A judge today (Nov. 4) rejected a defense bid to remove the district attorney trying pop star Michael Jackson on child molestation charges and said there was no proof he had acted improperly or overzealously.
Jackson’s chief lawyer Thomas Mesereau Jr. had asked Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville to remove Santa Barbara (Calif.) County District Attorney Tom Sneddon from the case, saying he had become so invested in convicting the singer “that he has lost his sense of justice.”
Mesereau also cited what he called Sneddon’s “personal interest in the case, his emotional state and his conscious and unconscious bias.”
Melville ruled that the defense failed to prove a “disabling” conflict of interest by Sneddon although it gave assurances that the district attorney’s future conduct would be closely monitored. “If he appears excessively zealous during the trial, I will see that it is taken care of,” Melville said.
Jackson was not in court for the hearing and Sneddon sat silently at the prosecution table while prosecutor Ron Zonen assured the court of his fairness.
Jackson’s attorneys have long argued that the charges against the singer of molesting a young boy at his Neverland Valley Ranch and conspiring to cover up the crime were brought by Sneddon as part of a vendetta.
The defense says Sneddon’s grudge against the singer stretches back to 1993 when the district attorney tried and failed to get Jackson charged with molesting another child.
Jackson is scheduled go trial on Jan. 31.
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