Thomas Mesereau full-length interview from this year (video/transcript included)


New member
Earlier this year, Thomas Mesereau conducted an in-depth, 30 minute sit-down interview with Steve Murphy for Murphy's "The Insider Exlusive" show. Mesereau's interview was featured on the program between the end of February and the first week in March (and can still be seen on the program's site).

The interview covers many legal topics, a good portion of which relate directly to the Michael Jackson trial of 2005. I have taken the time to transcribe all of the Michael Jackson related points, but a lot of assorted topics are also discussed in the video (everything from racism issues in court to Mesereau's recent and upcoming legal cases and accomplishments, to the awards he has won, and much more).

I hope you enjoy this rather insightful interview!

2007 Tom Mesereau Interview (Insider Exclusive with Steve Murphy)


Tom has been selected by his peers as one of "The Best Lawyers In America." Tom Mesereau has been listed as one of the "One Hundred Most Influential Attorneys in California" by the Los Angeles Daily Journal. He has received the "Jerry Giesler Memorial Award." Tom along with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, received the "President's Award." Tom has received the "Humanitarian Award" from The National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice (NABCJ), "In recognition of Your Ongoing Commitment To Justice for All."


Thomas Mesereau, Partner, at Mesereau & Yu, LLP is one of the most celebrated trial lawyers in America. He acquitted music legend Michael Jackson of all counts in a highly publicized trial in Santa Maria, California. Tom's reputation as a trial lawyer is unparalleled. For example, in a one-year period, Mr. Mesereau obtained seven (7) acquittals and two (2) hung juries. He has won many high-stakes criminal, civil and administrative trials before judges and juries involving a wide-range of claims, including securities fraud, complex business disputes, murder, sexual assault and the death penalty.

In this exclusive interview, Tom speaks about Successful Courtroom Strategies, Cross Examination techniques, Inside the "Michael Jackson" trial, Celebrity Justice, the Media, Celebrity Lawyers, Race Relations in America, and his extensive humanitarian work on behalf of the indigent, the needy, and the oppressed, which has resulted in his receiving many distinguished awards for his excellence as a trial lawyer and devotion to equal justice for all. Barbara Walters named him one of the year's "Ten Most Fascinating People," for his trial excellence and commitment to representing the underpriveleged. GQ Magazine named him one of its "Men of the Year."



(28+ minutes, original interview, 60.7MB)

Location 1:
Location 2:

(28+ minutes, edited interview, 67.8MB)

This version is significantly edited down from the original, but includes an additional segment at the end where Thomas Mesereau and Lee Golberg talk briefly about legal issues together.

Location 1:
Location 2:



Host: And now, our honored guest at our show, Tom Mesereau. Welcome to our show, Tom.

Mesereau: Well thank you very much. Pleasure to be here.

Host: Tom is one of America's most celebrated criminal defense attorneys. He handles civil cases too, don't you?

Mesereau: Yes.


Host: Do you, when you address a jury, do you tell them it is their responsibility to uphold the constitution? To rise above the media circus that may surround a trial?

Mesereau: Well, I do that in different ways. First of all, if it's a case like Michael Jackson, when you're questioning potential jurors early in the case, I kept mentioning problems with the media. Did they read newspapers like the National Enquirer? Did they read particular magazines? Did they watch particular shows?

Host: Almost everybody has though.

Mesereau: And I also ask them, I almost challenge them, "can you rise above what you've read, and look at the evidence and follow the law?" And I kept emphasizing that and they did it.

Host: Do you expect a person to tell you the truth when you ask that question?

Mesereau: Some of my colleagues think I'm a little naive. I think most people who want to be on juries really want to independently and intelligently and courageously do what's right.


Host: And the Michael Jackson case in particular. How many jurors did you actually go through to pick that jury?

Mesereau: It was picked very quickly. Most people thought we'd spend a month trying to pick a jury, and it was almost picked in a day or two.

Host: Yeah.

Mesereau: The judge did severely limit the time we had to question potential jurors to 20 minutes per person. And I had to be very focused and very clear and quick on what the principle questions I was going to ask were. And I emphasized problems with the media, problems with not judging someone before they've had their day in court.

Host: Right.

Mesereau: I asked about children lying. I asked about the possibility of parents asking their children to lie, or influencing them to lie. I very quickly got to the core of what I felt was important.

Host: Do you find, and speaking of children lying or maybe having their memory let's say, "massaged" by an adult like their parent. Do you find that a lot of kids automatically tell the truth, or what do you usually find, generally?

Mesereau: I find both. You know, children are very spontaneous. But children can be influenced to do what's right, or what's wrong, depending on who's influencing them.

Host: Right.

Mesereau: And in this particular case, we sought to prove that there was a history of these children lying at the request, or under the influence of both parents. And, I think we proved it pretty convincingly.

Host: Is there a time in a trial, when you hear evidence where you know, kids have been influenced by the parents; there's been let's say, improper activity by the prosecution. Is there a time when the judge says, "I've had enough of this?"

Mesereau: Rarely.

Host: Rarely?

Mesereau: Rarely. I think judges like to let jurors decide. They believe in our jury system. It's rare that a judge just kicks a case out of court, although I have had it happen. It wasn't a case involving children; it was a securities fraud case. And after eleven weeks, a judge, a very experienced judge looked at me and said, "I've never done this before, but I'm throwing this case out. I'm not letting it get to the jury in the interest of justice." But rarely does that happen.

Host: Right.


Host: You rely on your preparation, a lot of investigators, correct?

Mesereau: Absolutely. Investigation is key, particularly in a criminal case where the state, or the federal government, is throwing legions of resources against you.

Host: And you had, in the Michael Jackson case, you had legions of resources thrown against Michael Jackson. Didn't you?

Mesereau: I've never seen anything like it. One of the many raids on his residence involved over 70 sheriffs.

Host: Mmm hmm.

Mesereau: And I'm amused by the fact that the prosecutor is now saying we out-spent them which is utterly ridiculous.

Host: (Laughs) It's the taxpayers money.

Mesereau: Well, I had a couple of investigators, they had probably over 100. It wasn't even close.

Host: Yeah.

Host: Is there something inside a trial, like when you're dealing with Michael Jackson or any of the cases, there is always something the public never hears about. That you can talk about afterwards. What is -- what are some of those facts?

Mesereau: Well, there are many things in that case. I could talk forever about things that happened--

Host: Just say, just a few of them.

Mesereau: Well, I think, the problem of constantly having to fend off mediocrities, star-struck wannabes, lawyers who would say or do anything to get involved in the case because they wanted the press, they wanted to be on stage, to constantly be fending these people off while you were doing your own preparation, and while you were trying to fight the other side, was a major distraction and a major difficulty in the case.

Host: Mmm hmm.

Mesereau: I was constantly dealing with it. I didn't want to, I wanted to just focus on beating the prosecution. But, I kept hearing about lawyers trying to get involved, lawyers showing up in court saying they were involved and I would--

Host: How would they be involved?

Mesereau: Because somehow they would get to somebody who knew Michael Jackson, and try and convince them that they belonged in the case. That they had the strategy that would get it dismissed. It was ridiculous but they kept showing up.


Host: Cross-examination. When you cross-examine someone, what techniques do you use, to effectively dismantle their testimony?

Mesereau: It depends on the witness and it depends on the issues.

Host: Going back to the Michael Jackson case.

Mesereau: Yes.

Host: Their star witness?

Mesereau: Well, they had a number of so-called star witnesses. Particularly, in this family of accusers. There was the young accuser who was claiming he was molested. And you have to be very careful with a child witness; that you don't look like a bully.

Host: Right.

Mesereau: And that you don't generate sympathy for that child witness. In this particular case I went against the grain. I thought that this young man was matured way beyond his years, I thought he was enjoying being on stage -- he had done acting training, and I thought that he was far more seasoned than he wanted the jury to think.

Host: Mmm hmm.

Mesereau: And I went after him right away, I took some risks, I got very aggressive. I wanted to show the other side of him, and I think I was effective at doing that. I think he changed his demeanor very quickly when he was attacked. I think he didn't know what to say about another case where I felt we proved lies had been told at the behest of the parents.

Host: You're talking about the J.C. Penney case?

Mesereau: That's correct. That's correct. That was a case where I think we proved that this family had made claims against J.C. Penney guards for sexual harassment and for assault that were not true. And I decided to just go right after this kid. Now, his sister and his brother testified, I didn't go after them as hard and as quickly as I did this accuser, but I did show a lot of inconsistencies and problems with their testimony. And what was interesting is, everyone in this family said they had never discussed the case with each other, which I think right away made the jury wonder, "are they telling the truth?"

Host: Yeah, and they're living under the same roof.

Mesereau: That is correct.

Host: Celebrity justice. A lot of people say that rich people can have a different sort of system, you know, they can buy what they want, the outcome. Is that true?

Mesereau: It is absolutely untrue. Celebrities have resources thrown at them that nobody else faces.

Host: Mmm hmm.

Mesereau: In the Robert Blake case, this was the largest investigation in the history of Los Angeles county. Even larger than the O.J. Simpson case.

Host: Okay.

Mesereau: Hundreds of thousands of documents, police going all over the country, interviewing almost anyone they could find associated with Mr. Blake.

Host: Why is that? Because they want to win?

Mesereau: Because they want to win, it's high profile, everybody wants to win before the public. And, in Michael Jackson, I've never seen anything like it.

Host: Yeah.

Mesereau: You had two grand juries in the early 90's, the grand jury in our case; you had a prosecutor himself personally flying out of the country to at least two countries that I know of, Australia and Canada, looking for witnesses. You had a website at the Sherriff's department looking for witnesses.

Host: Mmm hmm.

Mesereau: More resources were thrown at Michael Jackson than any serial killer I've ever heard of.

Host: What about the lawyers, sometimes, who get involved with these celebrity cases? Sometimes they rise above the actual client in terms of getting media spin on them, right?

Mesereau: Well first of all, you're dealing with a celebrity that comes from a different world.

Host: Okay.

Mesereau: And celebrities, they're familiar with the world of entertainment, television, the camera, the studio. This is a totally different world from the court room.

Host: Mmm hmm.

Mesereau: What happens in court rooms is so different, but they don't know that. With all of the TV shows about trials and about the legal system, they assume that they're interchangeable. They're really not. And what happens in court rooms is so different; you have to let the client know that "you don't know this world. You may think you do but you don't. You have to listen to my direction. You have to trust that I know the system I'm working in." And, it's very difficult sometimes to get celebrity clients to realize that they don't control the situation the way they'd like to be able to, and the way they're used to.

Host: Yeah. A good example of that; before I think you came into the Michael Jackson case, he was dancing on the top of a van, correct?

Mesereau: Well, yes. Before I came--

Host: And what kind of conversation did you have with him to say, "you can't do this?"

Mesereau: Well, I don't want to go into conversations with the client, but I will say this. I was appalled at the public relations that preceded me in Jackson.

Host: Yes.

Mesereau: There had been a big party at Neverland, for the media. That was the first day he appeared in court. He had appeared late. He got on top of an SUV. The press covered a big meeting at the Beverley Hills hotel of his legal and financial staff that I thought was, you know, highly inappropriate. And I just did not like the way everybody seemed to be profiting at his expense to try and be stars themselves.

Host: Right.

Mesereau: I tried to tone everything down. I supported the judge's gag order. I didn't want cameras in the courtroom. I supported court sealing of salacious pleadings so the media wouldn't start reading court papers and having a field day.

Host: Right.

Mesereau: I really felt that there were 13 people that were primarily important. The judge and 12 jurors. They were far more important than the worldwide media, far more important than the television cameras and the reporters. They were the ones you were going to win or lose with, nobody else.


Mesereau: ...In the Michael Jackson case, I said "keep cameras out. I think it's going to affect everybody in a possibly negative way." I didn't want witnesses turning on TV and seeing what other witnesses had said before they came to testify. And I just felt that this case called for subduing the publicity as opposed to encouraging it. So it really depends on the case, but I am concerned with cameras, how it's affecting people.

Host: Being involved in a number of celebrity cases, how do you keep grounded so that, you know, the celebrity-ness doesn't overtake you?

Mesereau: You know, it's almost like an athletic event. You know, you've got an opponent on the other side. You personally don't hate that opponent but you set yourself up in a way to demonize them temporarily while you try to win.

Host: Okay.

Mesereau: In the Jackson case, every day I woke up and said to myself, "the media is against you. They're trying to distort what's going on in the courtroom. They want to see a conviction because it'll mean more stories, you know, more salacious movies and shows about the rise and fall of Michael Jackson."

Host: Right.

Mesereau: And I really took the attitude, "they're not your friends. They're not really out there to help you. Avoid them. They're trying to corrupt you." They would scream at me to try and get a reaction, hoping I'd wave and smile and do something that focuses the attention on myself. And, I tried my best to avoid that. I didn't want the lawyers around me waving or looking like they were having a good time. We meant business.

Host: Mmm hmm.

Mesereau: I must say, my two co-partners, Susan Yu and Bob Sanger had the same attitude. We got out of our cars, we didn't wave at anybody; we meant business.


Mesereau: ...After the Jackson verdict, I was deluged with hundreds of calls every day, letters coming in every day, people were sending me boxes of files. I can't get to all these things, I just do my best.

Host: Well you're doing a remarkable thing.




New member
:eek: We don't see many interviews like this one! Thank you, Thomas Mesereau! :8-26-03respect:

Thanks for posting, TSCM! :thumbsup