The judge in the child molestation case against Michael Jackson said today (Feb. 1) he had a sufficient pool of about 250 prospective jurors willing to sit through the projected six-month trial, moving jury selection along more quickly than expected.
Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville said about 300 more prospective jurors who had been scheduled to report today and tomorrow would not be needed. “I think we have enough jurors,” Melville said at midday.
The next stage begins on Monday, when the prospective jurors will be individually questioned by the defense and the prosecution. The judge wants to seat a jury of 12, with eight alternates.
During 1 1/2 days of initial screening, about 430 prospective jurors were brought into court in large groups for questioning by the judge as Jackson, his attorneys and the prosecution watched.
Melville listened to prospective jurors’ explanations of why they could not sit through a long trial and rarely asked any follow-up questions, merely saying, “All right, thank you.” It appeared that he granted most of the excuses. Over both days of screening, about 200 prospective jurors said they could not serve.
Fewer than 100 fans were on hand today as Jackson arrived in a black suit with gold and red stripes down the legs of his pants. The pop star was upbeat as he entered court, chatting animatedly with his attorneys and smiling when jurors arrived. At one point he took out a large yellow legal pad and took notes.
Jackson, 46, is charged with molesting a teenage boy and plying him with alcohol at his Neverland Ranch in 2003.
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