July 1, 1950|
West Point, New York
|Residence||Los Angeles, California|
London School of Economics
University of California, Hastings College of the Law
|Known for||Lead defense attorney in the Michael Jackson trial.|
Thomas Arthur Mesereau Jr. is an American attorney at law best known for successfully defending Michael Jackson in his 2005 child molestation trial, as well as representing many other celebrities.
Mesereau represented former world heavyweight boxing champion, and convicted rapist, Mike Tyson in a rape investigation conducted by the San Bernardino County, California District Attorney's Office in 2001. Charges were dropped.
Mesereau was the second lawyer during pre-trial proceedings in actor Robert Blake's case over the murder of his wife Bonnie Lee Bakley. Blake's first attorney Harland Braun resigned over Blake's decision to appear in a televised interview with Diane Sawyer against Braun's advice and counsel. For unprofessional conduct during the deposition, Mesereau was fined $18,950. After losing his appeal of the fine, he paid a total of $22,000. After Blake had spent ten months in isolation in Los Angeles County Jail, Mesereau obtained bail for him. Mesereau cross-examined prosecution witnesses in a three-week, televised preliminary hearing. The hearing revealed flaws in the prosecution's case. Mesereau resigned from the case, declining to explain why.
In 2004, Mesereau and Susan Yu were hired to replace attorneys Mark Geragos and Ben Brafman as lead trial counsel. Johnnie Cochran, who represented Jackson during earlier molestation accusations had recommended Mesereau to Jackson's family. In an unusual pretrial hearing, Mesereau called Santa Barbara County District Attorney, Thomas Sneddon, to the witness stand and examined him under oath. Mesereau and Yu were the lead trial lawyers in the case. The trial lasted from January to June 2005 and ended with Jackson acquitted of all 14 charges against him. Mesereau said that he never expected Michael Jackson to be convicted on any count, felony or misdemeanor. "I believed, and still do, that he was completely innocent of these false charges". Mesereau also cited the prosecution as a travesty of justice and one of the most mean-spirited attacks on an innocent person in legal history. Mesereau attended Jackson's funeral service and interment in 2009.
In 2009, Thomas Mesereau and Susan Yu defended Joe Babajian in a high-profile mortgage fraud criminal trial in Federal Court, Los Angeles. Babajian had been indicted by Federal grand jury for twenty-one felony counts, including criminal conspiracy, real estate fraud, bank fraud, loan fraud, wire fraud, etc. Federal prosecutors claimed Babajian participated in a scheme to inflate property values and submit fraudulent loan documents and false property appraisals.
Called the "Realtor to the Stars," Babajian was once the highest grossing real estate agent in the United States. He had sold homes to Barbra Streisand, Bruce Willis, Warren Beatty, Lee Iacocca, Beyoncé, Victoria and David Beckham, Oscar De La Hoya, Nicolas Cage, and others.
Eight individuals pleaded guilty to being part of the conspiracy prior to trial. Three individuals, including Babajian, went to trial. On August 10, 2009, the Jury returned his verdict. Babajian was not convicted on a single count. The Jury acquitted Babajian of thirteen counts and hung on the remaining eight counts. The other two defendants were convicted.
On April 9, 2012, Thomas Mesereau and Susan Yu began jury selection in their defense of Claudia Haro, the ex-wife of Oscar-winning actor, Joe Pesci. Ms. Haro was charged with conspiracy to murder and multiple counts of attempted murder. She was facing two consecutive life sentences.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office claimed that Ms. Haro masterminded numerous attempts to murder her next husband, Garrett Warren. Warren is a successful stuntman who appeared in the movies Mission Impossible III, Avatar and Iron Man 2. The prosecution said Ms. Haro hired her brother, convicted drug dealer Manny Haro, and three others to murder Warren. During his divorce with Claudia Haro, Warren opened his front door and was shot four times, losing one eye.
The gunman, Jorge Hernandez, received life in prison in a separate trial. Ms. Haro's brother, the self-admitted middleman, also received life in prison. He agreed to testify against his sister. After the start of jury selection, Ms. Haro pleaded "No Contest" to two counts of attempted murder with a sentence of twelve years, four months. With time already served in Los Angeles County Jail before being released on bail, Ms. Haro will serve approximately eight years in prison.
On May 30, 2015, Mesereau was retained by rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight, founder of Death Row Records. His appearance prompted the judge to reschedule a hearing on a motion by Knight to dismiss murder, attempted murder and hit-and-run charges. On January 22, 2016, however, lawyer Stephen L. Schwartz replaced Mesereau as Knight's defense lawyer. Schwartz and colleague Thaddeus Culpepper were later replaced by criminal defense attorneys Antoine D. Williams, Jamal Tooson, and Jeremy Lessem on May 9, 2016 as well.
On August 22, 2017, comedian Bill Cosby's sexual assault retrial was postponed after it was announced that Cosby had hired Mesereau to represent him at his retrial. On April 26, 2018, a jury found Cosby guilty of felony sexual assault on all three counts. Each of the three counts carries a prison term of up to 10 years. On June 15, Cosby fired Mesereau, replacing him with attorney Joseph P. Green Jr.
Pro bono work and awards
Although known for his celebrity cases, Mesereau is also an advocate for pro bono volunteer legal services. He has established a legal clinic in Los Angeles and accepts one capital murder case each year on behalf of a defendant in the Deep South who cannot afford representation.
He has been named "Criminal Defense Lawyer of the Year" by the Criminal Courts Bar Association, Los Angeles and the Century City Bar Association, Los Angeles  and has been listed as one of the "One Hundred Most Influential Attorneys in California" by the Los Angeles Daily Journal. Mesereau has also received the "Humanitarian Award" from the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice. Mesereau received a "Community Service Award" from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Personal life and education
Mesereau was educated at Harvard University (cum laude), the London School of Economics and the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
- Jones, Aphrodite; (2007). Michael Jackson Conspiracy. iUniverse. ISBN 0-9795498-0-9.
- Sullivan, Randall; (2012). Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson. Grove Press. ISBN 978-0-8021-1962-9.
- Fausset, Richard (June 14, 2005). "Attorney's Career Has Had Plenty of High Stakes and High Pressure". Los Angeles Times.
- Deutsch, Linda (June 14, 2005). "Defense Attorney Dominated the Courtroom". The San Diego Union-Tribune.
- Sullivan, Randall (2012). Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson. New York: Grove Press. p. 317.
- Jean Guccione; Andrew Blankstein (March 27, 2003). "Blake's Attorney Known for Fierce, Tenacious Defense". Los Angeles Times.
- Dubin, Eric. The Star Chamber: How Celebrities Go Free and Their Lawyers Become Famous, p 20.
- Guccione, Jean; Blankstein, Andrew (March 15, 2003). "Blake Freed Until Trial". Los Angeles Times.
- Houston, David (March 10, 2003). "Hearing for Blake Reveals Flaws in Case, Experts Say". Los Angeles Daily Journal.
- Guccione, Jean (February 6, 2004). "Another Defense Attorney for Blake is Out". Los Angeles Times.
- "Jacko Pleads Not Guilty in Molestation Case." Fox News, April 30, 2004.
- "Jackson Hires Black Atty. Johnnie Cochran To Defend Him Against Charges". Jet. 85 (8): 61. 1993-12-20.
- O'Neill, Ann (2010-10-05). "Tom Mesereau defends big names and no-names". CNN.
- Houston, David (August 30, 2004). "Grilling Prosecutors on Stand Is an Old Trick for Mesereau". Los Angeles Daily Journal.
- Kher, Unmesh; Kettmann, Matt (March 14, 2005). "Let the Lawyering Begin". Time Magazine.
- "Jackson not guilty on all counts." MSNBC, June 13, 2005.
- Hood, Abbey (August 13, 2009). "Babajian Acquitted of Mortgage Fraud in Federal Court". Beverly Hills Courier.
- Hong, Peter Y. (August 11, 2009). "2 Convicted in Mortgage Fraud Trial". Los Angeles Times.
- Pelisek, Christine (April 11, 2012). "Did Joe Pesci's Ex Hire a Hitman?". The Daily Beast.
- Friedman, Roger (September 28, 2012). "Michael Jackson Lawyer On How He Got a Great Deal for Joe Pesci's Ex-Wife". Showbiz411.com.
- "Suge Knight Gets Fifth Lawyer in Murder Case". Billboard. Associated Press. January 22, 2016. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
- Erin Staley (January 23, 2016). "Suge Knight Gets New Lawyer In Last-Ditch-Effort To Avoid Life Sentence". Inquisitr. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
- Hassahn Liggins (April 27, 2016). "Suge Knight Selects New Defense Team for Murder Trial". Radiofacts. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
- Houston, David (January 3, 2001). "Attorney Mesereau Works to Beat of a Different Drummer". Los Angeles Daily Journal.
- Hobbs, Dawn (May 18, 2004). "Jackson Advocate: Mesereau defends rich, famous, poor, unknown". Santa Barbara News-Press.
- Houston, David (February 26, 2003). "Mesereau's Pro Bono Calling Gratifies Him". Los Angeles Daily Journal.
- Velasco, Eric (April 16, 2006). "Lawyer Defends Underdogs in Trials of Known, Unknown". The Birmingham News.
- Phillips, Jeb (March 9, 2001). "Acquittal Inspires Attorney". Birmingham Post-Herald.
- Chawkins, Steve (October 3, 2004). "Star Lawyer Deeply Committed to Deep South". Los Angeles Times.
- Barbara Walters Special Telecast Archived 2010-10-29 at the Wayback Machine., ABC, November 29, 2005.
- GQ Magazine, December 2005 issue, p. 217.
- "Jerry Giesler Memorial Award". Pasadena, California. Criminal Courts Bar Association. March 11, 2006.
- "Criminal Law Awards of Excellence". Los Angeles, California. Century City Bar Association. September 10, 2003.
- "One Hundred Most Influential Attorneys in California". Los Angeles Daily Journal. September 29, 2005.
- "Humanitarian Award". Los Angeles, California. National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice. May 17, 2002.
- "City of Los Angeles, State of California, Certificate of Recognition". October 30, 2005.
- Biographic profile Archived 2015-02-04 at the Wayback Machine.; Mesereau & Yu, LLP, Attorneys at Law