[b]Lawyers ask for gag order be relaxed in Jackson case[/b] [i]Last Update: Wednesday, January 21, 2004. 1:52pm (AEDT)[/i] Prosecutors and Michael Jackson’s defence lawyers have formally asked a judge to relax a tough gag order to allow them to refute media reports that could threaten a fair trial. The requests came four days after Santa Barbara Judge Rodney Melville barred anyone involved in the high-profile case from talking about it to the press or anyone else in order to avoid prejudicing their cases. Jackson’s attorney Mark Geragos filed papers seeking a relaxation of the gag order to protect Jackson from damaging publicity that was not instigated by the defence, according to court documents which have been filed. Prosecutor Tom Sneddon in turn asked for he or Mr Geragos to be allowed to refute media reports concerning the case if it is “false or mistaken, and unless promptly rebutted”, poses a risk of prejudicing a jury. The move came after the judge, in a glare of worldwide publicity sparked by Jackson’s November arrest for alleged child molestation, on Friday applied a gag order aimed at reining in tabloid speculation and leaks in the case. That order says those connected with the case may talk publicly only about the official charges against Jackson, the time and place of arrest, and Jackson’s “name, age, residence, occupation and family status”. The prosecutor and other advocates of the move wanted to avoid tainting the jury pool when Jackson’s trial finally gets underway following his not guilty plea in court in Santa Maria, California on Friday. Mr Geragos on Friday cited false rumours that Jackson had tried to flee to South America, that the singer remarried recently and that the Nation of Islam had moved into his office as stories that should be rebutted. The 45-year-old singer has been charged with seven counts of child molestation and two of plying a child with alcohol. Jackson has pleaded not guilty to all the charges. — AFP :nav Source and Comments: [url=http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/s1029068.htm]http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/s1029068.htm[/url]

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