Published July 14, 2004
LOS ANGELES – The judge in the Michael Jackson (search) child molestation case, who has been keeping most evidence and documents secret, sealed a motion Wednesday in which Jackson's lawyers are asking to postpone the trial.
Judge Rodney Melville (search) gave no reason for sealing the request other than to say it was done with "good cause having been shown."
It was impossible to tell from the motion notice how long a delay is sought.
"We've been arguing that the public has a right to know what happens in court," said Theodore Boutrous Jr. (search), a lawyer representing news organizations that want more documents in the case unsealed. "Now we don't even know when it's going to happen."
In May, the judge set a trial date of Sept. 13 but acknowledged the parties might not be ready by then. He called the date "a bull's eye that we're shooting at" after noting complaints from Jackson's attorneys about the volume of evidence they still had to examine.
The defense and prosecution are under orders to file every document in the case under seal and then let the judge decide if it should be made public. In some instances the judge has released heavily edited documents including a motion to dismiss the charges. But he has kept secret many details of the grand jury indictment of Jackson and the transcripts of grand jury hearings.
Lawyers in the case are under a court-imposed gag order preventing them from commenting on when the trial might start.
Jackson, 45, is charged with committing a lewd act upon a child, administering an intoxicating agent and conspiring to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.
Boutrous, who represents a coalition of news organizations including The Associated Press, has filed an appeal of about a dozen decisions by Melville sealing information from public view.