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On The Scene

Toobin: 'No way Jackson can buy kid's silence'

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin
CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin

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CNN's Frank Buckley on Santa Barbara authorities' wait for Jackson to surrender.
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CNN's Daryn Kagan talks with Harvey Levin of 'Celebrity Justice' about the Jackson investigation.
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CNN's Gary Tuchman on the issuance of an arrest warrant for Michael Jackson.
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ON THE BOOKS

From the California Penal Code Section 288(a):
Any person who willfully and lewdly commits any lewd or lascivious act, including any of the acts constituting other crimes provided for in Part 1, upon or with the body, or any part or member thereof, of a child who is under the age of 14 years, with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions, or sexual desires of that person or the child, is guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for three, six, or eight years.
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On the Scene
Jeffrey Toobin
Pat LaLama
Michael Jackson

(CNN) -- In Southern California, an arrest warrant was issued for pop star Michael Jackson, citing multiple counts of child molestation. On Thursday, CNN's Soledad O'Brien interviewed Jeffrey Toobin, legal analyst for CNN, and Pat LaLama, reporter for "Celebrity Justice," about what happened.

O'BRIEN: The D.A. went out of his way, as we just heard a moment ago, to say that the timing of this arrest warrant was not coincidental. In fact, he said that he'd been ready to bring the charges for a while now.

Why the delay?

LALAMA: I think it's hard to speculate about the delay. If you heard him yesterday (Wednesday), he said that when they had planned to execute the search warrant, it was Halloween. We all know that Neverland is open now to the public. There were too many people around.

But ... based on the experience of knowing what these folks went through 10 years ago, I have a feeling they wanted to make sure every single "t" was crossed and "i" was dotted before they went in, knew what they were looking for, knew what they wanted to get and succeeded. That was their plan and I don't think they cared how long it would take or how much delay, as long as they got it right.

O'BRIEN: Jeff, $3 million bond. What do you make of that figure? Does it sound high to you? Does it sound about right? And is there a sense that it's fear that he might flee?

TOOBIN: It sounds about right. And it is a lot of money, obviously, but he has a lot of money and that is in the realm of normal. [There are] a lot of issues to deal with in bail -- not just the amount of bail.

What are the conditions of bail? Is he allowed to leave Santa Barbara County? Is he allowed to leave Neverland? Is he allowed to have contact with minor children? Is he allowed to have contact with his own children?

Those are the kinds of issues that are often dealt with in bail in child molestation questions and child molestation cases, and that, undoubtedly, is something that was part of the negotiations between the two sides.

O'BRIEN: Pat, as we heard yesterday, they're negotiating, essentially, the return of Michael Jackson from Las Vegas.

Do you expect that we're going to see Michael Jackson returning to Neverland in handcuffs or something like that?

LALAMA: You know, I think it's very possible. Look, let me go back and state for the record that I don't believe this D.A., Tom Sneddon, as many people have alluded to, has a vendetta, that he feels vindictiveness for not being able to successfully prosecute 10 years ago.

Well, you know what? If he believes Michael Jackson is guilty of doing what he believes Michael Jackson is guilty of doing, then so what if he is on a true mission to get justice in this case? And so what if maybe he wants the public to see Michael Jackson in handcuffs?

He is a celebrity. I heard someone yesterday saying he gets preferential treatment, being able to negotiate a surrender. Well, you know what? He's a celebrity. There's chaos when someone like him gets arrested.

O'BRIEN: Let me interrupt you there, Pat.

That's not that unusual, negotiating...

TOOBIN: Negotiated surrenders are not unusual, particularly in white-collar cases. There is a big difference in the legal setting between now and 10 years ago. Ten years ago, Michael Jackson reached an out-of-court settlement with a young person who accused him of child molestation. That young man then refused to participate in the criminal investigation, which basically doomed the case.

Now, the D.A. yesterday said this kid is cooperating, but there is no way Michael Jackson can buy this kid's silence at this point.

O'BRIEN: I want to ask just a quick question. I want you to both weigh in for me.

What did you make, Pat, of the levity in the case (during Wednesday's news conference)? I mean there were lots of jokes thrown around. It was actually, I thought, having seen a million press conferences, kind of unusual.

What did you think?

Pat LaLama of
Pat LaLama of "Celebrity Justice"

LALAMA: I did -- I was not bothered by it. I have to tell you, I've been asked this many times in the last 24 hours. I think you have a stage where the entire globe is watching. Everybody is interested in this story. There's a lot of lights. There's a lot of tension. I think that this very well-meaning district attorney and sheriff had every reason to ... perhaps crack a joke.

O'BRIEN: Some people thought...

TOOBIN: All the more reason why...

LALAMA: So what?

TOOBIN: ... they should have behaved, I think, in a little more professional way. I don't think it will have a lot...

LALAMA: Jeff, do you really think so?

TOOBIN: Absolutely. I mean the long-term implications, I think, are small of this, but, you know, this is a very serious case. Everything is under microscopic scrutiny. You shouldn't be making jokes. You shouldn't be speculating about the evidence. And I thought Sneedon didn't do himself proud yesterday.

O'BRIEN: It did seem a little disrespectful not only to, to everyone in the case, but also you've got to remember the young victim in this case, too, sort of every angle of it.

TOOBIN: There are many reasons why.

LALAMA: I think a comment about Michael Jackson's music and his CD really doesn't take away from the seriousness. But that's just my opinion.


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