The public seldom gets to hear Debbie Rowe’s thoughts about her ex-husband, Michael Jackson, but she’s likely to talk about him under oath this week, now that a ruling Judge Rodney Melville issued on Monday has permitted prosecutors to call her as a witness in Jackson’s trial. According to wire service reports, prosecutors want to call Rowe to testify about her participation in a video rebuttal to Martin Bashir’s documentary, participation that the prosecution says was scripted and coerced. Prosecutor Ron Zonen said Rowe would testify that Jackson aides threatened to cut off her visitation rights with Prince Michael I and Paris, the son and daughter to whom she gave birth while married to Jackson in the late 1990s. It’s a similar claim to the ones the prosecution has made in its conspiracy allegations against Jackson, saying that the accuser and his family were also coerced into making video statements rebutting Bashir’s unflattering depiction of the pop star.
Jackson has denied the charges against him, and his defense team objected on Monday to the ruling allowing Rowe’s testimony. Defense attorney Robert Sanger acknowledged that Rowe was asked prepared questions but insisted her answers were spontaneous, noting that she uttered profanity at one point that would not be allowed on a TV broadcast. He also said the defense would have to cross-examine her at great length and play all three hours of her interview tape for the jury, further lengthening a trial that is now in its third month.
The Rowe ruling came on the same day that Jackson’s attorneys announced the departure from their team of longtime Jackson lawyer Brian Oxman. He’s the fourth lawyer to leave the team since Jackson’s Nov. 2003 arrest. There was no explanation for the departure of Oxman, who collapsed during the trial last month and was briefly hospitalized for pneumonia. Oxman himself would say only that there was ”consternation” among the Jackson team. After the court day ended Monday, reporters saw Oxman in the courthouse parking lot shaking hands with Jackson lead attorney Thomas Mesereau, then embracing him in a hug .