Katherine Jackson’s longtime personal assistant testified Tuesday that the 86-year-old Jackson family matriarch appeared afraid of a nephew who served as her driver, and against whom she is seeking an extension of a stay-away order.

“On several occasions I have seen it,” Janice Smith said of Katherine Jackson’s frightened demeanor when around Trent Lamar Jackson.

Smith, who has been Katherine Jackson’s right-hand person for 23 years and has worked for the family for 36 years, said Trent Jackson also has “constantly” tried to prevent her from speaking with her boss during calls to her Calabasas home. Smith said he also made changes in where the Jackson family received mail.

Prior to the start of testimony, Ronald Rale, Trent Jackson’s attorney, convinced Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu that sworn written declarations submitted on behalf of Katherine Jackson and other witnesses are not proper substitutes for live testimony.

Treu ruled that although declarations are permitted in lieu of testimony in hearings for restraining orders, requests for permanent orders require the witness’ presence.

Treu, who is presiding over the non-jury hearing, also found that Katherine Jackson, who has been living in London, is still a resident of California and that the subpoena served on one of her attorneys to get the Jackson family matriarch to court was valid.

The judge said he found it “incongruous” that Katherine Jackson’s lawyers were arguing that their client was a resident of England and not subject to being subpoenaed to a hearing in California while at the same time asking that state’s courts to provide her with protection.

Rale said he intends to call Katherine Jackson to the stand later in the hearing.

The TRO was granted in February. Court papers submitted on behalf of Katherine Jackson allege that her nephew wanted to maintain control of her finances and live in her guest house without having to pay rent.

The papers also allege that family members have witnessed ongoing abuse by her nephew, who is the son of Luther Jackson, brother of her ex-husband Joe Jackson.

Trent Jackson was ordered under the TRO to return all keys, passwords and combinations for his aunt’s property and to stop obtaining access to her bank accounts. He also has been ordered to remain 100 yards from her and to not enter the gated community where she resides.

Rale has called his client “a teddy bear” who was personally hired by Michael Jackson before he died to protect his mother. He said his client is concerned that his aunt felt she even had to make the trip to London.

Rale said his client has moved out of Katherine Jackson’s Calabasas home.

–City News Service

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