Michael Jackson's lawyers asked a Santa Maria, Calif., judge to throw out his grand jury indictment on molestation charges, claiming prosecutors bullied and argued with witnesses and "ran the proceedi

Michael Jackson's lawyers asked a Santa Maria, Calif., judge to throw out his grand jury indictment on molestation charges, claiming prosecutors bullied and argued with witnesses and "ran the proceedings as if they employed the grand jurors."

"There is no case in the history of the state of California that has condoned anything like the abuse of power demonstrated in this grand jury proceeding," said the motion signed by attorney Robert Sanger.

Filed Tuesday, the motion was released by the court yesterday (July 7) after being heavily edited by Santa Barbara County Judge Rodney Melville to remove names of witnesses and references to the specifics of the indictment. The dismissal issue is to be argued at a future hearing in Santa Maria.

In the motion, the defense accused prosecutors who ran the secret grand jury hearings of proceeding "by innuendo and sarcasm, impugning Mr. Jackson by ridiculing those allegedly associated with him and even those who sought to legally represent him."

One witness whose testimony was quoted at length was clearly identifiable as Russell Halpern, the attorney who represented the father of Jackson's teenage accuser in a custody dispute with the boy's mother. The parents are divorced.

In the transcript section quoted, Halpern and District Attorney Tom Sneddon argued about the attorney's initial efforts to get information from the prosecutor's office. "I found the D.A.'s office to be hostile when I called," said Halpern. "I found the head D.A., that being yourself, to be very uncooperative."

He said he first inquired whether his client's son was the boy making molestation claims. "You initially refused to tell me," he testified. "I asked you if my client's son was dying. You initially refused to tell me. It was only after I told you that I might have to tell the press of your reaction that you called back and then told me."

Sneddon shot back: "That is not the way that conversation went and you know it."

"You know it too," said Halpern. The witness said he had a clear recollection of the events because he took notes. "So did I," said Sneddon. The testimony was given as an example of the prosecutor testifying rather than asking questions.

Halpern said he couldn't comment yesterday because of the gag order in the case. He added that Sneddon is improperly using the gag order to silence him.

"Mr. Sneddon has misused his powers as district attorney to try to keep me from talking at all. I am not a potential witnesses, and his description of me as a potential witness is disingenuous."

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.


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