Posted on Fri, Jul. 09, 2004 Appeals court tells judge to reconsider Jackson bail amount LINDA DEUTSCH Associated Press SANTA MARIA, CALIF. – An appeals court ordered the judge in the Michael Jackson child molestation case to reconsider whether the pop star’s $3 million bail is excessive and should be reduced. In a brief order responding to an appeal by defense lawyers, the appeals court sent the issue back to Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville for “further proceedings and findings.” “The trial court shall have the discretion whether to hold a further evidentiary hearing,” the court said in its two-sentence order. Criminal defense attorney Steve Cron said the appeals court was sending a message to Melville that he did not adequately explain his decision to maintain Jackson’s bail at $3 million . “The appellate court, by sending it back to the trial court, is saying there’s something wrong with the judge’s decision,” Cron said. The ruling from the California 2nd District Court of Appeals in Ventura County cited its own 2001 decision in a case involving George Christie of the Hells Angels. In that case, the court also asked a trial court to make more specific findings for a bail of $1 million. Jackson’s lawyer, Thomas Mesereau Jr., had petitioned Melville to reduce the singer’s bail to no more than $435,000, saying Jackson was not a flight risk and had appeared in court whenever he was ordered to do so. He said the $3 million exceeded any standard bail schedule, but the judge suggested Jackson’s wealth required it. “While there has to date been no significant issue with regard to the defendant’s appearance at scheduled court events, it continues to appear to the court that a … financial incentive to do so should be in place,” Melville wrote in his ruling. 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. Cron said penal code section cited in the appellate order makes no mention of a defendant’s wealth as a criteria for setting bail. Mesereau and new co-counsel Brian Oxman said they could not comment because of a court imposed gag order. Mesereau argued in his legal papers that Jackson’s bail should be lowered because of his charitable contributions, lack of criminal record and ties to Santa Barbara County, where the case was filed. He said there were no legal grounds for setting Jackson’s bail higher than normal just because of the singer’s wealth. Prosecutors said Jackson was likely to flee the country if his bail was reduced. Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen previously said $3 million was comparable to what Jackson would spend in a weekend in Las Vegas and noted that the pop star has described himself as a billionaire. :nav Source: [url=http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/local/states/california/northern_california/9120071.htm?1c]http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews…/9120071.htm?1c[/url]

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