Published January 14, 2015
Michael Jackson's (search) attorneys asked a judge Tuesday to seal several motions in the child molestation case, including their request that the indictment against the pop star be thrown out.
The request continued a pattern of secrecy in the case. The other documents involved defense motions that challenged search warrants and affidavits filed by authorities seeking the warrants.
The motion by defense attorney Robert Sanger (search) said the documents would disclose "the testimony of witnesses or potential witnesses and disclose possible evidence" that may not be admitted at trial.
Ted Boutrous, an attorney for news organizations covering the case, including The Associated Press, said Jackson's challenge of the searches and the indictment could be key motions in the case. He argued the public had a right to see them to decide if the court was being fair.
"So much of the material is under seal that that creates a vicious circle where the parties think that every document that gets filed must also be under seal," Boutrous said. "Sealing breeds more sealing."
Judge Rodney S. Melville (search) has previously declined to make more information available to the public. In a hearing Friday, he rejected Boutrous' request that he unseal 47 search warrants and the entire grand jury indictment against Jackson.
Melville told Boutrous he was keeping the evidence sealed to make sure that Jackson receives a fair trial.
"Mr. Boutrous, you know that everything I'm doing is according to the law," the judge said. "I'm being very careful in following the law. Please do not mislead the press about this. I support the First Amendment."
Jackson, 45, has pleaded not guilty to committing a lewd act upon a child, administering alcohol, and conspiracy to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.