Santa Maria, Calif. A judge on Thursday rejected a defense effort to remove the district attorney in the Michael Jackson child molestation case on the grounds that the pop star had been the victim of an overzealous prosecution.
Judge Rodney Melville said the law was clear that the only way he could remove Dist. Atty. Tom Sneddon and his office was "if a conflict existed where the defendant could not receive a fair trial." He said no such conflict existed.
"I believe he has not been excessively zealous and has not threatened the integrity of the case to this point," the judge said of the prosecutor.
Jackson's lawyer, Thomas Mesereau Jr., said Sneddon and his office had spent more money pursuing Jackson than they had on the cases of serial killers, showing that they had lost perspective. He said the prosecutors were so caught up in the case that Sneddon misrepresented to grand jurors the potential motivation of the boy's family in accusing Jackson.
"They are too emotionally invested in getting a case against the celebrity," Mesereau said. "They are blinded by zeal, blinded by emotion."
He also cited Sneddon's personal role in investigating the Jackson case as well as his performance at a news conference announcing the singer's arrest in which he cracked jokes with the media.
Prosecutors said they had no personal agenda in pursuing the case.
Jackson has pleaded not guilty to child molestation, conspiracy and administering an intoxicating agent, alcohol, to a boy. He is set to stand trial Jan. 31.