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Tom Sneddon's Biography

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District Attorney Thomas W. Sneddon Jr. is the district attorney of Santa Barbara County in California, who led the unsuccessful child abuse prosecution against Michael Jackson.

It was not Tom Sneddon's first encounter with Jackson. In 1993, Tom Sneddon investigated child abuse allegations against Michael Jackson brought by 13-year-old Jordan Chandler, which ended when Jackson made an out-of-court settlement with the boy, who then declined to testify in court. In the process, Sneddon had ordered Jackson to be stripped and photographed to corroborate the boy's description of intimate parts of his anatomy.

In the song DS from Michael Jackson's 1995 album HIStory, the lyrics talk of "Dom Sheldon is a cold man" and how: "They wanna get my ass/Dead or alive/You know he really tried to take me/Down by surprise."

It is generally believed to have been an attack on Tom Sneddon, who said:

"I have not, shall we say, done him the honor of listening to it [DS], but I’ve been told that it ends with the sound of a gunshot."

Tom Sneddon grew up in California. In 1963 Sneddon graduated from the University of Notre Dame, where he was on the boxing team; and in 1966 from UCLA Law School, where he met his wife.

From 1967-1969, during the Vietnam War, Tom Sneddon was in the U.S. Army.

From November 1969 until May 1977 Tom Sneddon served as a Deputy District Attorney in Santa Barbara County. In 1977, he was promoted to the position of Supervisor of Criminal Operations.

On January 3, 1983, Tom Sneddon became the 33rd District Attorney of Santa Barbara County and has been re-elected without opposition for 5 terms.

A father of 9 children, Tom Sneddon has a track record of being involved in children and family issues. He was Chair of the Committee for Child Support Enforcement since its inception in 1991. He was presented with a "Director's Award" in 1995 by the California Family Support Council. A year later he was appointed co-chair of the National District Attorney's Child Support Committee and invited by the US Attorney General Janet Reno to be a member of the Presidential Commission's Federal Task Force to review and enhance federal criminal prosecutions for failure to pay child support.

Sneddon's court-room style won him the nickname, 'Mad Dog' early in his career, although more recently, according to reports, he has been nicknamed 'Snuffy.'

Tom Sneddon's attitude in the Michael Jackson case attracted criticism. In the past he has been attacked as hot-tempered, to which Sneddon responded:

"I've been in this business now for 33 years, so clearly there were times when I was probably developing my skills and personality in the courtroom and maybe at times wasn't as controlled as I am now. Sure, once in a while defense attorneys do things that tick you off. But I know, having played competitive sports, that if you allow that to influence you for very long, you lose your concentration and lose your game. I believe I've always been in control over everything I've done in a courtroom and if you talked to the judges, I think they'd say I'm a damned good lawyer."

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