Judge Suspends Katherine Jackson as Guardian of MJ’s Kids
From Alan Duke, CNN
LOS ANGELES (CNN) — A judge appointed TJ Jackson, the 34-year-old son of Tito Jackson, as temporary guardian of Michael Jackson’s three children in the absence of their grandmother, Katherine Jackson.
“We have reason to believe that Mrs. Jackson has been held against her will,” Katherine Jackson attorney Sandra Ribera told Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff at a hearing Wednesday.
Immediately after the hearing however, another attorney for Jackson, Perry Sanders, said he had been told by Randy Jackson that his mother was on her way back to California.
Sanders, who later spoke to his client as she was being driven home, said he will file a petition to restore her as custodian as soon as he meets with her. Katherine Jackson was unaware of the controversy swirling around her family for the past week, he said.
Beckloff suspended Katherine Jackson as custodian for Prince, Paris and Prince Michael II, known as Blanket, because she may be “prevented from acting as a guardian because of the acts of third parties.”
He also ordered “that the children not be removed from California without a court order, by any person.”
The judge also ordered that Diana Ross, whom Michael Jackson named as backup guardian in his will, and Debbie Rowe, the biological mother of the two oldest children, be given notice of the order.
The order will be reconsidered at a hearing next month, and the judge left open the possibility that custody could be returned sooner if Katherine Jackson returns home.
Katherine Jackson finally called her home Tuesday night after being out of communication for nine days, her lawyer said.
TJ Jackson, whom Katherine Jackson left in charge of the children when she left home on July 15, said he was disturbed by how she sounded.
“I’ve never heard my grandmother talk like that,” he said about that phone call. “She wasn’t sharp. Her words were slurred. Her choice of vocabulary, I never heard her use those phrases.”
His lawyer said that “maybe she was trying to speak to him in code.”
Ribera said one of the children told her it sounded like she was not alone during that call.
Sanders said the call was made after he met with Jermaine and Janet Jackson at a spa near Tucson, Arizona, on Tuesday night to resolve the controversy over Katherine Jackson’s whereabouts.
They did not, however, allow him to meet or talk with her, he said.
Katherine Jackson, 82, left the home she shares with Michael Jackson’s children on July 15. She had not contacted them before Tuesday, though a Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigation concluded she was safe in Arizona.
Katherine Jackson has custody of Michael Jackson’s children and a 20% share in her son’s huge estate. Her husband, Joe Jackson, and her eight surviving children were completely left out of Michael Jackson’s will when the pop star died in 2009.
Authorities got involved when her nephew Trent filed a missing person report with the sheriff’s office over the weekend. Security camera video obtained by CNN captured a tense scene at the Calabasas, California, home she shares with her three grandchildren.
Siblings Janet, Jermaine and Randy Jackson attempted to persuade the older children, Prince and Paris, to leave Katherine Jackson’s home with them Monday. Paris and Prince resisted, according to three sources with knowledge of the incident, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.
The video shows Janet Jackson apparently trying to take a cell phone away from Paris and scolding her niece for using her phone to write about family issues on Twitter, according to the three sources.
Paris, Michael Jackson’s 14-year-old daughter, posted a Twitter message at about the same time: “gotta love fam.” Meanwhile, 15-year-old Prince is seen walking away from his Uncle Randy into the home’s security office. Paris soon followed, and Randy and Janet Jackson appeared to be recording the incident with their cell phones.
Minutes later, sheriff’s deputies broke up a scuffle involving Randy and Jermaine Jackson and Trent Jackson, who works for their mother, according to several people who witnessed it. No one was arrested, although a battery report was taken and an investigation is ongoing, Los Angeles County sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said.