Damages all round in Jackson case

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The Independent US

Strange things happen in California. Music producers sue faded superstars for millions of dollars in unpaid commission only for it to emerge that the producer also makes gay porn films and has a less than shining reputation. Faded superstars claim they are not very good at accounting and counter-sue the music producer. And juries make it clear they don't trust either man but still go ahead and award money to both parties.

Thus was the outcome of Michael Jackson's latest dealings with the California courts after his former business partner, Marc Schaffel, sued the singer for unpaid fees and loans.

"From the very beginning of deliberations, jurors were saying, 'He's a sleazeball'," Cathleen Yancy, one of the jurors, told reporters after the hearing. Asked which man she was referring to, she replied: "Both."

Another juror, Irma Beard, a retired receptionist, declared: "The plaintiff was not the most upstanding character, but neither was the defendant."

This latest instalment in the Jackson legal oeuvre focused on work that Mr Schaffel did on two televised broadcasts that were designed to rehabilitate Jackson's image after a BBC documentary in which he revealed that he slept with children.

Mr Schaffel also claimed fees for work he did on "What More Can I Give", a never-released song that Jackson produced with the intention of raising money for the victims of 11 September. During the trial in Santa Monica, Jackson's lawyer focused on Mr Schaffel's past work on gay adult movies while the producer blurted out from the witness stand that Jackson once asked him to go to Brazil to find boys for him to adopt. He later modified that statement to "children to expand Jackson's family". Mr Schaffel claimed $1.4m (£776,440) in damages, while Jackson - who gave testimony by video - said in turn that he was owed $1m by Mr Schaffel. The jury awarded $900,000 to the producer and $200,000 to Jackson.

But this being California that was not quite the end of the case. According to the Los Angeles Times, once the verdict had been delivered, the jury and Judge Jacqueline Connor joined courtroom staff to watch a copy of Jackson's unreleased charity song.

As the video was played on a computer the crowd listened intently while the judge swayed and smiled. Ms Yancy, the juror who had been unimpressed by Jackson, said of the song: "This is amazing. It definitely should be out."

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