Defense Motion to Throw out Indictment blasts Prosecution Misconduct

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Defense seeks to throw out Michael Jackson grand jury indictment LINDA DEUTSCH Associated Press LOS ANGELES – Michael Jackson’s lawyers asked a judge to throw out the entertainer’s grand jury indictment on molestation charges, claiming that prosecutors bullied and argued with witnesses during hearings and “ran the proceedings as if they employed the grand jurors.” “There is no case in the history of the state of California that has condoned anything like the abuse of power demonstrated in this grand jury proceeding,” said the 47-page motion signed by attorney Robert Sanger and filed on behalf of Jackson’s entire defense team. The motion, filed Tuesday, was released by the court on Wednesday after being heavily edited by Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville to remove names of witnesses and references to the specifics of the indictment. The issue is to be argued at a future hearing in Santa Maria along with press motions to unseal secret documents. Prosecutors’ reply brief to the defense motion was ordered sealed Wednesday at their request. Lawyers are due in court Friday but the dismissal motion wasn’t expected to be heard. The defense accused the prosecutors who ran the secret grand jury hearings of proceeding “by innuendo and sarcasm, impugning Mr. Jackson by ridiculing those allegedly associated with him and even those who sought to legally represent him.” One of the witnesses whose testimony was quoted at length was clearly identifiable as Russell Halpern, the attorney who represented the father of Jackson’s teenage accuser in a custody dispute with the boy’s mother. The parents are divorced. In the transcript section quoted, Halpern and District Attorney Tom Sneddon argued angrily about the attorney’s initial efforts to get information from the prosecutor’s office. “I found the D.A.’s office to be hostile when I called,” said Halpern. “I found the head D.A., that being yourself, to be very uncooperative.” He said he first inquired whether his client’s son was the boy making molestation claims. “You initially refused to tell me,” he testified. “I asked you if my client’s son was dying. You initially refused to tell me. It was only after I told you that I might have to tell the press of your reaction that you called back and then told me.” Sneddon shot back: “That is not the way that conversation went and you know it.” “You know it too,” said Halpern. The witness said he had a clear recollection of the events because he took notes. “So did I,” said Sneddon. The testimony was given as an example of the prosecutor testifying rather than asking questions. “Mr. Sneddon through bullying tactics, inadmissible evidence and his own personal vouching for his version of events, wanted to destroy this witness and establish to the captive grand jurors that he, Tom Sneddon, was the victor,” Sanger wrote. “This was an outrageous display of power that would not be allowed before a judge in any open court.” Halpern said he couldn’t comment Wednesday because of the gag order in the case. But he referred a reporter to comments he made late last year and early this year which relate the same scenario. Halpern added that Sneddon is improperly using the gag order to silence him. “Mr. Sneddon has misused his powers as district attorney to try to keep me from talking at all. I am not a potential witnesses, and his description of me as a potential witness is disingenuous. It is a poorly disguised attempt to keep me from exercising my First Amendment rights.” Jackson, 45, has pleaded not guilty to committing a lewd act upon a child, administering alcohol, and conspiracy to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion. The defense motion outlined the laws of conspiracy and said the prosecution had failed to show the elements of such a crime. “There is simply no evidence that Mr. Jackson had the specific intent to agree or conspire with anyone about anything,” said the motion. The defense also said prosecutors failed to stop prejudicial remarks including one, apparently by the child’s mother, calling Jackson “the devil.” The transcript showed a prosecutor telling the witness: “Perhaps the biggest and most vicious accusation is the one that you have made this all up.” “She stated that she didn’t want to take ‘the devil’s money,'” said the motion. “The prosecutor asked if she was ‘clear about that.’ She stated that Mr. Jackson is the devil.” The motion argued that the district attorney “made no effort to stop or limit the harmful impact of this inadmissible testimony.” :nav Source: [url=][/url]

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