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Last Updated: Monday, 13 June, 2005, 22:15 GMT 23:15 UK
Jackson trial: Winners and losers
Singer Michael Jackson was not the only one under scrutiny during his trial on child abuse and abuction charges. Others found themselves thrust into the spotlight as the trial went on - with some faring better than others.


Michael Jackson
Mr Jackson's reputation will have been damaged by his court ordeal
Michael Jackson was always going to be a loser in this trial.

The fact that he was acquitted will not wipe away the pain of the four months he spent in court on child abuse charges, during which time his peculiar private life was exposed to the world and a family he took to his heart gave damning testimony against him.

Physically frail, he now faces the immense task of rebuilding his career and reputation, inevitably damaged by the allegations.


Judge Rodney Melville
Judge Melville's handling of the case was widely admired
He ruled over proceedings with a firm hand, but also a sense of humour. The experienced Santa Barbara Superior Court judge did his best to stop the trial being dominated by the media, resisting calls to televise proceedings and placing gagging orders on those involved in the case.

In pre-trial proceedings, Judge Melville allowed public copies of court documents to be heavily censored and admonished Mr Jackson for arriving late at court. He will be praised for ensuring that both sides got a fair hearing at this most scrutinised of cases.


The Jackson trial was boom time for the city of Santa Maria and its 88,000 citizens. Nestled in the heart of one of the US's growing wine regions, the court case put it squarely in the spotlight. Its citizens certainly spotted a good business opportunity.

Buildings with views over the court were rented out to camera crews, parking lots became prime real estate and the army of reporters, producers and crew needed food, water and lodgings - at any price. And when the circus moves on it will be just in time for the summer season.

The trial was a cash cow to remember for the people of Santa Maria - and their accountants.


Thomas Mesereau
Thomas Mesereau was cautious in his approach to the trial
The man who led the defence can now write his own pay cheques after the highest-profile courtroom victory of his career.

Mr Mesereau had a reputation for putting his clients in front of the jury, but he surprised few by refusing to take that gamble with Michael Jackson. Mr Mesereau's lean, mean rebuttal of the case won through anyway.

The fact that the trial was not televised means he may never achieve the same celebrity profile as lawyers like the late Johnnie Cochran - a leading member of OJ Simpson's defence team. But Mr Mesereau may not complain about that.


Tom Sneddon
Tom Sneddon has been accused by fans of having a vendetta
For Michael Jackson and many of his fans, this trial will have cemented their view of Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon as a zealous man with a vendetta against the star.

Despite his long service as DA, during which he has been unopposed for re-election five times, Mr Sneddon will be remembered most for his failed prosecutions of the pop star, in 1993 and now in 2005.

His team took more than 40 days to present the latest case, but failed to convince the jury, suffering a key setback when Mr Jackson's ex-wife Debbie Rowe failed to live up to her billing as a star prosecution witness. Now in his 60s, Mr Sneddon may be considering where he goes from here.


Media vans
The media did not get the star-studded case it hoped for
From the outset the media faced criticism for turning an examination of allegations of child abuse into a circus. Nowhere was this better illustrated than in the undignified descent of several thousand journalists for the end of the trial.

For those hoping the singer and his A-list friends would take the stand, much of the trial turned out to be a damp squib - despite revelations about the private life of Michael Jackson.

There was undeniable drama in the trial and acquittal of one of the world's most famous people, but serious questions will be asked over the media's obsession with celebrity.


Edward Moss
Edward Moss appeared in courtroom reconstructions
The singer's acquittal will be quite a relief for this Jackson impersonator, as there may not have been much future for a performer who takes off a convicted paedophile.

Ed Moss has carved a comfortable living our of his resemblance to Michael Jackson and during the trial played the singer in daily courtroom re-enactments on TV. He says he plans to continue performing after the trial, whether as Jackson or not.


Michael Jackson fan
Mr Jackson's fans have maintained a vigil outside the court
With their idol in court facing child abuse charges, the fans faced their greatest test of loyalty - and did not fail. For months, a small band of supporters turned up at court every day to show they still believed in the man they know as the King of Pop.

As the trial reached a climax, their numbers swelled. Being in Santa Maria to share in the pop star's jubilation at his acquittal was just reward for their show of faith. For the many people for whom worshipping Michael Jackson is a way of life - the dream is still alive.


The real loser in the case is Jackson's accuser, 15-year-old cancer survivor Gavin Arvizo.

The jury decided he was not a victim of sexual abuse by the pop star, but instead he emerged as the victim of parents who cynically tried to use his condition as a lever to get celebrities to give them money.

Mrs Arvizo's courtroom outbursts made her a figure of fun and her testimony did not convince the jury.

See the scenes at the Santa Maria courthouse


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