special last night...Sheesh.

Posted by: Rick T. at June 14, 2005 11:00 AM

Too bad they didn't prosecute the mother as an accessory to pedophilia for giving her son to Jackson.

Posted by: pj at June 14, 2005 11:42 AM

Now that Jackson has his freedom, I wonder if it might now occur to him that inviting little boys for sleepovers is not a very sensible idea.

Posted by: Brit at June 14, 2005 11:45 AM


Why not?

Posted by: oj at June 14, 2005 11:49 AM

The upside in the acquittal is that after a few days, we will never have to hear about that freak again.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at June 14, 2005 11:56 AM

Robert: Wasn't that said in '94?

Celebrities really can get away with anything. They're the national clowns and acquittal is the public's way of saying thanks for the laughs.

Posted by: at June 14, 2005 12:16 PM

After paying tens of millions in hush money to little boys's families and having his reputation ruined by the bad press Jackson continued molesting little boys. Why would you think a 'not guilty' verdict would do anything to suppress his perverted sexual appetites? If anything this trial has vindicated Jackson's "lifestyle" and has sent a "hands off" message to future prosecutors. Let the pedophilia begin, this time with the full consent of his Californian peers.

Posted by: Shelton at June 14, 2005 12:17 PM

You've been hit by,
You've been struck by,
A smooth criminal.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at June 14, 2005 2:19 PM

It was smart to go after the mother; I don't know how original it was though and I am not a psychologist, but I've been through nearly the exact thing as this boy (if he's telling the truth). In my experience of having ones relatives know about abuse going on against me by another family member, their attitude before and after my mother, who lived elsewhere, got involved was stark. Before, they felt sorry for me and even tepidly got involved by trying to talk to the offender. At 12, when I told my mom, she fought for me, and everything changed. History revision of the tallest order took place and I became "brainwashed" by my mother, they said. Some found new friendships with the offender, too. Whether they said the offender was guilty or not depended absolutely, totally on whether they liked my mother. And these are highly intelligent people, too.

Posted by: Emily B. at June 14, 2005 2:21 PM

This case had no chance from the beginning. I hope that Sneddon has to reimburse the taxpayers of Santa Barbara County for the money he wasted.

The kid was not credible. The mother was clearly a really incompetent scam artist. Michael Jackson is clearly a deviant, but there was no way that one could ever prove he did it with this kid, and that was what the case was about.

This prosecution was even a bigger waste of time than the Kobe Bryant prosecution and I didn't think that was possible.

Posted by: bart at June 14, 2005 4:45 PM

Who's worried about other people's kids? Michael has his own to play with now.

Very sorry to hear about your experiences, Emily.

Posted by: RC at June 14, 2005 11:45 PM
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