The Web      Powered by
powered by Yahoo!


Return to Transcripts main page


Michael Jackson Acquitted

Aired June 13, 2005 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. Thank you so much for being with us tonight.
As you know, one of the biggest celebrities ever to stand trial is not guilty. Tonight, Michael Jackson the superstar is Michael Jackson the free man. There was no hint of what was to come when Jackson walked into the courtroom. He was tense. He was subdued. And there were no cameras in the courtroom. We're told that Jackson stood facing forward as the verdicts were read.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We the jury in the above entitled case find the defendant not guilty of conspiracy, as charged in count one of the indictment, dated June 13, 2005, foreperson number 80.


ZAHN: And so it went, all down the line, on all 10 counts, not guilty.

Leaving court, as you can see, Jackson made no statement, although, through gestures, he did acknowledge the screams and cheers of the crowd. And, as Jackson's motorcade made its way back to Neverland, prosecutor Thomas Sneddon faced reporters.


TOM SNEDDON, SANTA BARBARA DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Obviously, we're disappointed in the verdict. But we work every day in a system of justice. We believe in the system of justice. And I've been a prosecutor for 37 years. And, in 37 years, I've never quarreled with a jury's verdict. And I'm not going to start today.


ZAHN: Sneddon said he had not talked with Jackson's accuser or his family after the verdicts were announced. He was then asked if he felt, in retrospect, he had put the wrong family on the witness stand.


SNEDDON: People come in and they're the victims of crime. We don't select our victims and we don't select the families they come from. What we do is, we evaluate the case. We try to make a conscientious decision as to whether or not we have enough evidence to go forward, and that's what we did in this case. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: That was the prosecutor in this case, Thomas Sneddon.

Reporters also wanted to know if he would ever bring another case against Jackson if someday another accuser stepped forward.


SNEDDON: Review it like any other case we review in our office, just like we reviewed this one.

QUESTION: You wouldn't shy from it now?

SNEDDON: Well, the answer to the question, truthfully, is, I probably wouldn't, if it was a good case, but I think we all learned some lessons here and that -- we thought we had a good case this time.

QUESTION: What lessons have you learned?

SNEDDON: Well, I was referring probably more than anything else to the celebrity factor.


ZAHN: In the end, was the jury swayed by the celebrity factor? They met with reporters as a group and answered that question point blank.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We all came in with our personal beliefs and some of those did differ. But we spent a lot of time really seriously studying the evidence and looking at the testimony, and the jury instructions, and obviously came to an agreement.


ZAHN: Tonight, we're going to try to answer these questions: Why did Michael Jackson walk free? We're going to look at what went wrong for the prosecution, what went right for the defense.

And, coming up next, is California justice different for celebrities? Finally, what's next for Michael Jackson?

With me now in Washington, senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. From Los Angeles tonight, Marcia Clark, who prosecuted O.J. Simpson, and Pamela Hayes, an attorney and former prosecutor here in New York, now a defense attorney.

Good to have all three of us with us.

OK, trio, one of the things I heard a lawyer say this evening was, the mother was smoking gun exhibit A. And let's share with our audience what juror after juror had to say about the accuser's mother.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What mother in her right mind would allow that to happen, or, you know, just freely volunteer your child, you know, to sleep with someone?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The mother, when she looked at me and snapped her fingers a few times and she says, you know how our culture is and winks at me, I thought, no, that's not the way our culture is.


(END VIDEO CLIP) So Jeffrey Toobin, was this case lost for the prosecution the minute the accuser's mother took the witness stand?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, and it didn't have to happen.

The reason this woman was a central figure in the prosecution's case was that the government charged Jackson with conspiring to imprison her and her family. That charge was an albatross that destroyed this prosecution. If they had simply charged him with child molestation, the mother wouldn't even have been a prosecution witness. The case would have been half the length or less.

And, instead, they made a terrible decision to bring a charge that Jackson was clearly innocent of. And it not only you sunk that charge, but the rest of the case with it.

Marcia Clarke, do you really think that Michael Jackson could be looking or would have been looking at prison time tonight, down the road, if the case had been streamlined and if the prosecutor had narrowed the charge to the molestation charge?

MARCIA CLARK, FORMER PROSECUTOR: I have to say, no, I don't think it would have mattered.

And I do have to say that I agree with Jeffrey, absolutely. The conspiracy charge was something that many of us agreed should not have been filed. It was a weak charge. It was an unnecessary charge. These are difficult cases, Paula. Child molestation cases are always very hard. And that made it that much harder, because you're premising a felony count conspiracy on the testimony of a witness who was a problem right from the start.

This was no surprise. This was not something that jumped out of the box on the prosecution in the middle of trial. Right from the beginning, they knew she was a troublemaker. And she was not somebody that needed to be called without that conspiracy charge. So, don't file the charge. However, having said all of that -- and I don't think the charge should have been filed and I don't think she should have been called and I don't think it would have hurt the prosecution all that much if the defense had called her.

Having said all of that, I still think Michael Jackson would have walked on this case. I don't think it would have made any difference.

ZAHN: Why?

CLARK: Because I think celebrity trumps everything, everything.

And I thought maybe it was something endemic only to Los Angeles. I now think that's just the way it is. His celebrity, I think, blocked out the sun. The jurors say no. I say, they don't even realize subconsciously what an impact it has, because what happens, Paula, is that a celebrity, especially of the magnitude of Michael Jackson, he's huge. He's huge.

He's like 10 times bigger than O.J. Simpson ever was. Someone like that walks in and the jury feels like this heavy weight, this burden about convicting somebody this gigantic and the burden of proof goes up to an impossible standard. Beyond a reasonable doubt becomes beyond all possible doubt. They're not even aware of it, I think, a lot of times. Some are. Some are not. And I think that's what happens. And I think that's why we got the acquittals.

ZAHN: All right.

CARLSON: Not because it wasn't proven.

ZAHN: Pam, you just heard what Marcia Clark had to say. And yet, one of the jurors said quite forcefully, hogwash. We looked beyond that and we looked at Michael Jackson like any other individual. Had he not been a celebrity, would he be looking at prison time tonight?

PAMELA HAYES, FORMER PROSECUTOR: They would have never brought the charges. This was all a orchestration by the prosecutor.

ZAHN: So, wait. So, you're saying the charges were only filed because he was a celebrity?


ZAHN: So, you're saying the exact opposite of what Marcia said.

HAYES: Absolutely.

The problem in this case was the mother and the complaining witness. They were both self-admitted liars. Once you have a witness that says, I'll lie under oath for money, it's all over. There isn't a jury in the world who is going to, you know, help them to get on with their scheme to defraud Michael Jackson.

I really felt that these people were self-admitted liars. They defrauded J.C. Penney. They came to court and said, yes, we lied, and couldn't give an explanation why. And this woman had been doing this, the welfare fraud. And she's teaching this poor young man to do it. It was quite obvious. It had nothing to do with celebrity. They just wasn't going to accept the word of a liar.

ZAHN: I think everybody on our panel would agree tonight that that was a sloppy prosecution, who didn't take on the warnings ahead of time that, this woman is going to kill you during trial, Jeffrey. But, to what extent do you think Michael Jackson's celebrity did impact this case?

TOOBIN: Well, it's really hard to, you know, assign a value to it.

You know, it is true that this was -- that there were problems in this case for the prosecution beyond his celebrity. There was also the issue of chronology. You know, Michael Jackson was accused of molesting this boy two years after he met him, two years after he had regular access to him and only after the investigation of child molestation began. That's a peculiar set of facts. And...

ZAHN: What about that, Marcia?


ZAHN: Because one of the jurors said that afterwards. She said, it was very confusing. How were we to believe that this child would be molested 19 days after the actual cover-up began? Those were her words exactly.

CLARK: I have to tell you, Paula, that, in the very beginning of the case, when I realized what the timeline was, it was apparent to me that it was a time bomb ticking in the middle of the case to get the jury -- that could actually be very damaging, very devastating, because it's difficult for a jury to understand why, after this video came out and Michael Jackson is under so much scrutiny, he would do something like this, when everybody's watching him.

However, you have to also understand that someone who molests children -- and, in my opinion, he did molest this boy -- I think that this kind of person doesn't think rationally, isn't thinking about how the world is watching, thinks on -- on some level that is very different from ours, also a celebrity mentality about what they can get away with. I don't think you can assign those kind of logical conclusions and...

ZAHN: All right.


CLARK: ... step one, step two to this kind of person.

ZAHN: Marcia, why are you so willing to believe this young man, a young boy who has been accused of lying multiple times by multiple witnesses and his mother, who was accused, as Pamela said, of being an out-and-outright liar?

CLARK: I'm not saying I believe the mother.

I am saying, however, I believe the little boy. I've followed this case very carefully. I've been in court. And I've prosecuted child molest cases extensively and been involved in the handling of those cases a great deal. I have to tell you that, putting all of it together -- because I was not convinced in the very beginning of the case. I didn't know what was -- what had happened here.

But, putting it all together and with my experience in the kind of conduct child molesters engage in, the pattern of conduct I saw in the evidence in this case, putting it, all of it, together and looking at it realistically, based on my experience, that is why I believe that it was true. However, that is my opinion. The jury did not share it.

And I think that celebrity had a great impact on that. Yes, there were problems with the case, but I think that celebrity makes the jury use those problems as an excuse and they'll seize on anything. In this case, they had a lot to seize on. And that was, I think, also a part of the decision.

ZAHN: Pam, were you troubled by the fact that defense attorney Mesereau promised that Michael Jackson would testify and then he never ended up calling him to testify?

HAYES: I didn't interpret it like that.

I found a lot of analysts thought that's what he promised.

ZAHN: Well, what did you think?

HAYES: He said, you will hear from Michael Jackson.

He played the videos. They played the outtakes, different things like that. He never said he'll take the stand. I thought he knew from the very beginning Michael Jackson would never take the stand. So, what we have to do is just look at it, and say, hey, this is not what he promised them.

ZAHN: Final thought tonight, Jeffrey Toobin?

TOOBIN: Well, I guess, my -- the biggest surprise to me was the way the jury didn't buy the pattern evidence, the evidence of prior molestation, which, in many respects, I thought was stronger than the evidence against the case that was brought. The fact that Jackson had been accused of this repeatedly seemed very powerfully to suggest that he had done it again. The jury didn't care. They concentrated on this particular case. And this particular case was weak.

ZAHN: Jeffrey, Marcia, Pam, thank you to all three of you for joining us tonight. Appreciate all of your perspectives.

Just ahead, what's next for Michael Jackson? I'll ask a man who has known him for 35 years.

In addition to that, we'll be checking in with the foreman of the jury who came to this verdict this afternoon.

In fact, I am told we have that juror with us right now. Mr. Rodriguez, Paul Rodriguez, joins us now.

Hi, sir. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

PAUL RODRIGUEZ, JURY FOREMAN: Hi. How are you doing?

ZAHN: Fine. Thanks.

Our audience is watching right now, probably didn't have the opportunity to hear the news conference you all held shortly after the verdict. Was there one particular issue that had you hung up in deliberations?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, there was conspiracy, for one.

There was no really set dates. It was just a time frame that they gave us. Also, the molestation, towards the end, we all -- we thought maybe it really -- how could it have happened? We didn't have set dates. And so, those are a couple of things that we were hung up on.

ZAHN: So, the timeline, you think, was confusing to everybody on the jury?

RODRIGUEZ: Not really confusing. It just didn't seem accurate. It just didn't seem like it was fitting in with some of the other things that were going on at the same time.

ZAHN: Did you find it hard to believe, personally, that any alleged molestation took place two years, allegedly, after Michael Jackson met this accuser?

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, we did.

ZAHN: And then...


RODRIGUEZ: We just didn't think...


ZAHN: Oh, please, carry on, Mr. Rodriguez.

RODRIGUEZ: Go ahead.


ZAHN: Well, another thing one of the jurors said tonight, that she was troubled by the fact that you were supposed to believe that somehow the molestation started 19 days after the cover-up. Was that a hard thing for to you get a grasp of?

RODRIGUEZ: Yes. We all felt the same way. Literally, we just felt the same way.

ZAHN: Another thing that became very clear tonight was that it seemed that the jury was very offended by the accuser's mother. One complained that the accuser's mother snapped at her. Another one of your fellow jury members complained that she didn't like the way that the accuser's mother looked at her. And then another juror said simply, she felt uncomfortable about her testimony.

How much did the mother's accuser, you think, hurt the prosecution's case?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, she just came on too strong with the jury. And she just was trying to make eye contact with individuals in the jury box and trying to convince us that her story was the only story.

And then, also, when she would say things that she wasn't sure about hearing about any of this thing until today sitting there in the witness box, that things were happening as they were unfolding right there in the jury -- you know, in the courtroom. So, we just couldn't buy her story completely. It just didn't -- it just didn't add up, if you want to put it that way.

ZAHN: There were a lot of people very troubled by that, though. They thought, OK, maybe the mother's story didn't add up, but that they felt that at least the young accuser's story should have held more water. What do you think of that? Could you not separate the two?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, we could separate them to a certain degree. But, also, the -- his siblings, when they testified, there was a lot of conflicting information that they were giving out that just didn't put anything together, that we could say, OK, yes, they're pinpointing it down for us to really look at this.

But they weren't doing that. There was two conflicting stories, is what it amounted to, from all of them. They didn't have the same story.


ZAHN: Yes. So, did you buy any part of the prosecution's closing argument, where, basically, you were being told look, this is a young boy; he was under a tremendous amount of stress, taking stress from all sides, from his family, from the judicial system, you know, cut him some slack; even in a normal case, with less pressure, a child might get confused in testimony, even though his testimony was taped?

RODRIGUEZ: You know, I'd rather not talk about that at the moment. There's just some things that you just said that I'd rather not say it right now, so if you'd ask something else.

ZAHN: Are you, without my digging too far, able to tell me what makes you uncomfortable about that? Is it something that you don't want the public to know?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, no.

It's just that we had decided, inside the jury -- well, in the area where they had us not sequestered, but where we had our private thoughts, that we wouldn't elaborate or say too much about this case until we've had a chance to absorb it ourselves and maybe have a chance to think about this, to see how we're going to handle this in the next few days. And I haven't even had a chance to go home. I was caught up here in the whole thing. So, that's why I say I just would like to give it some time to think about this.

ZAHN: Can you tell me if you have any empathy for this young man, Michael Jackson's accuser?

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, yes.

I do have some empathy for him, because he was brought up, I think, in an environment where he was taught to lie. And he just didn't have a really chance to -- to express himself as a normal child would do. And so, I think the mother just had a lot of influence on him, all the way through their -- their youth.


ZAHN: Did you believe anything this young man had to say in his testimony?

RODRIGUEZ: It was hard to do. It was really hard to believe what he was telling us.

Like I said, there was too much conflicting information coming out from the other siblings as to what the mother was also saying.

And, also, we felt, if they'd have brought in some other witnesses -- I won't say which side, but just brought in some other witnesses that would have been a little more reliable and collaborated the stories that they had, it would have helped out a lot.

ZAHN: It's interesting that you said that, because one of your fellow jury members did say that, among the most credible witnesses they heard during the trial were Kiki, Michael Jackson's housekeeper, and her son, Jesus (ph), who alleged that, in some kind of tickling encounter with Michael Jackson, some molestation happened, this juror making us believe during this news conference that something that at least she found credible. Did you believe the testimony of those two witnesses?

RODRIGUEZ: Up to a certain point. It was just for the matter of finding the facts that we were looking for.

And, so we had to give them some credit or a lot of credit, because we felt that they were probably closer than so many of the other witnesses that they brought forth for us to listen to and to use their testimony for whatever reasons. And we just felt they were more credible.

ZAHN: Are you troubled by the fact that Michael Jackson has shared his bed with so many young boys over the years?

RODRIGUEZ: Say that again?

ZAHN: Are you troubled by the fact that Michael Jackson has allowed young boys in his bed over the years and has talked about it openly? He did so in an ABC documentary.

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, we were very troubled by that.

But, again, as instructed by the judge, we had to stick to the facts of the case. We couldn't use our beliefs or our personal thoughts as to how this thing should end up. So, we stuck to the facts and that's how we based the whole case, how we decided that what we came up with was the final verdict, the final decision.

ZAHN: And you found Michael Jackson not guilty on all 10 counts. In spite of that verdict, what is it that you hope Michael Jackson has learned through this process?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, we would hope, first of all, that he doesn't sleep with children anymore, and that he learns that they have to stay with their families or stay in the guest rooms or the houses, whatever they're called down there. And he just has to be careful how he conducts himself around children.

ZAHN: Final question for you. Now that you're getting your first night off in a long, long time, what do you plan to do, now that you no longer have this heavy responsibility on your shoulders?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, my wife and I plan to take a trip somewhere. And we were plan on moving out of the area. So, we sold our home. So, we'll see what happens in the near future.

ZAHN: Well, I...

RODRIGUEZ: But we would like a little privacy down the road somewhere. You know, it's going to be hard to do for the next few days, I'm sure.

ZAHN: Well, I wish you luck in hiding from all of us.


ZAHN: The jury foreman in the Michael Jackson case, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

RODRIGUEZ: Thank you.

ZAHN: And giving us a much better understanding of how you arrived at the verdict you did.

Still ahead tonight, a key witness for the prosecution will be joining us and giving us her reaction to the verdict.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... find the defendant not guilty.




ZAHN: A big question tonight, of course, is how Michael Jackson is doing after the ordeal of the trial and the joy of his acquittal on all charges, although he didn't show that, as he left the courtroom today.

With me here, Jackson's friend and former spokesman Steve Manning.

Good to see you.

STEVE MANNING, FRIEND OF JACKSON: Good evening. It's a great night for everybody, for the Jackson family tonight.

ZAHN: I know you feel that way tonight. But you had some strong concerns.

MANNING: I was very...



ZAHN: That it might not end up this way.

MANNING: Yes. Yes. That's very true.

ZAHN: What was it that scared you the most? Was there a particular testimony that got you believing the jury would go another way?

MANNING: The way the media -- the media was really having him arrested and electrocuted, already handcuffed already, and say, you're guilty for weeks and weeks now. And that was very frightening for the whole family.

ZAHN: I don't think you were watching this show, because we never did that on this show.


MANNING: No, no, no, other show. I'm not going to mention a network, no, but a lot of TV shows and the media, electronic and print, were saying, this guy is guilty. Send him away. He's already dead and buried. Lock him up forever, 18 years.

ZAHN: But, you know, the jury wasn't supposed to watch the coverage of this trial.

MANNING: That's true. That's true.

ZAHN: And, in the end, even they said at the news conference tonight -- even a woman who was married to a reporter said, we didn't listen to this stuff. MANNING: Yes. Yes. Yes.


MANNING: Well, it's been a great victory for the family. Mrs. Jackson has said on many occasions, including last night, her baby -- she called Michael my baby. I want to see him walk out that courtroom today, or whenever the verdict comes down, as a free man, put this all behind him, start his life over again. So, thank God for that victory today, the jury.

ZAHN: I know you didn't have the opportunity to talk with Michael today.

MANNING: Not yet, but I will tonight.

ZAHN: But you spoke with him last night. You just mentioned you spoke with his mother.

MANNING: Well, do the background. Mr. Jackson -- background -- said, Steve, thank you for your support and your loyalty.

He was very afraid, by the way. The whole family was very concerned, the fact that he hadn't been sleeping and hadn't been eating. As you know, he looked very gaunt like that. And it was very stressful.

It recalls a couple of years ago when Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, was under trial, and he lost a lot of weight. It's not a very easy situation to be accused, waiting for that verdict to come down. You're not going to -- your future is all in the hands of 12 people. Your future is right in their hands there.

ZAHN: What did Michael Jackson tell you last night in the last conversation you had, in advance of this day that could completely change his life?


MANNING: Well, here's the background. I was talking to his mom.

And he says, Steve, thank you for your support. But they were worried about him, because he hadn't been sleeping and just very nervous. He was -- imagine a whole weekend waiting for a verdict, another 48 hours, another -- another weekend to wait for a verdict. I mean, that was very stressful for him.

ZAHN: But what did Michael tell you?

MANNING: Well, that he was -- well, in the past conversation we talked, he said you know, Steve, I'm guilty -- I mean, I'm innocent.

I was there in Las Vegas a year-and-a-half ago, when he got arrested, hours before he got arrested. And he said, Steve, I didn't do this. You've known me for a long time. I'm innocent. And want to get this over with. So, it became very stressful for him as weeks went by and testimonial -- and he felt people were lying on him. They were not, like, telling the truth, a lot of the people who came to the stand for the prosecution.

But you're a close friend of his. And allegations like this surfaced in the '90s. It wasn't just the accuser in this trial.

MANNING: Yes. Yes.

ZAHN: Specific charges from the housekeeper and her son and some charges that became later some of those refuted.


ZAHN: But the fact is, you've heard a pattern of these allegations. As a friend, what did you tell Michael Jackson?

MANNING: Well, again, these things were not true. The jury spoke today. I did tell him that the allegations -- I thought that the fact the perception of a grown man sleeping with children wasn't a good thing. And I think the jury didn't believe it today, thank God. I mean, he's been a very kind humanitarian person for many, many years.

ZAHN: Well, they believe the fact that they think that's unusual and it's wrong for a grown man to sleep with children. The foreman just told us that.


MANNING: Apparently, the jury believed that nothing happened. I mean, it might have been inappropriate. The perception was very bad.

ZAHN: So, how much responsibility do you think Michael Jackson has for bringing a lot on this on himself through his behavior over the years?

MANNING: Well, Michael is a very, very trusting individual, human being, true trusting.

And I think now, not that the verdict is behind him, he is going to put his things into perspective and put things back together, start his music career. L.A. Reid might sign him from Def Jam Island Music, might give him a contract.

ZAHN: L.A. Reid is coming on our show a little bit later tonight to talk about that.

MANNING: Yes. And he's -- a lot of people said, oh, this man is dead. He's finished. But he's going to rise up again from the ashes, like a phoenix and be bigger and better, I believe.

ZAHN: But will he change his behavior, so he doesn't leave himself open to the kind of accusations...

(CROSSTALK) MANNING: Well, he's not going to be trusting again to a lot of people who he was before in the past, too trusting, too trustworthy with people. That's not going to happen anymore with him.

ZAHN: But you don't want him to invite young men into his home, do you, and sleep with them and share a bed?


MANNING: As guests, as a guest.

I mean, Neverland is a wonderful place. You'd love Neverland as a grown woman. It's a wonderful place. But I think now he'll realize that it looks wrong and he won't do it anymore, I believe, personally.

ZAHN: And did his family along the way say, Michael, you just -- you know, we don't believe what they're saying about you, but just -- just stop living that way and maybe you can protect yourself better?


MANNING: ... wasn't true. The allegations -- again, they were allegations.

Kids come there. They never mention the fact that people who have children who are terminally ill, they might come there and see the movie theater. There's a bed there. I mean, this guy has given millions of dollars away to charity, first of all. He's opened his home up to different events and that. And that is never talked about. He felt very hurt about that. He felt that they were really lynching him in a way, like that, the press and the public. They were being unfair to him.

ZAHN: Do you think the United States, the American public, will ever accept Michael Jackson like they once did?

MANNING: Yes, they will. Yes, they will. Now that this is behind him, yes, they certainly will. He was found innocent in a court of law in the United States of America. Thank God for that.

ZAHN: And we thank you for joining us tonight. Appreciate it.

MANNING: Thank you, Paula. Appreciate it. Thank you.

ZAHN: Appreciate your time.

Michael Jackson's acquittal is a clean sweep for the defense and a disastrous defeat for the prosecution.

Let's look at what went wrong from the prosecution perspective.

Joining me now from Santa Maria, former Santa Barbara prosecutor Craig Smith and, from Los Angeles, prosecution witness Louise Palanker.

Good to see both of you. So, Mr. Smith, we talked a lot about the jury having some huge problems with the accuser's mother. In the end, what do you think was the single biggest mistake the prosecution made, above and beyond using her as a key witness?

CRAIG SMITH, FORMER PROSECUTOR: I think the single biggest mistake they made was the decision to charge conspiracy.

Conspiracy made it necessary to rely to a great deal on the testimony of the accuser's mother. And the accuser's mother was just a horrible witness. She was overemotional. She was overwrought. She was over the top. As the jurors' comments in the press conference this afternoon indicated, they were completely turned off by her.

And, indeed, the bottom line, of course, the decision to charge conspiracy complicated what should have been a simple molestation case. It brought the accuser's mother into the forefront. And the accuser's mother tainted and poisoned the rest of the case. The prosecution opened themselves up to the criticism by the jury that, if they were so wrong in their theory about the conspiracy, then could you really trust them on their theory about the molestation?

ZAHN: But, Ms. Palanker, do you really think that Michael Jackson would have been found guilty if the charges had been streamlined just to the molestation charge and getting rid of the conspiracy charge altogether?

LOUISE PALANKER, PROSECUTOR WITNESS: I don't think I'm in a position to second-guess the prosecution's case. I think they had strong evidence for a conspiracy.

I was called by the mother in a panic when she felt that she was being held by what she referred to as evil people, in the middle of the chaotic incidents that ensued following the airing of the Bashir documentary. So, it felt like the conspiracy was real to me from my own personal experience.

ZAHN: Why do you believe the mother when so many of the jurors told us tonight that they didn't like the way she looked at them, didn't like the way she snapped her fingers at them, and they viewed her as an out and outright liar. Those weren't their exact words but clearly when you listen to the sum total what have they said tonight, they did not believe her.

PALANKER: I think we're talking about a woman who's been in survival mode for all of her adult life, and I don't think that she knows of any other way to conduct herself or to make herself heard. I think she feels like a person who has not been heard for most of her life, and there's a little desperation that goes along with that type of personality, and I think that's how she came across. She's an extremely excitable woman.

ZAHN: Do you think that a child molester was set free tonight Miss Palanker?

PALANKER: That's what I believe. Because this boy is my friend, and I believe him. I come to you with a bias. I'm friends with the young accuser, and I believe what he has told me. So yes.

ZAHN: Craig, it's interesting to note that one of the jurors said tonight during the news conference, that among the most credible witnesses the prosecution put forward were Michael Jackson's housekeeper and her son, who alleged there was a tickling incident with Michael Jackson that led to child molestation.

They apparently found that testimony credible, which was relating an incident that happened in the '90s, but certainly not the testimony of this latest accuser. Where is the disconnect there?

SMITH: Well, the disconnect is that, when you present evidence of prior sexual offenses, the idea is that where there's smoke, there's fire. If he did it before, he's likely to have done it this time. And of course, from a very technical standpoint, the quantum of evidence they need to believe that the prior incident occurred is preponderance of the evidence, more likely than that.

To find Michael Jackson guilty of the charged offense, they need to find proof beyond a reasonable doubt and because of all the problems with the accuser's mother, and the fact that there was no corroboration for what the accuser said, either in the form of physical evidence or in the testimony of other witnesses, the jury didn't have that abiding conviction for moral certainty that we call beyond a reasonable doubt.

ZAHN: Miss Palanker, do you think Michael Jackson is free man tonight in part because of his celebrity?

PALANKER: Well, I would just be speculating if I had an opinion about that, but it certainly seems as if, if this man lived on your street or my street, that he would have been convicted. So yes, it seems that way to me, but I wasn't in the jury room and I didn't -- I wasn't in court every day. I was only in court the day I testified. So I have a very limited scope in terms of my view of what they saw, and what they felt that the judge had instructed them to do, and what they felt that they needed to do is, was up to them and I'm not going to question their decision.

ZAHN: Mr. Smith, Mr. Sneddon made it quite clear in an answer and a nonanswer to a follow-up question that he believes that perhaps celebrity is something that they either mis -- I would say underestimated in this case. How much of an impact do you think it had on the outcome?

SMITH: It definitely had an impact. You can't underestimate the impact of celebrity. Number one, the fact that he's a celebrity and he has well means that's able to marshal a formidable defense. That's not something every defendant can do, and once again, you know, we live in a cult of celebrity. The governor of this state that we live in is elected probably due to his celebrity. So, that just spills over into so many areas of life, and once again, it makes Tom Mesereau's argument that the accuser and his family, they are drifters, they are looking for a big payday, they are looking for a deep pocket. Being a celebrity provides that deep pocket. ZAHN: A final question for you, Mr. Smith. Do you think this will have a chilling effect on filing potentially of other child molestation cases in this country?

SMITH: It may have a chilling effect but once again, it's only really going to have a chilling effect when it's celebrity on the other end or a celebrity on the other end. In the everyday case, I don't think it's going to have that large an impact. I think it's going to be business as usual.

ZAHN: Craig Smith, Louise Palanker, thank you...

SMITH: Thank you.

ZAHN: ...both, for joining us after a very long day that you have jointly endured here.

PALANKER: Thank you.

ZAHN: The Reverend Jesse Jackson says Michael Jackson was acquitted in the courtroom, but he's been convicted in news rooms all across the country. He'll be joining us coming up right after this break.


ZAHN: The charges against Michael Jackson go all the way back to the TV documentary called "Living with Michael Jackson," in which he's seen holding hands with the boy who would later become his accuser. Jackson, of course, was accused of molesting the boy and trying to hold him and his family captive to get them to rebut the damaging images in the documentary.

Take a look at part of that tape as journalist Martin Bashir interviews Jackson about having boys in his bed.


MARTIN BASHIR, FILMMAKER: Is that really appropriate for a man, a grown man to be doing that? How do you respond to that?

MICHAEL JACKSON, ACQUITTED OF MOLESTATION CHARGES: I feel sorry for them, because that's judging someone who wants to really help people. Why can't you share your bed? That's the most loving thing to do, is to share your bed with someone.


ZAHN: Joining us now, from Chicago, Michael Jackson's spiritual adviser, the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Always good to see you, sir. Welcome.

In spite of the fact that Michael Jackson was acquitted of all the charges, how troubled are you that, over the years, he has invited young men into his home and shared a bed with them? REVEREND JESSE JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON SPIRITUAL ADVISER: I'm deeply concerned, but you had these two trials, the newsroom dealt with appearance, and dealt with innuendo and suggestion, but the jurors had to deal with fact and evidence, and so you had two trials, and so it did not appear to be a good thing, but the impropriety -- appearance is not illegal. And that is where it seemed to me that the distinction came out today.

ZAHN: So what do you think the lesson is that Michael Jackson has learned from this?

J. JACKSON: One should be that the appearance of impropriety is dangerous and high-risk. He should never again put himself in that -- in that predicament, because really, it really is unacceptable behavior, and it should not happen.

But, the question for the jury, did he cross that legal line of impropriety to become illegal, and they said on all 10 counts, not. So we have to respect the deliberation of this jury.

ZAHN: In one of the more unusual exchanges tonight, one of the jurors, who happened to be a mother, was asked if she was troubled by the very fact that Michael Jackson had shared a bed with these young men, and she said she found that deeply troubling, so did other jurors, but then she went on to say, and wouldn't completely answer the question, that in many ways, she felt the mother was more responsible than Michael Jackson. Those weren't her exact words, but in a follow-up question, she wouldn't answer, that's what you as a listener were led to believe.

J. JACKSON: Well, you know, one of the things here is that, and many people began to feel that the mother was a part of a set-up, that you have these testimonials against Michael, but upon cross- examination, there was always some stench of a money trail and the mother's behavior, as if they were part of some conspiracy to set him up. The jury detected that themselves. Michael always declared it was the case, and the jury at some point believed Michael more than they believed them.

ZAHN: Did you believe anything the young accuser had to say?

J. JACKSON: Well, I learned not to. Upon hearing the accusation, it seemed very aggravating and very disturbing. I always wait for the cross-examination, and in each instance on the cross- examination, they wilted, and you found these ulterior motives in the process.

Michael obviously, contended there was some -- there was some financial challenge, or there was a real -- a real bigger picture. He felt that his catalogue ownership of the Beatles and the Elvis and his own, there were forces trying to get that.

At some point, it was a case where his assets were much greater than his debt, and there was an attempt to foreclose. That got resolved in the middle of April. It kind of came back to these witnesses, and this mother and Michael, and in that scenario, jurors believed more in Michael's defense than they did in the accuser's and the mother.

ZAHN: We just listened to Michael Jackson talking in the Martin Bashir documentary, and it almost sounded like he didn't understand that there wasn't something wrong about sharing his bed with young men, and I'm just curious, in all your conversations with Michael Jackson, if he's ever conceded that his actions led to what he faced over the last couple of months in the courtroom.

J. JACKSON: I mean, there is a certain social disconnect about the boy staying over, but in Michael's own kind of innocence, you know, the author of "We Are the World," Neverland ranch is for free, for the children, and children pictures all over his Neverland ranch. And I hope he'll build a Neverland-type of place in Africa, those who do not have a theme park there.

Seems that Michael is in a certain plane. You might call it abnormal, you might call it bizarre. It may be all of that, but it was not illegal. And when the case came down to the facts in evidence, the jurors determined that to be their collective point of view as well.

So now Michael must get on with A, avoidance of such appearance ever again, get on with his own physical healing, emotional healing as well, as all of his career.

ZAHN: Michael Jackson isn't talking to us personally. What do you suspect he'd want the American public to know right now? I know you made it very clear earlier today there was no gloating on his part, that this was a sad day all the way around for all of the people caught up in this trial.

J. JACKSON: Well, you know, he's anxious. You know, he felt a sense of betrayal about those that he had been generous toward, trying to put him in jail, but he never felt like embittered toward them, even though there was a very hostile political environment there, with the sheriffs and the DA and the jurors coming from that county. He never raised the issue about no African-American being on the jury. He trusted that jury, and those common people. He trusted Tom Mesereau. And he held fast at the conviction that if they use a standard of reasonable doubt, he would be vindicated.

Now, if it became political, he thought he might lose, in the sense that the jury was never sequestered.

ZAHN: Sure.

J. JACKSON: And given how many journalists were in the area, how many concluded Michael was guilty, was the fear that they might be affected by those conclusions. Indeed, Nancy Grace, indeed (INAUDIBLE), but some of that jury arrived at the conclusion much more sober than the pundits.

ZAHN: Reverend Jackson, we got to leave it there this evening. Thank you very much for being with us tonight.

J. JACKSON: Thank you very much. ZAHN: Always enjoy having you on.

Michael Jackson's last album was called "Invincible." He may seem like that today, but what's ahead for his career, his empire and his music? Stay with us as we search for some answers.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As a mother, to -- the values and stuff that she has taught them, and they've learned, and that is really hard for me to comprehend. You know, because I wouldn't want any of my children to lie for their own gain. I don't know. It's hard.



ZAHN: Welcome back. You're looking at a live picture of Neverland, kind of dark at the bottom part of your screen, but I am told that Michael Jackson's father, Joe Jackson, has gone out to greet some of the fans, many of whom have been over there for 24 -- you can make him out at the center of that fence. Not clear tonight whether anybody from the Jackson family will be making a statement, but we just met with one of the spokespeople for the Jackson family, who talked about the great concern Michael Jackson family has about his health, even in spite of this verdict. They said he has been increasingly frail as the trial dragged on.

Just about 10 minutes from now, "LARRY KING LIVE" will be starting his show. Hi, Larry. Who do you have on the show tonight?

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Hi, Paula. Well, I got the whole family here. We were going to tape a show for Father's Day, they were going to be on live, but kind of a new story broke today.

We've got the jury foreman, Paul Rodriguez will be with us. Our outstanding panel of Ted Rowlands, Brooke Anderson, Jane Velez- Mitchell, Michael Cardoza, Craig Smith and your old friend, Cynthia McFadden, and we also may be hearing from Jermaine Jackson. And Michael's lawyer will be with us tomorrow night.

That's all ahead, though, Paula, with phone calls, just about 10 minutes away.

ZAHN: Doesn't seem like you missed a guest there tonight. Look forward to it. Thanks so much, Larry.

KING: Thanks, dear.

ZAHN: As we mentioned, Michael Jackson cleared on all charges, but now he has a huge job ahead rebuilding his career, and his image.


ZAHN (voice-over): Superstar, only a handful of celebrities ever achieve that status --so well-known, their recognized worldwide. During the 1980s, Michael Jackson was the world's most famous star. But the reign of the "King of Pop" is over. His talent overshadowed by years of questionable behavior, Bubbles, the chimpanzee, the plastic surgery, the dangling baby, and most disturbing, allegations of child molestation.

Antonio L.A. Reid, chairman of Island Def Jam Music, works with some of the biggest names in the recording industry.

ANTONIO REID, CEO, ISLAND DEF JAM MUSIC: The most difficult thing that -- it pains me to even say is, people want to know, "Did he do it?" That's a big hurdle, you know? That's the biggest hurdle: Did it really happen? are you really the guy that they say you are?

ZAHN: Jackson isn't the first famous person to fall from grace. Most are able to pull themselves up again with minimal damage to their celebrity status. But for some, the charges are so serious even if they are acquitted, like Jackson was today, they never recovered.

Media strategist, Robbie Vorhaus, says Jackson's case is unique because he's not just a celebrity, he's an icon.

ROBBIE VORHAUS, MEDIA STRATEGIST: I think there are a lot of people who would say that it's going to be tougher for Michael Jackson because of how high he was.

ZAHN: But as difficult a challenge it might seem, music industry and public relations experts say a Michael Jackson comeback is within reach.

VORHAUS: In this world of entertainment, there's no law against being weird. There's no law against being strange, and he still is an incredible talent.

ZAHN: Public relations specialist, Howard Bragman, says that's where Jackson needs to keep his focus.

JACKSON: You know it's thriller

ZAHN: After all, he's had 13 number one songs, and 1982's "Thriller" is still the best selling album of all-time.

HOWARD BRAGMAN, FIFTEEN MINUTES PUBLIC RELATIONS: In Michael's case if you want to resurrect a career, you do you a couple things. You go to your base. You go to your base in terms of your audience; the people who built that career in the first place, which are young people for him, and the African-American community for him.

And the second thing you do, is you go to the skill that got you there. And for Michael, it's singing and song-writing.

REID: I would honestly start with him touring, and getting out. And performing for people, and really reminding people that he's one of the greats. He's one of the true icons of our time.

JACKSON: I'm going to make a change, for once in my life ZAHN: But to recover his career, Michael Jackson would need to drastically change his lifestyle.

VORHAUS: We know that Neverland is a wonderful place to go if you want to feel like a child, but certainly the sleepovers have to stop. And anything related to anything that could even be tied back to this trial, have to end.

REID: And by the way, just go out -- go out to the restaurants, go out and hang. You know, go to the club and listen to some music. Stop by some studios and see what people are doing. And talk to people and just get a feel for people and become comfortable in your own spin skin. That, too, is just as important as the 18-city tour.

ZAHN: For the 46-year-old superstar, today's acquittal is a chance to start over. And while the public may never expect him to be a regular guy, the experts agree he needs to get real.

REID: You are Michael Jackson, but understand what that means. That means that you are a superstar, you're a legend, but you're a regular guy from Gary, Indiana.


ZAHN: And in just a minute, I'll be talking with one of the Michael Jackson's long time friends about the verdict today, and Jackson's future.

We'll be right back.


ZAHN: If you log on to Michael Jackson's Web site tonight, this is exactly what you will see. He is proclaiming his innocence after being found not guilty on all ten charges -- comparing that verdict to the Berlin Wall falling -- comparing his freedom, tonight, to Nelson Mandela's.

And right now, we're going to turn our attention to one of Michael Jackson's friends, joining me from Santa Maria, Majestic the Magician. Thank you, so much, for being with us tonight.

Have you spoken with Michael since the verdict came down?

MAJESTIC THE MAGICIAN, FRIEND OF MICHAEL JACKSON: No, I haven't. I've spoken Randy. And I just want to make a statement saying that people say, "Can Michael make a comeback?" Understand, no one can sing and dance like Michael. Michael has an abundance of talent. Of course, he can make hit records -- he going to sell millions of records. He -- no one can do what he does. He does -- he's the best at it.

ZAHN: But in spite of the fact that the jury found him innocent today, you know that he does have a challenge. And that even the jurors who found him innocent, say they continue to be troubled by his judgment. That he never, as an adult man, should have brought children into his bed. Isn't that something he's got to face?

MAJESTIC: Well, let's see what the future brings. Let's see how Michael lives in the near -- in the coming future. And the weeks, and months, and years to come. I think Michael is very intelligent. He understands that he can't help children; every time he's tried to help someone, do something good, somebody come and put him in a trap or something. It's horrible.

ZAHN: So, how do you hope he'll change his lifestyle, given what he's been through since the end of January, when his jury selection started?

MAJESTIC: This is what I think Michael's going to do. I think Michael's is going throw himself into work. I think he's going to star writing, producing music, and do what he does best. That's what God put him here for; to perform. And I think that's what he's going to do. , start writing, producing music and do what he does best.

ZAHN: Does he feel like he's let anybody down? let his fans down? Because even the problems, Jesse Jackson acknowledged tonight, he's brought on himself.

MAJESTIC: Michael could never let his fan's down. You have to understand Michael's fans -- that's impossible, that's totally impossible. He could -- there's nothing Michael could do to let his fans down, nothing. They are like, from all over the world.

ZAHN: And he didn't let you down at all with...

MAJESTIC: Absolutely not. I've been knowing the man 22 years. I know his character. I'll tell you who let me down: Nancy Grace, Lisa Bloom, Diane Dimond -- convicted a man in the press. That's what I mean, all of them should be fired for doing what they did. It's horrible. You're reputable journalist, and you do good work. I respect you. That's why I agreed to do your show. But the rest of them, I'm telling you, they're no good.

ZAHN: Well, thank you for your generous compliment. I appreciate it, and we appreciate your joining us tonight to talk about your good friend, Michael.

MAJESTIC: Thank you.

ZAHN: And that raps it up for all of us here...

MAJESTIC: Thank you, so much.

ZAHN: Our pleasure. Thank you, again, for being with us, tonight.

More on the impact of this verdict, tomorrow night.

Same time, same place.

Good night.


International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
   The Web     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.