LOS ANGELES – Michael Jackson's (search) father, Joseph, has hired a lawyer to be his "extra pair of eyes" keeping track of the child molestation case against his son, according to a statement issued on the father's behalf Monday.
Debra Opri (search), who frequently appears on TV as a legal analyst and has represented music legend James Brown (search), said she was retained by the senior Jackson to represent his interests in the case.
"I'm not participating in the case at this point," Opri said in a phone interview. But she said Joseph Jackson wants her to attend court hearings with him "to tell him what's going on."
"From now on he feels the urgent need to have an extra pair of eyes properly advise him and Mrs. Jackson," the family statement said.
Jackson attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. (search) said he was apprised of the senior Jackson's arrangement with Opri but, "I've never met or spoken to her in my life."
Opri said she hopes that will change. Opri, who heads a Beverly Hills law firm, said she attended Jackson's arraignment in Santa Maria with Jackson's parents on April 30 and plans to be in court Friday for another hearing in the case.
"At this point I'm representing family interests," she said. "Joseph loves his son and wants to be kept updated on everything."
She suggested in a phone interview that she could be a helpful presence on the defense team if she was added.
"I know Santa Barbara; I had a satellite office there for a while," she said. And her representation of Brown would add to the team, "a white woman who has represented another American icon."
"I am a person who believes in justice and I believe Michael Jackson is innocent," she said. "I don't believe that he has the capacity to formulate a criminal intent. ... I just think I can help."
Attorney Brian Oxman, the longtime Jackson family lawyer, said he was aware of Opri's new role but refused to comment other than to say it would not interfere with Mesereau's representation of Jackson.
In other developments Monday, media lawyers protested the sealing of a motion by Jackson to reduce his $3 million bail. Prosecutors' opposition to the motion became public over the weekend.
No sooner had the media motion been filed than Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville made public an order for the bail motion and a motion for discovery to be unsealed. But he said he would edit them to remove certain names. He gave lawyers until 10 a.m. Tuesday to protest the unsealing.
Media attorney Theodore Boutrous Jr. said in his motion that the parties in the Jackson case should not be allowed to keep sealing every legal brief that mentions witnesses or matters of substance "and then to place the burden on the press and public to seek to unseal the records."
Such a practice, he said, imposes a presumption of secrecy in violation of the First Amendment.
Major arguments are expected Friday regarding the lid of secrecy clamped on most important documents in the case.