Last Shot At Jackson Jury

Guilty, or not? District Attorney Tom Sneddon (left) and lead defense attorney Thomas A. Mesereau Jr. (far right, in court in Santa Maria, Calif., with Michael Jackson) will soon find out what jurors thought of the 135 witnesses and other evidence in the more than three-month-long Michael Jackson child molestation trial. 6-1-05
After many long months of investigation, 14 weeks of trial, and the testimony of 135 witnesses, the prosecution and defense in the Michael Jackson child molestation case have one last chance to sway the jury.

In his commentary, CBS News Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen previews the logic each side could use to prove its point in closing arguments, which begin Thursday.

What The Prosecution Should Say

The following is a summary of what Santa Barbara prosecutor Ron Zonen should - but probably won't - say during his closing argument in the Michael Jackson child molestation and conspiracy case.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: Thank you for your patience and focus during this long case. I know it has not been easy on you and your families and I just want you to know that we appreciate your service and the commitment you have made. You are here to determine a man's fate and that is never an easy thing to do.

This case, however, is easier than most. The defendant himself has told you, and the world, on videotape, that he sees nothing wrong with sleeping with young boys. He sees this, in a twisted way, as perfectly natural.

I submit to you that it is natural only to someone willing and capable of child molestation. The defendant's own words put him at the scene of a crime; a crime that was detailed to you not just by the victim in this case but by several other witnesses, none of whom were particularly happy about coming forward and telling their stories.

This case does not come down to a "he said/he said" battle of credibility but even if it did, you should have an easy choice between the courage of the young man who came before you as a victim here and the silence of the defendant.

The victim here is not perfect and we never said that he would be. He is not smooth or slick and neither are the other members of his family. They are regular people, caught in a maelstrom of events, brought along by the current of the law to this time and place.

Like other victims of abuse, the young man at the center of this storm has seen his share of troubled times. And like other survivors of a fatal disease, he is angry about his fate and about his lot in life. Do you blame him? I don't.

Please don't confuse that anger with a lack of credibility or sincerity or even accuracy about his reminiscence of the events which brought us here. Please don't confuse his lack of polish and articulateness with a lack of candor.

As you heard from one of our experts, victims of abuse often react the way you saw this victim react in this courtroom. The defense wants you to believe that this is because the young man was acting on the witness stand. I suggest to you that a good actor, an earnest actor, would have come off as far smoother than the victim did in this case. Sometimes there is rawness in truth; sometimes there is conflict in pain.