LOS ANGELES – The California Supreme Court (search) said it will not consider arguments from news organizations trying to end a gag order in the Michael Jackson (search) child molestation conspiracy case.
The court issued a one-line order Wednesday that said only, "Review and application for stay denied."
The gag order bars Jackson, his accuser, and attorneys on both sides from publicly commenting on the case, except through statements approved in advance by the judge.
Attorney Theodore Boutrous Jr., who represents a coalition of media organizations including The Associated Press, said the conflict over the gag order between the court and the press would not go away. He had argued that a blanket gag order imposed by Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville (search) was an unconstitutional restriction of freedom of speech and press.
The state's highest court had expressed interest in the case at first, requesting letters from the defense and prosecution explaining their positions. District Attorney Thomas Sneddon's office responded with a letter alleging that journalists covering the Jackson case were pandering to a "gossip hungry" audience.
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, had told the court he would file his own letter advocating removal of the gag order. But the attorney who succeeded him, Thomas Mesereau Jr., sent a letter saying he supported the gag order.
Jackson has pleaded not guilty to child molestation, administering an intoxicating agent, and a conspiracy count involving allegations of child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.