Michael Jackson case
June 15, 2005 2:45 PM   Subscribe

Michael Jackson case: I understand that the prosecution case was very flimsy for the more serious charges, but I was under the impression that there was very solid evidence he had given alcohol to at least one minor. Why didn't they convict on that charge?
posted by Pretty_Generic to Law & Government (19 answers total)
 
Because the jury didn't think the evidence was solid enough. In other words, exactly like in every trial that ends without a conviction.
posted by jjg at 3:01 PM on June 15, 2005


Did we discuss this yesterday. The flight attendent who was going to seal up the alcohol thingy testified that; 1)she did not see MJ give booze to the kid, 2) She carded the kid's 16 yo sister and didn't serve her, and 3) The cancer-kid was a brat who complained about his cold chicken and was an "embarassment". I think that covers it (I just verified how much of my brain I've wasted on this shit.)
posted by jmgorman at 3:05 PM on June 15, 2005


I am, obviously, looking for a more specific explanation.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:05 PM on June 15, 2005


that was to jjg
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:06 PM on June 15, 2005


Errr, how more specific can the explanation be? No evidence.
posted by xmutex at 3:14 PM on June 15, 2005


Is there any documentation available to the public from the actual case? If not, I don't think you're going to get much in the way of specific information.
posted by odinsdream at 3:19 PM on June 15, 2005


The alcohol-related offenses he was charged with were a violation of Cal. Penal Code ยง222, "Administering an intoxicating agent to assist in commission of a felony." Since he was found not guilty of any other felonies as a matter of fact he could not be found guilty on these counts as a matter of law.
posted by grouse at 3:35 PM on June 15, 2005


No, as I understand it they had the option of lessening a charge to just "giving alcohol to a minor".
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:41 PM on June 15, 2005


That's a good point.
posted by grouse at 3:56 PM on June 15, 2005


It's also quite plausible that, given the prosecution's lack of evidence on all of the other charges, and given the general sense (surely right) that the prosecution was prosecuting Jackson on the alcohol charge only because of 1, his celebrity and 2, the molestation charges, the jury decided to nullify.

If one believes in the traditional understanding of jury nullification, this is clearly an appropriate exercise of it-- the alcohol laws are the kind of thing that is defied all of the time, for better or worse, with most authorities giving a blind eye. If the jury thought that the prosecution is pursuing the case for no good reason, they were traditionally within their rights to simply refuse to acquit.

Anyway, whatever the merits of jury nullification, I think this is probably in fact what the jury was doing, although without access to the deliberations, I don't see how we'll know.
posted by willbaude at 4:17 PM on June 15, 2005


It's also quite plausible that, given the prosecution's lack of evidence on all of the other charges, and given the general sense (surely right) that the prosecution was prosecuting Jackson on the alcohol charge only because of 1, his celebrity and 2, the molestation charges, the jury decided to nullify.

right on. also: after the verdict I read up on the trial, I had missed most of that crap -- didn't the kid's mother took the Fifth several times on the stand? so, if you're the accuser and it turns out you have a history of attempted extortion and you have to take the Fifth, well, no wonder the jury decided to throw everything out, alcohol allegations included
posted by matteo at 4:27 PM on June 15, 2005


odinsdream writes "Is there any documentation available to the public from the actual case? If not, I don't think you're going to get much in the way of specific information."

Trials in the U.S. are public; I imagine full transcripts are available. What's more, I would imagine that with such a high-visibility trial, some expert somewhere has already looked at those transcripts and answered P_G's question.

I mean, yeah, it's what the jury decided. But it's often interesting to look at the evidence (and jury instructions!) presented in a trial and try to reconstruct the jury's thought process.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:37 PM on June 15, 2005


matteo: Taking the 5th means that a perfectly rational jurist would simply ignore that the question had been asked. That is, taking the 5th is orthagonal to an admission of guilt. It is not opposite, since that would be a (possibly perjerous) denial of a crime. It's supposed to be simply a refusal to answer a question, like silence.

That said, of course every jurist believes that it's an admission of guilt to something. It's not, but that's how we see it. So, it's human nature, that's cool, go with it. Be nice if people understood the goals of laws a little better, though.

It's similar to answering "mu", although nobody ever gets that either. (They're not synonymous, but they are similar.)
posted by Netzapper at 4:55 PM on June 15, 2005


Netzapper: Taking the 5th means that a perfectly rational jurist would simply ignore that the question had been asked.

No, definitely not. Taking the 5th means that a juror is supposedly required by the Supreme Court (see Griffin v. California) to ignore that the question has been asked. But this isn't necessarily "rational", because in reality the 5th Amendment is not orthogonal to guilt.

In other words, the Supreme Court requires us to pretend that pleading the 5th gives no indication of whether you have something incriminating to say not because this is actually true-- if it were, there would be no need for the requirement-- but because there are other reasons (protecting the robustness of the privilege, &c.) that recommend doing so.
posted by willbaude at 5:15 PM on June 15, 2005 [1 favorite]


...the jury decided to nullify.

I've been on two juries and we did not get instructions on nullification. Unless one of the jurors was a FIJA member, would they even know this was a possibility? Is it really? I've always gotten a bit of a wacky vibe off of FIJA...
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 5:29 PM on June 15, 2005


I don't think the idea is that the jury literally said "Let's practice nullification" (a word most people are unfamiliar with), rather that they said something on the order of "the prosecutors are just throwing all this shit at him hoping something sticks, and we're not going to play along." Which comes to much the same thing, and like willbaude I think this was an appropriate exercise of it.
posted by languagehat at 6:00 PM on June 15, 2005


i think the jury wasn't saying that the law against giving alcohol to minors was wrong ... which would be jury nullification ... but the charge was so paltry and dubious that it wasn't worth their time to debate

i'd call that jury fatigue ...
posted by pyramid termite at 7:01 PM on June 15, 2005


It was a combination of Janet Arvizo coming across as a crazy obnoxious liar who coached her kids to lie on the stand, the stewardess who was called to rebut the wine allegations and testimony from Neverland employees who said they saw the two boys stealing booze when Jackson wasn't even there.


NANCY GRACE: What was your take on those counts that charged Michael Jackson with giving alcohol to a minor?

JURY FOREMAN PAUL RODRIGUEZ: Well, again, it was only hearsay, from the information we gathered, that nobody really came across -- Ann Kite (ph), one of the stewardesses -- no, not -- excuse me, that wasn`t Ann Kite, it was Cynthia Bell (ph), I think, was one of the stewardesses on one of the flights, and even she said that she never seen Michael Jackson give any child anything to drink. So it`s hard to base it on anything else other than the hearsay, maybe from the mother, and the mother didn`t seem to be that credible, like I said.


...

GRACE: Paul Rodriguez is with us. He`s the Jackson jury foreperson. Mr. Rodriguez, there were the witnesses that say they saw the boys drinking at Neverland. Did you think the boys just got into the wine on their own?

RODRIGUEZ: That`s the way it came across with the testimony that was given to us again and the witnesses that we heard.

(extremely amusing, if you enjoy watching Nancy lose her mind, transcript here.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:39 PM on June 15, 2005


I'm with LanguageHat. Juries generally don't get instructions on nullification, but I suspect that once they got the feeling that the prosecution was jerking them around, they simply decided they were having none of it.

The Grace/Rodriguez transcript suggests an alternate explanation, but I still think the nullification story is more likely.
posted by willbaude at 5:36 AM on June 16, 2005


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