[b]Jackson lawyer: State probe ‘a sham’ [/b] 8/20/04 By SCOTT HADLY NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER In a Santa Maria courtroom Thursday, Michael Jackson’s lead defense attorney, Thomas Mesereau, blasted as a “scam and a sham” a state investigation into allegations that Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputies manhandled the entertainer when he was booked into jail last November. After interviewing 163 witnesses, the California Attorney General’s Office concluded that there was no evidence the entertainer was mistreated by the deputies. During a “60 Minutes” interview last December, Mr. Jackson showed bruises on his arms he said were caused by deputies and alleged he’d been mistreated. Because of a gag order, neither the defense nor officials from the Sheriff’s Department have been able to comment on the investigation, the results of which were leaked last weekend. [b]But on Thursday, Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville granted both sides the right to comment on the results of the investigation.[/b] [b]Mr. Mesereau leveled harsh criticism at the state probe, saying that it was doomed from the outset because, under the advice of his attorneys, Mr. Jackson could not be interviewed by investigators while the criminal case was pending. He also said the investigation couldn’t be truly independent because it was undertaken by an agency that oversees district attorney’s offices throughout the state. “This investigation was a sham from the very beginning,” Mr. Mesereau said. “Mr. Jackson never filed a complaint or a lawsuit . . . he went on television and made a statement that was critical of his treatment.” Mr. Mesereau called the report propaganda and also accused the prosecution of leaking the report, which could undermine Mr. Jackson’s credibility. “They want the public to think that Mr. Jackson didn’t have bruises, and he did,” Mr. Mesereau said. “That he didn’t seek medical attention, and he did.” He said the defense could “leak the results of our own investigation and what we have found about witness intimidation, obstruction of justice and so forth.”[/b] As of late Thursday, Mr. Jackson’s spokeswoman, Raymone Bain, said the entertainer was not going to make a statement despite permission from the judge. Sgt. Chris Pappas of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department said the Sheriff Jim Andersen would likely make a statement in the coming days. At the hearing in Santa Maria, Deputy County Counsel Steve Underwood argued that the sheriff should be allowed to make a statement because his department had been maligned on national television. In a court filing, Sheriff Andersen said he felt obligated to ask for an independent investigation by the attorney general to clear up any public concern about the operations at the County Jail. “What were his alternatives?” Mr. Underwood said in a legal filing. “He could have ignored the claims, but what does that say to his staff and the citizens of Santa Barbara County? He did respond and say the charges were false, but that still would not have placated many in the community. He could have conducted his own internal investigation. And if his staff were exonerated, many would claim that would imply a ‘whitewash.’ ” Staff Writer Dawn Hobbs contributed to this story. Scott Hadly can be reached at shadly@newspress.com . :nav Source: http://news.newspress.com/topsports/082004jackson.htm

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