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Where Are the Lawyers With Michael Jackson Stories?

On the day that Michael Jackson died, lawyer Brian Oxman seemed to achieve cable news ubiquity. The self-described Jackson family attorney could be seen and heard on multiple channels, saying he warned that Jackson was overusing prescription drugs. Oxman had been an on-again, off-again lawyer for Jackson for some 20 years. In 2005, he very visibly either quit or was pushed off the legal team defending Jackson against molestation charges, reportedly because of a spat with lead attorney Thomas Mesereau.

To the casual TV observer on the day that Jackson died, it might seem that Oxman was Jackson's only lawyer. But Jackson was a man who, as Business Week put it, "faced a near-constant drumbeat of legal troubles in life," and who, as the National Law Journal said, leaves a legacy of litigation. And apart from lawsuits and legal woes, there was a massive business empire anchored not only by Jackson's own music but also by his ownership of The Beatles catalog.

Given all this, there must have been legions of lawyers who worked with Jackson at one point or another over the course of his too-short life. If so, where are their stories? I have seen various remembrances appearing on blogs by people in other fields about their encounters or experiences with Jackson. I have seen only a couple by lawyers. Where are the remembrances from the lawyers who worked with Jackson over the years?

One that many people saw or read about was lawyer Benjamin Brafman's conversation with CNN's Anderson Cooper about his representation of Jackson, as recounted by Brian Baxter in The Am Law Daily. In January 2004, Brafman joined the team defending Jackson against molestation charges. He lasted three months, before Jackson fired him and brought on Mesereau.

Brafman's time working with Jackson left him with a sense of foreboding that the pop star would not live to old age, he told CNN. But he also remembered Jackson's "sweet side" and that he was a "doting father" to his children.

Another Jackson story comes out of the U.S. Virgin Islands, where lawyer Adriane Dudley recounted for the Virgin Islands Daily News her work for Jackson when he considered investing in a proposed theme park and resort on the island of St. Croix in 1998. She remembered him as an intelligent man who was savvy about what he needed to know to make an informed business decision.

When Jackson visited the island to investigate the deal, Dudley was sworn to secrecy, she recalled. She arranged for his private jet to arrive after the airport closed for the night and had a hotel set aside an entire building just for him. Jackson and Dudley had dinner alone and worked late into the night, with her legal staff on call in her office to help with questions and research.

By the next day, when they visited the proposed development site, word had spread of the pop star's presence on the island. As crowds gathered around him, he was gracious in return, Dudley recalled. That night, she arranged a small reception. "It was a thrill," Dudley said of the visit. "It's one of my golden memories."

So there are two lawyers' stories of their encounters, however brief, with Michael Jackson. Surely there are many others. If you have one to share, let us know.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on June 29, 2009 at 02:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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