SANTA MARIA, Calif. – A judge denied a defense bid to delay Michael Jackson's (search) child molestation trial, saying it would be "a huge step backward" and clearing the way for the trial to begin next month as planned.
Judge Rodney S. Melville (search) also refused to dismiss the case for what his defense lawyers had argued was "vindictive prosecution and outrageous government conduct."
Jackson attorney Robert Sanger had asked Melville to postpone the trial for three months, allowing attorneys time to sort through 14,000 pages of evidence filed by prosecutors. The request stalled at Monday's pre-trial hearing for Jackson, who was not required to attend.
Melville said a trial delay would be "a huge step backward. ... If I continued the case three months, we'll have 90 more search warrants and 90 more motions."
The trial was scheduled to begin Jan. 31. Both sides estimated it could last four to five months.
Prosecutors had been expected to argue that they be allowed to present evidence during the trial of alleged wrongdoing in the entertainer's past. That matter, however, was rescheduled to be heard Jan. 12.
Jackson, 46, is charged with molesting a boy, conspiracy and administering an intoxicating agent, alcohol, to his alleged victim. He has pleaded not guilty.