25 February 2005
JURY SELECTION NOW COMPLETE
The process of jury selection is now complete and the trial is now set for opening statements this coming Monday morning.
Eight alternate jurors were picked on Thursday, and they consisted of four women and four men, the racial diversity is said to be six whites, one Latino and one African-American, according to the Santa Maria Times. An alternate will be called if for any reason there is a problem with any of the selected twelve jurors, they cannot participate in any deliberations unless this happens.
Judge Melville said he would release grand jury transcripts once the jury was seated. He also urged the Defence and the Prosecution to be prepared, "I will not abide not having witnesses ready," he said. He warned the jury not to view any material relating to the case, especially now they have been selected, "There is a real problem and a danger of juror misconduct in a case of this nature," Melville said. "It's extremely important that you follow the admonition that you not talk to anyone about this case or express an opinion about the outcome."
One man who is an alternate has a mother-in-law who has been named on the possible witness list as she's a former housekeeper of Neverland ranch, he's also visited Michael Jackson's home with his three children, however he says he would be able to treat his mother-in-law like any other witness.
The Judge will hear motions from attorneys on Friday, the Prosecution are said to be looking to limit the mention of conduct involving the Accuser and his family. The Defence are again bidding to have the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office removed from the case.
Opening statements have been scheduled for Monday 28th February at 8:30am, which is 4:30pm UK time. "That's when each side, if they desire, give you a road map of where their case is going," Melville said before he released the jurors.
24 February 2005
JURY SELECTED FOR TRIAL - Alternates will be decided on Thursday
In an unexpected turn of events Wednesday, the twelve jurors that will decide the outcome for Michael Jackson's trial have already been picked.
"We have a jury," were the words of Judge Melville. The jury selection process was expected to last at least a month, however now that the jury has been sworn in, all that is now left to decide before the start of the trial is the selection of the eight alternate jurors, according to the Associated Press.
The jurors were once again questioned by Defence attorney Thomas Mesereau and Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen on several issues, including what they felt about Michael Jackson and his career, the arts, the media, whether they, or anyone they knew, had a history of sexual abuse, and whether or not they think a child could lie under oath, all before the final decision was made. The Judge only let questioning last ten minutes per juror, which would explain the fast pace of the process.
An African-American woman, who was dismissed by the Prosecution, stated during her questioning that she doubted the possibility of a fair hearing, "How can he get a fair trial anywhere when even the ex-sheriff of Santa Barbara county gets on TV and tells the world he is a child molester?" she continued, "A jury of your peers? How is this man going to get it here?" Michael was said to be nodding vigorously in agreement.
Also, one man who was questioned managed to make Michael smile, "I'm not so much into his music but I sure like his moves," he said.
One of the jurors picked was the man who (as previously reported) thought Deepak Chopra was a rapper, others included a woman who's grandson had to register on the sex offenders list, a 20-year-old male Simpsons fan and a Latino woman who is divorced from a Santa Maria police officer.
The jury consists of eight women and four men, ages ranging from 20 to 79, with a racial diversity of one Asian, three Hispanics, eight white members and no African-Americans.
Michael is due back in court on Thursday, as jury selection continues with the process of finding eight alternate jurors.
23 February 2005
JURY SELECTION PROCESS RESUMES - Several prospects eliminated, stars added as witnesses
After his serious case of the flu last week, Michael Jackson was back in court yesterday to resume jury selection proceedings in his trial.
Judge Melville addressed the jurors about the frustrations they must have about the case, "I know we've had a couple of false starts here, and I know the energy it takes all of you to get yourself up to get here and be part of this case. I go through it, as well."
Melville assured the jurors that the delays were necessary according to the news-press, "I wouldn't let anyone take advantage of us that way," he said.
Before attorneys could interview the jury pool, the Judge announced that three more celebrities have been added to the almost 20 that were announced last week, including Home Alone star Macauley Culkin, Motown great Smokey Robinson and comedian and actor Eddie Murphy.
Attorneys for both sides have an option of dismissing ten jurors without reason, when a 63-year-old black woman was dropped by the Prosecution, Defence attorneys objected, however Melville allowed the dismissal.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen used half of his dismissals yesterday, as well as the 63-year- old black woman, they included a man who's Father works for Greka Energy Corp., a company the county is suing, a pre-school teacher who stated she sympathises with Michael Jackson, a woman who is friends with someone who helped hand out fliers at a previous arraignment and a woman who knew a victim of sex crimes.
Defence attorney Thomas Mesereau also used several dismissals, including a woman who's Mother works for the District Attorney's office, a man who knows Sheriff Jim Anderson, a man who worked as a civilian at Vandenberg Air Force Base and a man who worked part-time as a night club musician.
Michael was said to have been conferring with his attorneys for every dismissal decision.
Both sides agreed with the Judge to dismiss three women, one who said she was biased, another who had seen the Martin Bashir documentary Living with Michael Jackson, and one who claimed she was unjustly accused of a crime.
Six others were dismissed for hardship, most citing financial reasons and one woman who claimed she will be getting married and is not willing to postpone.
The trial resumes today with Michael due back in court to continue the jury selection process.
17 February 2005
MICHAEL JACKSON RELEASED FROM HOSPITAL
Michael Jackson has been released from the Marian Medical Center in Santa Maria after a 32-hour stay for a serious case of the flu.
His spokesperson, Raymone Bain, released this statement;
"Mr. Michael Jackson has been discharged from the Marian Medical Center in Santa Maria, California to continue his recovery at home.
"Mr. Jackson would like to thank the doctors and staff at the Marian Medical Center for the care they extended to him."
Michael now has the rest of the week to recover before he is due back in court on the 22nd, when jury selection is scheduled to resume.
16 February 2005
MICHAEL JACKSON ILL WITH FLU
Michael Jackson was admitted into the Marian Medical Center in Santa Maria today for a serious case of the flu.
"I had a conference with his doctor," Judge Melville said. "He informs me Mr. Jackson is very ill with the flu." Michael had been ill the day before and was en-route to the courthouse when his symptoms took a turn for the worse.
The case has been delayed until Tuesday, February 22nd, to allow time for Michael to recover. The court cannot resume on Monday due to President's Day.
In front of the medical center, Dr. Chuck Merrill, who said he expected a "full recovery", provided a short press conference;
"Mr. Jackson has been evaluated in our emergency department today for a flu-like illness with some vomiting. He is undergoing testing and is being treated with intravenous fluids right now. He is in stable condition and we expect a full recovery. His release from the hospital will be when he is stable and well enough to go home. Thank you very much."
Reports state that Michael is due to stay in hospital for a few days, his brother Randy is already there.
Our thoughts and wishes are with Michael, and we hope that he gets much better very soon.
News is just reaching us that Michael Jackson, due in court thirty minutes ago, has instead been rushed to an emergency room at a hospital in Santa Barbara.
More information is expected to come through in the next hour.
It is understood that Michael Jackson was in his car en-route to the court house when he spoke with his defence attorney by phone, complaining that he felt 'very sick'. A short time later the decision was made to take him to a local hospital. It is believed that Michael felt unwell yesterday.
The reports are still coming in and we will keep you posted as soon as we learn more.
Our thoughts and wishes are with Michael.
After an almost two week break of court proceedings, Michael Jackson and his attorneys were back in court yesterday.
Judge Melville started off proceedings asking the jury pool to treat the day as if it were a job interview and to keep an open mind, "I'm not bought and paid for. I have not made up my mind in this case and I want to select a jury that feels exactly the same way," Melville said, according to the Associated Press. He also promised a fair trial as well as ask for honesty from the jury pool, "I can assure all of you there will be a fair trial here, based on me being the judge," ... "We expect the same honesty from you (that) we expect from witnesses once the evidence part of the trial gets going," he said.
Attorneys for both sides, as well as Judge Melville interviewed potential jurors individually. As part of the questioning, the 113-member jury pool was asked to speak up if they knew anyone who was on the potential witness list. After the list was read out, it would appear that many celebrities could be testifying in this trial.
Surprise names include basketball star Kobe Bryant, Tonight Show host Jay Leno, journalist Ed Bradley, new age guru Deepak Chopra, talk show host Larry King, FOX correspondent Rita Cosby, Las Vegas hotel and casino magul Steve Wynn and TV host Maury Povich.
Judge Melville stressed that there is a chance not all of these witnesses will be called to testify. Defence attorney Thomas Mesereau, according to the Santa Maria Times, read out over 100 names.
Michael's two eldest children Prince and Paris are also said to be on the witness list. Other names are not so surprising, as they are friends of the King of Pop, but it's unusual that they are to be involved in this case.
These include names such as Elizabeth Taylor, Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees, David Blaine, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, comedian Steve Harvey, relatives of late actor Marlon Brando and Backstreet Boy Nick Carter and his younger singer brother Aaron. Spoon-bender Uri Geller is also said to be on the list.
All of these names were in addition to names previously reported, such as Chris Tucker, Brett Ratner, choreographer Wade Robson, Corey Feldman and Martin Bashir. Tom Sneddon was also on the list as were former Defence attorneys Mark Geragos and Steve Cochran.
The Defence also listed the Accuser and members of his family. Santa Barbara County Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen's list was shorter, but he did not read out the names that were already listed by the Defence.
Amongst names included by Zonen were comedy club owner Jamie Masada, psychiatrist Stan Katz, Geragos was listed again as well as former Defence attorney Benjamin Brafman. Prosecutors also may call Michael's ex-wife Debbie Rowe.
Zonen stated that Prosecutors may call the Accuser from 1993, but this is uncertain, as the Judge is still to rule whether past allegations are admissible at trial.
18 jury members were questioned in total yesterday, and they were asked if they thought a child could lie under oath by the Defence, as well as what they all thought of Michael Jackson and his career. They were also asked if they, or someone they knew had experienced improper sexual conduct, if they could judge someone of a different race fairly, and what they thought of the media.
Since the start of the trial, there seems to have been a light-hearted approach to the proceedings, and it would appear yesterday was no exception. When a 62-year-old civil engineer from Santa Maria was questioned if he knew who new age guru Deepak Chopra was, he answered "I think he's a rapper," eliciting laughter from Michael as well as the rest of the courtroom.
The sister of lead Defence council Tom Mesereau has sadly passed away.
The Jackson family released this statement:
"Every member of Michael Jackson's family and team would like to extend their deepest sympathies to our Lead Counsel, Tom Mesereau, on the passing of his sister.
"Tom, you and your entire family will be in our prayers.
"May God grant you all much comfort and peace."
Due to this incredibly unfortunate loss, Judge Melville has granted a continuance until Monday, February 14th, for the trial to resume.
We at MJNI would like to take this opportunity to offer our heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the Mesereau family in what must be a trying time after such a tragic loss.
Our thoughts and wishes are with the family.
According to the Associated Press, trial proceedings have been delayed due to lead Defence attorney Thomas Mesereau's sister being gravely ill.
The trial was due to commence on Monday as attorneys individually questioned jurors as part of the on-going jury selection process, however Judge Rodney Melville now plans to hold a previously scheduled hearing on media issues.
We wish the Mesereau family well during this tough time.
"I think we have enough (potential) jurors," were the words of Judge Melville yesterday as he brought proceedings to an early finish.
"By my estimation, we have 250 people who are qualified (for duty)," said Melville, according to the Santa Maria Times. He then adjourned the court early, convinced he does not need to see the rest of 700 people who were summoned, of which there were about 300.
As with Monday, many potential jurors provided excuses as to why they could not be part of the jury, with reasons varying from pregnancy, illness and military assignment. Over half of the people who came before the Judge yesterday hoped for dismissal from duty.
One man claimed he could not serve as he is self-employed, the Judge then asked him if he had any other source of income, "Just a wife," the man said. "I'll tell her you said that," replied the Judge, bringing laughs from Michael as well as the rest of the courtroom.
Melville's decision to end his screening process early now means that the proceedings planned for today have been scrapped and the court has been adjourned until Monday 7th February.
It will be then that both Prosecution and Defence attorneys will start questioning potential jurors individually and intensively.
Michael Jackson appeared in court yesterday for what was the first day of his trial.
The proceeding saw 300 potential jurors enter the courtroom in groups. "I assume you'd rather be somewhere else," Judge Melville said, according to the news-press. "I appreciate your making a sacrifice to be here. Jurors are the foundation of this country's system of justice that is thought of so highly." Michael had to wait over an hour for the first group of jurors to arrive.
Of the 300 potentials, almost half of them asked not to serve. Several excuses were given, including financial hardship, house arrest and pregnancy. "That's enough. You've got it," the Judge replied to the pregnant woman. The decision brought applause from the courtroom, as she was the only juror immediately dismissed.
One juror said his employer would not let him be off work for such an amount of time. "(He) doesn't pay for jury service?" Melville replied with a tone of disbelief, "No, sir," the man answered. "He's an attorney." The courtroom then erupted in laughter, including the King of Pop.
Jurors who were not dismissed have been given a seven-page questionnaire to fill out and next week attorneys will begin in-person questioning. The jury selection process will continue until both the Defence and Prosecution agree on what twelve jurors and eight alternatives are acceptable.
The entire Defence team appeared yesterday, as Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen represented the Prosecution.
The Judge will interview another 300 potential jurors today, with another 150 being interviewed on Wednesday.