To give you a ´feel´ of the atmosphere
in which the decision to settle was taken back in 1993 here
is an extract from Mary Fischer´s article Was
Michael Jackson Framed? which shows how much friction
there was between Michael´s lawyers at the time.
The atmosphere was that of a hysteria and complete pandemonium
in the media and public at large. Michael began taking painkillers
to deal with the stress, lost approximately 10 pounds in weight
and stopped eating. His health deteriorated to the extent that
he cancelled the remainder of his Dangerous tour and flew to
the UK for a rehabilitation treatment. The Jackson legal team
was of the opinion that Michael´ss health was so bad he
wouldn´st be able to endure a lenthy trial.
From the day Weitzman joined Jackson´ss defense
team, he was talking settlement, says Bonnie Ezkenazi,
an attorney who worked for the defense. While Fields and Pellicano
were still in control of Jackson´ss defense, they adopted
an aggressive strategy. They believed staunchly in Jackson´ss
innocence and vowed to fight the charges in court. Pellicano
began gathering evidence to use in the trial, which was scheduled
for March 21, 1994.
The Chandlers had a very weak case, says Fields.
We wanted to fight. Michael wanted to fight and go
through a trial. We felt we could win.
Dissension within the Jackson camp accelerated on November 12,
1993 after Jackson´s publicist announced at a press conference
that the singer was canceling the remainder of his world tour
to go into a drug-rehabilitation program to treat his addiction
Fields later told reporters that Jackson was barely able
to function adequately on an intellectual level. Others
in Jackson´s camp felt it was a mistake to portray the
singer as incompetent. It was important, Fields
says, to tell the truth. Larry Feldman (Chandler´s
lawyer) and the press took the position that Michael was trying
to hide and that it was all a scam. But it wasn´t.
On November 23, the friction peaked. Based on information he
says he got from Weitzman, Fields told a courtroom full of reporters
that a criminal indictment against Jackson seemed imminent.
Fields had a reason for making the statement: he was trying
to delay the boy´s civil suit by establishing that there
was an impending criminal case that should be tried first.
Outside the courtroom, reporters asked why Fields had made the
announcement, to which Weitzman replied essentially that Fields
misspoke himself. The comment infuriated Fields,
because it wasn´t true, he says. It
was just an outrage. I was very upset with Howard. Fields
sent a letter of resignation to Jackson the following week.
There was this vast group of people all wanting to do
a different thing, and it was like moving through molasses to
get a decision, says Fields. It was a nightmare,
and I wanted to get the hell out of it. Pellicano, who
had received his share of flak for his aggressive manner, resigned
at the same time.
With Fields and Pellicano gone, Weitzman brought in Johnnie
Cochran Jr. and Jonh Branca, whom Fields had replaced as Jackson´s
general counsel in 1990, was back on board. In late 1993, as
DAs in both Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties convened
grand juries to assess whether criminal charges should be filed
against Jackson, the defense strategy changed course and talk
of settling the civil case began in earnest, even though his
new team also believed in Jackson´s innocence.
Why would Jackson´s side agree to settle out of court
given his claims of innocence and the questionable evidence
His attorneys apparently decided there were many factors that
argued against taking the case to civil court. Among them was
the fact that Jackson´s emotional fragility would be tested
by the oppressive media coverage that would likely plague the
singer day after day during a trial that could last as long
as six months.
Politics and racial issues had also seeped into legal proceedings
particularly in Los Angeles, which was still recovering
from the Rodney King ordeal and the defense feared that
a court of law could not be counted on to deliver justice.
Then, too, there was the jury mix to consider. As one attorney
says, They figured that Hispanics might resent Jackson
for his money, blacks might resent him for trying to be white,
and whites would have trouble getting around the molestation
issue. In Resnick´s opinion, The hysteria
is so great and the stigma [of child molestation] is so strong,
there is no defense against it.
Jackson´s lawyers also worried about what might happen
if a criminal trial followed, particularly in Santa Barbara,
which is a largely white, conservative, middletoupperclass
community. Any way the defense looked at it, a civil trial seemed
too big a gamble.
Others close to the case say the decision to settle also probably
had to do with another factor the lawyers´ reputations.
Can you imagine what would happen to an attorney who lost
the Michael Jackson case? says Anthony Pellicano. There´s
no way for all three lawyers to come out winners unless they
settle. The only person who lost is Michael Jackson.
Jackson, says Branca, changed his mind about taking the
case to trial when he returned to this country. He hadn´t
seen the massive coverage and how hostile it was. He just wanted
the whole thing to go away
By January 1, 1994 $2million had been spent by prosecution departments
in California, two grand juries had questioned two hundred witnesses
but Jordan´s allegations could not be corroborated.
A few weeks later Chandler´s attorney, Larry Feldman,
petitioned the court that he should be allowed access to Jackson´s
finances over concerns that the singer´s wealth would
give him an unfair advantage in court.
One adviser to Jackson stated You can take pictures of
Michael´s dick and he´s not gonna like it, but once
you start trying to figure out how much money he has, that´s
where he stops playing around.
On January 25, 1994 Jackson settled a civil suit out of court.
When asked why he paid off his accuser, Jackson answered: I
wanted to go on with my life. Too many people had already been
hurt. I want to make records. I want to sing. I want to perform
It´s my talent. My hard work. My life. My decision.
He also wanted to avoid a media circus.
This is how Mary Fischer sums up the 1993 case:
It is, of course, impossible to prove a negative
that is, prove that something didn´t happen. But it is
possible to take an indepth look at the people who made
the allegations against Jackson and thus gain insight into their
character and motives. What emerges from such an examination,
based on court documents, business records and scores of interviews,
is a persuasive argument that Jackson molested no one and that
he himself may have been the victim of a wellconcieved
plan to extract money from him.
Michael later admitted that the 1993 financial settlement had
been a MISTAKE.
* * * * * * * * * *
Mary Fischer, speaks to Greta Van Sustren about why the 93 case
was a set-up. She defends her 1994 article. This interview was
done in November 2003 on Fox News.
here to listen
Greta Van Susteren is an American journalist
and television personality on the Fox News Channel, where she
hosts On the Record w/ Greta Van Susteren. A former criminal
defense and civil trial lawyer, she appeared as a legal commentator
on CNN co-hosting Burden of Proof with Roger Cossack from 1994
to 2002, playing defense attorney to Cossack's prosecutor.
Thank you Helena for your generosity
sharing your investigation!