Jackson Charges To Remain Secret, Judge Rules

'Integrity of jury pool' would be threatened by disclosure of materials, judge says.

The exact details of the charges against Michael Jackson continue to be kept tightly under wraps.

The Superior Court judge presiding over Jackson's case has ruled that the court will not release grand jury materials or grant requests for the release of unspecified evidence.

At the previous hearing, Santa Barbara Country Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville heard motions for the release of evidence and the unsealing of grand jury documents, and said he would consider granting both requests. On Thursday, however, Melville ruled that all materials would remain conditionally sealed.

"In the extraordinary, high publicity environment of this proceeding," he said, "the integrity of the jury pool is threatened if extensive disclosure of evidence that may or may not be admissible at trial takes place before the jury is selected."

The California Penal Code provides that the transcript of proceedings before the grand jury be closed to the public until 10 days after it is delivered to the defense. Melville decided, however, that the transcript will be kept conditionally sealed until the court decides which portions may be released without threatening the process of a fair trial.

Melville further specified the importance of the conditional sealing of the "overt acts" section of the conspiracy charge, as it details the alleged acts for which Jackson is being indicted and names his alleged coconspirators who have not yet been indicted.

The court did, however, rule that public access to less confidential documents including sentencing considerations, findings of the grand jury, and other parts of the indictment, continue to be granted.

The court will reconsider the media's request for greater access to grand jury materials and the release of evidence at the next hearing on June 25.

For full coverage of the Michael Jackson case, see "Michael Jackson Accused."