The replacement of his legal team by criminal lawyer Tom Mesereau may or may not pay dividends ultimately, but his coteries of largely family advisors places the star in a position where vital decision-making is subject to considerations that add stress to an already tough situation for Jackson.
It is understood, for instance, that Michael’s brother Randy played a key role in the hiring of Mesereau, a longtime volunteer at First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles. Mesereau gained national attention for successfully defending clients in death penalty cases in the deep South. The experienced lawyer’s role in the Afro-American community may have been as significant as his legal expertise when it came time for the Jackson family to make a decision on legal representation.
Mesereau’s appointment follows the resignation of Mark Geragos, of Los Angeles and Benjamin Brafman, of New York. Although the ‘old’ team wish the Michael Jackson well, questions remain over the decision to replace his legal team at this stage of proceedings.
Attorney Brafman gave hints as to problems within the camp with his comments that he and Geragos were stepping down, “..or as the Jackson camp is suggesting, being replaced.”
Brafman says the point was coming to a head over a number of complicated legal and practical issues over recent time. Serious conflicts had been emerging over recent weeks, Brafman said.
Jackson, 45, has long been surrounded by family members, including his parents and his brothers, with whom he performed as a child as a member of the Jackson 5 before embarking on his highly successful solo career.
He has also, more recently, been advised by leaders of the Nation of Islam and others who have advocated a more aggressive response to the current allegations.
Mr. Mesereau, whose clients have also included the former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, has been meeting with Jackson at a compound in the Orlando, Fla., area, where the singer is staying with his children.
Mesereau, who wears long, silver-white hair, had previous represented actor Robert Blake in the trial over the shooting death of Blake’s wife until the two split, following “irreconcilable differences”.
“Jackson tried to hire him [Mesereau] several months ago when he was representing Blake. Now that he’s off the Blake case he’s available,” said attorney Dana M. Cole, who said he spoke to Mesereau, a former law school classmate, on Sunday morning. “Michael Jackson is very impressed with Tom’s credentials with what he’s done for the African American community.”