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Nancy Grace: How will justice play out in the Jackson trial?

By Nancy Grace
CNN

Nancy Grace appears on CNN.com's Law Center with an interactive column, "Seeking Justice." Her column appears in conjunction with her hour-long CNN Headline News program, "Nancy Grace," which runs at 8 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. Grace invites a public dialogue. You can respond to her by sending comments to "Nancy Grace."

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Nancy Grace
Crime, Law and Justice

(CNN) -- Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband said it all. After she went on trial for slapping a traffic cop in the face in 1989, her husband, Prince Frederic von Anhalt, actually uttered these words: "The rich and famous should be treated differently. They bring the money into Beverly Hills."

That kind of talk led to a little thing called the French Revolution back in 1789, and we here in America have never -- at least officially -- condoned a class system. Our government functions under the belief that all people are created equal and are treated equally under the law regardless of their bank accounts. Apparently, the judge agreed, and Gabor landed in jail for three days.

Just as the most recent Michael Jackson child-molestation case exploded, I debated hot and heavy over the new charges. (The Michael Jackson Trial)

The legal dueling suddenly went horribly wrong, when the analysis of Jackson's child-molestation charges quickly turned to banter about how the charges would affect Jackson's latest CD release, "Number Ones." I stayed quiet as long as I could until I finally went on the attack, reminding the groupies that justice isn't based on fame, power and privilege. Justice is blind as to race, creed, gender, wealth or poverty.

No other suspect in a child-molestation case, especially with the specter of additional victims surfacing, would be handled with kid gloves like Jackson. The Jackson case highlights everything that's wrong with our justice system, one of the most grievous offenses on display: the blatant special treatment the defendant received because of his wealth and celebrity.

We have seen the rules bent to accommodate Jackson in a manner unheard of for "regular" defendants. The celebrity factor was clearly at play when he pulled up at the time of his choosing for fingerprints and book-in in a shiny, chauffeured SUV. What other defendant gets to have his hair and makeup perfectly done for a mug shot?

From showing up late for his first court appearance, then holding a "dance-off" on top of an SUV outside, to issuing press releases, the celebrity factor is alive and well in this case. The most disturbing aspect of this display of sideshow justice is that it still has the power to skew the outcome of the law.

The state has rested and the evidence is in. Will celebrity have the final vote in the jury room? I'm holding out hope that Lady Justice still wears her blindfold as to the wealth or status of the defendant and that she judges the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Seeking justice,

Nancy Grace

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of Nancy Grace. Portions of this are excepted from "Objection!" by Nancy Grace with Diane Clehane. Published by Hyperion. Copyright (c) 2005 Nancy Grace and Diane Clehane. All rights reserved.


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