Prosecutors failed in Jackson case

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 16, 2005

Michael Jackson, one of the most popular pop icons in history walked away from a California courtroom a free man. Jackson admitted to sleeping in the same bed with underage children, but denied sexual contact, was found not guilty this week on all counts.

Not guilty is a tricky phrase. A not guilty ruling shouldn’t be construed as being a proof of innocence. The not guilty ruling in this case for example simply means there was not enough of a case or substantiated evidence in the juries’ eyes to convict him.

The Jackson ruling in California has been met with righteous indignation across the country, and correctly so.

Most of the country, despite the ruling, believes Jackson committed the crimes. Thankfully, there are few things more reviled in this world than a pedophile.

It’s hard to separate the emotion from a case like this and it’s easy to rail at a system that let a perceived guilty man walk free, again.

This is the second time Jackson has dodged such an accusation, the first he paid the alleged “victim” and family and the case went away.

No matter how guilty Michael Jackson looks, there is one simple fact that has been overlooked in the brouhaha over the course of the last two days.

The prosecution failed to make the case.

By relying on a family with a background of scams and schemes, by using witnesses with a clear ax to grind and by simply being too smug all around (see Jackson prosecutor story, A12), the prosecutors left the door to reasonable doubt wide open and the defense team had little trouble kicking it down. Witnesses testified about schemes and scams from the “victim’s” mom.

Even Jay Leno testified that they had tried to extort money from him.

According to USA Today, Jackson’s defense lawyer Tom Mesereau told jurors in his opening statement that the family had a history of lying under oath.

On the witness stand, the mother asserted her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination to avoid questions on whether she’d committed fraud to get welfare benefits. Defense witnesses said she had lied – and had coached her kids to lie – in a personal-injury lawsuit that J.C. Penney settled by paying the family $152,500 in 2001.

That’s a lot of doubt creeping into the jury. Whether it’s reasonable or not is up to interpretation. Perhaps, Michael Jackson is smarter than we give him credit for.

Without even having to take the stand in his own defense, Jackson once again dodged the justice system. And the truth is, the way the witnesses testified, it’s easy to understand why the jury made the choice they did.

If they had a reasonable doubt, they had to vote to acquit.