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Who's Bad?

Has Michael Jackson fired his publicist? A statement on his website says Raymone Bain has been canned, but she says only Jackson himself can fire her

As Michael Jackson awaits the verdict in his trial, there are signs of trouble in his camp. On Friday, an announcement appeared on the singer's website that he'd fired his spokeswoman, Raymone Bain, following reports that Jackson's lead defense attorney, Thomas Mesereau, was worried that she was endangering the singer's legal case. Bain, who had denied earlier in the week that there was any rift between her and Mesereau, also denied on Saturday that she'd been fired.

Bain, who has represented Jackson since February 2004, gave an impromptu press conference in front of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse last Wednesday, where reporters had been waiting for nearly a week while the jury deliberated. (Before Monday morning, when jurors were scheduled to reconvene, they had spent 28.5 hours deliberating over the course of six days.) Later that Wednesday, Mesereau issued a court-approved statement insisting that Jackson's team was abiding by the court-imposed gag order on the participants in the case, and that he had not authorized anyone to speak on the singer's behalf. Bain said later that Mesereau's statement didn't refer to her and that she had always cleared her public statements with the defense attorney. Nonetheless, Jackson's website posted on Friday a statement that read, in its entirety, ''MJJ Productions regretfully announces the termination of Raymone Bain and Davis, Bain & Associates. We thank you for your services.''

On Saturday, however, Bain spoke to the Associated Press, saying that only Jackson himself, not his production company (run by Michael's brother, Randy), had the authority to fire her. ''I have not been fired by Michael Jackson,'' she said. Guess we'll find out for sure if we hear more from Bain over the next few days, as the court could announce the reaching of a verdict any time now.

Originally posted Jun 13, 2005