The wrongful-death lawsuit filed by Michael Jackson's family against the pop singer's final concert promoter goes to trial today in a Los Angeles courtroom, and early indications show it's going to be ugly.
Lawyers for AEG Live will contend that Jackson was responsible for his own death, CNN reports. Not only that: Child molestatation claims, for which the singer was acquitted, and signs of drug addiction will also probably be part of the defense, according to CNN. AEG lawyer Marvin Putnam told CNN child molestation is fair game because the trial boosted Jackson's drug use.
As if child molestation and drug addiction accusations weren't enough, Putnam indicated that every terrible tabloid headline used against Jackson could also be part of the defense. AEG Live is making this case about "Wacko Jacko." Here's Putnam, as quoted by CNN: "This is a man who would show up in pajamas. This is a man who would stop traffic and get out and dance on top of his car. This is a man who would go to public events with a monkey named Bubbles. This is a man who said he slept in an oxygen chamber."
While Jackson's reported eccentricties were enough to hurt the singer in the court of public opinion while he was alive, the British tabloids aren't exactly relevant to a court of law. And Putnam's presentation isn't exactly accurate. For instance, while the lawyer cited Jackson as saying he slept in an oxygen chamber, that was a tabloid story Jackson actually denied (we don't know if Jackson's denial was true, but that doesn't make the British tabloids worthy of serving as evidence in a court of law). Objection, your honor.
Jackson's family has contended that AEG Live pressured Jackson's doctor, Conrad Murray, into allowing Jackson rehearse despite medical concerns. Murray, you'll recall, is serving a prison sentence for his conviction of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's death — Jackson's admittedly bizarre public behavior wasn't enough to get the doctor off the hook. AEG Live has said e-mails presented as evidence against it are taken "out of context."
The lawsuit seeks damages equal to what Jackson might've earned over his lifetime if he hadn't died. According to CNN, the trial could stretch out for two or three months. Look, we have no dog in this fight, and honestly a long, ugly trial will be interesting to write about. But anyone who has ever argued with people who slam Jackson's music on the basis of tabloid headlines can't sit idly by when those same stupid headlines are brought up by a trial lawyer as supposed legal evidence.