LOS ANGELES — The wishes Michael Jackson expressed in his will began to come into reality Monday during a lengthy court hearing, with his mother, Katherine, placed firmly in charge of rearing his children and the two men he designated still at the reins of his financial empire.
As a media frenzy buzzed outside, a surprise motion from Jackson's longtime dermatologist injected some drama inside the courtroom: An attorney for the doctor, Arnold Klein, tried to enter objections to the parenting of Jackson's children.
Klein has had a lengthy part in Jackson's story line. He not only served as Jackson's doctor, but one of his employees, Deborah Rowe, married Jackson in 1996 and gave birth to two of the singer's children. Most recently, Klein's medical records have been subpoenaed as part of the police investigation of Jackson's death.
Given tabloid reports that he is the biological father of Jackson's two oldest children, the attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan, quickly told the judge and dozens of reporters covering the hearing that biology wasn't the source of the objections.
"Legally, he is not a presumed parent," Kaplan said. Rather, he said Klein knew Jackson and his children well and had concerns about their education and other day-to-day parenting issues.
Kaplan's objections created a few tense moments in the courtroom, but Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff quickly dispatched him, saying Klein didn't have legal standing.
John Branca, one of the men who Beckloff ruled can continue to administer the singer's estate, sat across the aisle from the Jacksons. Branca served as Jackson's longtime attorney and was named along with music executive John McClain to serve as co-executors of Jackson's will, signed in 2002.
To date, court records show the men have recovered some of Jackson's personal belongings, $5.5 million in cash, and the singer's life insurance payout, all of which will end up in a private trust account.
That money will help pay for a monthly stipend that Beckloff approved for Katherine Jackson, 79, and for each of the singer's three children, Prince Michael, 12, Paris Michael, 11, and Prince Michael II, 7. The youngest is also known as Blanket and was born to a surrogate mother who has never been identified.