More Lawyers Than Laws in Jackson Courtroom

It's hard to keep count, but the the court media liaison estimates there are at least forty attorneys inside the estate and custody hearings today in the Michael Jackson case.

Let's just assume they're all getting paid $500 an hour, give or take. That's $20,000 an hour. We've completed three hours so far...

Reporters received a printed handout of some of the attorneys' cards, and there are interesting names.

First, there's Bradley Boyer, who is representing Dr. Arnold Klein, Michael Jackson's dermatologist. Dr. Klein's attorney was a surprise addition to court today, saying his client wanted to weigh in on the custody case "based on his longstanding relationship with the children" and with Jackson. While making no "presumed" claim that he is the biological father of any of the children, Dr. Klein had concerns about some of the legal and custody issues, like the children's education. The judge denied his request.

Other attorneys listed represent Sony/ATV , which co-owns a lucrative song catalog with the Jackson estate. Also here, an executive VP of litigation at Columbia Pictures. Hmmm. Perhaps he is here regarding the release of Jackson rehearsal footage in theaters later this year? Sony has reportedly offered AEG $60 million for the footage. And, yes, there are attorneys here for AEG. There's even an attorney representing Bravado International, which is helping re-release Michael Jackson's autobiography, "Moonwalk".

So far today, Katherine Jackson was granted permanent custody of her three grandchildren, though there will be a follow up hearing in October. A court investigation into custody was filed under seal, contents unknown.

As far as the money, the judge is allowing the estate's executors to give Katherine Jackson the full allowance she's asking for, retroactive to the day her son died. But he's only granting the children 83.5 percent of the allowance their grandmother is asking for their upkeep. Judge Mitchell Beckloff said some of the financial expenses for the children seemed duplicative, or just too high. We don't know the dollar amount the beneficiaries are getting. That has been filed under seal, along with the actual amount of Michael Jackson's life insurance policy.

On now:

The judge took a break about 10a as all sides wanted to discuss privately some possible solutions to their disputes in administering the estate. One of the still-temporary administrators, John Branca, told me in the hallway, "It's going to be an interesting day." And a lucrative one, for the lawyers, the media, and anyone else benefiting more from Michael Jackson in death than in life.

UPDATE: All sides have broken for lunch but some big issues were resolved:

The judge entered Michael Jackson's 2002 will into probate. Even though he has yet to officially make John Branca and John McClain the permanent administrators, sources tell me it would be unusual if that did not happen.

Also, the estate has the ability to continue making deals for things like merchandising or film rights, but all deals must be run by Katherine Jackson and brought to court for approval. The judge ruled that Katherine Jackson must keep details of contracts with AEG, Columbia Pictures, and Bravada International confidential. The judge is holding a hearing next Monday to approve or disapprove any remaining contracts being offered by those firms once he and Mrs. Jackson have had a chance to read through them.

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