Jacko Prosecutor Joins Media in Requesting Courtroom Not Be Closed

By: (AP) Michael Jackson's prosecutors have asked to keep the courtroom open during hearings on whether to admit into evidence allegations of prior sexual offenses by the singer.

In a separate motion, a coalition of news media organizations including The Associated Press opposed closing the courtroom, saying the motion by Jackson's lawyers flies in the face of a long history of U.S. Supreme Court and California Supreme Court rulings guaranteeing openness in the courts.

"What transpires in the courtroom is public property," the motion said. "Mr. Jackson's celebrity status does not change that fact."

The parties were due in court today to argue the admissibility of the alleged prior offenses and a motion to close the courtroom.

According to documents released yesterday, the prosecution said the grounds on which the defense seeks to exclude the evidence is that it is "inherently incredible." But the prosecution said that is for the jury, not the judge, to decide.

"Merely labeling the proposed testimony of an adverse witness as 'incredible' doesn't make it so," the motion said.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Gerald McC. Franklin said the prosecutor who will argue the motion to admit evidence of prior acts will speak "with discretion" and "is acutely concerned that the right of both parties to a fair-minded and impartial jury not be prejudiced by references to evidence not yet made public."

Jackson, 46, is charged with plying a boy with alcohol and molesting him. He has pleaded not guilty.


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