Jackson prosecutor says remarks misunderstood

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Jackson prosecutor says remarks misunderstood Article Last Updated: Saturday, July 24, 2004 – 4:30:13 AM PST Associated Press LOS ANGELES – Michael Jackson’s prosecutor, stung by criticism of his remarks at a district attorneys’ conference, said yesterday he has never used his power inappropriately to prevent people from talking publicly about court cases. Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon told the Associated Press in a telephone interview that he was not talking about the Jackson case, which would be a violation of a court gag order. But he said he felt compelled to clarify remarks which have set off a storm of controversy. “We have never ever sent a letter to someone telling them that they were under a gag order and not subpoenaed them and not had them testify,” Sneddon said. “We have never used this to keep people from talking publicly.” The uproar came after the Vancouver Globe and Mail in Canada reported Sneddon addressed a conference of the National District Attorneys Association this week and said he had notified people they were witnesses in order to keep them from talking on TV. “We sent letters to some people saying we intended to call them as witnesses in order to keep them off TV,” Sneddon was quoted as saying at the conference. The district attorney said yesterday his remarks were taken out of context. He also said he understood he was speaking at a “training session” which would not be covered by the press. Sneddon said he was part of a panel that included Stanislaus County District Attorney James Brazleton, who handled the Scott Peterson case, and Fairfax County, Va., prosecutor Bob Horan, who handled the sniper prosecutions in Virginia, as well as Canadian prosecutors working on a high-profile criminal case resulting from the 1985 crash of an Air India flight off Ireland. “It was a panel discussion on the subject of what to anticipate if one of these cases hits your jurisdiction,” Sneddon said. “I was assigned the topic of how you preserve a fair trial for both sides and prevent a change of venue.” He acknowledged he had cautioned prosecutors not to expect the press to be fair and other panelists agreed with him. “Everybody said it’s the impact of cable TV and, when they come to town, it’s a feeding frenzy,” Sneddon said. But he reiterated his remarks about sending gag order letters to witnesses was misinterpreted. “We’ve never used that as a way to shut people up and keep them from talking,” Sneddon said. “I would have to be criminally dumb to get up and say that. I may have some failings but that’s not one of them.” Source: [url=http://www.marinij.com/Stories/0,1413,234~26642~2292407,00.html]http://www.marinij.com/Stories/0,1413,234~26642~2292407,00.html[/url]

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