Defense attorneys in the child-molestation case want court documents to remain sealed

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated July 20, 2004 08:00 AM

Michael Jackson’s legal team asked a California appeals court on Monday to keep the lid on his child molestation case, arguing in their legal documents that the public’s right to know can wait until after the trial.

Jackson’s attorneys, while acknowledging the public’s and the court’s First Amendment rights, insist Jackson’s case should be treated differently because of the defendant’s superstar status, reports the Associated Press.

“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,” says the motion, which advises that the press wait until completion of the trial to gain access to court files.

Attorney Theodore Boutrous Jr., who is representing a coalition of news media including AP, noted that 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 news service reports.

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Thomas Sneddon has charged Jackson, 45, with plying his accuser, then a 13-year-old cancer patient, with an intoxicating agent, molesting him and conspiring to imprison the boy and his family at Neverland Ranch to keep them quiet. The musician denies all the charges.