07-09-04: Court of Appeals Wonders If 3 Million Bail Is Too High
In an order responding to an appeal by Tom Mesereau, Michael Jackson´s defense attorney, the appeals court sent the issue back to Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville for "further proceedings and findings"
The court said in its two-sentence order, "The trial court shall have the discretion whether to hold a further evidentiary hearing." Sending a message to Judge Melville?
"The appellate court, by sending it back to the trial court, is saying there’s something wrong with the judge’s decision,” said criminal defense attorney Steve Cron. Cron says the appeals court was sending a clear message to Judge Melville that he did not explain his decision to maintain Jackson´s bail at what some legal pundits call, excessive.
The ruling from the California 2nd District Court of Appeals cited its own 2001 decision in a case involving a member of The Hells Angels. In that case, the court also asked a trial court to make more specific findings for a bail of $1 million.
Thomas Mesereau Jr., had petitioned Melville to reduce the singer’s bail to no more than $435,000, saying Jackson was not a flight risk and had appeared in court whenever he was ordered to do so, but the judge suggested Jackson’s wealth required the bail to remain at $3 million dollars.
“While there has to date been no significant issue with regard to the defendant’s appearance at scheduled court events, it continues to appear to the court that a … financial incentive to do so should be in place,” Melville wrote in his ruling.
Prosecutors said Jackson was likely to flee the country if his bail was reduced.
Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen previously said $3 million was comparable to what Jackson would spend in a weekend in Las Vegas and noted that the pop star has described himself as a billionaire.
Cron said the penal code section cited in the appellate order makes no mention of a defendant’s wealth as criteria for setting bail.
Because of a court imposed gag order, Mesereau and new co-counsel Brian Oxman said they could not comment.
Mesereau argued in his legal papers that Jackson’s bail should be lowered because of his charitable contributions, lack of criminal record and ties to Santa Barbara County, where the case was filed. He said there were no legal grounds for setting Jackson’s bail higher than normal just because of the singer’s wealth.
Source: Associated Press-(AP) & MJJ Forum
07-09-04: Judge Orders District Attorney Sneddon to Testify
Santa Barbara County District Attorney Thomas Sneddon has been ordered to testify as to his knowledge of the relationship between Mark Geragos, Michael Jackson’s former attorney, and private investigator Bradley Miller. Mr. Miller´s office was broken into by officials and evidence was taken.
Mr. Sneddon stated "I have nothing to hide" and offered to testify immediately. Defense attorneys asked for a delay to study transcripts that had just been received last night. "It´s a transcript of a videotape, a law enforcement interview of the mother of the complaining witness," attorney Robert Sanger said. The interview was done on July 6, 2003, four months before Mr. Jackson was charged or arrested, he said.
Although the prosecution said they had a search warrant for Mr. Miller´s office, the defense said that the officers exceeded the warrant´s limitations and evidence should be returned to Mr. Jackson´s attorneys.
The hearing on this matter was scheduled for July 27, and Mr. Sneddon had a prepaid trip to Alaska planned for his 37th wedding anniversary. Mr. Sneddon was annoyed and threw his papers down on the counsel table and said, "I´ll be here."
However Judge Melville reconsidered and suggested the defense try to accommodate the prosecutor with a videotaped deposition or an appearance at a later hearing. Mr. Sneddon had brought witnesses to testify from Los Angeles and did not wish to wait. Judge Melville, after scolding the defense for not warning him of the request for a delay, agreed to postpone.
"I have been very concerned about the factual issue, whether or not the district attorney ... knew Mr. Geragos was working for Mr. Jackson and knew that Mr. Miller had been retained by Mr. Geragos," the judge said. "It is an issue that needs to be factually established," he said.
Robert Sanger said that Mr. Sneddon had approached him this week and told him that he was willing to concede that he knew about the relationship before a search warrant was executed on Mr. Miller´s office. But Mr. Sneddon denied that. He said he would explain the entire situation from the witness stand, saying "I have nothing to hide."
Additionally, Judge Melville ruled that Mr. Jackson does not have to appear personally for the August 16th hearing on suppression of evidence. The hearing is expected to last up to two weeks.
The gag order was violated stated Judge Melville, when Mr. Jackson commented on a leak of information to the media regarding an 11 old case. However he said he would overlook it because Thomas Mesereau Jr. was new to the case and was probably unfamiliar with the terms of the gag order. He told Mr. Mesereau to make sure his client doesn´t comment again.
Source: Associated Press-(AP) & MJJ Forum
07-09-04: Jackson Attorneys Ask Judge To Throw Out Grand Jury Indictment
On the basis of what they see as insufficient evidence, lack of "strong suspicion" and improper conduct on the part of the government, Michael Jackson´s lawyers have asked a judge to discard his grand-jury indictment.
In a motion filed on Tuesday and released on Wednesday, Michael Jackson´s lawyer Robert Sanger signed a motion which appealed to Santa Barbara County Judge Rodney Melville to throw out the indictment.
The motion cites what the defense deems unfair proceedings including the conveying of information to the jurors "without regard to the rules of evidence," and the behavior of the prosecutors, including the allegation that they "bullied and argued with witnesses" and "ran the proceedings as if they employed grand jurors."
The motion cites prosecuting attorney Thomas Sneddon´s interaction with one witness — whom The Associated Press believes to be Russell Halpern, the attorney who represented the father of Jackson´s accuser during a custody battle with the teen´s mother — to illustrate a manner in which the prosecution "vouched for his own version of events while not under oath" and accused a witness of lying to the court.
The witness is quoted as saying that when he called Sneddon to inquire if his son was the person making molestation claims, he "found the head D.A. ... to be very uncooperative."
After the witness testified on the content of their phone conversation, Sneddon allegedly snapped at the witness saying, "That is not the way that conversation went and you know it."
Sanger alleges in the motion that this was an example of Sneddon´s attempt to "destroy this witness and establish to the captive jurors that he, Tom Sneddon, was the victor."
The motion also alleges misconduct, "the perfunctory presentation of defense material provided to the prosecution," and that "the admissible evidence is insufficient to establish a strong suspicion of the elements necessary to show Mr. Jackson was part of a conspiracy." It asks that the trial court determines whether or not the grand jury "abused its power in returning the indictment."
"There is no case in the history of the state of California that has condoned anything like the abuse of power demonstrated in this grand-jury proceeding," the motion said.
The matter will be addressed in court on July 27.
Jackson has pleaded not guilty to committing a lewd act upon a child and dispensing alcohol, as well as conspiracy to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.
Source: Associated Press-(AP) & MJJ Forum
06-04-04: New Album Rumors
It has been brought to my attention that there are numerous rumors going around the Internet of a possible 5 disc box set being released by Michael sometime this year. POPonline wishes to make a statement to fellow MJ fans, and fellow MJ sites that nothing official, and no one official to Michael have confirmed these rumors. At this time, the box set release is just that, a rumor.
POPonline wishes to recognize that the likelihood of a new Michael Jackson release is highly unlikely....not impossible...but highly unlikely, as there are a few things Michael is dealing with right now, with regards to the child molestation lies against him, and the fact he has no record deal with anyone (last contract expired with Sony after the Number Ones collection was released).
Until something is announced by officials close to Michael, and or a record label, these stories of a new album are false, and POPonline will not recognize them or post anything about them.
Eric M. Hembre
06-01-04: Michael Jackson Cleared Of Latest Allegations
Washington, D.C- After an extensive, 2-month investigation into allegations of child abuse against Michael Jackson, which allegedly took place nearly 20 years ago, detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Juvenile Division have concluded there is no evidence that any crime occurred; and therefore, no charges will be filed against Mr. Jackson.
Michael Jackson has always maintained his innocence against these false and malicious allegations from individuals seeking to capitalize on his current legal situation. He thanks the LAPD for their thorough investigation, and for clearing him of these false charges.
Source: MJJ Source, MJNI, MJJ Forums
05-01-04: Box Set Rumored To Be Out In The Fall
According to the LA Times, Michael Jackson has just received a $3.5 million in advance from Sony for a box set of the King of Pop’s recordings, which is planned for release in the fall.
"The Sony payment will come in exchange for delivery of recordings and other materials for the boxed set, which Sony is aiming to release for the fall", stated the article.
We will keep you posted with any more information that unfolds.
04-30-04: Jackson Pleads Not Guilty In Indictment
SANTA MARIA, Calif. — Michael Jackson plead not guilty Friday to an indictment with 10 charges, including conspiracy to commit child abduction, a charge that had not been heard in the case so far.
The indictment unsealed Friday charged Jackson with child molestation and a conspiracy count alleging child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion. The indictment also included four counts of lewd acts involving a minor, one count involving an attempted lewd act upon a child and four counts of administering an intoxicating agent.
After the arraignment, Jackson and his lawyer Thomas Mesereau, Jr., made brief statements outside the courthouse.
"I want to make clear what this case is about. This case is not about lawyers or anyone else becoming celebrities," said Mesereau. "This case is about one thing only. It’s about the dignity, the integrity, the decency, the charity, the innocence and the complete vindication of a wonderful human being named Michael Jackson.
Jackson didn't directly address the child molestation charges against him. Instead, he took the opportunity to thank his supporters
"I would like to thank the fans around the world for your love and support from every corner of the Earth," said Jackson who went on to thank his family and the community of Santa Maria. "I will always love this community from the bottom of my heart."
In terms of the conspiracy charge, indicates that someone else is involved, according to Fox News legal analyst Stan Goldman.
"You cannot have a conspiracy with just one person," Goldman said. "We are going to have someone else involved, whether charged or not."
Attorney Gloria Allred told Fox News that "it will be interesting to see who the other person or people are... They may decide to flip and take a deal and testify against Michael Jackson. When the heat is on one of them may turn against him."
The alleged child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion are not individual charges. Rather they are alleged as the circumstances leading to the conspiracy count.
After being given copies of the indictment, Jackson and his attorneys went into a room adjacent to the courtroom to read it.
Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville then agreed to a prosecution request that portions of the indictment regarding the conspiracy count be sealed. He also agreed with a defense request that parts of three lines be removed.
The indictment, issued in secret earlier this month, replaces charges filed by prosecutors that alleged seven counts of lewd or lascivious conduct involving a child under 14 and two counts of administering an intoxicant to a child under 14.
Copies of the indictment were not immediately released to the public, and it was not known whether the new charges involved the same child or others, or what the conspiracy and extortion counts referred to.
Wearing a conservative suit and glasses, Jackson arrived early for his arraignment Friday, causing a stir by throngs of fans gathered at a California courthouse.
Many supporters from around the world descended on Santa Maria, where the King of Pop faces a hearing on child molestation charges. They held signs of support for the singer and cheered as he stepped out of the car for his hearing
At his last hearing, Jackson arrived nearly 20 minutes late and was chastised by the judge, but he arrived 40 minutes early Friday for his arraignment scheduled for 8:30 a.m. PDT.
Jackson's arraignment on a grand-jury indictment marks a turning point in the 5-month-old child molestation case against the singer, moving him closer to a trial.
His accuser is a teenage boy who was friendly with the singer and appeared in the Martin Bashir documentary called "Living With Michael Jackson." In the documentary, Jackson admitted sharing a bed with young children.
With a new team of lawyers in place, Jackson continues to rejuggle his inner circle to prepare for the ordeal ahead. Foxnews.com's Roger Friedman first reported this week that Jackson has minimized the involvement of the Nation of Islam (search) and is relying more heavily on his brother Randy for advice.
Mesereau, a veteran criminal defense attorney, took over the case last weekend after Jackson decided to remove Mark Geragos (search) and Benjamin Brafman (search), the two high-profile lawyers who had been directing his defense. The star said he wanted lawyers who could devote all their time to his case.
Mesereau's team includes his law partner Susan Yu and two longtime Jackson attorneys, Steve Cochran and Robert Sanger.
"A week before an arraignment, to go change lawyers, this is just indicative of the fact that we've lost the ability to influence him," Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who was once a spiritual adviser and friend of Jackson's, told Fox News on Friday.
"He has this whole idea that he has a special destiny and he's gonna be OK ... what I have to say to Michael is 'wake up, this is a downward incline,'" Boteach continued.
Friday the courthouse resembled a fortress ready for a siege with chain link fences and metal barricades erected to hold back the crowd. Police officers placed orange traffic cones to prevent parking in front of the courthouse.
A Web site for Jackson fans encouraged them to show up and support their idol. Chartered buses were available from Los Angeles, and a hotel in nearby Solvang was giving fans a special rate.
About 75 fans boarded a bus in Los Angeles Friday morning bound for Santa Maria. They waved signs reading "Caravan for Justice" and chanted "What time is it? Jackson time!" as they gathered in the predawn darkness.
On Thursday night, two to three dozen fans from around the world gathered outside the singer's Neverland Ranch, about 30 miles from the courthouse, for a candlelight vigil. Some wore black "Free Michael" T-shirts, and one dressed as the singer.
Paul Thomas, a 25-year-old student who arrived in California from London on Wednesday, said he planned to be at the courthouse by 7 a.m. Friday.
"I didn't come here to gawk at him. I just want to support him," he said. "I think he is a good role model. He has a lot of morals. You can see he's a nice person, always giving to charity."
Pedro Rivero, a 22-year-old who flew to the area from Madrid, said he had a feeling he needed to be at the arraignment.
"Everything that's happening is so unfair," said Rivero, who said he had been inside Neverland in the past and met Jackson "too many times to count."
"He's just so genuine, so pure," he said. "I think he's the best."
Rivero and other overseas fans said they stayed in touch about Jackson's whereabouts and such gatherings through cell phone text messages, online postings and e-mails.
When Jackson was arraigned on a district attorney's complaint last January, some 3,000 fans clogged the streets and cheered him on as he hopped on top of a sport utility vehicle and entertained them with a dance.
Experts said it was likely that Jackson's new lawyer advised him such raucous displays are not in his best interest.
"The indictment means things are getting serious," said Loyola University Professor Laurie Levenson.
Boteach said he doubted Jackson would be able to get through a full-blown trial, if it comes to that.
"My great apprehension for Michael always was that he would not live to see his 50th birthday," the rabbi said. "He has a thin skin ... he needs to be loved ... I don’t see how he can withstand a trial."
Source: Associated Press- (AP)
2-24-04: Michael Jackson Removed From Copyright Lawsuit
Gary native Michael Jackson won't be coming back to Indiana -- at least not for court proceedings in a 7-year-old lawsuit that accuses him of trade-name and copyright infringement.
A federal judge has ruled that Jackson had no involvement in the release of "Pre-History: The Lost Steeltown Recordings," a 1996 compilation of early Jackson 5 songs.
As a result, the famed singer will be deleted as a defendant when a civil case filed by Gary-based musicians and their producer goes to trial next month.
Members of the Ripples and Waves, an R&B group founded in the late 1960s, accused Jackson of misrepresenting their work as his own on "Pre-History."
In granting Jackson's motion for pretrial judgment, U.S. District Court Judge Philip Simon noted that two songs on the album, "Let Me Carry Your School Books" and "I Never Had a Girl," were written and recorded by Ripples and Waves.
Brunswick Records, the company that issued "Pre-History," didn't convince Simon that it had a right to distribute the songs. A final pretrial/settlement conference is scheduled Thursday in Hammond.
The new judgment clears Jackson of any liability. It applies specifically to producer Gordon Keith, the only plaintiff who failed to reach an earlier out-of-court settlement with Jackson.
"Jackson has testified that he had no involvement in the production or release of the album, that he did not select or approve of the songs on the album (and) that he did not receive any royalties from the album," Simon wrote in his ruling.
According to Nielsen SoundScan, "Pre-History" has sold 6,000 copies. Gold record status equals 500,000 in sales.
Jackson, who lives in California, traveled to Indianapolis twice in 2003 to answer questions about the lawsuit. A May deposition was postponed after the singer suffered an anxiety attack. He returned in June to complete the court-ordered session.
In a separate case, the 45-year-old has pleaded not guilty to seven counts of performing lewd or lascivious acts on a child under 14. Prosecutors allege Jackson molested a boy at his Santa Barbara, Calif.-area ranch.
Source: MJNI & Indy Star News.com
2-17-04: New Official News Site To Launch March 1st
Michael Jackson is set to launch an official news web site for the public and the media, MJJ Source.com. The site, calling itself the "official source for Michael Jackson news and information," is set to launch on March 1st. MJJSource.com comes in response to a flurry of media speculation ranging from criminal charges of child abuse, Jackson's finances, to his alleged involvement with the Nation of Islam.
A joint venture between Tru Def, MJJ Productions, and ROPA Promotions, www.mjjsource.com will feature exclusive interviews and releases from Jackson's family, legal team, and exclusive footage of Jackson himself. Through additional resources such as a Press Room, staff bios, and official court filings, MJJSource.com will offer the latest official news on Jackson's ongoing criminal case. All content on the site is to be pre-approved by Jackson's legal team to ensure compliance with the gag order issued by Santa Maria Judge Rodney S. Melville.
The site is being designed by ROPA Promotions, a promotions and web design agency catering to the entertainment and media industries. Co-founder Ron Sweet says "ROPA's Design Team is thrilled to lend our talents to MJJSource.com and Mr. Jackson's creative genius." Sweet's partner, Patricia Brown says, "ROPA Promotions is proud to be a part of this wonderful project, and we are honored that we were chosen to create this site for Mr. Jackson." The video content is driven by Tru Def, which provides a state of the art video compression technology.
Jackson's newly hired publicist Raymone K. Bain, says that Jackson is "tired of the circus-like atmosphere surrounding him". Bain, who also handles public relations for Serena Williams and Boyz II Men, promises that MJJSource.com will serve as a platform for Jackson to be both "proactive and reactive" in responding to the constant media frenzy and speculation.
Previous official sites mjnetworks.com and mjnews.us will be closed down
Source: MJNI & MJJ Forums
2-10-04: New MJ DVD & Jacksons Album On The Way
According to Billboard, Sony Music will release two Michael Jackson related products on Tuesday March 9th.
The first is the The One, a packaging of the CBS special that aired back on the 2 January (as MJNI previously reported, the European release date is the 15th of March). The hour-long retrospective program draws on highlights from throughout the King of Pop's storied career.
Among the clips included are a rendition of Ben on American Bandstand, a live clip of Rock With You from a Japan stop on the Bad tour, Michael's iconic performance of Billie Jean at the Motown 25th anniversary TV special and a run through The Way You Make Me Feel at the 1988 Grammys.
Also hitting US stores next month (on March 9th) is a greatest hits package of the Jacksons' biggest tunes from the group's late-career tenure at Epic Records. the 14-track The Essential Jacksons album boasts the top-10 Billboard Hot 100 hits Enjoy Yourself, Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground) and State of Shock with Mick Jagger. Also included is a live version of Michael's solo hit Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough from the sibling group's 1981 U.S. tour.
1-18-04: Correction Regarding Feb 13th Court Date
Yesterday, MJNI reported that, "The Judge has scheduled a date of Friday, February 13th 2004, for a preliminary hearing." This is in fact incorrect. There has been quite a bit of confusion within the media, as well as the fan base as to what was actually taking place on this date.
February 13th is in fact the date a court session will take place in order to set a date for the preliminary hearing.
The preliminary hearing is used to decide whether or not there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial.
1-17-04: Michael Jackson Scans 4.2 million in USA Over The Past 2 Years
As first reported by MJJForum the other day, Michael Jackson has scanned over 4 million units in the United States over the past two years. MJJForum can now confirm the exact total as of this writing is 4,210,280 units. The following list represents the exact USA Soundscan breakdown of Michael Jackson´s material over the past two years and four months:
Please note the above totals only take into account Epic material released from October 15, 2001 onwards. The regular edition of Michael´s Epic studio albums as well as his Motown catalog could easily bring the 4.2 million figure significantly higher.
Source: MJJ Forum.Com
1-17-04: MJ Pleads Not Guilty, Prelim Hearing Set For Feb 13th
Michael Jackson entered a plea of “not guilty” to charges of child abuse, in Santa Maria Courthouse yesterday.
Arriving in the Courthouse about 8:51am, and 21 minutes later than he was meant to, the King of Pop was then reprimanded by Judge Rodney S. Melville, “Mr. Jackson, you have started out on the wrong foot here”, he said, according to the Associated Press.
Michael was accompanied inside the Courthouse by his lawyers Mark Geragos, and newly employed attorney Benjamin Brafman. Brafman’s employment was only announced Thursday, he has previously been in the limelight for representing rapper Sean “P.Diddy” Combs.
Joining Mark Geragos and Benjamin Brafman on the defence team were Steve Cochran and Bob Sanger. Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon led the Prosecution’s team, and was joined by Senior Deputy District Attorneys Ronald Zonen and Gerald Franklin.
A gag order has been actioned to prevent all participants from speaking publicly about the case. Also, media lawyers argued in favour of the search warrant documents that included information about the Neverland raid on November 20th, the Judge decided to keep them sealed.
The Judge has scheduled a date of Friday, February 13th 2004, for a preliminary hearing. This hearing is used to decide whether or not there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial.
ccording to AP (Associated Press), Tom Sneddon then “pointedly” asked, "Judge will that be 8:30?" in reference to Michael’s lateness for this hearing, the Judge then responded, “8:30”.