Jackson defense loses bid to conduct mental testing ; JC Penney Docs an Issue

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[b]Jackson defense loses bid to conduct mental testing of accuser, family[/b] 11/30/04 By DAWN HOBBS NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER A judge denied a request Monday by Michael Jackson’s defense team to conduct mental testing of the entertainer’s young accuser and his family, but is allowing the lawyers to subpoena existing psychological, medical, financial and military records about them. The defense probe into these areas indicates the lawyers are compiling information in an attempt to attack the credibility of the accuser’s mother — who they claim made up the child molestation accusations against their client and allegedly used similar techniques for financial gain in the past. During Monday’s pretrial hearing in Santa Maria, Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen objected to defense subpoenas for such documents, claiming the requests were an “undue invasion of privacy, confidentiality and privilege.” [b]However, Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville noted the prosecutor is not an attorney for the family and, therefore, cannot claim that those documents should remain confidential. Judge Melville ruled the defense may subpoena such documents but must notify the subjects of the records that they have five days to file an objection, which he would then consider before releasing the papers.[/b] The high-stakes legal wrangling is in preparation for the trial, scheduled to begin Jan. 31. Mr. Jackson has pleaded not guilty to all charges. A gag order prohibits attorneys from discussing the case. Prosecutors have maintained the alleged victim’s family is not after money and that there is plenty of evidence to support the allegations. [b]The documents sought by the defense are believed to include confidential psychiatric reports linked to a civil lawsuit filed by the accuser’s mother against J.C. Penney Co. after her son was detained for alleged shoplifting in 1998. The reports, obtained by the News-Press and NBC, are from a 2001 psychological evaluation of the mother, the boy and his brother by a psychiatrist hired by J.C. Penney. The reports describe her as delusional and state that she may have made up allegations that a J.C. Penney Co. security guard attacked her and her children and then sexually molested her.[/b] During Monday’s pretrial hearing, Mr. Zonen noted that defense lawyers were seeking the mother’s gynecological records, which he said “constituted harassment.” [b]In response, defense co-counsel Robert Sanger said, “I don’t want to take cheap shots at the sound bites about gynecological records, but there’s very good reason for those that I don’t want to go into right now.”[/b] In response to the alleged 1998 J.C. Penney incident, the mother filed a $3Êmillion lawsuit against the company, which dropped the shoplifting charges against her son and paid $137,000 to the family. The documents obtained by the News-Press and NBC were compiled by Dr. John Hochman, identified as an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurology at UCLA. It was noted in court Monday that the family’s civil attorney, Larry Feldman, filed an objection to the defense subpoena of medical records; however, it’s unclear if these are the Hochman records. [b]Quoting the mother, Dr. Hochman said that after the J.C. Penney incident, she “saw a gynecologist due to irregularities in her menstruating and she was this way because her body was traumatized and ‘every hormone in her body was being released.’ ” There is no evidence confirming (the mother’s) testimony she had to get her hormones straightened out due to the mall episode.” The family complained to the psychiatrist of headaches and nightmares after the incident. The children were also fearful “the bad people from J.C. Penneys” would come to their house and hurt them, Dr. Hochman said in the report. Dr. Hochman noted that the mother did not want to answer questions and frequently claimed memory loss about her life before the incident. “She said she didn’t want to remember anything about her prior psychiatric treatment.” She didn’t remember where (her son) took dancing lessons.” She frequently buried her head in her hands. “She was far more upset talking about the mall episode than about her son’s bout with cancer. Her general demeanor alternated between a blunted state and tearful hysteria.” The boy indicated the incident was “more frightening” than the year he battled cancer, and his brother said it was “worse,” Dr. Hochman’s report stated. The psychiatrist noted that he thought the interviews with the boy and his brother were rehearsed. He also noted “doubtful aspects” of the testimony by the family, including that it was “impossible” for all family members to have “identical stories years later.” The police, the doctor stated, saw no injuries and heard no complaints of sexual abuse. Those charges were added to the complaint two years later. The mother insisted that “prior to the mall incident she was living an ideal and extraordinarily virtuous life,” Dr. Hochman stated.[/b] Defense lawyers also appear to be gearing up for an attack on the grand jury process. In response to their requests, Judge Melville on Monday ordered that the defense be given transcripts of the grand jury selection process and of written communications between grand jurors and prosecutors during the secret proceedings. The News-Press learned that the defense also subpoenaed materials the county jury commissioner used to select grand jurors. The jury selection process here is now under review by the state Supreme Court. Source: http://news.newspress.com/topsports/113004jackson.htm

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