[b]Michael Jackson defence to attack accuser’s mother[/b] 58 minutes ago U.S. National – AFP SANTA MARIA, United States (AFP) – Defence lawyers in Michael Jackson’s child molestation trial portrayed his accuser’s mother as an opportunistic con-artist who taught her son to steal. “The stakes are so high in this case. Michael Jackson’s life is on the line,” the pop superstar’s lead attorney Thomas Mesereau said, as he argued for the right to use the litigation history of Jackson’s accusers as evidence once the trial begins in earnest Monday. [b]The child’s mother “has a habit, pattern, practise and MO of starting friendly relationships and looking for ways of making money,” Mesereau told Judge Rodney Melville. Mesereau was arguing in support of a motion that would allow the defence to to tell the jury about a suit the mother filed against a US department store that included a sex assault allegation and resulted in a 150,000-dollar settlement. Melville ruled in favour of that request, but turned down another motion for the defence to introduce witness testimony that the mother taught her son how to shoplift.[/b] Mesereau’s arguments were confirmation that Jackson’s defence will be based, in large part, on seeking to portray his accuser’s family as “professional plaintiffs” who sought to make a living from making sensational charges in fraudulent lawsuits. … Friday’s proceedings focused on a whole slew of pretrial motions that Melville must rule on prior to opening statements before the jury on Monday morning. [b]Mesereau said he also wanted to bring in evidence of how the plaintiff’s mother accused her then husband of being abusive in order to prevent him taking a slice of the department store settlement. “She has made allegations like that throughout her adult life to get money,” Mesereau said, adding that the mother also got her son to ask celebrities for money and spent some of her settlement payout on cosmetic surgery.[/b] Arguing for the prosecution, senior deputy district attorney Ron Zonen said harping on the mother’s alleged wrongdoings was irrelevant to the charges that Jackson fondled her son. “This is about whether the man who admits to sleeping with children was sleeping with this child and what he did while sleeping with this child. That is what this case is about,” Zonen said. Selection of the trial jury and alternates was wrapped up much earlier than expected on Thursday. The four men and eight women who will ultimately decide Jackson’s fate range in age from 20 to 79. There are six mothers and one woman whose sister was raped as a child. There are no African Americans on the panel. On Thursday, Melville issued a stern warning to the jurors not to discuss the case with anyone. Acknowledging that there was a high risk of jury misconduct in such a high-profile trial, the judge said he would have no hesitation in replacing an errant juror with one of eight alternates at his disposal. “If someone doesn’t heed my admonitions, I’ve got eight jurors willing to help,” he said. “It is critical,” Melville said. “Your unbiased dedication to getting the truth here and not becoming part of the circus — as it is referred to in the media — is so important.” While Jackson’s celebrity alone is enough to ensure blanket media coverage, further star-wattage will be added to the proceedings by a witness list that includes the likes of Smokey Robinson, Eddie Murphy, Elizabeth Taylor and Stevie Wonder. Jackson’s family, including his sister Janet, are also expected to attend the court proceedings from next week. Source: http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/afp/20050225/ts_alt_afp/usjackson_050225200256

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