The Michael Jackson Trials

Robert Sanger, partner at Sanger Swysen & Dunkle, was co-counsel in the criminal trial of the late Michael Jackson in the Spring of 2005.  Stephen Dunkle, partner at Sanger Swysen & Dunkle, was responsible for the law and motion and appellate work during the case.  Mr. Sanger and his firm had represented Mr. Jackson for 12 years prior to that, including  during the 1993-94 grand jury investigations and in a sensational civil trial that Mr. Sanger and co-counsel Steve Cochran won on behalf of Mr. Jackson in 1996-97. 

 
Mr. Jackson became a friend and was on his way to a new and exciting part of his career at the time of his tragic death.  We will miss him.
 
The Honorable Rodney Melville, Judge of the Santa Barbara Superior Court (Ret.).   Judge Melville did an excellent job of presiding over a very difficult case especially with regard to the unprecedented amount of international media attention given the case.                                      
 The arrival at the Courthouse in Santa Maria by Mr. Jackson, with his father and Mr. Sanger, after going to the hospital.  Although he was late to court on this one occasion, Mr. Jackson arrived early every other day and sat through this ordeal of false accusations with dignity and resolve.
 
After four months of jury trial, Mr. Jackson was exonerated with a unanimous not guilty vote on all ten counts.
 
It was the third time that Michael Jackson was exonerated since 1993 while represented by Mr. Sanger in Santa Barbara.  The original 1993 Grand Jury investigation, after months of legal procedures in court and months of presentation of evidence behind closed doors, resulted in a finding of no criminal activity.  The 1996-97 civil case, brought by a disgruntled maid and security guards, resulted in an overwhelming victory for Mr. Jackson and his senior staff.  The actual jury trial in that case lasted over six months resulting in verdicts in favor of Mr. Jackson on all causes of action, an award in Mr. Jackson's favor on cross-complaints against two of the plaintiffs and an award of sanctions against the plaintiffs and their lawyers for $66,000 as well as an award of attorneys fees and costs against the plaintiffs of over $1.4 million.
 
Then, in 2005, the verdicts of not guilty in the criminal trial.
 
These legal issues were over.  By 2009, Michael Jackson was embarking on a new sensational venture in his career.  He should  and will be remembered as a kind and giving, intelligent and well-read man who was also one of the most gifted entertainers, musicians and choreographers of our time.

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