An Innocent Man Wouldn't Have Settled...
Back in 1993, when the first set of allegations materialized, there was not enough evidence to indict Michael Jackson. The case was brought in front of two grand juries and charges were never brought. There was no corroborating evidence, no child pornography found, no witnesses to inappropriate behavior on Mr. Jackson's part and no other victims. Surely if Michael Jackson were a pedophile, authorities would have found something incriminating against him. They searched his entire house, interviewed hundreds of children and found nothing. On top of that, there is ample evidence that proves the entire thing was a scam.
So why do people still insist that he was guilty in 1993? Most people refer to the civil settlement that Michael Jackson reached with the accusing family. Anyone who uses the civil settlement as evidence of Michael Jackson's guilt lacks a basic understanding of law and needs to do a little research before making baseless assumptions. Since most members of the "Michael Jackson is guilty" club are lazy, I've done the research for you. I've even written a little analogy to help those with no legal knowledge understand the situation more clearly. Read on to learn why Michael Jackson settled the civil lawsuit in 1993 and why it means absolutely nothing in terms of him being innocent or guilty...
Imagine you are a professional dancer and have been entered into two competitions. You are required to perform the exact same routine in both competitions but the second one is much more significant. The first competition offers a cash prize of $100 while the second competition guarantees the winner a highly coveted spot at one of the most prestigious dance schools in the country. You have no desire to win the first competition as $100 really wouldn't benefit you much in the long run. Your entire career, however, rests on whether or not you win that second competition.
Now imagine that the person you're up against in the second competition will be coming to watch you perform in the first competition. Your opponent is going to be watching the entire routine, taking notes on all of your strengths and weaknesses and using this information to improve his/her own routine and make it better than yours. You approach the judge and ask that the order of the competitions be reversed so that the more important competition takes place first; this will prevent your opponent from knowing in advance what he/she is up against. The judge denies your request. You then ask that your opponent be banned from attending the first competition. Again, your request is denied.
Now you are faced with two choices. You could either a) perform in the first competition and risk your opponent having the upper hand in the more important competition or b) drop out of the first competition (since you don't care about a lousy $100 prize) and risk people thinking that your dropping out had something to do with your inability as a dancer. What would you do? Would people's opinions be more important than your own future? Would you compete in the first competition just to prove that you could win it if you tried?
If you want some insight into Michael Jackson's predicament in 1993, take this scenario and increase its magnitude by a thousand. The civil trial was supposed to take place before the criminal trial which would have been a direct violation of Mr. Jackson's constitutional right to not self-incriminate. Because of double jeopardy anyone accused of a crime will never have to defend themselves twice on the same allegation unless one trial takes place in a civil court and the other takes place in a criminal court. This was the situation with Michael Jackson in 1993. A criminal trial is always between the State and the accused; a civil trial, on the other hand, takes place between two private parties. The civil suit against Michael Jackson was filed by the Chandlers in 1993; the criminal proceedings were completely independent.
Typically, when there are two trials dealing with the same allegation, the criminal trial takes place first. For example, in the O.J Simpson case, the criminal trial was resolved before the civil trial began. Jackson's attorneys filed a motion asking for the order of the trials to be reversed. They cited numerous cases such as Pacer, Inc. v. Superior Court to support their request. The Federal case held that, "when both criminal and civil proceedings arise out of the same or related transactions, the defendant is entitled to a Stay of Discovery and trial in the civil action until the criminal matter has been fully resolved." Other cases cited include Dustin W. Brown v. The Superior Court, Dwyer v. Crocker National Bank, Patterson v. White and Huot v. Gendron.
The family's attorney Larry Feldman argued that if the civil trial were to be postponed, the plaintiff- being a minor- might forget certain details about what had supposedly happened to him. The judge felt that the boy's "fragile state" was more important than Jackson's 5th Amendment rights and ruled in the boy's favour. Jackson's attorney Johnnie Cochrane filed another motion asking that District Attorney Tom Sneddon be blocked from obtaining evidence used in the civil trial. Again, the Jackson team lost this motion.
Let's pretend for a moment that Michael Jackson had gone through with the civil trial. What would have happened? He would have presented the court with all of his evidence of extortion and Mr. Sneddon would have been watching the entire thing unfold. He could have then taken Jackson's most critical evidence and found ways to discredit it so that he would have nothing left to defend himself with in the criminal trial. For example, let's say the defense team proved that Jordan Chandler was given the memory altering drug sodium amytal before making the allegations. Jackson's lawyers would have revealed this discovery to the court while cross-examining Evan Chandler (since he'd already admitted to using the drug for "dental purposes") and it would have been a huge factor in proving that the allegations were a lie. The defense would have also called upon medical experts to testify that sodium amytal is strictly a psychiatric drug and cannot be relied on to produce fact. Sneddon, seeing how damaging this revelation would be to his case, could have then found experts of his own who could argue that sodium amytal is actually a truth serum. Sneddon would have had months to figure out ways to downplay the significance of the use of sodium amytal.
The defense would have also called Geraldine Hughes, the legal secretary for Barry Rothman (the attorney who represented Evan Chandler in his custody case). Ms. Hughes would have told the court everything she knew about Rothman and Chandler's extortion plot and would have made an explosive witness for the defense. Now keep in mind that Mr. Sneddon has a history of witness tampering. He is currently being sued for $10 million by lawyer Gary Dunlap who claims that Sneddon maliciously prosecuted him. According to Dunlap, when a judge refused to change her ruling in Sneddon's favour, Sneddon brought bogus charges against her, publicly humiliated her and ruined her career. When it became apparent to Sneddon that this judge would be a witness in the Dunlap case, he threatened to bring more charges against her. Just imagine what might have happened if Sneddon knew in advance who would make the best witnesses for the defense in the criminal trial.
As you can see, if Jackson had gone through with the civil trial, he would have put his entire defense strategy in jeopardy by revealing it to the prosecution. Although this is the most important reason for Michael Jackson settling, there were many other factors involved. One must understand the various differences between civil and criminal trials in order to fully comprehend Mr. Jackson's reasons for settling.
In a criminal trial, the burden of proof lies with the affirmative; in other words, it is up to the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of a crime. In civil trials, the jury's verdict is based on a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant violated the plaintiff's rights. In short, in order to be convicted in a criminal trial, the jury must be completely convinced of your guilt. In a civil trial, however, if the jury thinks you might have committed the crime, they can still rule against you.
The defendant in a civil trial also has less rights. In criminal law, police must obtain search warrants before searching or seizing items from a person's property. In civil law, a lawyer may demand information from the defense about any matter relevant to the case. They can even take the deposition of nonparties in a civil case and order them to bring documents with them. This is known as the discovery process and it does not usually involve the court. Discovery may include: written questions to be answered under oath; oral deposition under oath; requests for pertinent documents; physical or mental examinations where injury is claimed; and requests to admit facts not in dispute.
In criminal law, if the defendant chooses not to testify, their refusal cannot be used against them. In a civil trial, however, the defendant must be cooperative for depositions and testimony. If the defendant in a civil trial invokes their fifth amendment privilege, the judge will tell the jury that they may make an inference against the party who refused to testify. If Michael Jackson had not settled the civil lawsuit, his entire personal life would have been put on display for everybody to see. Defendants in sex abuse crimes are often asked extremely personal questions on the stand; imagine what this process would be like for somebody like Michael Jackson who is admittedly shy and whose personal life is always subject to severe media scrutiny.
The civil trial would have taken months to resolve. Michael Jackson would have been up to his elbows in lawyers fees while at the same time putting his career on hold, limiting his source of income. Such a long, drawn out process would have also caused him and his family immeasurable amounts of stress. Even after the civil trial was resolved, he would still have the criminal proceedings to deal with. Why go through all of that twice, especially if going court in the civil trial would have given the prosecution the upper hand in the criminal trial? Why risk your chances of being acquitted when there would be absolutely nothing beneficial about going through with the civil trial? What would you have done? If you say you would have fought tooth and nail in both the civil trial and the criminal trial, well, that's very noble of you but until you are actually in the position that Michael Jackson was in, don't tell me that there's no way you would have settled the case.
Keep in mind that the settlement did not prevent the boy from testifying in the criminal trial. The Chandlers would not cooperate with authorities; this was their own decision. Larry Feldman stated himself that the civil settlement had nothing to do with Jordan Chandler's refusal to testify. The media, however, has gone out of their way to promote the idea that Michael Jackson bought the family's silence. For example, they will use sentences like "No charges were brought against Michael Jackson after he paid his accuser $20 million." Technically, there is nothing inaccurate about that statement but the implication is that charges were never brought because of the civil settlement. This is known as false cause- when people assume that because event A occurred before event B, event B was a result of event A. In reality, however, the case fell apart because Jordan Chandler would not testify and there was no evidence to corroborate his story. The criminal investigation was completely independent of the civil proceedings and the settlement did not affect the investigation. Simply put, there was no evidence to prove or even support the claim that Michael Jackson was a pedophile. This is the only reason why charges were not brought. Michael Jackson did not buy his way out of anything.
Logically, it doesn't even make sense to say that he paid them off. Chandler asked for $20 million at the very beginning and Michael Jackson turned him away. This was before the boy had even made any allegations; Chandler basically said, "give me $20 million or my son is going to make accusations against you." Why didn't Michael Jackson pay him off at that point? If he was guilty wouldn't he have paid him to go away? What, he was just like, "Nah, turn me in first, ruin my career and get my ass investigated by the police and then I'll pay you off?" It doesn't make any sense at all.
If it is still your contention that Jackson's plan was to settle the civil lawsuit in order to bribe the boy into not testifying against him in the criminal trial, can you please explain why Michael Jackson asked for the civil trial to be postponed? He wanted the civil trial to take place after the criminal trial was resolved, which would have made it impossible for him to "bribe" the boy into not testifying. Jackson's actions contradict the notion that he wanted to buy Jordan Chandler's silence.
A more logical explanation as to why Michael Jackson settled is that he was innocent and although he initially refused to be blackmailed by Evan Chandler, he had no choice in the end. Once the alleged abuse was brought to the attention of authorities, it suddenly became apparent to Jackson just how ugly things would get. The media went into overkill, the District Attorney was seeking a conviction instead of justice and the civil lawsuit filed by the Chandlers had backed Jackson into a corner. He could either go through with the civil trial and risk a weakened defense in the more important criminal trial or settle the civil lawsuit and risk people thinking he had something to hide. Obviously, Michael Jackson valued his life more than he valued the opinions of other people so he opted to settle the lawsuit. Settling the civil suit was the easiest option for Michael Jackson and from a legal standpoint, his decision to settle makes sense. Unfortunately, the settlement is constantly used against Michael Jackson by a lazy media who refuse to do any research before writing a story.
An innocent man wouldn't have settled? Whatever. Do your homework before you use legal proceedings that you don't understand to prove a person's guilt.
Now that MJ has passed, Jordan Chandler is saying that his father made him say it. How sad is that? An innocent man was shamed and blackmailed and the authorities let them get away with it? More Great Links
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