Abrams Report: Withholding evidence - Grand jury (April 5 04) - TRANSCRIPT

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

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Abrams Report: Withholding evidence - Grand jury (April 5 04) - TRANSCRIPT

Post by whisper » Mon Sep 20, 2004 10:06 pm

The Abrams Report' for April 5[/b]

Read the complete transcript to Monday's show
Updated: 11:31 a.m. ET April 06, 2004

Guests: Pete McEntegart, Parker Bostworth, Gregg Sutton, Glenn Andrews, William Johnson, Gretchen Von Helms, Randy Hopper, Matt Bingham, Christopher Downey, Brian Wice


And Michael Jackson‘s attorneys say they‘ve given prosecutors a lot of evidence that helps prove Jackson is innocent. But they say the prosecution has failed to present the information to the grand jury. The prosecutors say they‘re going to review the material to make sure it‘s admissible. But how much are they really obliged to present, and how does the defense know what is or isn‘t being presented if they‘re not there and it‘s supposed to be secret?

Don‘t forget your e-mails abramsreport@msnbc.com. I‘ll respond at the end of the show.


ABRAMS: Coming up, does Wisconsin co-ed Audrey Seiler still stand by her revised story that she was abducted some time during her four-day disappearance even though the police don‘t buy it? We‘ll ask her attorney, coming up.


ABRAMS: Now to the Michael Jackson case. As prosecutors continue to present evidence to a grand jury, today in an effort to get a formal indictment against Jackson, the defense says prosecutors are withholding evidence from the jurors that could help clear their client. Now, the defense isn‘t present at the grand jury, as is the case with all grand juries. But in California the prosecution is obligated to present evidence that supports the defense. And Jackson‘s team says it‘s not happening.


BENJAMIN BRAFMAN, JACKSON‘S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The objective was and is and will continue to be that we try and keep a level playing field.


ABRAMS: So on Friday attorneys Mark Geragos and Ben Brafman brought about 20 notebooks to the Santa Barbara courthouse. Among the items, school and psychiatric reports from a previous lawsuit involving the alleged victim. They also filed a 100-item list with the District Attorney‘s Office, all evidence they say the grand jurors should see. But the prosecutors suggest it‘s just a publicity stunt.


GERALD FRANKLIN, SANTA BARBARA ASST. DISTRICT ATTY: I will only say that it was a presentation of information that the defense wanted us to acquaint the grand jury with, and it was presented to us in a most public fashion. And I will leave it to wiser and more astute heads than mine to wonder why it was done in precisely that fashion.


ABRAMS: All right. So, let‘s introduce those wiser and more astute members. Let‘s bring in our California legal team–former San Diego District Attorney and MSNBC analyst Paul Pfingst and San Diego criminal defense attorney Gretchen Von Helms.

All right, Gretchen, what is it that the prosecutors are obliged to show to the grand jury? The grand jury is the prosecution‘s home field.


ABRAMS: The defense attorneys aren‘t there. They‘re not allowed to be there. Yes, under California law they‘re obliged to present evidence that helps the defense. Are they obliged to present these 20 notebooks of information?

VON HELMS: Not the 20 notebooks. There‘s a mandatory duty. So, it says you shall present. The prosecutors have the obligation to present clearly exculpatory evidence to the grand jury...

ABRAMS: Who decides what‘s exculpatory?

VON HELMS: ... and–the prosecutors do. So this is why (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It‘s basically the defense team is laying their bases for what‘s called a 995 motion. Under penal code section 939...

ABRAMS: All right, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), you don‘t need to tell us–just tell us...

VON HELMS: OK. This is the obligation that the prosecution has on the grand jury. Then there‘s this other penal code section, which the defense can use to make a motion to dismiss if this is not done on the charges that they had exculpatory evidence on it...


VON HELMS: ... they didn‘t present that exculpatory evidence to the grand jury. So the defense can make a motion later to ask the judge hey dismiss this stuff. They didn‘t present the exculpatory information...

ABRAMS: Paul Pfingst, when do they get an opportunity to see it? The grand jury is supposed to be secret. When does the defense get to see exactly what the prosecution did and didn‘t present?

PAUL PFINGST, FORMER SAN DIEGO DISTRICT ATTY: Assuming there‘s an indictment, 10 days after the arraignment before a judge, the transcripts are supposed to be unsealed. So the defense will get them at that time. But, Dan, we could see this play coming months ago, as soon as Tom Sneddon said he was going to a grand jury. You could tell that Mark Geragos was going to come with a whole bushel basket full of evidence and say we demand this to go in front of the grand jury because if any one piece of evidence is not presented to the grand jury, you can be sure that piece of evidence will be part of a motion to dismiss the indictment.

ABRAMS: But Paul, no matter how strong the prosecution‘s case may be, and they believe it is very strong, there is a lot of evidence in this case which poses questions about the alleged victim, about the alleged victim‘s family. Do you believe that the prosecutors should be obliged to present to the grand jury much of the information, from example, from previous incidents where it might make you question the alleged victim and his family?

PFINGST: There‘s actually quite a lot of court decisions about what constitutes exculpatory evidence or what evidence has to go in front of a grand jury and what evidence does not. There are some tough calls. But generally, prosecutors dump it all out there and let the grand jury sort it out. So I wouldn‘t be surprised in this case if the prosecutors erred on the side of Michael Jackson, rather than confront this issue at motions after an indictment, if there is an indictment.

ABRAMS: Really? You don‘t think that they‘re afraid of some of the evidence that‘s come out?

PFINGST: No. If you‘re afraid of it now, then you have to be really afraid of it at trial when you‘re in front of a jury and there‘s cross-examination. Dan, there‘s something that has to be understood. Yes, prosecutors are on their home field, but prosecutors historically do not abuse that home field because they will have to face a jury and they will have to sometime put their case in front of a jury, and if they‘re losing a lot of cases, that‘s not going to help...

ABRAMS: But Gretchen, I‘ll bet defense attorneys believe that they do misuse that. I would assume that‘s your perspective.

VON HELMS: Well actually, I don‘t think they do. In fact...

ABRAMS: Really?

VON HELMS: ... during the preliminary examination, the prosecutors at least here in San Diego and most of the other jurisdictions in which I practice, they like to have the good, the bad, the ugly brought out so we can air it out now early on.

ABRAMS: But do you–very quickly, do the–Paul do the prosecutors tend to present sort of showy witnesses for the prosecution, and then just hand up like documents when it comes to what the defense is saying? (UNINTELLIGIBLE) here you go grand jurors, you can read these 20 pages.

PFINGST: Only if you want to cut your own throat when you‘re in front of a jury. If it‘s something...


PFINGST: ... that‘s going to affect this grand jury, you want to know it now, not later.

ABRAMS: Gretchen Von Helms and Paul Pfingst, thanks a lot.

VON HELMS: Thank you.

Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4676672/

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