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Video: Mesereau interview

TODAY
updated 6/14/2005 2:20:34 PM ET 2005-06-14T18:20:34

Tom Mesereau was Michael Jackson's lead defense attorney.  He talked with "Today" show host Katie Couric in his very first interview since the verdict.

Katie Couric:  Tom Mesereau, good morning to you.

Tom Mesereau: Good morning, Katie.

Couric:  Before I get your reaction to the verdict, let me ask you about Michael Jackson's.  According to people who watched him as the verdicts were read, he seemed not to have a reaction.  Then he wiped a tear from his eye beneath his glasses.  You got a chance to talk with him.  What was his reaction?

Mesereau:  Well, he's very relieved and he's also very exhausted. He feels wonderful about his family not having to undergo any more of this, but it's going to be a period of recovery for him, because physically, he deteriorated. He wasn't sleeping. He wasn't eating well, and it was a terrible ordeal for him.

Couric:  Emotionally, what is his current state?

Mesereau:  I would say that he's going to take it one day at a time. He's going to get some sleep, he's going to be around his family and just start building for the future. But it's been a terrible, terrible process for him.

Couric:  I know you went to the Neverland Ranch last night.  Can you describe what the atmosphere was like, who was there, what was going on?

Mesereau:  His family [was] there. They were all praying to God and thanking God for all of his help that he had given them throughout the trial. They were all very grateful. It was not a super-jubilant type of thing. It was a serious, solemn expression of gratitude.

Couric:  Meanwhile, this is a huge legal accomplishment for you and puts you in a whole new category of trial attorneys in this country.  How did you feel emotionally when this verdict was read?

Mesereau:  Well, I always thought we'd win the case. I never thought the prosecution had a case at all.  They tried to make a lot of out of nothing. It didn't succeed.  We had a jury – a very fair-minded, independent, honorable, courageous people and I always thought we'd win the case.

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Couric:  “Tried to make a lot out of nothing?” What do you mean by that?

Mesereau:  They put on witnesses who were lacking in credibility.  They did everything they could to try and hold them up in ways that just didn't make any sense.  A lot of their theories and arguments made no sense, and they didn't have a case – Michael Jackson [is] innocent.

Couric:  Was there a key moment, in your view, Mr. Mesereau, that really resulted in this non-guilty verdict?

Mesereau:  No, I think we clobbered them throughout the trial.  I think we cross-examined their witnesses very effectively.  I think we destroyed a lot of theories that they put forth, which were ridiculous.  I think our witnesses blew them out even more.  And I'm not surprised at the verdict.  I'm very grateful to the jury, and I'm very grateful to Judge Melville for running a very orderly and very professional courtroom.  But I'm not surprised that we won, because we should have won.

Couric:  What was the most ridiculous theory, in your view?

Mesereau:  A lot of what they said was ridiculous.  I don't know where to begin.  This idea that this woman and her family escaped from Neverland three times and came back.  The idea that Michael Jackson would run a conspiracy to abduct kids and extort and kidnap and do things of that sort.  The theory that somehow he would start molesting children at a particular date, which made no sense. There were so many ridiculous aspects to this trial that had to be exposed properly, and I think we did a good job of that.

Couric:  Your faith never wavered?  You never thought at one point, ‘Gee, we may be in trouble here at least on one or two of the counts?’

Mesereau:  Well, you're always wondering, because you don't know the jurors personally.  You don't know what their backgrounds are.  You don't know what makes them tick.  So you're always worried.  But as far as the prosecution's case is concerned, I always thought it was ridiculous.  I always thought it was absurd.  I thought the way they conducted it was very mean-spirited, and I think they got what they asked for.

Couric:  It seems that many of the jurors, at least listening to them following the trial, had serious, serious issues with the mother of the accuser.  They found that she wasn't credible and apparently she was just downright annoying. How much do you think her disagreeable demeanor mattered in the course of this trial?  Was that absolutely key in your view?

Mesereau:  It was very important, but it was not key, in my opinion.  I think that she was not the only witness that lacked credibility.  I think her children, you know, testified and were contradicted repeatedly.  I think other witnesses that the prosecution called to bolster their case really fell apart completely.  And it wasn't just her at all.  I think their case had too many problems with it because it wasn't true.

Couric:  One juror was quoted as saying, quote, "What mother in her right mind would allow that to happen, to just freely volunteer your child to sleep with someone?" And another said, "As a mother, the values and stuff she has taught them and they have learned is hard to comprehend." I mean, how germane is that to the case?  I mean, it almost seems as this moth – as if this mother was on trial.

Mesereau:  Well, she certainly was cross-examined for days by me, and I did go after her credibility both in this particular case and in other cases. So she didn't help them at all.  But she was not the whole problem with their case. They had multiple problems. The accusers had problems with their testimony. They had problems with things they had done in the past.  I think we did a very good job investigating the background of this family and doing what we had to do.

Couric:  Some jurors are saying this is a not-guilty verdict, not an innocent verdict.  One juror said he believes Michael Jackson molested other children, just not this one.  So is this really the vindication that Michael Jackson's supporters believe it is?

Mesereau:  Yes, it is.  Macaulay Culkin came and testified he was never touched.  Mr. Robinson testified he was never touched.  Mr. Barnes testified he was never touched.  I mean, they tried to promote theories of Mr. Jackson's behavior that just fell apart because they weren't true.

Couric:  But do you find it troubling, Mr....

Mesereau:  I think it's total vindication.

Couric:  Do you find it troubling, though, Mr. Mesereau, that a juror is saying, “I believe Michael Jackson molested children or has molested children before'?

Mesereau:  No.  I don't find it troubling because we won the case, and we should have won the case.  He's innocent.

Couric:  Let me ask you about this, do you believe that this will lead to a change in Michael Jackson's behavior?  Have you advised him, Mr. Mesereau, to stop sleeping with young boys, which he has said, quote, "is the most loving thing you can do?”

Mesereau:  Well, he didn't say sleeping with young boys was the most loving thing you could do.  He said...

Couric:  Sharing a bed.

Mesereau:  He said letting people into his room is what he talked about, and he's not going to do that anymore because of the false charges that were brought here.  Michael is a very kind-hearted, child-like person.  He's been too nice to too many people.  He's allowed people to come into his life and run freely through his home, and that's going to change.

Couric:  And what...

Mesereau:  He's not going to make himself vulnerable to this anymore.

Couric:  Finally, what does Michael Jackson do now, in your view?

Mesereau:  He's going to live a wonderful life because he is a wonderful person with a wonderful family.  He has got an unlimited future, and he will do very well.

Couric:  Well, Tom Mesereau, we so appreciate your time this morning.  Thanks so much.

Mesereau:  Well, thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

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