Judge rejects new trial in Jackson secret-taping case

A Los Angeles judge threw out a request for a new trial for an air charter service that was ordered to pay more than €12.5m for secretly videotaping Michael Jackson and his lawyers as the pop star was on his way to surrender on child molestation charges.

Superior Court Judge Soussan Bruguera rejected the motion by the now-defunct Santa Monica-based company XtraJet and its owner Jeffrey Borer.

In March, Judge Bruguera ordered XtraJet to pay the€12.5m to Jackson’s lawyer Mark Geragos and his associate, Pat Harris, for invading their privacy in order to sell the video of Jackson to the media. The pop star was a plaintiff in the 2003 lawsuit, but later withdrew from the case.

Borer and his associate Arvel Jetter Reeves, the mechanic who installed cameras in the plane, pleaded guilty to conspiracy last year. Borer was sentenced to six months home detention so he could care for his ailing wife, while Reeves received an eight-month prison sentence.

Borer’s lawyer, Lloyd Kirschbaum, said he would appeal against the compensatory and punitive awards.

Mr Kirschbaum said the judge ignored crucial evidence in favour of his client because she mistakenly believed that the tape included sound.

Without audio captured on the tape, Mr Geragos and Mr Harris could not claim a breach of the lawyer-client privilege, Mr Kirschbaum argued.

He also said the plaintiff would not be able to collect from XtraJet because the company was bankrupt.

“It’s like trying to get money from Enron,” Mr Kirschbaum said.

Mr Geragos’ lawyer, Brian Kabateck, said even if the tape, which is in the hands of the FBI, had no audio on it when obtained by authorities, the intention was to record conversations.

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