News organizations fail in their bid to unseal the star's grand jury indictment

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated May 20, 2004 12:00 PM

Lawyers for a coalition of news organizations covering the Michael Jackson child-molestation case have been denied in their request to unseal the grand jury indictment against the pop star.

The California Supreme Court has upheld a gag order in the case, which prohibits Jackson, his accuser and attorneys on both sides from publicly commenting on the case, except through statements approved in advance by Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville.

Attorney Theodore Boutrous Jr., who represents the media organizations (including the Associated Press, which contributed to this report), said the conflict over the gag order would not go away, given that it represents, in his view, an unconstitutional restriction of freedom of speech and press.

Boutrous said lifting the gag order would “ensure that more accurate information will be disseminated, and will reduce the amount of rumors, speculation and gossip about which the District Attorney complains.”

Jackson’s former lawyer, Mark Geragos, told the court that he had favored lifting the gag order, while his successor, Thomas Mesereau Jr., stands in support of it, says AP.

The indictment against Jackson, 45, includes a conspiracy count, four counts of lewd acts involving a minor child, one count involving an attempted lewd act upon a child and four counts of administering an intoxicating agent to assist in the committing of a felony.

Jackson has pleaded not guilty to all the charges and is next due in court May 28.