LOS ANGELES – Michael Jackson's (search) lawyers claim prosecutors in the child molestation case are dragging their feet in giving the defense access to interviews with dozens of witnesses and hundreds of items seized in raids.
By law, the defense must be given "discovery" of prosecution evidence so it can prepare to fight it at trial.
"Mr. Jackson's right to a fair trial is jeopardized by the undue delay of discovery by the prosecution," the defense said in a May 13 motion requesting that the judge set a deadline for prosecutors to turn over materials currently being withheld.
The document, made public Tuesday, illustrates the massive nature of the Jackson investigation, noting there are "dozens, if not over 100" witnesses involved.
The new defense motion indicated the prosecution did turn over more than 1,100 pages of documents, including police reports and summaries of witness interviews, 51 audiotapes and two videotapes in three "waves" since the initial discovery request in January.
The sheer volume of evidence that the defense wants to examine could force a delay in the trial. Attorneys had said they would be ready by December, and the judge has said he wants to begin this year.
Jackson has pleaded not guilty to 10 felony charges of child molestation (search), administering an intoxicating agent, and conspiracy involving allegations of child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.
The defense claims the prosecution has yet to allow it to examine more than 300 items seized in sheriff's raids at Jackson's Los Olivos (search) home and other locations last November. The prosecution has said the items are still undergoing forensic examination and are not available, the court papers stated.
A Friday hearing is scheduled in Santa Barbara Superior Court (search) for judge Rodney Melville to consider both the defense request to force discovery and another to lower Jackson's $3 million bail.
The family of the boy alleged to be the victim in the case filed a claim Tuesday against Los Angeles County, alleging that a confidential memo on the allegations was leaked by someone in the Department of Children and Family Services.
The memo, leaked in December, said the pop star was cleared of misconduct by child welfare investigators after the boy denied he was molested by Jackson.
The department had a "total failure" to maintain the boy's legally required privacy and never has apologized, according to the claim, which is a precursor to a lawsuit.
"What we ask for is an apology," unspecified damages and a county investigation into the leak, attorney Larry Feldman said Wednesday.
In a statement, the department said it is investigating.
"We are committed to working with the district attorney's office and county agencies to find the person or person responsible for the release of this confidential information and hold them accountable," Director David Sanders said.