In Heated ‘Leaving Neverland’ Case, a California Judge Asks Whether Forced Arbitration Would Violate HBO’s First Amendment Rights

Does sending a questionable documentary back to arbitration violate freedom of speech?

That’s the question a California federal judge has in mind.

Earlier this week, U.S. District Court Judge George H. Wu asked HBO and the Michael Jackson Estate to file briefs.  Both parties must explain whether sending Leaving Neverland to arbitration would violate HBO’s first amendment rights.

In February, Michael Jackson’s Estate filed a costly $100 million lawsuit against the network.  HBO allegedly violated a non-disparagement agreement first reached in 1992.  The late singer’s family claims that HBO signed the deal prior to airing Michael Jackson in Concert in Bucharest: The Dangerous Tour.

HBO, however, soon scored a major victory.  A federal judge rejected a motion by Jackson’s Estate to transfer the case back to an arbitrator.  Both sides fought to determine where the case would ultimately be decided.  Simply stated, the late singer’s estate doesn’t want the litigation carried out in open court, while HBO had a different idea.

The network has long argued the 1992 non-disparagement agreement never existed.  This facilitates the need for a federal court to intervene.

Judge Wu’s latest move signals his intent to side with the Michael Jackson Estate and send the case back to arbitration.

On the network’s part, HBO’s legal team wants Judge Wu to declare the possible arbitration ruling “unenforceable.”  A move to arbitration wouldn’t only violate its First Amendment rights, argues the network.  The ruling would also violate due process and California public policy.  If denied, HBO argues this would open the floodgates to a slew of posthumous defamation claims.

According to Jackson’s estate, arbitration doesn’t violate the network’s freedom of speech.  Should Judge Wu rule against HBO, this wouldn’t count as the government interfering with the network’s right of free expression.

Telling both sides the issue will be further discussed in court, Judge Wu wrote,

While the Court agrees that attempting to enforce an arbitration agreement in a contract that includes a non-disparagement clause through the filing of a lawsuit does not initially suggest the presence of state action, the initiation of the litigation itself can trigger First Amendment concerns.

It cannot be doubted that Plaintiffs’ arbitration action is seeking to recover damages based upon Defendants’ broadcasting a documentary.

A trial to deal with the First Amendment issues will take place on September 16th.



22 Responses

  1. Sandy

    It does not surprise me at all that HBO aired the lies those two losers wrote about MJ. Everything HBO airs is either filth garbage or shows that are not worth my time. No I will never watch anything on HBO.

    • Roberta

      You are absolutely right, those two are nothing but liers!!!!!

      • Mark Pearce

        And its completely normal for a grown man/boy to sleep with children little boys it took a lot of courage for those men to come forward and tell about the sick things that sick pervert did to those children

        • Helen

          I advise you to read the transcripts from the 2005 case, where Wade was speaking under OATH. Wade was 22 in 2005, not a child. Wade denied MJ ever touched him inappropriately, EVER. He admitted much time is family came to Neverland MJ was not there but they could still go into his bedroom and play games, sleep on his bed. He admitted his sister was also on the bed and they would watch TV all up on a king-size bed. Elizabeth Taylor said she would visit that they would sit on the big bed and watch movies. Wade denied repeatedly under oath MJ touched him or had sex with him. On the TV show, Wade is not sworn in to tell the truth knowing he lied he could be charged with a crime.
          He said at no time to MJ ever have any sexual contact with him. He was 22 years old and I a sure he knew what sexual contact was, or kissing was. He did not have to comprehend what abuse was to answer those questions. Wade continued to say the same things when asked in public. Wade wanted MJ to come to his Wedding. Wade also wrote a letter begging the estate for a job as a choreographer job where he would be reminded of MJ hourly. He only filed this claim after the estate said he did not get the job. James also denied under other MJ did not touch him. The 20 million in 92 was paid by MJ insurance company for global claims of neglect, the insurance company insisted on settling. Evan Chandler is who accused MJ not jodie. Evan was in a huge custody battle over Jordie, which is listed information as being the main cause of false allegations of abuse as well as vengeance. HBO violated ruses of making a documentary by putting things in that have been proven false and HBO refuse to allow MJ family to defend him so the show would not appear Biased. I hope the estate wins this case. I deepest sympathy to truly abused children, but in case Dan did not know the number one cause of abuse is Neglect and the next is physical abuse which neither ever gets this much media attention.

      • MJ fans are scum

        Ok, Roberta, the liar that you will always be. STFU and get in your victim shaming corning. You vile POS.

    • Mj fanatics are vile shrill

      Psycho Sandy, you lying ass wanker. HBO rules. MJ molested other boys too you stupid swine. 23 million in hush money debunks your junk. I think your fugly face should be on a billboard as a victim shaming shrill.

      • Damo 007

        You should be barred from this comment board you foul mouthed ignorant person.

      • Anonymous

        judge declined HBO ruled in favor of estae of to public arbitration they go. now they are panics because the other side of the story will be out in the public as well and this is why HBO did not want to go to arbitration sucks so lets see how creditable reed and his 2 accusers are with actual court documents, and their own depositions hat prove all their lies.

  2. Marii

    It sicking to think a person that is So itlized by so many could have committed such ? horrendous Acts on children it’s just best not to take a second thought about it and just atomaticle know there lieing .

    • Veronica

      What’s really sickening is the lack of coverage on the lies that has been revealed about Leaving Neverland and the people that choose to believe the mockumentary rather than doing their own research. It seems that people are more content with believing two admitted liars having been abused based on ZERO evidence over two admitted liars driven by $ were there is plenty of evidence to prove this.

  3. MJ fanatics are vile

    Holy off the charts sicko are you Veronica aka Charles Thomson. Fake fat journalist in the UK that sweats and doesn’t shower. The lack of coverage? The most viewed doc on earth and 5 Emmy nods? Moron! LMAO man you are delusional! Nope, they lied because the pedophile threatened them with prison time. 23 million to another child trumps your sick lies. You can’t afford HBO so you never saw it. Your lies don’t count for shite you filthy swine.

    • Sue

      This Person seems a few sandwiches short of a picnic…

  4. Floons R Fools

    HBO will win against the shade Estate. HBO & Dan Reed need to go after the sick MJ floons and Taj, the scammer next.

  5. Tina Stephens

    I believe them!! Its sad that we live in a world where someone can get away with harming children, JUST because they are FAMOUS!!! Its sickening!!! Yes, his music was GREAT!! On the other hand, HE WAS A PEDOPHILE!!!!

  6. Sue

    A documentary is based on facts. This isn’t. Misrepresentation.

  7. MJ fanatics are sick in the head

    You wasted windbag, Elena of vindicate mj. You’re a f’n moron from Poland and know jack shite about our laws here. Make a f’n point you senile old bag without going on & on. You don’t care about child abuse. Who you kidding?

  8. Someone

    Propaganda is not freedom of speech !
    HBO not only dared to participate and encourage the diffusion of this film – that is far to be a ” documentary “- but they also helped Dan Reed and his two actors in the vicious way to silence the side of the late singer, Michael Jackson’s family and others friendship. Indeed, what they didn’t tell or even forgot to add is that in the movie two others’s people names have been used in the british director’s work without their knowledge or even consent : we are talking about Brett Barnes, whom the advocate have tried to convince HBO to take off his name, and Macauly Culkin who still insists on the singer’s innocence. These people as well as The Michael Jackson Estate have been duped and direspected by this channel.
    HBO should be the last to talk about freedom of speech when they don’t practice what they preach.

  9. Wake up! ??

    Bottom line, it’s inappropriate to have a young boy sleep in a grown mans bed.. or be in a locked room together. We’ll never know what REALLY happened behind those closed doors since it was just him & the child…
    Maybe they were just playing the whole time ???

    • Sue

      I’m not an MJ Fan. I became interested in this whole scenario after being ripped off by “friends”several times over the years. I became interested because of how I saw people will lie for money first hand ( and I’m talking thousands not millions) Friendships that I had for over 20 years, lies told not carrying who they hurt for the sake of a few thousand dollars… Its called a false sense of entitlement… I never believed he was a pedo… then I watched this “Documentry”and thought I was wrong…but then I watched the Oprah special and thought they came across on that as obviously lying…so then I started researching all of it an bringing up all the old interviews from their family, mother sister etc…I’ve literally watched thousands and actually I can’t find any where the accusers (All of them) actually say they slept in the bed “with him” watched tv and played video games with groups of other kids and adults in his two storey bedroom that was the size of an apartment itself….but when you watch any of the interviews in full when they talk about sleeping in his bedroom the accusers themselves all seem to say if they slept in his bed then he slept on the floor. MJ seams to always admit to giving him his bed and sleeping on the floor….Please someone correct me if I’m wrong and tell me where to find any interview where the children as children are saying they sleep with him…I haven’t seen one. As for the first accuser it is well documented that he emancipated himself from his parents because they forced him to say he was abused when he wasn’t and he has announced several times since as an adult that he wasn’t abused…plus the recordings from his father admitting
      extortion are public record…As are several other documents where after the first case several others came forward and tried to claim abuse for money pay offs but were found never to have even met MJ. Then there’s also the book “redemption”that was written by the woman that worked in the Solicitors office for the first case that gives step by step information on how the first case of extortion was set up. Personally i Find it all incredibly interesting and would love someone to do a real documentry including ALL the information from ALL the people that were there. (for and against) As at this stage when you watch Leaving Neverland and then bring up all the other public info… Frankly these two guys do look like and are shown to be lying their arses off. Again I reiterate I’m NOT an MJ fan..just someone with half a brain that knows how to use a computer and sees the stupidity and greed of people on a daily basis.

  10. Simon Knoflach

    Wade hat auf der einen Seite gesagt das Michael Jackson sie mit Gefängnis manipuliert haben soll und auf der anderen seite hat er gesagt das er erst 2013 eingesehen hat das ehr misbraucht wurde das passt aber nicht ganz zusammen und ist Beweis genug das die beiden Lügen