August 19, 2004
SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Michael Jackson's defense lawyers aim to find out whether authorities violated his attorney-client privilege when they broke into the office of a private investigator hired by the pop star.
To that end, Jackson's lawyers planned to call as a witness the stepfather of the 12-year-old boy accusing Jackson of molestation. The stepfather, referred to in court as "Mr. Doe" to protect his identity, was scheduled to begin testimony at a pretrial hearing Thursday.
Jackson's defense wants to know what the stepfather might have known about the relationship between the private investigator, Bradley Miller, and Jackson's former lawyer, Mark Geragos.
The issue is whether anyone told prosecutors and sheriff's deputies that Miller was working for Geragos before authorities decided to break into Miller's office and seize evidence. The defense contends that if authorities knew the investigator and lawyer were working together, the search violated attorney-client privilege of confidentiality.
Evidence seized during the raid included the so-called "rebuttal video," which was intended to answer negative publicity surrounding a British TV special on Jackson. The stepfather is said to have been present when Miller supervised the making of the video, during which the boy and his family reportedly vouch for Jackson's good character. Prosecutors say the family was coerced into making the video.
In addition to Mr. Doe, witnesses under subpoena for Thursday included William Dickerman, the attorney who once represented the family, and a number of sheriff's detectives.
Defense attorneys also plan to challenge individual items seized during a search of Jackson's Neverland Ranch.
Meanwhile, Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville agreed to let Jackson file a request to make a public statement despite a gag order in the trial, according to papers posted on the court's Web site Wednesday. Jackson's lawyers filed the request Aug. 13, with the proposed statement blacked out.
Also posted on the Web site Wednesday was Jackson's request to file an objection to the release of a sealed report by the California attorney general. In that document, state officials reportedly concluded that Jackson was not mistreated, as he had claimed, when he surrendered to authorities last year. A copy of the leaked report was posted Sunday on the CBS News Web site.
Jackson, 45, is charged with committing a lewd act upon a child, administering an intoxicating agent and conspiring to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion. He has pleaded not guilty and is free on $3 million bail.