In the last few months there have been few hearings and few developments in Robson/ Safechuck cases against MJ. I have been reading both MJ fan comments as well as Robson/Safechuck supporters’ comments on forums, blogs, Facebook and Twitter. Based on comments from both sides, I decided to do a post of explaining some basic information about legal process for these claims.
I have seen MJ fans disappointment and Robson/Safechuck supporters happiness that the judge did not express skepticism about Robson/Safechuck claims. However both parties are missing the point that is not how the law works. Judges are supposed to be impartial and reside over a case making sure that the law is followed. So Judges aren’t supposed to side with either party and it’s not their job to decide guilt/ innocence/ liability. That is the job of a jury.
Furthermore as it was mentioned multiple times in documents and hearings, the judge is required to accept everything Robson/Safechuck alleges as true. So that explains why the Judge won’t be expressing any skepticism about the claims. However this in any way isn’t a proof of veracity of the allegations.
Here judge is mentioning the pleading rules and how he is required to treat everything Robson/Safechuck alleges as true.
Here you can see a part from Robson/ Safechuck’s documents. In a more legal language their lawyer explains how all of the pleading has to be accepted as true – no matter how unlikely or improbable. It also mentions how Robson/Safechuck do not have to provide any evidence to support the allegations they claim (for the time being).
So it is important to remember that this is the demurrer phase. Demurrer is not about the truth of the allegations, it’s only about if there’s enough grounds to justify a legal action. For example if I sue Jane Doe claiming she stole $10,000 for me, the judge will not determine if my allegation of theft is true or not. To the contrary the judge will accept my allegations as true and will only consider if I can file a theft lawsuit against Jane Doe – such as if my lawsuit is filed in correct jurisdiction, within statute of limitations, valid cause of action and so on.
I have seen some MJ fans express their dissatisfaction about how MJ Estate defends or doesn’t defend MJ against the allegations from Robson/Safechuck. They are dissatisfied that Estate doesn’t seem to defend MJ against allegations and focus on statute of limitations. However the above explanation of the pleading rules and demurrer should be enough to understand why. As explained before first of all it’s not Judge’s job to decide guilt/ innocence/ liability and judge is required by law to accept the allegations as true in this process. So this is not the time to defend MJ against any allegations. Estate’s general denial is enough for the time being.
Allow me to remind how Estate unequivocally denied any and all allegations.
Also as the demurrer is all about determining if there’s a legal basis for a lawsuit, it explains the focus on statute of limitations. Both Robson and Safechuck have filed late claims against MJ Estate, they aren’t disputing this. They have both filed 9103 petition asking judge to allow a late claim against MJ Estate. In a very simplified fashion Robson/ Safechuck argues they couldn’t have filed their claims any sooner because they didn’t realize the alleged abuse and/or effects of it. Estate obviously opposes to late claims. Right now the judge is trying to determine if there are grounds to allow a late claim proceed or not. That’s why right now everything seems to be about statute of limitations. Some of the stuff MJ fans talk and complain about such as defending MJ against these allegations or arguing guilt/ innocence/ liability will come later – if the case(s) survives demurrer of course.
9103 petition for late claim
Understandably MJ fans are frustrated why this legal process is taking a long time. Robson/ Safechuck supporters on the other hand believe this process taking a long time somewhat shows Judge’s “feelings” and “beliefs” towards the allegations and somewhat shows the judge sees veracity in the allegations. Well if you read everything explained above, you’ll realize the absurdity of such logic.
As mentioned before judge is by law required to accept the allegations as true in this process, so he doesn’t need any extra time and nothing he does shows veracity of the allegations. Judge also isn’t determining credibility. Furthermore judges shouldn't and wouldn't make decisions based on personal “feelings or beliefs”, they are required to follow the law and be impartial. So all of that is a wishful thinking and fantasy on Robson/Safechuck supporters part.
Here judge is mentioning he’s not determining credibility of the allegations.
But why does this process take a long time? It’s because of multiple reasons. First of all legal process isn’t quick to start with. Every motion takes months to resolve. One party files a motion, sends it to other party, other party is given time to read and oppose to it, first party files a reply to opposition, other party files a reply to the reply, an hearing is set, sometimes multiple hearings are required, judge takes it under consideration, a decision is made. All of this takes months. In instances where parties disagree a lot and multiple motions are filed, to resolve it all takes a long long time. This is what happened in Robson case, discovery issues, motion to quash; motion to compel etc took a long time. Furthermore Judge himself explained in another probate matter why he takes his time to come to decisions in MJ probate matters. Judge said “because of the money involved, because there are children involved (MJ’s kids), and because of the attention the case gets from persons in the world, I tend to try to be careful instead of going half cocked”. So the judge is taking his time - in all MJ probate matters. Also even various “Billie Jean Jackson” women were given their day in court despite their obviously frivolous claims.
Above: Judge’s explanation
While Robson/Safechuck supporters are probably following the current Robson/Safechuck cases closely, I’m assuming they aren’t aware or followed other MJ related cases. If they did, they would realize there’s nothing special in regards to timeframe or events of Robson/Safechuck cases. For example Michael Amir Williams were given 3 chances to amend his complaint before it was finally dismissed. Demann was given 4 chances to amend his complaint before it was allowed to go forward. Robson was given a chance to amend his civil complaint which I personally see as a common occurrence given the past case examples. Option to amend a complaint doesn’t show if the claim is likely to be accepted or denied either.
Past examples also show us that cases take a long time. Demann’s demurrer phase took 1.5 years without any discovery dispute delay. Tohme lawsuits are almost at their 3 year mark with no decision or even an end in sight. In Tohme lawsuit parties are still arguing over - guess what - discovery / deposition issues. Morris, El-Amin, Bain, King case is at 1.5 year mark and still at demurrer phase with no decision. Who can forget HTWF case that took over 5 years from start to finish?
So overall in my opinion and experience, there’s nothing special in Robson case taking seemingly a long time. I believe it is normal for any case to take a long time, I also think discovery disputes has caused a delay in Robson case. As for Safechuck , one might argue that it is actually moving quickly when compared to other cases. Assuming the judge makes a decision about the demurrer soon, Safechuck claim might be resolved within 6 months of filing the complaint and that’s quick compared to other examples (Safechuck gave notice in May 2014 but his claim was filed in August 2014).
To fellow MJ fans, I understand and share your frustration but please trust the process and ask questions before rushing to conclusions. I hate to see you get worried over unimportant stuff. If you have any questions, please ask them. There are several MJ fans that are following these cases closely and educating themselves about the law. They will be happy to answer your questions.