Weakening the Defense?

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This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," March 24, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: "CSI" all over again. A forensic scientist taking the stand in the Michael Jackson (search) child molestation trial, talking about the fingerprints found on Jacko's adult magazines … The jury heard all about fingerprints and pornography over the past couple days and why it's important. But could all the drama outside the court have more of an impact on the case than the testimony?

Joining me now, defense attorney Robert Shapiro (search).

Now Mr. Shapiro, I watched you a very long time. You kept control of your client. It obviously had a big impact on the acquittal of O.J. Simpson. What are you thinking when you see, you know, the testimony kind of going Jackson's way, in some regards, but there's a whole series of meltdowns before the jury?

ROBERT SHAPIRO, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I'm thinking that Tom Mesereau is just eating his heart out, because he's doing a terrific job in court, and everything he is doing is being undermined by the antics outside of court. And there's no question in my mind that those things get to the jury and jurors consider that.

GIBSON: All right. Let's take a look at today. You know, here they were trying to prove that Michael Jackson sat down with the alleged victim, the accuser, and showed him these pornographic magazines, and got him drunk and then molested him.

And now, the defense is saying well, wait a minute. The fingerprints from the boy may have occurred during grand jury when the boy handled the magazine at the instruction of the prosecution.

Now, doesn't that seem like an excessively dumb thing for the prosecution to have been doing?

SHAPIRO: John, I've always said in these high-profile cases, that defense lawyers do not win the case; prosecutors lose them. And this would be a perfect example.

If they had evidence, scientific evidence, potentially, on it, that is fingerprints, to not preserve those items at the time they were seized, and to allow them to go one year before they're analyzed, is obviously going to create a problem for the prosecution, one that should have been very obvious during the initial stages of this investigation.

GIBSON: OK. Now, that's just an example of a couple of things that have happened in this case. There was also this business about hard drives, and supposedly he was looking at pornography on certain days on his computer but the days didn't match on the hard drive.

When you take all that, and you weigh it against Jackson weeping in court, showing up looking like he's about to collapse, in his pajamas, this whole thing, this whole drama that's been going on the last few days, how does it shake out?

SHAPIRO: Well, I have first hand experience with it. About a year and a half ago, our law firm brought a lawsuit on behalf of a promoter against Michael Jackson in the same venue. And the same antics took place out of court and inside of court.

He'd come in one day on crutches. He'd come in another day in the afternoon sick. And in talking to the jurors afterwards, they were just appalled by that type of conduct.

GIBSON: By the way, how did that work out for Jackson?

SHAPIRO: He came out second in the trial. And our client was awarded $7 million in damages for breach of contract.

GIBSON: In other words, Jackson lost.

SHAPIRO: That's a nicer way of putting it.

GIBSON: All right. I've got one more minute. Let me ask you this. I have a friend who knows Jackson, knows the camp. He says, "Look, this is completely calculated. This is Michael through and through. What he's doing is saying to the jury: Don't send this man to jail. Look how frail he is."

Does that sound like Michael Jackson to you?

SHAPIRO: You know, I can't comment, because I'm not Michael's lawyer. I have never represented him.

I think he believes that that is something that will work to his benefit. Unfortunately, many times in these high-profile cases, especially the ones I've been involved in, there are so many people, the handlers, the other lawyers, the civil lawyers that have never been involved in criminal cases, the public relations people who all have something to say.

And then ultimately, the client himself thinks that he knows more about the media and more about how to handle this than anyone else. And unfortunately, somebody like Mesereau, who is at the top of his game, is not listened to.

GIBSON: A train wreck in the making. Defense attorney Robert Shapiro, good to see you again. Thanks for coming on.

SHAPIRO: My pleasure, John. Thanks for having me.

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