Accuser’s family member takes the stand in pretrial hearing

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Posted on Thu, Aug. 19, 2004 [b]Accuser’s family member takes the stand in pretrial hearing[/b] LINDA DEUTSCH Associated Press SANTA MARIA, Calif. – Defense attorneys in Michael Jackson’s child molestation case want to know what a member of the accuser’s family knew about the relationship between Jackson’s former lawyer and a private investigator, calling as a witness the stepfather of the boy at the center of the case. The man who has married the mother of the accuser and who is referred to in court as “Mr. Doe” to protect his identity was scheduled to testify at Thursday’s hearing. The issue is whether anyone told prosecutors and sheriff’s deputies that investigator Bradley Miller was working for attorney Mark Geragos before the authorities decided to break into Miller’s office and seize evidence for the Jackson case. Mr. Doe is said to have been present when Miller supervised the making of a videotaped interview with the 12-year-old boy and his family. The so-called “rebuttal video” was intended to answer negative publicity surrounding a British TV special on Jackson’s life which featured the pop star defending his practice of having young boys sleep in his bed. In the rebuttal video, the boy and his family reportedly vouch for Jackson’s good character and praise his relationship with youngsters. Prosecutors are claiming that the family was coerced into making the video as part of a conspiracy charged in the indictment against Jackson. The tape is among items seized from Miller’s office when sheriff’s deputies came there and broke in with a sledgehammer. The defense contends that if authorities knew Miller was working with Geragos, the search violated attorney-client privilege of confidentiality. In addition to Mr. Doe, witnesses under subpoena for Thursday included William Dickerman, the attorney who once represented the family, and a number of sheriff’s detectives. Meanwhile, Jackson has asked Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville to allow him to make a public statement reacting to the California attorney general’s conclusion that Jackson was not mistreated as he claimed when he surrendered to authorities last year. In an interview broadcast by CBS’s “60 Minutes” a month after his Nov. 20, 2003, arrest, Jackson said he was “manhandled” by Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies who took him into custody. The report to Sheriff Jim Anderson from the attorney general’s California Bureau of Investigation said there was no evidence to support Jackson’s claim that his shoulder was dislocated when he was handcuffed. It also found that there was no criminal misconduct by sheriff’s personnel. The leaked report was posted Sunday on the CBS News Web site. In addition to the Miller matter, defense attorneys plan to challenge individual items seized during a search of Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. Melville called a one-day recess in the hearings Wednesday to give lawyers time to draft a list of items they want suppressed as evidence. The action came after the judge rejected a defense effort to launch a challenge of the validity of the entire Neverland search. In his ruling Tuesday, Melville short-circuited a plan by Jackson’s lawyers to call multiple witnesses in an effort to show that prosecutors had insufficient information to justify the invasion of Jackson’s estate last November. Defense attorney Steve Cochran had argued that authorities “relied on a lot of pontificating” from people without sufficient expertise. “The point was to smear my client, to make it appear there was a menace to society out there whose house needed to be searched immediately,” he argued. Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen said the only thing that could invalidate the search would be significant misrepresentations on the search warrant. Those, he said, were not present, and the judge agreed. Melville conceded that there may have been “some relevant omissions,” but he concluded: “There was probable cause to believe Michael Jackson had committed the offenses based on the statements of the minor witness.” 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 has pleaded not guilty and is free on $3 million bail. :nav Source:

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