Abrams Report: Russ Halpern + custody crap (Feb 24 04) - TRANSCRIPT

Important Statements from the Jackson camp and pertinent transcripts from various TV shows about Michael.

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Abrams Report: Russ Halpern + custody crap (Feb 24 04) - TRANSCRIPT

Post by whisper » Mon Sep 20, 2004 8:09 pm

'The Abrams Report' for Feb. 24
Read the complete transcript to Tuesday's showBy By
Updated: 1:52 p.m. ET Feb. 25, 2004
Guests: Harvey Levin, Dana Cole, Karen Russell, William Fallon, Dean Johnson, David, Russell Halpern, Charles Gasparino, Rick Salomon

ANNOUNCER: From New York this is THE ABRAMS REPORT. Here now is Dan Abrams.

DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Hi, everyone. New information tonight that could mean Michael Jackson will soon have to fight to keep his kids. Plus, we‘ll talk to the father of the accuser.

And Martha Stewart will not testify in her own defense. Why not?

What happened?

Plus, the Paris Hilton video, her co-star and ex-boyfriend joins us to talk about the lawsuits, the tape, and the new color copy he‘s apparently selling on the Internet.

But first, more trouble for Michael Jackson. He could soon have to fight for custody of his children. The Internet news site, “The Smoking Gun”, discovered documents, which show that Jackson and the mother of his children, Debbie Rowe, will be doing battle in court. They‘ve requested a judge to resolve some contested issues.

Jackson‘s attorney Mark Geragos has no comment at this time, but the program “Celebrity Justice” reporting she now wants custody of the children. The Jackson‘s legal team will likely try to argue that Rowe signed papers relinquishing all claims to them as part of her divorce settlement.

Let‘s check in with “Celebrity Justice‘s” executive producer, Harvey Levin. Harv, good to see you. So what do you know about this custody battle?

HARVEY LEVIN, “CELEBRITY JUSTICE”: Well Dan we have been down at the courthouse getting these documents over the last couple of days, and I can tell you this. That when you read it, it isn‘t particularly revealing. It‘s basically stipulating to having a retired judge–a respected retired judge in L.A. hear this matter. But we know what the matter is.

Debbie Rowe will squarely fight Michael Jackson for custody of their two children. Now, here‘s what we know. We know that Debbie Rowe is upset primarily about two things. One is Michael Jackson‘s association with the Nation of Islam. The second, rumors that Michael Jackson may be in rehab. Debbie Rowe was extremely upset over the weekend about those rumors.

We know that 10 years ago Jackson had a bout with rehab and actually went to a rehab doctor in London. So this is not necessarily something that she has not had experience with. She‘s concerned for the welfare of the children. She filed an order to show cause in Los Angeles superior court and the family law case has now been reopened and Debbie Rowe will argue that Michael Jackson keeping these kids under these circumstances, if proven, would be detrimental to the kids.

ABRAMS: Again, so Harvey–Harv, it‘s the rehab and the Nation of Islam the two reasons?

LEVIN: I am told those are the two main reasons. There may be ancillary reasons, Dan, but I am told squarely those are the two reasons. And as a matter of fact, if you recall last month, while Michael Jackson had that summit at the Beverly Hills Hotel, at the Ivy Restaurant down the road, the very famous Ivy Restaurant, Debbie Rowe was having lunch with two of Jackson‘s former advisers complaining about the Nation of Islam and talking about what her options might be with respect to custody. Now she apparently has gone through with it and filed these legal papers.

ABRAMS: Harv, didn‘t she give up her right to fight this a while back?

LEVIN: She did, and I am told that this is going to become an issue in this case, Dan, specifically, whether Debbie Rowe has the right to go in and make the argument. I‘m told that she will argue that circumstances have changed and the premise on which the kids were given to Michael Jackson has changed enough that she should have a right in the best interest of the kids to make this argument. Whether the judge buys it is another story.

ABRAMS: And do you have a sense–we‘re not talking about–I think most people are going to say, wait a second, she‘s just going to go into court and say the guy‘s accused of these horrible crimes. That‘s not what she‘s talking about. Because Debbie Rowe has generally been supportive of Michael Jackson when it comes to those charges, correct?

LEVIN: It‘s not about the allegations of child molestation. It is specifically primarily, Dan, the Nation of Islam. Debbie Rowe converted to Judaism. The Nation of Islam has a history of promoting anti-Semitism. She is extremely, extremely upset about that, and these rumors of rehab.

ABRAMS: All right. Harv, stick around, you know, “Celebrity Justice” has been all over this story doing a great job. Family law attorney Dana Cole, what‘s the story? I mean if they have an agreement, if she had signed away her right to fight this, can she come back now and say wait a second, I want to change my mind?

DANA COLE, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: Well, there‘s a difference between giving away custody and actually terminating parental rights. And I assume she did the former, and not the latter. And if it‘s just giving away custody, then, as Harvey says, with changed circumstances you can always go back to court in California, petition the court to readjust the custody. So, you know, poor Michael Jackson. He‘s got now another huge headache and a huge fight on his hands in a different venue, but it will be a private venue.

ABRAMS: Karen Russell, what do you make of the argument that she‘s upset about the Nation of Islam‘s involvement in the children‘s lives? If she is convinced as you know look, the bottom line is they are spending a lot of time with the Nation of Islam, and she says that wasn‘t part of the deal.

KAREN RUSSELL, TRIAL ATTORNEY: Yes, you know, it‘s interesting. I mean I feel like that the Nation of Islam is the only religious group that is allowed to be bashed with just reckless abandon. I mean we‘re having this whole debate about...

ABRAMS: Well, they‘re also overtly anti-Semitic. Other religions aren‘t sort of as overt in their disdain for other religious.

RUSSELL: Well you know what? Actually Jerry Falwell is very overt in his disdain for Islam and for Muslims, as is Pat Robertson and other fundamentalists, so there is open disdain at the top for other religions, you know. There‘s Mel Gibson and...

ABRAMS: But I–well, look, I think that that‘s sort of–I have to tell you Karen, I think that‘s sort of a cop-out. Because the bottom line is I think fundamentalists of all religions are a problem I mean to many people, no matter what the religion, fundamentalist Jews, fundamentalist Christians, fundamentalist Muslims, you name it, I think that a lot of people say I wouldn‘t want my kids around fundamentalists of any religion.

RUSSELL: Right and you know what? And there‘s going to be some testimony behind closed doors as to what impact–I mean are–is the Nation of Islam doing security? Are they trying to take away Michael Jackson‘s fortune, or are they doing religious brainwashing? But you can‘t just say because Michael Jackson has hired the Nation of Islam to do security that he is brainwashing...

ABRAMS: That‘s fair...

RUSSELL: ... their kids.

ABRAMS: Look...

RUSSELL: You know...

ABRAMS: ... I think that‘s a very fair point...

RUSSELL: ... and I think there‘s just a smear job that just by saying in–just being in the mere presence of someone from...

ABRAMS: Well, but...

RUSSELL: ... the Nation of Islam is inappropriate.

ABRAMS: But the problem is, Bill Fallon that we know that the Nation of Islam is doing more than just security. How do we know that? For example, we know that Michael Jackson‘s family is saying, hey, we‘ve got to get the Nation of Islam out because they have had such an influence on Michael, such that we can‘t even see him anymore and it‘s hard for us to even get in touch with him.

WILLIAM FALLON, FORMER PROSECUTOR: And I think, Dan, that‘s really going to be the issue. It‘s very hard in a politically correct society to talk about just throw out there the Nation of Islam. We don‘t really know what the whole allegation is, but it might be something just about that. They have created this code of silence, this wall of silence, I don‘t know what it is, but I think it‘s going to be tied into more than just they happen to be anti-Semitic as a group. I‘m not even sure that they‘ll bring that up. I think they‘ll just bring up they‘re in different spots. But I think she‘s got a case that‘s going to be reopened, I want to tell you that.

ABRAMS: Dean Johnson, do you think she‘s got a case that‘s going to get reopened?

DEAN JOHNSON, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, the threshold question here, Dan, is whether or not the mother has actually terminated her parents–her parental rights as a part of the divorce decree. If she has, then she doesn‘t have any more right to these children than you or I would have. If that‘s not the case, if they get over that threshold...

ABRAMS: All right...

JOHNSON: ... then she‘s going to have to show some sort of changed circumstances and show that by convincing evidence, and just showing that Michael Jackson has a religious preference or that he has contact with the Nation of Islam is not going to be, in my opinion, enough. She‘s going to have to show that there‘s some harm coming to these children and that the best interest of the child require a change in custody. And remember, she‘s coming in against the judicial determination that already exists that it‘s in the best interests...

ABRAMS: Right.

JOHNSON: ... of the child to be in Michael‘s...

ABRAMS: Harvey, do we know if she gave us parental rights versus just giving up custody?

LEVIN: Well, Dan, this was sealed. I can tell you based on my conversations today it appears to me this is not a slam-dunk one way or the other. I am told this is going to be an issue. But they‘re not making it sounds like this is such a dispositive issue that she‘s just going to be thrown out of court. I have a feeling it‘s not quite as clear as giving up all of her parental rights, but it‘s clear that she gave up something, and the question is whether the judge will consider her argument for changed circumstances.

I think it‘s kind of interesting here. I mean here you‘ve got these allegations of child molestation and now we‘re talking about the Nation of Islam. It‘s almost like, you know, “Basic Instinct” where Sharon Stone says what are you going to do, arrest me for smoking? I mean by comparison it doesn‘t seem quite as severe...


LEVIN: ... but it‘s possible that on his own once this judge hears the case, the judge could end up asking questions on his own about the underlying criminal allegations.

ABRAMS: Dana Cole, let me very quickly ask you, you know let‘s assume that Karen Russell‘s statement of the facts for a moment that the Nation of Islam is just doing security, and Debbie Rowe says well look I‘m Jewish, they‘re anti-Semitic, I don‘t want my kids around them. Could that in and of itself be enough of a changed circumstance?

COLE: No, I don‘t think that would be enough. But, you know, we‘re slightly disregarding Harvey‘s other point, and that is that Michael Jackson might have relapsed and he‘s back into rehab. If that‘s the case, you know, that raises a much bigger issue that you know will consume, I think, the majority of the judge‘s attention.

ABRAMS: But we should point out that Michael Jackson and his team have now repeatedly denied that he was in rehab...

LEVIN: Dan...

ABRAMS: ... I think an important point to make...

LEVIN: Dan...

ABRAMS: Yes Harv...

LEVIN: ... if I may, real quickly, we broke a couple of stories last week, and this doesn‘t mean that he‘s got a problem. But I‘ll just present it to you. That on some of the charter jet flights that Michael Jackson took, he chose a particular jet company because a flight attendant has told authorities that she would stock the bathroom area with those tiny little liquor bottles...

ABRAMS: Right.

LEVIN: ... and that Jackson would go in the bathroom, drink the liquor bottles, and she would serve him–and this is what she told investigators–serve him wine in soda cans in the main cabin. So even though Jackson projects himself as not drinking, it appears that privately there are other stories.

ABRAMS: But that‘s a different...


ABRAMS: I‘ve got to wrap this up. But that‘s different than a drug problem and you know alcohol. And keep in mind Michael Jackson has admitted that he had problems with drugs in the past. It‘s just a question of whether there‘s anything new here. And again, he‘s denying. Harvey Levin, thanks a lot. Appreciate it. Good report.

LEVIN: My pleasure.

ABRAMS: All right, everyone else stick around. More on the Jackson case coming up. We‘re going to hear from the father of Jackson‘s accuser coming up.

And it‘s official, prosecutors now saying in court papers that Scott Peterson‘s girlfriend, Amber Frey, was a motive, maybe the reason he killed his wife. I‘ll tell you why that might be a bad move.

And that Paris Hilton tape–her ex-boyfriend and co-star facing lawsuits for selling it on the Internet and filing lawsuits–it‘s actually primarily that he‘s filing lawsuits. He‘ll be here to give us his side of the story.

What do you think? Send your e-mails to abramsreport@msnbc.com. I‘ll respond at the end of the show.


ABRAMS: Coming up, the father of Michael Jackson‘s accuser fights to see his son. He‘s on the program next.


ABRAMS: Now to another battle in the Jackson case over children–this one the fight for the boy accusing Jackson of molestation. His father trying to get visitation rights to see him, as well as his two other children. He was in court today with his attorney. The judge granted them more time to prepare their case. They‘ll be back in court on April 9.

David, we‘re not using his last name to protect the identity of his son, has not seen his children since 2001 when he pleaded no contest to spousal abuse. Charges and a three-year restraining order was put into place. He also pleaded no contest to child cruelty in 2002.

Joining us is David and David‘s attorney, Russell Halpern. Thank you both very much for coming on the program. David...


ABRAMS: ... let me start with you. There were some new pictures that were published in a tabloid in England showing your son sort of healthy-looking, climbing around, seeming to be in good health. What was your reaction to seeing that, hearing that, about your son?

DAVID, JACKSON ACCUSER‘S FATHER: Well, that‘s new to me. I haven‘t seen the pictures. But thank you for that information. I haven‘t seen them at all.

ABRAMS: Yes, there were pictures published of him, showing him climbing around and sort of training and, you know, the point, I guess, of the picture was to say you know what, it seems that he‘s doing pretty well in terms of his health.

DAVID: Great.

ABRAMS: Well, let me ask Russell Halpern, then, do you think this comes into play in the argument that you‘ve been making? Part of your legal papers cited the boy‘s health as a reason for the changed circumstance that should allow your client to see his children.

RUSSELL HALPERN, DAVID‘S ATTORNEY: Well, it comes into play in a couple of ways. One, I don‘t know if it comes into play as far as the health, but I‘m a little concerned as to how “The London Sun”, I believe it was, got those pictures, whether the mother is exploiting her children for financial benefit. I don‘t think that that is a good idea on her part and I think the court may take a dim view of that.

ABRAMS: But you have no idea that‘s the case...


ABRAMS: ... right? I mean you have no idea that she was...

HALPERN: No, well...

ABRAMS: ... actually involved in it.

HALPERN: We don‘t know yet. I know from various news agencies have told me that one story was that she received as much as $200,000. But then the same news agency said their stories are not–they‘re not sure of it yet.

ABRAMS: Yes, we‘re certainly not reporting...

HALPERN: But we‘re trying to investigate that.


HALPERN: I know you‘re not reporting that...

ABRAMS: No, I‘m just...

HALPERN: ... but we‘re going to investigate...

ABRAMS: ... the only reason I‘m saying that because it‘s important I think to–you know I don‘t want the viewers to think that we‘re necessarily saying...


ABRAMS: ... that happened or didn‘t happen. Sorry, I apologize for interrupting...

HALPERN: Well that‘s one thing we‘re going to look in–OK, that‘s all right. Well that‘s one thing we‘re going to look into because it would be of interest to us to find out if she profited from that. As far as how he looks now, we wanted to have contact with him. We want to be speaking to his doctors. We want my client speaking to his doctors, and we want the family, his family, to be involved. You know, this child has O-negative blood, and David‘s family is O-negative, several members are, and we want to make sure that child has access to that blood whenever it‘s needed.

ABRAMS: David, I know you‘ve answered this question before or sort of not answered it to a certain degree, but what do you think about all of these charges against Michael Jackson? I know you weren‘t there for a lot of this, but you know you have been to Neverland, if I‘m correct, and, you know, what do you think generally about all of these allegations against Jackson involving your son?

HALPERN: I‘m sorry, but–I have to interrupt. He is not allowed to answer questions concerning Michael Jackson. There is a gag order and he has been named by the Santa Barbara District Attorney‘s Office...

ABRAMS: All right, fair enough...

HALPERN: ... as a potential witness.

ABRAMS: All right. Fair enough.


ABRAMS: Let me ask you a question–I‘m going to come back to David in a minute. But Russell, one of the questions...

DAVID: These pictures...

ABRAMS: Sorry.

DAVID: These pictures you‘ve talked of, are they recent? Do you know if they‘re recent or not?

ABRAMS: Yes, they‘re recent. They are recent pictures.

DAVID: How do you know if they are recent?

ABRAMS: Because you can tell based on you know the age of your son and sort of what he‘s doing. I mean it‘s hard to believe that you know he‘s out there playing when he was actually in this kind of environment when he was actually suffering much more from cancer.

DAVID: See, now...

HALPERN: OK, don‘t argue with him.


ABRAMS: All right. Look, I mean...

DAVID: I‘m just concerned. I‘m curious.

ABRAMS: I understand. No, no, look once you look at them, if you decide that you think that these pictures are a phony, please come back and let us know. But let‘s wait until you get a chance to look at them before we discuss it.

DAVID: Is it just him or...

ABRAMS: It‘s him and there are also pictures of your ex-wife in the picture as well. OK. Mr. Halpern, the D.A., Tom Sneddon, has he or anyone from his office been involved at all in this dispute between your client and his ex-wife?

HALPERN: Yes, they have. Unfortunately, Mr. Ron Zonan (ph) took it upon himself to write a letter to Mr. Manning. That‘s the attorney that‘s representing the wife in the family law case, and in that letter he suggested that the–it would not be a good idea for the boy to be reunited with his father or even to talk to his father. And I found that very disturbing, because Mr. Zonan (ph) has no idea what‘s happening here in Los Angeles. He has no real interest in the family law case. I can only speculate as to why he wouldn‘t want the boy to speak with his father.

ABRAMS: And he is not one of the prosecutors who was involved in prosecuting your client initially on the spousal battery and child cruelty cases?

HALPERN: Mr. Zonan (ph) is the prosecutor I believe that‘s been assigned to prosecute Mr. Jackson in Santa Barbara County.

ABRAMS: Right.

HALPERN: He has no connection at all with my client.

ABRAMS: Right. I just wanted to make that clear. All right, Russell Halpern...


ABRAMS: ... and David, thanks very much for coming on. And David, again, if you look at those pictures and you want to say something else about it, please feel free to come on back.

I‘ve got to ask a question...

DAVID: Thank you for having us.

ABRAMS: ... to Dana Cole about this. Is it improper for the D.A. to be expressing an opinion that has–in a case that is really ancillary to the prosecution of Michael Jackson?

COLE: Well, I guess the D.A. is trying to protect their key witness, but, yes, I completely agree with you. They are basically intermeddling in another matter, and it, you know it just–it has a feel of something inappropriate...

ABRAMS: Dean Johnson, are you disturbed by it?

JOHNSON: Yes, I agree with that. Fifteen years as a prosecutor here in San Mateo County, I think it‘s inappropriate to be involved in a civil suit or any sort of parallel proceeding that relates to any criminal case.

ABRAMS: Bill Fallon?

FALLON: Dan, we‘ve gotten involved in them. We don‘t like to get involved in them, but if a victim of ours, a victim of sexual assault, rape, some kind of domestic violence, we would get involved in that case. Normally if it were another county we would have the original prosecutor try to get involved. Remember this is a case–it was a criminal case originally. There was a criminal disposition. Now somebody is trying to get overturned what that disposition was, the stay away order.

Now I know it was a three-year stay-away order that might have been a civil proceeding, but it might very well have been related to the criminal convictions we have here. So I don‘t think it‘s as clean as one is civil, one is criminal, and I would want somebody representing the estate at the table saying hey, before you change that old disposition that you made based probably on some kind of conviction...

ABRAMS: Why should they be involved in this? I mean what is their interest...

FALLON: Well...

ABRAMS: ... apart from purely just saying, oh, we want to protect someone we have a great interest in?

FALLON: Well, Dan, because we don‘t know whether this–the get–stay away order here I think was connected to the original guilty disposition, and therefore, you have that until the end of the case.

ABRAMS: All right, Dana Cole, thank you very much. I‘m going to ask the rest of the team to stick around.

Next, prosecutors in the Scott Peterson case say he killed for Amber, his girlfriend. But could that sort of motive be a big mistake for prosecutors?

Plus, you probably know other parts of his body better than his face. The co-star of the infamous Paris Hilton tape doing–he‘ll join me live to talk about the tape.


Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4372685/

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