In a motion marked by unusually confrontational language, Michael Jackson’s defense team called the investigation of him “breathtaking” and his prosecution on child molestation charges an effort to “take down a major celebrity.”
The accusations were contained in a motion requesting that the trial be delayed four months, until early next year. The motion was filed July 13 and kept sealed by Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville until yesterday (July 26), the day before a hearing on it and other matters was to begin.
No reason was given for the sealing, and when the document was released sections referring to unindicted co-conspirators and other specifics of the case were blacked out.
Prosecutors in a reply said they would not oppose a “reasonable” delay but that four months was too long.
Jackson, 45, is charged with committing a lewd act upon a child, administering an intoxicating agent and conspiring to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion. He is free on $3 million bail and scheduled to stand trial Sept. 13.
The Jackson team’s filing said it would take them months to study all the information gathered by prosecutors. “The scope of the prosecution’s investigation is breathtaking,” the document stated. “This is not a usual criminal investigation. It is an effort to take down a major celebrity.
“The expenditure of resources by the prosecution is unprecedented and extravagant,” defense attorney Steve Cochran told the judge.
In his reply, Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss said prosecutors would not oppose a brief delay but that “any continuance contemplated should be measured in weeks, not months.”
In arguing for a longer delay, Cochran said “in virtually every respect, this litigation is unusual and complex.”
“The theory of the prosecution is, among other things, that at least six individuals conspired between February and March of 2003,” he said. “The prosecution’s strategy, however, is to target only Mr. Jackson and hold the specter of charges over the heads of the other five people.
“Nothing less than Mr. Jackson’s life is at stake in these proceedings,” the motion said.
The judge has not released the names of the alleged co-conspirators or how they allegedly helped Jackson. An attorney representing a coalition of media organizations has filed an appeal seeking release of that information. In documents released earlier, the prosecution referred to the alleged co-conspirators as Jackson’s “henchmen,” “hirelings” and “thugs.”
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