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Witness, Michael Jackson's lawyer spar

Club owner asked how accuser met star, tells jokes

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- A prosecution witness lashed out at Michael Jackson's attorney from the witness stand yesterday, quoting another witness saying: ''You have made this court like O.J.'s court or Robert Blake's court."

Jamie Masada, a comedy club owner believed to have put Jackson in touch with the boy who now accuses him of molestation, sparred with defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. throughout a long cross-examination.

Masada mostly kept the tone light and frequently drew laughter. But the tone became stern when Masada, who owns the Laugh Factory club in Hollywood, was asked by Mesereau about comedian Louise Palanker, who testified last week.

''She wants to be a comic," he said. ''We help them. Sometimes you have to give them bad news."

''You've told her she's not funny?" asked Mesereau.

''Let me tell you," Masada said. ''I find you more funny than she is."

Palanker, who met Jackson's accuser at the club, testified earlier in the trial that she did not know the boy to be a liar, and she did not support the defense's assertion that his mother was a manipulative person bent on extorting money from Jackson.

Masada said Palanker had been in touch with him since she testified and that she once referred to O.J. Simpson's acquittal in the 1994 killings of his ex-wife and her friend, and to Blake's recent acquittal in the 2003 slaying of his wife.

''She said that you have made this court like O.J.'s court or Robert Blake's court, and you lied and changed the words around," Masada said.

Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy at his Neverland ranch in February or March 2003, giving him alcohol, and conspiring to hold the boy's family captive to get them to make a video rebutting a TV documentary. In the documentary, Jackson appeared with the boy and said he let children sleep in his bed, a practice he said was innocent.

The boy became involved with the Laugh Factory when he, his brother, and his sister attended a comedy camp there. The relationship with Masada and various comedians continued when the boy became ill with cancer.

Masada played down his role in bringing Jackson together with the boy and said only that he made a number of calls to people, including music producer Quincy Jones, to try to fulfill the ailing boy's wish to meet Jackson.

''I don't know if the message got to him or the fact that he called the next day was by the will of God," he said.

Masada said he had never met Jackson. ''This is the first time I've seen him," he said, turning to Jackson and asking, ''How are you?" The defendant waved.

When Jackson left at the end of the day, he was asked about the levity.

''You can use a little comic relief sometimes," Jackson said.

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