SANTA MARIA, Calif. – Michael Jackson's (search) prosecutors have asked to keep the courtroom open during hearings on whether to admit into evidence allegations of prior sexual offenses by the singer.
The parties were due in court Wednesday to argue the admissibility of the alleged prior offenses and a motion to close the courtroom to exclude the evidence is that it is "inherently incredible." But the prosecution said that is for the jury, not the judge, to decide.
"Merely labeling the proposed testimony of an adverse witness as 'incredible' doesn't make it so," the motion said.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Gerald McC Franklin said the prosecutor who will argue the motion to admit evidence of prior acts will speak "with discretion" and "is acutely concerned that the right of both parties to a fair-minded and impartial jury not be prejudiced by references to evidence not yet made public."
In a separate motion, a coalition of news media organizations including The Associated Press opposed closing the courtroom, saying the motion by Jackson's lawyers flies in the face of a long history of U.S. Supreme Court and California Supreme Court (search) rulings guaranteeing openness in the courts.
"What transpires in the courtroom is public property," the motion said. "Mr. Jackson's celebrity status does not change that fact."
The prosecution supported opening the hearing, noting that the defense, while arguing that the hearings might prejudice the jury pool, has not expressed such concern on other issues that could be just as prejudicial.
Jackson, 46, is charged with plying a boy with alcohol and molesting him. He has pleaded not guilty.
Another recently released court document shows the judge has issued an order for Martin Bashir (search), the producer of a documentary about Jackson, to come to California to testify in the trial on March 1. Jury selection in the case is scheduled to begin Jan. 31.
Bashir now works as a correspondent for ABC News, which said Wednesday it plans to fight Bashir's subpoena.
"We feel strongly that the California shield law protects the rights of journalists who cannot be -- or be perceived to be -- arms of either the prosecution or defense as they pursue the news," ABC News vice president Jeffrey Schneider said in a statement.