Michael Jackson's prosecutor was ordered today (July 9) to testify at an upcoming hearing about how much he knew of the relationship between Jackson's former attorney and a private investigator before
Michael Jackson's prosecutor was ordered today (July 9) to testify at an upcoming hearing about how much he knew of the relationship between Jackson's former attorney and a private investigator before officials broke into the investigator's office and took evidence.
"I have nothing to hide," said Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon, who offered to testify immediately. But defense attorneys asked for a delay in order to study materials just turned over to them.
Law enforcement officials said they had a search warrant targeting the investigator's office. The defense countered that officers exceeded the warrant's limitations, and evidence taken from Miller's office should be returned to Jackson's attorneys.
At today's hearing, Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville initially ordered Sneddon to cancel his vacation -- a prepaid trip to Alaska for his 37th wedding anniversary -- to attend the hearing scheduled for July 27. Sneddon, obviously miffed, shook his head, threw his papers down on the counsel table and said, "I'll be here."
But the judge reconsidered and suggested the defense try to accommodate the prosecutor either with a videotaped deposition or an appearance at a later hearing. The judge said he did not want to force Sneddon to cancel his trip.
The issue had been scheduled for a hearing today, but defense attorney Robert Sanger said at the start of the session that he had just received transcripts the night before. "It's a transcript of a videotape, a law enforcement interview of the mother of the complaining witness," Sanger said. The interview was done on July 6, 2003, four months before Jackson was charged or arrested, he said.
Sneddon objected to the delay, explaining that he had brought witnesses to testify from Los Angeles and wanted to go ahead. But the judge, after scolding the defense for not warning him of the request for a delay, agreed to wait.
"I have been very concerned about the factual issue, whether or not the district attorney ... knew Mr. Geragos was working for Mr. Jackson and knew that Mr. Miller had been retained by Geragos," the judge said, referring to Jackson's previous attorney, Mark Geragos, and his investigator, Bradley Miller.
"It is an issue that needs to be factually established," Melville said.
Sanger argued that Sneddon had approached him this week and told him that he was willing to concede that he knew about the relationship before a search warrant was executed on Miller's office. But Sneddon stood up and denied that. He said he would explain the entire situation from the witness stand, asserting "I have nothing to hide."
Jackson, 45, has pleaded not guilty to committing a lewd act upon a child, administering alcohol and conspiracy to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.
In other matters, the judge ruled that Jackson does not have to appear personally for an Aug. 16 hearing on suppression of evidence that is expected to last up to two weeks. The singer has waived his personal appearances at most hearings.
The judge also ruled that Jackson recently violated a court gag order when he commented on a leak of information to the media about a case he was involved in 11 years ago. But the judge said he was willing to overlook it because Jackson's new attorney, Thomas Mesereau Jr., probably was unfamiliar with the terms of the gag order. He told Mesereau to make sure his client doesn't comment again.
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