June 17, 2013

Now testifying: Michael Jackson’s ghost

A celebrity courtroom drama typically goes like this: Plaintiff calls witnesses; defense calls witnesses; Gloria Allred does press conference on courthouse steps despite knowing none of said witnesses; Nancy Grace fumes all week through flaming nostrils of justice; and...scene.

Again, that’s how things usually go down. Unless the trial has to do with Michael Jackson’s death. Then you get at least three of the above–plus ghosts!

In case you haven’t been following this month’s Trial of the Century, some background: Jackson family matriarch Katherine is suing concert promotion company AEG, saying that the firm negligently retained Dr. Conrad Murray, and therefore, AEG, like Murray, is responsible for the pop legend’s demise.

Except that AEG is totally innocent, people. Because Michael Jackson’s ghost said so. Like, on the stand. Through a friendly human intermediary. Or two.

It all happened last week, when AEG CEO Randy Philips took the stand. He testified that –see if you can follow, here–Lionel Richie’s ex-wife once told him that Jackson’s ghost had visited her. And that during Jackson's supernatural conversation, Brenda was told that AEG was blameless in the singer's death.

"Brenda called me to tell me that she was in communications with Michael either through a medium or directly," Phillips told the court. "She said Michael told her that it wasn't Dr. Murray’s fault."

What struck me about this testimony isn’t the triple-hearsay flavoring of it all. It isn’t even the fact that Lionel Richie’s ex sees ghosts. Or that CEOs in Los Angeles converse regularly with people who speak to ghosts.

It’s that a judge let this statement stand, over the objections of Jackson family lawyers who, you know, had a problem with ectoplasmic hearsay. So to be perfectly clear: this tidbit, about Jackson’s talking ghost, remains on the court record, and will still be there when the jury eventually deliberates a verdict.

Is this a first in courtroom history? Maybe.

“I'd call this ‘pretty unreliable hearsay from an unavailable witness,” cracks top defense attorney Ian Wallach. ‘The ‘Dying Declaration’ exception to the hearsay rule has been around for centuries. But this ‘Dead Person's Declaration’ exception is a first. I’ve never heard of this.”

Taking the stand next week: Vincent Price...and grizzly ghouls from evvveryyy tooommmb!

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  1. Leslie, this is one of the funniest pieces you've written and I've read!!! Holly-WEIRD for sure!!

  2. You know who loves your comment, Gilda? Liz Taylor's ghost.