Posted on Fri, Jan. 21, 2005
Jackson judge to allow testimony by expert on molest cases
SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The judge in the Michael Jackson case gave prosecutors permission Friday to introduce testimony about child-molestation misperceptions and myths during the pop star's trial.
Prosecutors said they want an expert witness to testify about why victims sometimes wait to report molestation, give incomplete accounts, don't tell close relatives or retain affection for their abusers.
Jackson's attorneys argued against such testimony, telling Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville that it could be used to buttress unreliable testimony from the alleged victim and his family.
Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. said the expert testimony should not be allowed if the defense can prove the alleged victim and his family "aren't victims at all, they're flat-out liars."
"We're quite confident of what they're going to look like after they're subjected finally to cross-examination," Mesereau said.
The defense attorney said the family had made inconsistent statements to police, social workers, Jackson and Jackson's employees. Mesereau also said the defense would show the family had lied "in their community, in their school, in their acting school."
Mesereau's last reference was unclear, but Jackson's accuser once took part in a stand-up comedy camp for underprivileged children.
The comedy club owner who hosted the camp, Jamie Masada, ultimately brought Jackson and the boy together while the boy was battling cancer.
Jackson, 46, has pleaded not guilty to an April indictment alleging child molestation and other crimes.
The judge also told prosecutors and defense attorneys he had "gutted" their proposed questionnaires for prospective jurors. He said the questionnaires would have delved too deeply into the prospects' personal lives.
Melville said jury selection will begin Jan. 31 with 300 prospects, continue the next day with another 300 prospects and the day after that with 150 prospects. Attorneys will then have four days to read the questionnaires before meeting on Feb. 7 to see if the defense and prosecution can agree which prospects to remove.
The judge said he wants to have eight alternate jurors, which met with the approval of attorneys but raised the question of where to seat them all. Mesereau jokingly offered one solution: "If there are any problems with seating, your honor, they can join us on the defense side," he said.
The judge said that when testimony begins he will hold court from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. each day, taking several 10-minute breaks but no lunch break.
Melville also said he will not release a DVD of a search of Jackson's Neverland estate but will make arrangements for the news media to view it in the courtroom.