The skewed perspective of a conservative Catholic employee-side employment lawyer living in the most exciting city in the Milky Way, Las Vegas, Nevada USA, who listens to a lot of really strange music and who, for some reason, lives and dies St. Louis Cardinal baseball

2/22/2005

Celebrity justice: Santa Barbara style

Very bad sign for those of us who believe that all people should be treated equally before the eyes of the law, regardless of wealth or celebrity.

Judge Rodney Melville, the presiding judge in Michael Jackson child molestation case, feels the need to apologize to the jury panel for Michael Jackson's behavior. Jackson had a tummy ache last week, which caused a one-week delay in jury selection.

Judge Melville is giving every appearance of being Judge Ito - Northern Division. First, jury selection is already an out-of-control circus. Set some time limits for each side to question perspective jurors and be done with it. Second, Melville is already indicating that Jackson and his legal team will be controlling the proceedings, not the presiding judge. A one-week postponement for "flu-like symptoms"? Order Jackson to attend the hearing or hold him in contempt. Some 19 year old accused drug courier doesn't get to postpone his trial because of the sniffles. Equal justice for all, you know. And, third, if the Judge lets the defense put forth even a fraction of the 300 A-, B-, and Z-list celebrities that the defense has offered up as "witnesses," I'd like to know under what rule of evidence such testimony is going to be deemed relevant or admissible. I expect him to engage in the ultimate demonstration of spinelessness and let Jackson's defense run the court room.

Of couse, a closer look at the celebrity guest stars, umm, I mean, defense witnesses, and I'm not sure that this wouldn't work to the prosecution's advantage. Liz Taylor? Drug-addled and brain damaged. Does she even know what she had for breakfast? Kobe Bryant? Yup, just who you want testifying in your defense in a sex crime prosecution. Diana Ross? How many F-bombs per minute is she going to get away with dropping? Macauley Caulkin? Anyone else thinking that if he took his oath to the tell the truth seriously he would be a star witness -- for the prosecution.

One of the great travesties of our legal systems is that the wealthy and celebrities (and, especially, wealthy celebrities) are often coddled by our criminal justice systems, especially on the West Coast. I have no faith in Judge Melville's ability to avoid dispensing his own Santa Barbara-style "celebrity justice."
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