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What's in Store for Jackson Legally

Aired November 20, 2003 - 15:35   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: These pictures of Michael Jackson being brought into the courthouse in Santa Barbara. While we're watching all of this, I want to bring in our CNN legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.
Jeffrey, tell us again, what does Michael Jackson face right now?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the initial issue that he has to deal with is bail. And the district attorney yesterday said that the bail had been set at $3 million, plus the surrender of his passport. Once those conditions are met, he is released.

However, there are other potential issues dealing with the question of bail that his attorney, Mark Geragos, will want to negotiate with the district attorney. For example, is he allowed to leave Santa Barbara County? Is he allowed to leave his ranch, his home? Is he allowed to have contact with children? Is he allowed to have contact with his own children?

Those are conditions of bail that are often the subject of negotiation when there is a child molestation case. So those presumably will have been dealt with before, but he's now at -- he's being booked.

He's going to get a mug shot. He's going to get fingerprints. He will surrender probably the deed to some real estate that's worth $3 million. Not necessarily a $3 million check or $3 million cash.

He will certainly surrender his actual passport. And at that point, we will probably get a day today for his initial arraignment where the legal process will begin in earnest.

WOODRUFF: Now, when you say give up his passport, why would that be?

TOOBIN: So that he can't flee the country. When you have access to private planes, as he does, in theory, you could probably flee the country without a passport. But it's significantly harder to leave or get -- to leave the United States or get into another country when you don't have your passport. And that's why it's a fairly common condition of bail that a defendant surrender his passport.

WOODRUFF: Jeff, when does this bail decision -- you said the decisions might have been made already, that they probably have already been negotiated. When does that have to get made? I mean, do we assume that he's going to be released from custody today, or we just don't know?

TOOBIN: We don't know for sure. But based on my experience with the California legal system, it's likely he will be released today. Jurisdictions vary on this somewhat, but when a prosecutor has a defendant that he knows has a lawyer, it is a common practice for the prosecutor and the defendant to sort of expedite the process, to negotiate about bail conditions before the person is booked and arrested, so that there doesn't have to be both sides spending a lot of time waiting around.

Or if they can't agree on the bail conditions, the defendant is then brought to a judge, who makes the ultimate decision. But usually the practice is a prosecutor and a defense lawyer agreeing on bail conditions right before someone is brought into custody, so the deal can be cut in advance.

The defense lawyer, of course, wants his client to spend as little time in custody as possible. That's his interest in getting the bail decision made quickly.

WOODRUFF: Well, let's ask -- bring in -- Jeff, thanks. And let's bring in Mike Brooks on this question. Mike is at the sheriff's department, sheriff's office there in Santa Barbara.

Mike, are you able to tell from what you are seeing and the people that you are talking to what's likely to happen from here on out today?

MIKE BROOKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, from talking with the sheriff's deputies yesterday that work here at the jail and have been working on this case, and in and around, Judy, we're hearing that most likely he will be released today. The way things work, as Jeffrey said, in California, he will go in, he'll get his mug shot, he'll be fingerprinted, photographed, the initial paperwork will be done. And then he will most likely be released on that $3 million bail.

Again, the question is, will investigators question him while he is here? They will probably attempt to. But since he will have legal representation, Mark Geragos, we know, most likely, he will not.

We see positioned out behind the area where he just came in, we see a black limousine that looks like it's the car that he will be leaving in. So, again, they are also expecting him to be departing here sometime in a short amount of time. But when that is, we don't know for right now - Judy.

WOODRUFF: But Mike, it suggests, if they are prepared to let him go, that they then wouldn't consider him a threat.

BROOKS: Most likely, at least a flight risk threat. As Jeffrey said, he's going to be giving up his passport. They don't consider him a threat, but there may be a lot of conditions of bail. We don't know these conditions.

There's a possibility we may hear from the sheriff's department or even from Mark Geragos when he leaves, if he does not leave with Michael a Jackson after he is booked. But we don't know. There's a lot of questions to remain.

But here in California, if he leaves, he will have an initial appearance, an arraignment in about 30 days. That is when the formal charges -- he will answer to the formal charges in front of a judge -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Mike, clearly, this story has been front and center for the last 48 hours or so. But for those who haven't been paying close attention, how much is known about the child or the family that has made thoes these allegations?

BROOKS: Well, we have heard stories from different storeses, different news agencies. We don't -- we haven't been able to confirm all of these stories as of right now. But it's believed it was a 12- year-old boy who had some contact, both he and his family, with Michael Jackson during some time.

We also know that law enforcement has served a warrant at his ranch and at two other locations in southern California. They wouldn't say exactly where those search warrants are. But the specifics on the boy, we have not been able to confirm it independently for CNN. But we hope to do that, and maybe we'll hear some more after he is booked -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: A lot of questions that have not been answered.


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