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Michael Jackson on Offensive

Aired November 26, 2003 - 07:05   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: We start today now with the fighting words from the attorney for Michael Jackson, Mark Geragos, and it was strong yesterday, warning that anyone trying to profit from Jackson's troubles will face his legal wrath.
Gary Tuchman now from Los Olivos, California, and the Neverland Ranch in California.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A warning from Michael Jackson's attorney to those who want to -- quote -- "besmirch" the king of pop's reputation.

MARK GERAGOS, MICHAEL JACKSON'S ATTORNEY: We are going to -- and I've been given full authority -- we will land on you like a ton of bricks.

TUCHMAN: Mark Geragos' outburst was largely the result of his declaration that two cameras secretly recorded Jackson and Geragos flying on a private executive jet last week to Santa Barbara, where Jackson was later arrested on child molestation charges. A judge has put a restraining order into effect, preventing the XtraJet leasing company, which Geragos has now sued, from selling the video tape.

XtraJet told CNN it has no comment at this time.

GERAGOS: I believe we'll put XtraJet out of business for this outrageous act. Anybody who's connected with it, we will put and seek to do everything else to put them out of business.

TUCHMAN: Geragos further went on to say that Jackson will not -- quote -- "be a pinata for every person who has financial motives."

Prosecutors have said they were motivated by evidence Jackson committed a crime.

TOM SNEDDON, SANTA BARBARA DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The judge reviewed and issued both an arrest and a search warrant under the probable cause -- reasonable and probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and that, in this case, Mr. Jackson commit it. And that was the standard we met.

TUCHMAN: So, when will Jackson be formally charged? Last week, the district attorney declared:

SNEDDON: I can assure you that within a very short period of time, there will be charges filed against Mr. Jackson -- multiple counts.

TUCHMAN: That short time was expected to be right after Thanksgiving, but a source now tells CNN it will likely be the week of December 15, as authorities need more time to examine the evidence recovered at Jackson's Neverland Ranch and two other locations -- the offices of Jackson's private investigator and of a man who shoots video for the pop star. Michael Jackson and his attorney say it's all a big lie.

GERAGOS: If anybody doesn't think, based upon what's happened so far, that the true motivation of these charges and these allegations is anything but money and the seeking of money, then they're live in their own Neverland, Thank you.

TUCHMAN: Michael Jackson is still in seclusion.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Santa Barbara County, California.


HEMMER: All right, with us again, our legal analyst, Jeff Toobin, to take us through the events of yesterday and what we may anticipate again today. Who knows, huh?


HEMMER: Quickly, the statements from Geragos, you were surprised in the way he addressed the accuser. Why?

TOOBIN: Because this is accuser is a 12-year-old cancer victim, and one way to approach this case might have been, you know, this is a terribly misled kid, who is well motivated. No, this is going to be an extremely aggressive defense, that this is nothing but extortion, a shakedown, people after Michael Jackson for money, these people are lying, this kid is lying. It's going to be a very aggressive case.

HEMMER: So, you're saying the approach and the tact that we saw yesterday is something you don't like.

TOOBIN: Well, I don't know if I like it or not. I mean, we'll see whether -- his job is not to be popular. It's to win.

HEMMER: Very true.

TOOBIN: But it's something that could rub people the wrong way -- potential jurors.

HEMMER: Explain, why no formal charges filed now until mid- December? Does that strike you as...

TOOBIN: It's bizarre. I mean, I've never heard of formal charges not being filed the day of an arrest.

HEMMER: So, the day Jackson flew backing from Vegas to Santa Barbara County.

TOOBIN: You know, in my experience, people generally don't like to be arrested. They don't volunteer to go in...


TOOBIN: ... just with the expectation that we'll get to the charges sooner or later, but you just turn yourself in and publicly humiliate yourself. I mean, Mark Geragos -- I guess, what happened is that they reached some sort of an agreement on a surrender date which was convenient for Geragos, and Michael Jackson agreed to come in. And then, the district attorney said, well, we'll file our charges promptly. But what this means is that the district attorney is getting to use the material that he found in Neverland to make the arrest warrant even more incriminating-sounding, better, you know, for the prosecution, when, in fact, it's usually the prosecution's -- it's always the prosecution's obligation to put what you have at the time of the arrest. It's strange.

HEMMER: I've got 50 questions here. We're going to get through four of them.


HEMMER: XtraJet, videotapes inside the plane, is it illegal?

TOOBIN: It is outrageous. It's really kind of -- it's distasteful in the extreme. Is it a crime? I don't know if it's a crime. It certainly might be a civil offense, and I think Geragos was quite right to threaten at least a civil lawsuit. Taping people in attorney/client conversations is so -- first of all, it's just wrong. I don't know if it's actually a crime. It certainly is something that Geragos could sue to stop, and he did get a temporary restraining order yesterday...

HEMMER: That's right.

TOOBIN: ... from having this company sell these. So...

HEMMER: And then, it didn't look really good when you're shopping around the media companies, possibly for 100 grand, to have a sneak peek.

TOOBIN: I mean, imagine that -- selling someone's attorney/client conversations.

HEMMER: Yes. CNN's Art Harris sat down with Tom Sneddon yesterday. Listen to what he said in reference to his initial press conference where a lot of legal analysts across the country -- yours included...


HEMMER: ... called into question maybe the tone he had. Have a listen here of what he said yesterday about that.


SNEDDON: I think the criticism was valid. I think that to some extent that was inappropriate. I feel bad about it. I feel bad about it because I think I should have known better. I feel bad because somebody would assume that I'm making light of a thing where I know there's a serious crime, and that there are victims that have been hurt and a family. And so, I believe that some of the criticism is certainly well-founded.


HEMMER: We have a father of nine there. He sounds contrite. Should he be talking at all?

TOOBIN: You know, he's an elected official. He answers to the public, so I think it's OK for him to be talking to the press in a limited way, not disclosing a lot of evidence. What he should be doing is filing these charges. That's the thing that I just find so bizarre.

HEMMER: Yes. Just for the record, Nancy Grace, Johnny Cochran and Chris Pixly (ph) all agreed last night on Larry King about the XtraJet issue and the videotapes.

TOOBIN: And I agree too. The Supreme Court of pundits has spoken.

HEMMER: Thank you, Jeff. Talk to you a bit later this morning. We have more questions for you.


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