Michael Jackson Team Wants Secrecy

By: Linda Deutsch, AP Special Correspondent

(AP) Michael Jackson’s lawyers asked an appeals court Monday to maintain the secrecy now surrounding his child molestation case, suggesting in court papers there would be no harm if information currently sealed were not released to the public until after the trial.

Although defense lawyers acknowledged appellate courts have consistently supported First Amendment rights of access to court cases, they insisted Jackson’s case should be treated differently because it involves a superstar.

They also said the case is not important enough to the administration of justice to merit the attention of the appeals court, and asked the court to refuse an expedited hearing.

“The interest in this case is more voyeuristic and entertainment related than it is an interest of an audience concerned with matters of government or public affairs,” said the motion signed by attorney Robert Sanger.

The motion suggested the press wait until the trial is over to gain access to the court file.

Theodore Boutrous Jr., who is representing a coalition of news media including The Associated Press, noted Jackson’s lawyers have alleged an unprecedented abuse of power by the prosecution in bringing the case against their client, but most of the motions remain sealed.

“The public has an interest in scrutinizing those briefs to test the allegations,” he said.

Jackson’s lawyers said their client “is still entitled to the same due process rights as anyone else who comes before the court in a criminal case.”

But First Amendment lawyer Douglas Mirell said the lawyers are seeking special treatment for Jackson.

Asked why the defense would be pressing so hard to keep documents secret, Mirell said, “Apparently, there’s dynamite in there and they’re afraid of polluting the jury pool.”

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