LOS ANGELES >> A judge stepped into the turmoil roiling the Jackson family, appointing the son of Tito Jackson to serve as temporary guardian of Michael Jackson’s children in the absence of the family matriarch and in the midst a feud over the pop superstar’s estate.
Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff temporarily suspended Katherine Jackson as the children’s guardian today because she is in Arizona and hadn’t spoken with them in several days. He appointed Tito Joe “TJ” Jackson to serve as temporary guardian with the ability to control the hilltop home where the children live and to take on other supervision duties.
Beckloff said there was no evidence that Katherine Jackson had done anything wrong but instead it appeared she was being prevented from fulfilling her role as guardian through the “intentional acts of third parties.” He didn’t elaborate.
He also said the children — Prince, Paris and Blanket — cannot be taken outside California without court approval.
The developments came after days of turmoil among the Jackson family that included a relative reporting Katherine Jackson missing before she was located safely with other family members in Arizona and an altercation between relatives on Monday.
Jermaine Jackson has said his mother was following doctor’s orders to cut off communications with the children, who range in ages from 10 to 15. He didn’t provide further details.
Katherine Jackson’s lawyer, Perry Sanders Jr., said she had high blood pressure before she left for Arizona.
His co-counsel, Sandra Ribera, expressed concerned that Katherine Jackson may have been held against her will. She said one of the singer’s children told her a conversation with the 82-year-old woman on Tuesday seemed to be monitored and influenced by others in the room.
Arizona authorities contacted Katherine Jackson on Sunday evening and it was determined she was safe, though her lack of communication with her grandchildren was described by TJ Jackson and others as unusual and unprecedented.
In addition to concerns about the safety of Jackson’s children, some of Michael Jackson’s siblings have recently called on the executors of his estate to resign.
Randy Jackson appeared Tuesday on Al Sharpton’s MSNBC show PoliticsNation and said he believes his brother’s will is a fake and that the executors have engaged in criminal activity.
The estate, which recently reported it saw $475 million in gross earning since Jackson’s death in June 2009, has denied wrongdoing and called the accusations “false and defamatory.”
The Jackson children have remained at the home they share with their grandmother in suburban Calabasas amid questions about Katherine Jackson’s whereabouts and why she hadn’t spoken with them since July 15.
Sheriff’s deputies were called to the house on Monday after two factions of the family were involved in Monday’s driveway confrontation. The incident remains under investigation.