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Archive for Sunday, April 25, 2004

Media, Jackson want gag order lifted

April 25, 2004

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— The secrecy shrouding last week's grand jury indictment of Michael Jackson was one reason a coalition of news organizations, joined by Jackson's attorney, are petitioning the California Supreme Court to rescind a gag order.

While Jackson's attorney was advocating more press access Friday, the singer was pleading with the press to leave him alone. Because his statement doesn't mention the child molestation case, it presumably doesn't violate the gag order.

"As I release this statement, there are helicopters hovering above my residence, reporters staking out, and photographers lurking behind bushes, running rampant around my compound," Jackson said. "I am respectfully requesting that media organizations please respect my privacy, and that of my children. I would greatly appreciate your cooperation."

Jackson was referring to a home he is staying at in the Orlando, Fla., area, said his spokeswoman Raymone Bain.

The Supreme Court petition filed Friday on behalf of the media protests an order by Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville forbidding lawyers, witnesses and anyone associated with the Jackson case from speaking with reporters.

"When the eyes of the world are watching the courthouse, that is the time for more speech about the criminal justice system, not less," said the motion filed by attorney Theodore Boutrous Jr., who represents major news organizations including The Associated Press.

He said the so-called protective order had the effect of "cutting off the best sources of truthful, timely information and frustrating the public's ability to understand, discuss and scrutinize these proceedings."

Jackson attorney Mark Geragos filed a letter with the media petition saying that Jackson "hereby joins in and supports the media entities' petition for review." Geragos said he would file a separate brief early this week on the issue.

The legal brief argues the judge has overstepped his authority, trying to prohibit speech by people who have not even been subpoenaed.

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