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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Mark Geragos Press Conference

Aired November 20, 2003 - 15:51   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to bring Jeffrey Toobin in, our legal analyst, to talk a little bit about -- what do you think, Jeffrey? Geragos, what will be his strategy here? What will he say? How he will begin?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think the only thing he really can say is that they will fight the charges aggressively. One delicate area he will have to deal with as this case progresses is how does he deal with the credibility of the accuser? This case, at least in part, will be the word of the accuser against the word of Michael Jackson.

Damaging the credibility of the accuser is an important part of any strategy like that. Kobe Bryant case being a classic example of any case involving sexual misconduct with two people alone in a room, presumably alone in a room, the defense wants to damage the credibility of an accuser.

Here, you have the extremely awkward and difficult situation of a child being the accuser, someone with whom we will all feel an automatic tug of sympathy for. No one likes to see a child abused, either in a criminal way or through the legal system. So Geragos is going to have to walk a fine line in defending his client, but not attacking the accuser too much, either.

PHILLIPS: Jeffrey, we want to bring in our Judy Woodruff, too, while we're doing sort of continuing coverage here via Atlanta and D.C. with Judy. Judy, go ahead, take it away. I know you have some questions for Jeffrey.

WOODRUFF: Yes. We're spread out all over the place today.

Jeff, my question as to do with Michael Jackson's status as a star. Somebody in his position has an enormous staff of people who are always around him. A barrier between him and the public, but also with him all the time in his home, in his private life. I guess I'm wondering, you know, at what point do those people become part of the investigation, part of, if you will, enabling him -- if any of this were true, enabling it to take place?

TOOBIN: When do they become important? Right now. They are critical witnesses in this case.

Who saw this child around the Michael Jackson Neverland? Who saw him? What was he doing? All of those people have a very critical role in this investigation.

I covered the investigation in '93, and several of the key witnesses in that investigation were security guards.

MARK GERAGOS, MICHAEL JACKSON'S ATTORNEY: I'm just going to make a brief statement. I'm not going to take questions and answers.

Michael is here. He has come back specifically to confront these charges head-on. He is greatly outraged by the bringing of these charges.

He considers this to be a big lie. He understands the people who are outraged. Because if these charges were true, I assure you Michael would be the first to be outraged. But I'm here to tell you today that Michael has given me the authority to say on his behalf, these charges are categorically untrue.

He looks forward to getting into a courtroom, as opposed to any other forum, and confronting these accusations head-on. We plan on doing that. And I am not going to take any other questions and answers.

I will say, however, that he is already -- for your information, at least, he is already posted the bond, and he is processed out. Thank you very much.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Jeff Toobin, we just heard from Mark Geragos, who is the attorney for Michael Jackson. What does that tell us? He said he's posted bond. He said the charges are categorically untrue.

He called it -- he said he considers it a big lie. Do we learn any more about all this from what he just said?

TOOBIN: Not really, I don't think. I mean, that was a fully appropriate and enthusiastic defense of his client, but it was also not specific, relating to the charges. He did suggest -- did he not quite say, but did he suggest that Michael Jackson will be released from custody, if not immediately, then very soon. It doesn't appear like he's going to be spending the night in custody.

So, that, I think, is news. But, you know, his full-throated defense of his client is to be expected, and it's his role. And it's another fact or it's another opinion to weigh in the mix of what people think of this case.

WOODRUFF: What about his comment? He said Michael Jackson understands people being outraged by this. He said, if it were true, he would be the first to be outraged.

TOOBIN: Well, this is the curious, awkward position that Mark Geragos and, of course, Michael Jackson find themselves in, which is Michael Jackson has styled himself as a great defender of children. Though those hostile to him suggest he seems somewhat obsessed by children. He talks about them, spends more time with them than most men in their 40s do.

So he's got to -- Mark Geragos has got to spin that as someone who is unusually protective of children. The prosecution will spin that as someone who is unhealthily obsessed with children. That's what I think he's trying to do by saying that Michael Jackson, of all people, is outraged by this accusation.

WOODRUFF: All right. Jeff, we're going to keep talking to you as we see what happens. As you indicated, Mark Geragos, the attorney for Michael Jackson, just said that Jackson had "already posted bond," and words to the effect that he plans to be leaving the Santa Barbara sheriff's office as soon as possible.

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