If you haven’t already got wind of this incredibly tell-tale multi part report on the hypocrisy of the media, now’s your chance to review the sick and twisted methods behind the media’s distortion of truth when it comes to Michael Jackson versus other celebrities.
Of course, credit is due to AllForLove Blog, where I was made aware of this explosive article, and kudos to Dave Edwards for his hard work!
Analyzing The Media’s Hypocrisy In Reporting On Michael Jackson’s Settlemen Cases vs The Settlemets Of Other Celebrities
By: Dave Edwards
As we all know, years of biased media coverage is the number one reason why so many people have a negative opinion of Michael Jackson. The media built him up in the 1980’s, and then tore him down without apology from 1993 through his death (and even after his death!). There have been so many lies peddled about MJ throughout the years in regards to skin bleaching, plastic surgery, the paternity of his kids, his health issues, his sexuality, and his drug use, among other things. But the most damaging lie that has been deliberately disseminated to the public is that MJ “paid hush money” to the Chandlers in 1993 (and the Francias in 1996) in order to prevent them from testifying in criminal court. How many times have you heard someone say the following: “MJ must have been guilty because there is no way an innocent man would choose to settle a lawsuit!” I will use this column to totally debunk that myth, and compare MJ’s settlement to the settlements of other celebrities and point out the media’s hypocrisy in the way that they cover them.
First, let’s look at the biggest misconceptions that the general public has about the 1993 case. They think that the following events happened in this order:
1. Jordie Chandler willingly confessed to his father Evan that he was molested by Michael Jackson.
2. Evan Chandler immediately called the police in a pursuit of justice.
3. The police began their investigation, and obtained a description of MJ’s penis from Jordie that matched.
4. MJ panicked when he realized that the description matched and decided to pay $20 million in “hush money” to silence them in criminal court.
5. The hush money prevented them from testifying, which shut down the criminal investigation, thus allowing MJ to “get away with it”.
6. The Chandlers went on to live happily ever after. Everyone is still alive, living together under one roof, and is on speaking terms. The Chandlers wanted to testify against MJ in 2005, but were afraid that they would have to pay back MJ’s hush money.
Those assumptions are totally false! This is what happened:
1. MJ had a falling out with Evan, probably over MJ’s refusal to hire him or finance his screen plays.
2. Evan concocts a plan to extort money from MJ by threatening to accuse him of molesting Jordie.
3. Evan and Dr. Mark Torbiner give Jordie a drug (possibly sodium amytal) during a dental procedure, after which Jordie is coerced into claiming molestation.
4. Evan meets with MJ and demands a $20 million film deal, and is flatly denied.
5. June Chandler wins a court order to regain custody of Jordie, and SOLELY AS A RESULT OF THIS COURT ORDER Evan calls a psychiatrist (instead of reporting it to the judge who ordered the transfer) and reports MJ’s molestation, who then subsequently reports this to the police
6. In Sept. 1993, Evan hires Larry Feldman and files a civil lawsuit against MJ, and they successfully argue that it should go to court before the criminal trial. MJ’s request to have the civil case delayed until after the criminal case is denied.
7. MJ is strip searched, and the description does NOT match, and as a result MJ is NOT arrested.
8. Subsequently, Evan’s attorney Larry Feldman unsuccessfully tries to have the photos barred from the civil trial so that MJ cannot use them to help clear his name.
9. MJ’s insurance carrier settles the civil suit WITHOUT his consent, and the Chandlers sign a confidentiality agreement that EXPLICITLY states that they can testify in criminal court if they so desire. All of the Chandlers refuse to cooperate with the criminal investigation after receiving their settlement money, this perpetuating the myth that they were “paid off”. Ray Chandler is unable to secure a book deal to publish “All That Glitters”, which was ghost-written by Evan Chandler and describes their decision to choose money over justice!
10. In Sept. 1994 the criminal investigation ends after two grand juries refuse to indict MJ, but Sneddon stubbornly allows the case to remain “open, but inactive”, instead of closing it altogether.
11. In the years after the settlement:
- Jordie legally emancipated himself from his parents (most likely in 1996)
- Evan sued MJ again for $60 million and the right to record a “rebuttal album” in 1996 and lost
- Ray Chandler self-published “All That Glitters” in 2004
- Geraldine Hughes, the sole legal secretary for Evan’s lawyer Barry Rothman, published “Redemption” (which reveals previously unknown exculpatory evidence about the 1993 case) in 2004
- All of the Chandlers (except June) either threatened or actually took legal action to avoid testifying against MJ in 2005
- Evan tried to murder Jordie after the trial in August 2005
- Evan eventually committed suicide in November 2009
The media has been very clever in distorting the truth about the settlement by intentionally omitting the fact that MJ settled a CIVIL LAWSUIT, and that the Chandlers could have still testified. By omitting those facts, the general public – the overwhelming majority not knowing a clue about civil law — believes that MJ “bought” his way out of the criminal case, and somehow he had some sort of legal recourse against the Chandlers if they would have testified against him. What’s truly disappointing is the fact that it’s not only phony baloney journalists like Diane Dimond and Maureen Orth that promote this garbage, but legal analysts like Nancy Grace, Sunny Hostin, Gloria Allred, and Geoffrey Fieger as well! (I’ll introduce you to Fieger later on in this article!). Not only have adults been duped into believing that the settlement was a sign of guilt, but even fifth graders have been fooled!
What if a chemist with a Ph.D. from Harvard lied to you and said that water is composed of H3O? His colleagues would consider him a quack, but he’d probably convince people who aren’t familiar with chemistry that he’s telling the truth, based on his education and his expertise. Everyone knows that the chemical makeup of water is H2O (two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom), and that is one of the basic fundamentals of chemistry. Similarly, settling a civil lawsuit out of court is not an admission of guilt, and that is one of the basic fundamentals of civil law, yet time and time again these legal quacks have deliberately LIED to the general public in order to convict MJ in the court of public opinion. So I will spend the next few pages explaining the core principles of criminal and civil law, and pointing out the differences between the two.
Civil Law vs. Criminal Law
Let’s start with the biggest distinction between a criminal and civil case. This is basic law school 101! In a criminal case, the state brings charges against the defendant, and he has no choice but to stand trial if the state decides to prosecute. (For example, MJ’s 2005 trial was known as “The People of the State of California v. Michael Joseph Jackson”). A criminal case CANNOT be settled out of court!
In a civil case, the plaintiff sues the defendant, and the case can be settled out of court by both parties, or dismissed without trial by a judge. The vast majority of civil lawsuits are frivolous. In fact, 97% of all civil lawsuits are either settled or dismissed!! (The lawsuit filed against MJ by the Chandlers was titled “J. Chandler v. Michael Joseph Jackson and John Does 1 through 100.)
Here are some basic differences between the punishment meted out, and the burden of proof required to get a conviction in criminal and civil court, respectively:
In criminal law, a guilty defendant is punished by either (1) incarceration in a jail or prison, (2) fine paid to the government, or, in exceptional cases, (3) execution of the defendant: the death penalty. Crimes are divided into two broad classes: felonies have a maximum possible sentence of more than one year incarceration; misdemeanors have a maximum possible sentence of less than one year incarceration.
In contrast, a defendant in civil litigation is never incarcerated and never executed. In general, a losing defendant in civil litigation only reimburses the plaintiff for losses caused by the defendant’s behavior.
So-called punitive damages are never awarded in a civil case under contract law. In a civil case under tort law, there is a possibility of punitive damages, if the defendant’s conduct is egregious and had either (1) a malicious intent (i.e., desire to cause harm), (2) gross negligence (i.e., conscious indifference), or(3) a willful disregard for the rights of others. The use of punitive damages makes a public example of the defendant and supposedly deters future wrongful conduct by others. Punitive damages are particularly important in torts involving dignitary harms (e.g., invasion of privacy) and civil rights, where the actual monetary injury to plaintiff(s) may be small.
One can purchase insurance that will pay damages and attorney’s fees for tort claims. Such insurance coverage is a standard part of homeowner’s insurance policies, automobile insurance, and insurance for businesses. In contrast, it is not possible for a defendant to purchase insurance to pay for his/her criminal acts.
While a court can order a defendant to pay damages, the plaintiff may receive nothing if the defendant has no assets and no insurance, or if the defendant is skillful in concealing assets. In this way, large awards for plaintiffs in tort cases are often an illusion.
Notice how civil (and not criminal!) defendants can purchase insurance to pay for legal fees and any damages that are subsequently awarded to the plaintiff in the event of a conviction. That is EXACTLY the type of insurance that MJ had, and in fact he’s probably had that type of insurance since he was a member of the Jackson 5. Being a celebrity in the public spotlight, it was only inevitable that MJ would sue and be sued throughout his career (and boy did that ever come to fruition later on in his life!). So those insurance premiums were a smart investment, as opposed to being uninsured and having to pay all of the legal fees and damages himself.
2. Burden of Proof
In criminal litigation, the burden of proof is always on the state. The state must prove that the defendant is guilty. The defendant is assumed to be innocent; the defendant needs to prove nothing. (There are exceptions. If the defendant wishes to claim that he/she is insane, and therefore not guilty, the defendant bears the burden of proving his/her insanity. Other exceptions include defendants who claim self-defense or duress.)
In criminal litigation, the state must prove that the defendant satisfied each element of the statutory definition of the crime, and the defendant’s participation, “beyond a reasonable doubt.” It is difficult to put a valid numerical value on the probability that a guilty person really committed the crime, but legal authorities who do assign a numerical value generally say “at least 98% or 99%” certainty of guilt.
In civil litigation, the burden of proof is initially on the plaintiff. However, there are a number of technical situations in which the burden shifts to the defendant. For example, when the plaintiff has made a prima facie case, the burden shifts to the defendant to refute or rebut the plaintiff’s evidence.
In civil litigation, the plaintiff wins if the preponderance of the evidence favors the plaintiff. For example, if the jury believes that there is more than a 50%probability that the defendant was negligent in causing the plaintiff’s injury, the plaintiff wins. This is a very low standard, compared to criminal law. In my personal view, it is too low a standard, especially considering that the defendant could be ordered to pay millions of dollars to the plaintiff(s).
Another distinction between criminal and civil trials are the number of Constitutional Rights that are afforded to defendants in criminal trials, but don’t apply to civil trials. For example, the Fourth Amendment protects against illegal search and seizure, the Fifth Amendment guarantees criminal defendants the right to not self incriminate (i.e. “pleading the Fifth”), and the Sixth Amendment guarantees a right to a speedy trial. Here are some examples of how these three amendments differ between criminal and civil trials:
A.) In criminal law, police generally must first obtain a search warrant in a proceeding showing a “neutral and detached” magistrate that there is “probable cause”, before searching or seizing items from a person’s house. Spinelli v. U.S., 393 U.S. 410 (1969); Aguilar v. Texas, 378 U.S. 108 (1964); Johnson v. U.S., 333 U.S. 10 (1946). (For example, Sneddon had to get a search warrant before he was able to perform the strip search on MJ.)
In civil law, an attorney may request documents or a visit inside a building. (Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 34). In civil law, an attorney may demand information from the opposing party about any matter that is relevant to the case, provided that information is not privileged. In civil law, an attorney may properly demand information that would be inadmissible at trial, if such demand “appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence”. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1). An attorney may even take the deposition of nonparties in a civil case, and require them to bring documents with them. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30, 34(c).
B.) In a criminal case, the suspect or defendant has the right to remain silent during questioning by police and prosecuting attorneys. In a criminal case, the defendant may choose to refuse to be a witness, and the jury may infer nothing from the defendant’s choice not to testify. However, in a civil case, the defendant must be available and cooperative for depositions and testimony as a witness in the trial. In fact, the defendant in a civil case in Federal court must voluntarily provide his/her opponent with a copy of documents “in the possession, custody, or control of the party that are relevant to disputed facts alleged with particularity in the pleadings.” [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(1)(B)] Further, the defendant in a civil case must voluntarily provide names of people who are “likely to have discoverable information relevant to disputed facts alleged with particularity in the pleadings.” [FRCP 26(a)(1)(A)] In other words, the defendant in a civil case must help his/her opponent collect evidence that will defeat the defendant. And, at trial, if a party invokes their fifth amendment privilege against self-incrimination, then the judge will instruct the jury that they may make an adverse inference against the party who refused to testify.
C.) There are often several years between the filing of a complaint in a civil case and the trial. (So much for the notion of having a “speedy trial”! For example, Evan Chandler sued MJ for $60 million in 1996 for violating the Confidentiality Agreement, but the case wasn’t thrown out until 2000).
Let’s look closely at the Fifth Amendment for a moment. In a criminal case, a defendant can refuse to testify entirely, or refuse to answer certain questions, and it CANNOT be used against him in determining his guilt. (For example, MJ did not testify in his 2005 criminal trial, and we all know the outcome of that case!) However, in civil trials the defendant MUST testify, or else it will be used against him. Now let’s say that MJ had a civil trial in 1994. If he would have plead the fifth (either on the witness stand, or in a deposition), which is what his lawyers wanted him to do, the jury could have legally perceived it as a sign of guilt. Combine that with the lower burden of proof, and the chances of MJ being found liable would have increased exponentially. Conversely, if he would have testified in civil court, then his defense strategy would have been exposed to Sneddon and Garcetti before the criminal trial. This is exactly why Larry Feldman and Robert Shapiro wanted to sue MJ before the criminal trial, so that it would put him in a position where his best option would be to settle, which is what they wanted in the first place! Here is Shapiro’s advice to Evan Chandler about suing MJ first instead of prosecuting him, from “All That Glitters”, pages 160-161:
“If there’s a hung jury, sure, it could be retried, but time goes on. The real risk is if there’s an acquittal. In that case, prevailing at a civil suit afterwards becomes a real uphill battle.
Now the alternative is for you to bring a civil suit first. And the first thing we would do is schedule a deposition of Michel Jackson, placing him in an extremely uncomfortable position because everything he says could be used against him in a criminal case. And if he takes the Fifth Amendment to avoid that, it can be used against him in your civil case. So immediately, he’s in a real bad spot.
But there’s a third alternative. If we went to the other side and said, ‘Listen, a trial for Michael Jackson is a disaster, he can’t win. Because even if he’s acquitted, when the public hears what this boy has to say, you will have no endorsements, you will have no contracts, you are virtually finished.’ If we say that, it is my belief we have control of the situation, we have power.
However, if this matter is pushed too far and somebody starts screaming there should be a grand jury or the DA is not handling this correctly, then we lose all control. Garcetti will have to go to the Grand Jury, even if he doesn’t want to. And if the Grand Jury returns and indictment on a case the DA can’t win, especially against a superstar, then you’re all screwed.”
As you can see from Shapiro’s analysis, MJ was in a lose-lose-lose situation! 1.) If he submits to a deposition, it will be used against him in the criminal trial. 2.) If he takes the Fifth, it can be used against him in civil trial. And 3.) if he’s acquitted in criminal court, his image will be forever tarnished from the salacious headlines that the media is going to exploit for ratings (which is what they did in 2005). The media would say that his “celebrity status” got him off, or that the jurors were “too star-struck to convict”, or “he got off on a technicality”, or some other nonsense in order to undermine the verdict. (This conversation between Shapiro and Evan Chandler took place before MJ’s failed attempt to get the criminal trial scheduled before the civil trial, so that’s why the third alternative is listed as a possibility.)
For those of you who may say, “Well, if he’s that innocent, then why should it matter if the DA’s know his defense strategy? He should have just told the truth and he would’ve been acquitted, right?” This is what MJ (and many of us) would have naively thought, but as we all know the justice system is not perfect, and MJ couldn’t afford to have his defense strategy exposed to Sneddon or Garcetti! Guilty people get acquitted every day, and innocent people get convicted every day! The reasons are because defense lawyers can raise enough reasonable doubt to get an acquittal (such as in the OJ Simpson case), and prosecutors can prejudice the jury to convict an innocent man by using irrelevant, inflammatory evidence. They also engage in prosecutorial misconduct as well!
Here’s an example: what if I told you that a prosecutor used a famous celebrity’s tattoo as a sign of his guilt, and as a result that celebrity was sentenced to jail? That would sound crazy, right? Well, it happened!
The celebrity who was literally sentenced to jail based on the fears and prejudices of the jury was the late, great Tupac Shakur, the top selling rapper of all time. In addition to his amazing musical career, he also starred in several movies, including 1993’s “Poetic Justice”, alongside Janet Jackson. He and a few members of his entourage were arrested and charged with sexual assault and possession of illegal firearms in November 1993 after a female groupie had a falling out with him in his hotel room. On November 30th, 1994 Shakur gave an interview outside of the courthouse where he was on trial. (Ironically, his friends never stood trial. Could it be because Shakur was a victim of malicious prosecution due to his fame?
Here is a breakdown of his interview:
- After listening to the prosecutors’ closing arguments, Tupac admits to feeling drained after hearing the prosecutor twist the truth around. He states how the trial is about peoples’ “innermost fears” about “loud, rap music, tattoo having thugs”, and “anyone with a Thug Life tattoo is guilty”. This is similar to Sneddon (and the media’s) attempts to try to prejudice the jury by making the trial about MJ’s weirdness, bizarreness, creepiness, plastic surgery, hyperbaric chambers, skin bleaching, and implying that “any grown man who shares a bed with children is guilty!”
- Tupac blasts the media for their biased, pro-prosecution coverage. They don’t’ report the exculpatory evidence (for example, the lack of any DNA, semen, or fingerprints found on the crime scene), and they always use the prosecution’s quotes in their coverage in order to convict him in the court of public opinion. He asks for the media to “PRINT THE FACTS” and says that his life is RUINED by the bad press and he lists some of the business opportunities that he has lost.
- Tupac then goes on to once again blast the media for “building him up and then tearing him down”, and claims that the whole trial is just about his image. This is EXACTLY what the media did to MJ: they built him up in the 80’s, and tore him down from 1993 until his death using his “Wacko Jacko” image!
You can see, the media’s treatment of Tupac in 1994 was only a prelude to what they would do to MJ in 2005! Unfortunately, due to Shakur’s thug image, violent lyrics, baggy pants, and the “Thug Life” tattoo on his stomach, the jury’s prejudices outweighed their common sense, and this is why an innocent man was sentenced to jail!
Sneddon knew that the only way he could convict MJ was to prejudice the jury, the same way that Tupac’s prosecutor knew that was his/her only shot at a conviction. (And it worked!) This is why Sneddon and Garcetti helped enact California Penal Code 288a, which does not require the alleged victim to be present or corroborating evidence to be provided. It only requires that an accusation be made and that the jury decides whether or not to believe the accusation, thus capitalizing on prejudices against MJ. (If the page asks you to log in, just keep pressing cancel until box disappears, and then do a search of “288”).
Sneddon and Garcetti knew that MJ had a habit of not only letting children sleep in his bed, but that he often slept in bed with them (with their parents’ full consent and knowledge), and if a child could level an accusation that MJ molested him/her while they slept in the same bed, then that would severely prejudice the jury against MJ. Can you imagine if Congressman Peter King was on the jury? (He defended his vicious statements by saying that even if MJ didn’t physically molest any children, that he “molested their psyche” by convincing them that sharing beds is acceptable behavior.) In fact, after the trial, juror (and eventual traitor) Ray Hultman said that he believed that MJ molested children in 1993, and that he has a hard time respecting someone who admits to sleeping with young boys. That prejudice against MJ may have influenced him to flip flop and accept the blood money he was offered by that sleazy book publisher.
Sneddon had the same intentions when he tried get the details of the 1994 settlement admissible in court as evidence, and when he enacted California Evidence Code §1108 in the 1990’s, hoping to prejudice the jury with the testimony of June Chandler, the Francias, and the “Neverland 5” (the former employees who owed MJ millions in legal fees). Mesereau tried to have their testimony excluded because he thought they would jeopardize MJ’s presumption of innocence in the current trial (and not because he thought MJ was guilty in 1993! In fact, Mesereau subpoenaed Raymond Chandler, so that shows how much faith he had in MJ’s innocence. The link is found later in this article.) Legal analyst Jonna Spilbor thoroughly criticizes this unfair and prejudicial evidence in this article. It is also discussed in this article as well.
The reason that sleazy prosecutors like Sneddon and Garcetti oftentimes maliciously prosecute high-profile defendants is because, as a district attorney, you occupy two of the three most dishonest jobs known to mankind: a lawyer and a politician!! (The third most dishonest job is a used car salesman!) District attorneys are ELECTED by their constituents, and if they can get a high profile conviction, then their popularity in the community will skyrocket, and a thriving political career can be launched on a “tough on crime” platform. Many DA’s run for multiple terms UNOPPOSED, which is dangerous because they develop a sense of entitlement! Sneddon was elected to 5 terms without any challengers, so he practically had a monopoly on the DA’s office, and thus he was able to establish a “good ole’ boys” network with the rest of his cronies! His vendetta against MJ was (in my humble opinion) fueled in part by his desire to use a conviction as a launching pad into political office, such as running for Governor of California, or Attorney General.
Another scumbag DA who maliciously prosecuted innocent people is former DA Mike Nifong, who almost railroadedthe three Duke Lacrosse players to jail on a phony rape charge. He knew they were innocent, but he saw a conviction as a political weapon, and he engaged in prosecutorial misconduct that was so egregious that even Sneddon would be proud! For example, investigators found no DNA evidence, but Nifong “misled the public by suggesting condoms were used by the alleged attackers and that there was no DNA evidence discovered for comparison purposes”. The reason this is so flagrant is because the accuser claimed that her attackers did not wear any condoms! So Nifong enabled and encouraged her lies by covering up for her! (The same way Sneddon enabled and encouraged the Arvizos by changing the molestation dates to get an indictment.) Fortunately, the Attorney General of North Carolina investigated him, and his misconduct was punished with disbarment, and the three players filed a $30 million dollar civil lawsuit, claiming that Nifong’s sole motive was to “win support for his reelection bid”, and that Nifong told his campaign manager that the case would provide “millions of dollars’ in free advertising” for his campaign. The icing on the cake is when Nifong lost the suit and had to file bankruptcy!
Now, back to MJ: any defense lawyer who is willing to expose their client’s defense strategy, especially with charges as serious as molestation, should have their law licenses revoked! What if the Superbowl Champion New Orleans Saints played the St. Louis Rams (who went 1-15 last year), and the Saints players felt so confident that they faxed the Rams players a copy of their playbook before the game. Just imagine how Saints coaches would feel if they found out? They would accuse the Saints players of underestimating their opponent by revealing their strategy! That analogy applies to MJ’s defense lawyers. In fact, MJ’s first attorney, Mark Geragos, publicly stated MJ’s defense strategy by declaring that he had a “concrete, iron clad alibi”, and as a result Sneddon altered the dates of the molestation in 2005 after he realized that, according to the original timeline, MJ started molesting Gavin while he was being investigated by the DCFS. When MJ was indicted, the timeline changed, and MJ started molesting Gavin after he was cleared by the DCFS! This just goes to show that no matter how innocent your client is, you never expose your strategy to the prosecution!