Michael Jackson -vs- Tom Sneddon
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Michael Jackson and Santa Barbara District Attorney
At a press conference held Wednesday, November 19, Santa Barbara
District Attorney Tom Sneddon announced that pop singer Michael Jackson was wanted under
California Penal Code 288a: molestation of a child. Michael Jackson was in communication
with legal authorities, Attorney Tom Sneddon said, to turn himself in. At that time, he
will be required to surrender his passport. Michael Jackson was last spotted Tuesday in
Las Vegas, and CNN reports that he intends to surrender Thursday morning, according to a
source close to the case.
Jury Selection Begins Today In Michael Jackson Trial
Singer Accused Of Giving Boy Alcohol, Molesting Him
POSTED: 6:46 am EST January 31, 2005
UPDATED: 7:28 am EST January 31, 2005
SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- After all the hype, legal wrangling and media
attention, Michael Jackson's child molestation trial finally begins.
Jury selection begins today in Jackson's trial in Santa Maria. About 750 people are being
called as prospective jurors today. The entire jury selection process may take as long as
a month or longer.
The jurors would be expected to serve on a case that may take as long as
half a year. Finding jurors who haven't prejudged the case is a mere prelude to a
courtroom contest that will include testimony from the boy who accuses the pop icon of
The pop star is 46, and is accused of molesting a boy who suffered from cancer, after
loosening him up with alcohol. The child was 13 at the time. Jackson has steadfastly
denied all the charges against him.
Jackson is expected to be in the courtroom today.
The prosecution team is led by Tom Sneddon, district attorney for Santa Barbara County,
Calif., and he has locked horns with Jackson before. He was the man behind the
investigation into child molestation charges against Jackson a decade ago. That case ended
after Jackson settled a civil suit out of court. The pop star claims Sneddon has had it in
for him ever since.
The man who will try to keep both sides in check is Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville.
He's a veteran judge who has refused to tolerate lateness or much public scrutiny of trial
materials. At one point in a pre-trial hearing, he even chastised Jackson for asking to
take a bathroom break.
Finding A Jury A Challenge
As is the case with most celebrity trials, one key is to find an impartial jury. And,
despite what many believe, that doesn't mean finding a jury that hasn't heard of Jackson
or the allegations against him.
Both sides and the judge will try to find those who say they can put everything they've
heard about the case behind them and look at the evidence presented in court to determine
guilt or innocence. The length of the trial is also expected to be a factor in seating a
The initial jury pool will contain 750 would-be panelists. It's expected that it will take
about a month to find a panel and alternates to hear the case.
No Cameras, But
What does the Michael Jackson and "the revolution" have in common? Neither will
be televised. The judge has barred cameras from the courtroom. And that means that we
won't get the "just like being there" feel that the O.J. Simpson case had.
But the trial will have lots of coverage.
More than 1,000 reporters have applied for credentials, including those from Japan, the
United Kingdom, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Canada and Mexico. Although they all
can't be in the courtroom, the reporters will be able to monitor developments elsewhere in
And E! Entertainment Television plans to use actors to create daily re-enactments.
Jackson Makes Statement On Video
Jackson predicts he will walk out of the courtroom a free man. He released a
court-approved video statement on his Web site. In it, he blasts recent media leaks about
him as "disgusting and false" and he asks the public to keep an open mind and
let him have his day in court. He said he deserves a fair trial like every American and he
will be vindicated when the truth is told.
Dressed in a blue shirt and looking directly into the camera, Jackson denounced media
leaks in his child molestation case. He called the leaks "ugly, malicious
information." Jackson said they're "disgusting and false." Jackson said he
has faith in the justice system, that he deserves a fair trial and that people should
"keep an open mind" about his case.
Jackson said he let his accuser into his Neverland Ranch after the boy's family said he
was fighting cancer and needed help. He said he never will put himself in "so
vulnerable a position ever again," though he didn't elaborate.
Fans Have Their Say, Too
Jackson wasn't the only one speaking out on his behalf on the eve of his child molestation
trial. There was a rally of his fans outside the courthouse where the pop star's fate will
Those on hand criticized the prosecution of the singer, saying that people who accuse
Jackson are picking on him. As one fan put it, Jackson's accusers "don't look at who
he is inside."
One fan said she came from Detroit to be on hand for the trial, while another said he
traveled four days by bus to get to Santa Maria for the start of the trial