Attorneys Shapiro & Weitzman Weigh In on the Jackson Verdict

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," June 13, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Count two, verdict. We, the jury, in the above-entitled case, find the defendant not guilty of a lewd act upon a minor child as charged in count two of the indictment.


BILL O'REILLY, HOST: And all the other counts not guilty as well. In the "Impact" segment tonight, all over the world, people are reacting to the Jackson not guilty verdict.

Joining us now from L.A. are two of America's best attorneys, Howard Weitzman and Robert Shapiro.

Mr. Shapiro, we'll begin with you. Your reaction to the verdict, sir?

ROBERT SHAPIRO, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I was a little bit surprised, but I wasn't stunned, Bill. But what I was surprised about was when Mr. Sneddon at his press conference said well, we learned from this case. Well, 37 years of practice, this is not law school, and this is not a place to learn.

What he should have learned is how to file a case properly. This case was not about extortion. This case was not about kidnapping. This was a child molestation case. If he'd focused on that case, the mother wouldn't have testified. You wouldn't have 20 or 30 witnesses for Mesereau, who's a great lawyer, to take pot shots at and knock him down all day. And maybe he could have tried a decent case.

But once he started emphasizing a conspiracy to kidnap, he didn't have much of a chance, in my opinion.

O'REILLY: Mr. Weitzman, your reaction, sir?

HOWARD WEITZMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I agree 100 percent. Remember, I dealt with Tom Sneddon (search) 12 years ago. I remember the search warrant for the photographs of the genitalia and the way he conducted himself. In my opinion...

O'REILLY: Then just explain your context to Sneddon for the audience to bring them up to date.

WEITZMAN: Well, I represented Michael Jackson 12 years ago in this investigation and the ensuing settlement between he and the complaining witness, back in 1993, Jordy [Chandler].

So I dealt with Mr. Sneddon. I felt then, as I felt today, that he had a mind-set with respect to Michael. And he intended to go after him.

This case — you and I had this conversation. Should have been four witnesses.


WEITZMAN: Should have been Gavin...


WEITZMAN: ...should have been Star, should have been the housekeeper's son, and one flight attendant pouring wine into a can. That should have been the case.

And Mr. Sneddon did everything wrong, in my opinion, and gave Mr. Mesereau, a really good lawyer, the opportunity to do what needed to be done.

O'REILLY: All right. Mr. Shapiro, in my analysis of the case — and again, I did not make a prediction because it was so murky with the mother. And the mother, as we know now, was Michael Jackson's best defense.

But I — if you did the math, if you added it up that we all know: he sleeps with boys, we all know he had a pornographic homosexual material in the rooms where he was sleeping with the boys, and there were at least three boys who leveled accusations against him. Now the third one, obviously, could be money driven, but the first two are incontrovertible. I don't know if I were on that jury whether the confusing case would have overridden those three things.

SHAPIRO: Bill, one thing that is certain in this case — and the jurors have said that, is that the little boy's credibility was the real issue here. And a jury instruction says that you can consider motive or reason to lie. And here, the mother had lied before. The mother took him to a lawyer, not to the police department to make the complaint. And he took him to the same lawyer, an excellent lawyer, a friend of both of ours, Larry Feldman (search), who represented Jordy Chandler (search). That is not the way victims act.

O'REILLY: OK, so it was damning in the way the mother manipulated the case, counselor.

But Mr. Weitzman, it doesn't discount the fact that you had a grown man sleeping with boys with pornographic homosexual material in the room.

WEITZMAN: It absolutely does not discount it. But Bill, this young accuser gave four different stories. His credibility was at issue. The jury asked for his testimony to be read back.

He gave the first story, which was there were five molestations. Then he gave a different story to the Department of Social Services and said nothing happened. Then he gave a third story to the lawyers. And then he got up and testified that it happened twice.

So I think the jury had some concerns about his credibility. That's why they asked for his testimony to be reread. So I don't believe it was just the mother. I don't think the mother alone could have taken this case all the way.

O'REILLY: OK, let me ask you a very difficult question, Mr. Weitzman. After what you went through in the beginning 12 years ago with Michael Jackson, your client, and the other accusations, were you surprised that Jackson put himself in a position to be accused again, sir?

WEITZMAN: No, I was not surprised. But I'm looking straight at you and this camera and saying to Michael going forward, you can't continue to conduct yourself that way.

O'REILLY: OK. Why — when you say you weren't surprised, why weren't you surprised? He didn't, obviously, learn his lesson the first time around. Why did he not learn his lesson, sir?

WEITZMAN: Because I believe Michael doesn't think he's doing anything wrong. That's what he said on television internationally. As long as he doesn't do anything wrong with the kids, he believes it's OK to sleep with kids.

I disagree. At 46, even if he's not doing anything wrong, the mere opportunity is enough to stop it.


WEITZMAN: And parents that allow it to happen are outrageous and irresponsible.

O'REILLY: Mr. Shapiro, are there any similarities to this case and the O.J. Simpson acquittal that you were involved with? Do you see any similarities at all?

SHAPIRO: No, but I see a lot of differences. The difference I see here is the Simpson jury was chastised for being racially biased in favor of Simpson, for being stupid, for not spending enough time.

In this case, you have no blacks on the jury. You have a jury that deliberated for six days. They had instructions of over almost 100 pages of very difficult instructions, but they clearly followed the law.

And I think the big difference here and the difference for the public is they can see that not every verdict in California is a crazy verdict, and that the people here were the type of people that are conservative, that are pro-prosecution, that are pro-police, and yet they still had a reasonable doubt.

O'REILLY: All right. Gentlemen, very fascinating. And we appreciate your time very much this evening.

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