Jackson’s lawyers ask for more time to prepare for ‘breathtaking’ case

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Posted on Mon, Jul. 26, 2004 Jackson’s lawyers ask for more time to prepare for ‘breathtaking’ case LINDA DEUTSCH Associated Press LOS ANGELES – In a motion marked by unusually confrontational language, Michael Jackson’s defense team called the investigation of him “breathtaking” and his prosecution on child molestation charges an effort to “take down a major celebrity.” The accusations were contained in a motion requesting that the trial be delayed four months. The motion was filed July 13 and kept sealed by Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville until Monday, the day before a hearing on it and other matters was to begin in Melville’s courtroom in Santa Maria. No reason was given for the sealing, and when the document was released sections referring to unindicted coconspirators and other specifics of the case were blacked out. In a reply, filed Friday, prosecutors said they would not oppose a “reasonable” delay but that four months was too long. Jackson, 45, is charged with committing a lewd act upon a child, administering an intoxicating agent and conspiring to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion. He is free on $3 million bail and scheduled to stand trial Sept. 13. The Jackson team’s 22-page filing, signed by defense attorney Steve Cochran, was filled with complaints against prosecutors the defense says have not been forthcoming. It also denounced the scope of the prosecution’s effort to gather evidence against Jackson and said it would take months for the entertainer’s lawyers to study all the information prosecutors gathered. “The scope of the prosecution’s investigation is breathtaking,” the document stated. “This is not a usual criminal investigation. It is an effort to take down a major celebrity. “The expenditure of resources by the prosecution is unprecedented and extravagant,” Cochran told the judge adding, “This case is too big to force a trial only five moths following an indictment alleging elaborate new charges.” In his reply, Santa Barbara County Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss said prosecutors would not oppose a brief delay. “Had defendant attempted to contact the prosecution concerning the necessity for a reasonable delay, defendant would have found we are neither unsympathetic nor inflexible,” Auchincloss wrote. “However, the people join in the court’s stated goal to try this case before the end of this year. As such, any continuance contemplated should be measured in weeks, not months.” In arguing for a longer delay, Cochran said “in virtually every respect, this litigation is unusual and complex.” “The theory of the prosecution is, among other things, that at least six individuals conspired between February and March of 2003,” he said. “The prosecution’s strategy, however, is to target only Mr. Jackson and hold the specter of charges over the heads of the other five people. “Nothing less than Mr. Jackson’s life is at stake in these proceedings,” the motion continued. “He has posted high bail to remain at liberty and is mounting a defense against the vast resources of the government. The last thing he wants is to prolong this ordeal.” But despite that, Cochran said, “substantial additional time is indispensable for adequate trial preparation.” The judge has not released the names of the alleged coconspirators or how they allegedly helped Jackson. An attorney representing a coalition of media organizations has filed an appeal seeking release of that information. In documents released earlier, the prosecution referred to the alleged coconspirators as Jackson’s “henchmen,” “hirelings” and “thugs.” The judge has issued a calendar of issues to be argued at the hearing, including the media’s request to unseal grand jury transcripts. With 14 items on the calendar and witnesses expected to testify on a defense motion to dismiss the indictment, court officials said the hearing beginning Tuesday could last several days. :nav Source: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/mld/sanluisobispo/news/politics/9249888.htm

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