Courtroom Drama

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Tuesday night was almost free of obvious technical problems. There was one unexplained glitch — at least unexplained to me since it is technical — which happened near the end of the show and did not have much of an impact. Hence I never sought an explanation.

When I interview guests remotely, I look directly at the camera, which has a TV monitor showing the guest. In looking at the camera/monitor I see what you see at home — minus the crawl at the bottom of the screen. As I was interviewing Missy Stoddard, the reporter from the Florida paper, I suddenly noticed something "funny." She was not moving. I knew she was not dead since I could hear her talk in my earpiece. But, instead of an animated person reporting, she was frozen. Something happened to stop putting video in the monitor/camera and instead I got what appeared to be a still picture. Not a big deal — only odd. Of course, when something odd happens, you want to stop and ask what's going on (or, in some cases, am I nuts? Am I the only one who thinks our guest is frozen?) I ignored the obvious "issue" and just continued an interview with a still picture.

If you want to watch that interview, click on the link in the video box above. The interview is about the teacher having sex with the student and his father. Yes, I agree: What is going on?!

E-mail No. 1

Hi Greta,
I find it very ironic that our correctional system finds it absolutely necessary to track Martha Stewart (search) with GPS. Yet, the repeat sex offenders seem to slip out of sight until they strike again! What's wrong with this picture? Hello!
Dion Hannum
Alhambra, CA

E-mail No. 2

I am no big fan of Martha Stewart, but as I ponder on the idea of keeping a "criminal" of her level on house arrest with the ankle bracelet, I am reminded of the old saying, "let the punishment fit the crime," and I have to wonder about the murderers, rapists, drug dealers, and child molesters that are released, some before their full time has been served, and ask if they are required to wear these ankle bracelets? Even now, police are still looking for Stephen Stanko (search), suspected of killing a person and raping a teen... was he required to wear one of those bracelets? If so, wouldn't it be easier to track his whereabouts? I personally think that all this hoopla over Ms Stewart's crime has been because of who she is and her money... I believe she should have paid for her crime, but also believe that the bracelet thing should be used more for criminals like Mr. Stanko than for people that have committed crimes like Martha's.

E-mail No. 3

Dear Greta,
My husband and I own a small computer business in Missouri. We live in a small town. Recently I looked up the Sex Offenders List for our area and surprisingly enough we have five registered sex offenders in our little town. Today an elderly lady and a small child (maybe her grand-daughter) came into our business and needed someone to repair her computer, since she was elderly she couldn't bring it in herself so I offered to pick it up and bring it to our shop. When she gave me her address I was horrified to learn that right across (about 50ft.) her hallway lives a registered sex offender (sexual assault to a child). I guess I just don't know whether to tell her, does she know... It's really heavy on my mind... What do you suggest? (I know you're not Dear Abby, but I value your opinion.)
Thank you... we love your show!

E-mail No. 4 — trial note from KFI's Laura Ingle who is inside the Michael Jackson (search) trial:

Subject: Laura note — Janet Jackson will take the stand soon in Santa Maria!

This isn't Michael Jackson's sister, but rather the mother of the child accuser at this trial. Janet Arvizo married a man named Jay Jackson. So, yes, that is her name. Jay Jackson is an Army Reserve Major who served in the first Desert Storm operation. He was called to the witness stand this morning by the prosecution. There was something charming and believable about this witness. Maybe it was because he is in the military, or that he is from Virginia and talks with a slight twang, but when he was challenged about his testimony by the defense, he'd look at attorney Tom Mesereau, and say, "You know... I'm just unclear on that. I really am."

Jay Jackson was asked by the prosecution to tell his side of the story in regards to being a witness to a hostage situation with his family. Prosecutors contend that M.J. and his people held the mom and her three kids against their will at Neverland Ranch to get them to film a rebuttal video to the living with Michael Jackson documentary. Jackson told prosecutors that when his then girlfriend was at Neverland with her children she called several times sounding distressed. She says she believes M.J. and company are following their every move, and won't let them out of their sight. This is the time period around the airing of the "Living with Michael Jackson" documentary.

Jay Jackson testified that M.J.'s people wanted Janet and her kids to film a rebuttal video and essentially held them against their will, with veiled threats to get them to participate. His testimony helps the conspiracy portion of the case. He did not witness alleged molestation acts by Jackson.

Michael Jackson came into court once again in his normal decorated war general look. Today though, he was wearing pants with a fancy gold stripe down the sides. He was helping hand documents to his defense team today, looking involved. An older woman juror in the back row continues to look out into the audience and look at Catherine Jackson, Michael's mother. She looks sad for her. One juror looked a bit sleepy today when an audiotape was replayed as part of the evidence. This is the interview Janet and kids gave to a private investigator hired by M.J.'s then attorney Mark Geragos. It was made February 16, 2003. They tell the P.I. Michael Jackson never acted inappropriately with any of them — and that they consider him to be a father figure in the family. Jay Jackson is sitting on the witness stand looking over at Michael at the defense table, and he doesn't look happy. He will continue his cross-examination with Tom Mesereau in the morning. The mom, who has tons of controversy swirling around her, will be next we hear.

E-mail No. 5 — Next e-mail is Jim Hammer's inside report from the Michael Jackson trial:

Tuesday Night, April 12, 2005

Today began with heavy anticipation in the courtroom whether the accuser’s mother would finally hit the stand. The defense has argued all along that she is behind what they call the conspiracy against Michael Jackson. Instead, her current husband testified. He was straightforward and though he was on the periphery of the case, he was the third witness to testify to the mother’s frightened phone calls during the time prosecutors say Jackson conspired to falsely imprison her and her kids at Neverland.

The real buzz around the courthouse though centered on whether the accuser’s mother will assert her 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination when she is finally called to the stand on Wednesday. The defense has repeatedly accused her of perjury, welfare fraud and other serious crimes. Whether these charges are true has not been shown in court yet, but if she takes the 5th, and the judge sustains her exercise of that privilege, she may disappear form this trial and jury may never hear her. That could deal a serious blow to the D.A.’s 1st count — the conspiracy charge. It might even force the D.A. to dismiss that count, as she was expected to be one of the main witnesses in support of the conspiracy.

In a strange twist, this could actually play to the D.A.’s advantage in that it would take away the defense’s biggest punching bag. And at least from the rebuttal video, she did not come across well. The defense has built its entire case around the mother in its opening statement. Expect a big fight on Wednesday if she takes the 5th. In the end, none of this might even happen, but it has all of us around the courthouse buzzing. Stay tuned…
Jim Hammer
Santa Maria Courthouse

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