Michael Jackson's mother sat quietly in court on Wednesday watching as her lawyers fought loudly with attorneys for AEG, the concert promoter she accuses of contributing to the pop star's death.
They argued over who leaked e-mails to a reporter that revealed the promoter had doubts about Jackson's health and his ability to be ready for his "This Is It" concerts several months before his death.
"MJ is locked in his room drunk and despondent," AEG executive Randy Phillips wrote in a March 5, 2009, e-mail, the day Jackson announced the tour plans. "I (am) trying to sober him up."
The judge must decide if she will exclude those e-mails from the wrongful-death suit filed by Katherine Jackson and her son's three children against AEG.
Jackson died of an overdose of a surgical anesthesia in combination with sedatives on June 25, 2009, according the the Los Angeles County coroner. Dr. Conrad Murray, who was hired to be Jackson's personal physician as he prepared for the shows, was found guilty last year of involuntary manslaughter in his death.
The Jackson suit contends that AEG contributed to the pop star's death by pressuring him to prepare even though the promoters knew he was in a weak condition and by its hiring and supervision of Dr. Murray.
The judge overseeing the case sealed those documents. AEG filed a motion accusing the Jacksons and their lawyers of leaking them to Los Angeles Times reporter Harriett Ryan, who used them for a story she published in September.
"It is clear that only one entity could have done it," AEG lawyer Marvin Putnam said. The cache of e-mails, which the reporter shared with AEG, have "certain unique characteristics" that prove they were given to the Jackson lawyers by AEG as part of discovery in the wrongful-death lawsuit, Putnam said.
AEG asked Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos to punish the Jacksons by not allowing them to use those e-mails in next year's trial when they try to prove the promoter is liable for Michael Jackson's death.
"He has accused 10-year-old Blanket Jackson," Jackson lawyer Kevin Boyle said, pointing to Putnam. "What's the idea, that Blanket Jackson got some documents and copied them and somehow walked them from Calabasas to Harriet Ryan?"
Jackson lawyers denied anyone associated with their legal team or their clients leaked the e-mails, even suggesting AEG lawyers may have done it themselves as a set up.
"They could have easily disclosed all of these documents with zero punishment from the court," Boyle said.
Ryan has refused to disclose her sources, although Howard Mann -- who was once Katherine Jackson's former partner in a book venture -- has acknowledged that he gave the reporter a box of documents for her story.
Days after the e-mails were published, AEG dropped its claim against a Lloyds of London underwriter for a $17.5 million insurance policy for Michael Jackson.
The insurer contended AEG hid Jackson's health problems and failed to respond to repeated requests for his medical history when applying for insurance for the 50 shows scheduled for London's O2 Arena.
The Michael Jackson estate, which controls Michael Jackson Company LLC, is still pursuing the insurance payout.
Perry Sanders, who is Katherine Jackson's personal attorney, told the judge that the Jacksons had no motive to leak the e-mails.
"Like we would go and blow up our own case against Lloyds of London?" Sanders said. "Our client and all the plaintiffs in this case are actually the ones who would receive the money."
Sanders also noted that AEG had failed to disclose the e-mails to the Lloyds of London lawyers despite a legal requirement to do so.
While publication of the e-mails might have made AEG look bad, they were "extremely negative against Michael Jackson," painting him "as a basket case," Jackson lawyer Deborah Chang said.
"It's much more negative about Michael Jackson than it is about AEG, by far," Chang said.
The Jackson lawyers accused AEG of using the e-mail issue as a way to delay the wrongful-death trial.
"They've been very successful in tying us up completely and I am sure they are giggling about it back in the office," Boyle said.
AEG previously convinced the judge to delay the trial, which was set for last month, until next April.
"This case is so strong that we very stringently argued this case should have gone to trial in September," Sanders said. "The only people that seem to be trying to keep this case from going forward are the defendants."