America’s Most Wanted – and Acquitted! [Tulsa]

Not guilty

Criminal Charge: Child Abuse
Case: State v. Earnest Jackson CF-02-5279
Court: [CF-02-5279, Tulsa County]

Oklahoma State Courts Network
For more details on this case, open the Docket View.


A harbinger of the career to follow, Haslam’s first jury trial was a court appointment to defend a dad featured numerous times on the television show “America’s Most Wanted”.  Compounding this challenge, the prosecutor, Dana Bogie Kuehn, had 75 jury trials under her belt as Chief of the Crimes Against Children Unit, moved on to be Presiding Judge of the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, and now sits on the Oklahoma Supreme Court. 

Tulsa County arrested Earnest and Kaia Jackson amid great publicity in their Tulsa home, living with their four kids. The 1988 New Jersey arrest warrants alleged they physically abused a fifth child fifteen years earlier.

After charging both Jacksons with abusing one of the four Tulsa kids, Jonathan, authorities returned them to New Jersey to stand trial on the 1988 charges – where each took a conviction. Thereafter, each returned to Tulsa to stand trial on the new Oklahoma charges involving Jonathan. In September 2002, a Tulsa County jury sentenced Kaia to thirty-five years in the Oklahoma penitentiary to be served AFTER she discharged her New Jersey sentence.

The Tulsa County District Court appointed Haslam to defend Earnest. The State offered Earnest – a 55-year-old man – 35 years to avoid trial. With little to lose, it was easy for Earnest to believe in his young lawyer, plead not guilty and take his story to a jury.  After five days of trial and eight hours of deliberation, his first jury hung up.  A single, brave juror refused to cave during hours of shouting and table pounding that could be heard in the hall outside the jury room.

At the retrial, the State listed DHS caseworker Joyce Porter as a witness.  Despite Haslam having uncovered an in-the-record lie by Ms. Porter in another child abuse trial he second-chaired a year earlier, Porter mounted the stand to testify.  Haslam confronted Porter – sitting 4 feet from the jury box – with this documented lie. In a true Perry Mason Moment, Porter locked up – and the prosecutor left her there, locked up for 60 seconds, silent – until she asked for “a brief recess”.  When Porter returned to the stand, Haslam cemented the impeachment.  This was the beginning of the end of this jury trial.