LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge appointed Tito Jackson’s son Wednesday to serve as the temporary guardian of Michael Jackson’s children after hearing about the absence of the family’s matriarch and details of the family’s recent turmoil.
Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff temporarily suspended Katherine Jackson as the children’s guardian because she is in Arizona and hadn’t spoken with them in several days.
He said there was no evidence that she had done anything wrong and that he would restore her to the guardian role after she returned.
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The appointment came after days of turmoil among the Jackson family, with a relative reporting Katherine Jackson missing before she was located safely with other family members in Arizona.
TJ Jackson appeared in court and was appointed after describing a “strange” conversation he had with Katherine Jackson on Tuesday evening.
“I’ve never heard my grandmother talk like that,” he said reluctantly. “In every way. The sound in her voice. The pauses.”
He said some of her speech sounded slurred and she used words that made him wonder if she was speaking in code.
The judge initially said he wouldn’t grant a temporary guardian but changed his mind after hearing arguments from TJ Jackson’s attorney, Charles Shultz. The children’s guardian ad litem, Margaret Lodise, said she also spoke with the children and the two oldest, Prince and Paris, supported the appointment of a temporary guardian.
Lodise said she did not ask the youngest son, 10-year-old Blanket, for his views.
Beckloff ordered Shultz to give notice to two other potential guardians, singer Diana Ross and Debbie Rowe, who is the mother of the eldest Jackson children. Ross was named in Michael Jackson’s 2002 will as a potential guardian if his mother was not able to serve.
The children have remained at the home they share with their grandmother in Calabasas throughout days of questions about Katherine Jackson’s whereabouts and why she hadn’t spoken with the children since July 15.
Katherine Jackson’s attorney, Perry Sanders Jr., said after the hearing that he had received word that she was returning Wednesday to Los Angeles. He said he would seek her reinstatement as guardian after speaking with her and would fight any move to have her permanently replaced.