Prosecutor Sent Letters out to Keep People Quiet+ Russ Halpern Comments- July 22 2004

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Prosecutor Sent Letters out to Keep People Quiet+ Russ Halpern Comments- July 22 2004

Post by whisper » Sun Aug 01, 2004 1:47 am

Report: Jackson prosecutor sent letters out to keep some quiet about case

The Associated Press


Last Updated: July 22, 2004, 09:15:23 PM PDT


LOS ANGELES (AP) - The district attorney prosecuting Michael Jackson for molestation said his office kept people from speaking publicly about the case by notifying them they could be called as witnesses, according to a published report.
"We sent letters to some people saying we intended to call them as witnesses in order to keep them off TV," Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon was quoted as telling fellow prosecutors Tuesday at a conference in Vancouver, Canada.

The Vancouver Globe and Mail reported that Sneddon made the remarks at a conference of the National District Attorneys Association.

Sneddon's spokeswoman, Susan Tellem, said she understood the remarks were made in a closed-door meeting and didn't know how a reporter got in. She also said she doesn't know if Sneddon was quoted accurately.

Attorneys contacted by The Associated Press late Thursday said that if Sneddon was purposely limiting speech by those he knew wouldn't be called as witnesses, he should be disciplined for abusing his power.

"He's saying I misused my power as district attorney in order to shut people up. ... That is a big, big violation," criminal attorney Russell Halpern said. "I think the state bar should investigate."

Halpern represents the father of Jackson's accuser in cases separate from the Jackson molestation case. He said he received a letter from the Santa Barbara district attorney's office in January saying he could be called as a witness, though he had no firsthand knowledge of the Jackson case. He has not been called.

Halpern said he was considering a lawsuit against Sneddon for violating his First Amendment rights.

"I have a lot of things I could say and I haven't voiced them because I've actually been intimidated to some degree," he said. "I felt all along that he was (disingenuous) when he sent me a letter saying I was a potential witness. His real interest was to stymie any comments made about his case."

Defense attorney Steve Cron, who has handled high profile cases, called Sneddon's remarks "shocking" and "totally unethical."

"I am just astounded. He is saying that he's using the judicial process untruthfully and improperly," he said. "I'm not surprised someone would do it. I'm surprised he would think there is nothing wrong with it."

:nav Source: http://www.mercedsun-star.com/state_wir ... 4935c.html

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