This Time, A Quiet Jackson Hearing
Posted By: newcster68 February 15, 2004 05:47
New Jacko Hearing News Clip
Michael Jackson, at last month's
court appearance (Photo: AP)
(CBS/AP)- The sideshow in the Michael Jackson child molestation case is over and serious legal matters are taking center stage.
So is a report that the King of Pop is broke.
At a hearing Friday, the judge could set the date for a preliminary hearing, and at that hearing, the prosecution is expected to reveal for the first time key details of the case against Jackson.
Jackson's attorney, Mark Geragos, said the entertainer did not plan to attend Friday's pretrial hearing. Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville told the defendant last month that he was not required to attend most pretrial sessions.
"There are no surprises planned," Geragos said. "It should be a quiet hearing."
Jackson is charged with seven counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 and two counts of giving the child an "intoxicating agent." He pleaded innocent Jan. 16.
The New York Times reports the singer is facing a money crunch, including a $70 million loan due to Bank of America.
However, Jackson's business manager, Charles Koppleman, stands by his previous denial of a cash crisis on CBS News' Early Show, reports National Correspondent Hattie Kauffman.
Unlike the atmosphere surrounding last month's arraignment, there was no sign Thursday of the media hoards that camped outside the courthouse or the caravans of fans who came in buses to see Jackson at his arraignment.
"We don't anticipate many fans coming," Santa Maria police Lt. Chris Vaughan said. "There'll really be nothing for them to see."
Authorities have still put up barricades just in case they are needed, reports CBS News Correspondent Steve Futterman.
Some 3,000 fans packed the street after Jackson's arraignment on Jan. 16, and the entertainer rewarded them with a performance — climbing atop his black sports utility vehicle and doing a few dance steps as his songs blasted from speakers.
Supporters from as far away as Japan trekked to Santa Maria, and Jackson responded to the adoration by throwing open his Neverland Ranch for a party attended by fans and their families.
No such events were planned Friday. Jackson's new spokeswoman, Raymone K. Bain, said "He is tired of the circus-like atmosphere surrounding him."
On the court docket for Friday were discussions of a publicity gag order that prevents everyone in the case from commenting outside court. The defense has asked for what it called a "safe harbor" provision that would allow lawyers to respond to rumors and misinformation being circulated in the press.
"They'll want to respond to some of those salacious and inflammatory articles that have come out recently that have been largely against Michael Jackson's interest," said Hollywood attorney Trent Copeland told CBS News.
Melville has said he would be open to such an exception if it can be structured to his liking.
Media lawyers will be asking to unseal many documents in the case including search warrants and affidavits which allowed the seizure of a dozen computer hard drives belonging to Jackson. Search warrants for the Neverland estate also remain sealed.
Normally, such warrants become public record 10 days after they are executed. Prosecutors have asked to keep them sealed on grounds that a special privilege applies in cases where allegations of molestation are involved.
Meanwhile, Jackson's relationship with the Nation of Islam is a matter of contention. CBS News has learned that members of Jackson's family want the black separatist group out of the picture.
USC professor Todd Boyd explains why Jackson may want them to remain.
"The Nation of Islam gives Michael a certain street credibility, a certain hardness, a certain toughness that he's never had on his own as a performer," he told Kauffman.
However, surrounding himself with black separatists seems to fly in the face of Jackson's image. In one song, in fact, he sang "It don't matter if you're black or white."
Boyd believes Jackson is playing the race card
"Once he's in trouble, what does he do but embrace an institution very much defined by race in a very profound and overt sense?" said Boyd. "So in this way Michael Jackson has effectively gone from 'raceless' to 'race-man.'