Posted on Fri, Nov. 05, 2004 [b]Seized files scrutinized in Michael Jackson pretrial hearing[/b] LINDA DEUTSCH Associated Press SANTA MARIA, Calif. – The judge in the Michael Jackson case on Friday delayed ruling on a complex question involving search warrants but reiterated he will start the singer’s child molestation trial on Jan. 31. Santa Barbara County Superior Court Rodney Melville set up an exhaustive schedule of hearings over the next two months to dispose of all the motions that may be filed before the trial. Melville shot down any prospects of any further postponements and several times told attorneys to sit down when they tried to voice protests. One of the defense lawyers, Robert Sanger, said he had another trial starting in January that would have to be rescheduled, possibly angering another judge. “I’ve been assured by other judges of this district that they will assist me in my endeavor to get this case tried,” Melville said. Meanwhile, lawyers on both sides spent hours poring over file folders seized by sheriff’s deputies from the home of Jackson’s personal assistant to sort out those covered by the attorney-client privilege of confidentiality. The materials were not released in open court. The Los Angeles home of Jackson assistant Evelyn Tavasci was searched Sept. 15. Jackson attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. contended that attorney-client privilege was violated because deputies seized items related to the pop star’s legal representation including file folders labeled “Mesereau.” Other items taken were phone records, computer e-mails and documents showing that the Jackson defense team may have orchestrated demonstrations outside the courthouse at previous hearings. [b]Melville expressed concern about why the prosecution should have access to files regarding demonstrations at the courthouse. “Aren’t you only entitled to seize evidence relating to crimes?” Melville asked. Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen said that he felt the information would be useful if the defense were to file a motion for a change of venue.[/b] Jackson’s lawyers have not filed such a motion and have not indicated they would do so. Zonen also said there were records showing that one of Jackson’s employees, Miko Brando, the son of the late Marlon Brando, was given $20,000 from a petty cash account to deliver to Jackson. It wasn’t disclosed what the money was for but Zonen said, “This particular person will likely end up as a witness at the trial.” Sanger responded, “There is nothing unusual about Michael Jackson having $20,000 cash delivered to him for running his daily affairs.” [b]Sanger said much of the materials seized involved events long before Jackson was charged with child molestation and added deputies who served the warrants exceeded their authority to take materials. “The entire fruits of this search should be repressed because this was an exploratory search,” Sanger said.” He suggested that authorities found things they were not looking for and seized them even though they weren’t mentioned in the search warrants.[/b] Jackson, who was not at Friday’s court hearing, has pleaded not guilty to child molestation, conspiracy and administering an intoxicating agent, alcohol, to a boy. On Thursday, the judge rejected a defense bid to have District Attorney Thomas Sneddon removed from the case on grounds that he is pursuing a personal vendetta against the singer. The judge ruled that Sneddon was not overly zealous and had not threatened the integrity of the case. Source: http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/local/states/california/peninsula/10111476.htm

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