The star's lawyers will ask Monday to delay the trial for six weeks

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated December 20, 2004 09:20 AM

Michael Jackson’s lawyers are due in court Monday for a pretrial hearing to focus on evidence and such last-minute issues as dismissal of charges before the star’s trial on child-molestation charges begins on Jan. 31.

Team Jackson is expected to argue that Santa Barbara County District Attorney Thomas Sneddon has carried out a prosecution based on revenge and that he has abused his power in obtaining search warrants.

Should Judge Rodney Melville not dismiss the case, Jackson’s attorneys are due to argue that evidence recently gathered at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch should not be allowed at trial and the trial date should be put off by six weeks.

The hearing could last the better part of this week. Santa Barbara County authorities have charged Jackson, 46, with molesting a boy, along with conspiracy and administering an intoxicating agent, alcohol, to his alleged victim.

Meanwhile, this weekend, some 200 children were invited to frolic in the amusement park at Jackson’s Neverland, where the kids also got to meet Santa.

“I hope you have a wonderful day. Merry Christmas. I love you,” the host called out to the children Friday from the driveway of his estate, the Associated Press reports.

One youngster shouted, “We love you!” “I love you more,” Jackson replied before putting an umbrella over his head and walking back toward his house.

Jackson spokeswoman Raymone K. Bain said there was no relationship between the event and Jackson’s upcoming trial.