Jackson’s team to seek dismissal By Quintin Cushner/Staff Writer Michael Jackson’s lawyers are expected to argue in court today in Santa Maria that a child-molestation indictment against the singer should be dismissed because prosecutors bungled grand jury proceedings. Jackson, 45, has pleaded not guilty to engaging in lewd acts with an unnamed boy under the age of 14 on four occasions between Feb. 20 and March 12, 2003, and four counts of “administering an intoxicating agent” – reportedly wine – to help him with the alleged molestations. He also has pleaded not guilty to a conspiracy charge involving child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion and a count of attempted child molestation. The identities of Jackson’s alleged co-conspirators are among the information kept secret in the case. The defense request to dismiss the indictment alleges “a complete disregard on the part of the prosecutor for his duties to present evidence fairly and accurately and to behave in a manner that would have been approved by a judge.” Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon is accused by the defense of “bullying” grand jurors and allowing testimony about Jackson, including a statement by the accuser’s mother referring to him as “the devil,” to pass without interruption. Jackson’s lawyers also argued that prosecutors did not provided adequate evidence to warrant the conspiracy charge. In response, prosecutors argued that ample evidence was provided to show that Jackson actively engaged in a conspiracy. They also denied that grand jurors were coerced or pressured to issue the indictment against the singer, and argued that “the devil” statement had no overriding prejudicial effect on grand jurors. Arguments on this issue and other will continue until Wednesday or possibly Thursday, according to Darrel Parker, assistant executive officer of the Santa Barbara County Superior Court. Another matter scheduled for this week is a motion to suppress evidence in the case related to a prosecution raid on the offices of Bradley Miller, a private investigator with ties to Jackson. The defense contends prosecutors violated Jackson’s attorney-client privilege by seizing audio and video tapes from the office, knowing that Miller was employed on the case by former Jackson defense attorney Mark Geragos. They are trying to suppress the tape on those grounds, and have subpoenaed Sneddon and several law enforcement agents as witnesses. However, Sneddon’s testimony won’t be heard until an August hearing, because the district attorney is currently on vacation in Alaska. Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville also is scheduled to consider a defense request to postpone the trial of the singer to a later date. The trial is tentatively scheduled to start on Sept. 13. A defense motion to quash subpoenas issued to several unidentified witnesses will also be heard this week. Attorney Theodore Boutrous, Jr. will argue at the hearing on behalf of several media organizations to unseal the grand jury transcripts in the case. That document, and other typically public records in this case, remain sealed on Melville’s orders. Several of the matters scheduled for hearing today involve requests by both the prosecution and the defense to seal more motions that are traditionally public. Boutrous has appealed Melville’s sealing orders to the 2nd District Court of Appeal, requesting that body hear arguments by Aug. 10 to unseal all records in the case. “I have no doubt that Judge Melville is trying to protect the trials rights of the parties in this case,” Boutrous said. “However, the law is clear that the mere fact that a case gets high-profile attention does not warrant secrecy, and that openness is better for a fair trial.” Since Jackson will not attend this week’s hearings, court officials and law enforcement aren’t expecting any more than about 50 fans of the singer to show up outside the courthouse, Parker said. * Staff writer Quintin Cushner can be reached at 739-2217 or by e-mail at qcushner@pulitzer.net. July 27, 2004 :nav Source: http://www.santamariatimes.com/articles/2004/07/27/news/local/news04.txt

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