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Michael Jackson -vs- Tom Sneddon

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Michael Jackson -vs- Tom Sneddon

Who's better, Michael Jackson or Tom Sneddon ?

Michael Jackson
Tom Sneddon
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Michael Jackson and Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon

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 molesting him.

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 jury.

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 the building.

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 be decided.

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