The start of Michael Jackson's child-molestation trial has been delayed one week due to a death in the family of the singer's lead attorney, Thomas Mesereau.
Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville told the 250 prospective jurors in the case that he would push back the start of jury selection until February 14, in order to allow Mesereau to grieve for his sister, according to Reuters.
Due to the size of the group, Melville had to make the announcement in a gym near his courtroom. Attorneys had been scheduled to begin questioning the prospective jurors on Monday. The trial is expected to last six months, and Melville warned the potential jurors to avoid the voluminous press coverage of the case.
"You may not talk to anyone about this case or any subject connected to this case," the judge said, according to Reuters. "That includes each other."
After a request from the media, the judge has also ruled that reporters can get a look at the questionnaires filled out by prospective jurors later this week. Some sensitive information will be edited out, due to defense concerns that some of the jurors might have held back if they thought their answers would be made public.
Among the questions asked were whether they had ever had cancer — the teenage accuser at the center of the case has battled cancer — or if they were aware of and followed a similar molestation allegation leveled against Jackson in 1993. They were also asked if they could fairly judge people of different races, if they had ever been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior, if they ever worked with children, had friends who know Jackson or ever made "any type of claim for money damages."
For full coverage of the Michael Jackson case, see "Michael Jackson Accused."