The Michael Jackson case: A DA's vendetta
By K.C. Arceneaux
RAW STORY CONTRIBUTOR
The role of a District Attorney is to seek the truth, not to seek conviction at all costs. There are strong indications that Tom Sneddon, the District Attorney prosecuting Michael Jackson for alleged child molestation, is driven more by a vendetta than a search for the truth. ABC News reported on Thursday that they had seen a document signed by Sneddon indicating that he personally investigated aspects of the case that were "most often handled by the police." They added that Sneddon met alone with the alleged victim's mother in a parking lot, an action that might place him as a witness his own case.
Moreover, they claimed that Sneddon took photographs of the office of a private investigator employed by Jackson, and may have met with the accuser's mother on at least one other occasion. He may have also handled some of the stakeouts himself. It is highly irregular that these activities were undertaken without the presence of the police or investigators, and adds credence to the idea that Sneddon is not impartial enough to prosecute the Jackson case.
Tom Sneddon has consistently used the media to sway public opinion against Jackson. The televised scene of the raid on Nov. 18, 2003 on Jackson's Neverland ranch would have been more worthy of a raid on the home of a serial killer than on the home of an entertainer with no prior police record.
Sneddon tipped off Court TV reporter Diane Dimond about the raid and reported the event live from Neverland. The timing of the raid was on precisely the day Jackson released his new CD, "Number Ones." Indeed, the tone of the press conference following the raid was inappropriately gleeful, with Sneddon remarking, "Like I listen to that kind of music."
Sneddon later apologized for his levity. Subsequently, he referred to Jackson as "Jacko Wacko" in an interview with Dimond. He later apologized for these remarks, as well.
Following the filing of charges against Jackson on Dec. 18, 2003, Sneddon summarily dismissed the Los Angeles Police Department and the Department of Children and Family Services investigations of Jackson. The investigations concluded that complaints of molestation had been unfounded.
"They have a lot of problems down there [in LA] and that office has a lot of problems," he quipped.
What he failed to mention was that the Santa Barbara Children's Services and Santa Barbara law enforcement had conducted similar investigations and had come to similar conclusions.
Jackson's three million dollar bail was three times that of the average murderer and nearly fifty times that of the bail schedule for the alleged crimes. Sneddon has hired a public relations firm, and there is a web-site devoted to the case.
It is assumed that the wheels of justice are turning smoothly. The public remains largely unaware that currently, Tom Sneddon is being sued for $10 million for malicious prosecution by Santa Barbara defense attorney Gary Dunlap. Dunlap alleges that Sneddon violated his civil rights on twenty-two counts, including wire-tapping, illegal search and seizure, and the cover-up of misconduct by editing tapes. Dunlap was charged, tried and acquitted on all counts. Dunlap went on to state that vindictive prosecutions are done in Santa Barbara "on a routine basis."
There have been other civil cases against Sneddon of which the public is unaware because they settled out of court. Among them is the case of Efren Cruz. In December 2001, the LA Times ran a story titled, "Man Wrongly Convicted of Murder Sues Prosecutors." Cruz served four and a half years in Pelican Bay prison for a shooting he did not commit, and upon his release sued Sneddon and three senior prosecutors for $120 million, for malicious prosecution, negligence, conspiracy to keep him in prison and violating his civil rights. Allegedly, the prosecutors withheld evidence that would have exonerated Cruz.
The evidence was the real killer's secretly taped confession. The lawsuit was settled out of court at taxpayer's expense, for an undisclosed but certainly substantial amount.
Given the pattern of lawsuits for malicious prosecution against Sneddon, the irregularities in the investigation of the Jackson case and the use of the media as a tool of the prosecution, it would seem to best serve the interests of justice for Sneddon to step down and to be replaced by a less biased prosecutor. If Sneddon could knowingly keep an innocent man in prison and charge another with crimes he did not commit, one wonders what he is capable of doing in the Jackson case. Not only is there a man's life at stake, but our criminal justice system will suffer a blow to its integrity if this high-profile case is not conducted with consummate fairness and dignity.