Media Organizations Seek To End Gag Order In Jackson Case

Lawyers for CNN, ABC, The New York Times and others will also ask for hearings to be made public.

If media organizations score a victory in Michael Jackson's child-molestation case on Wednesday, the public may be able to view the entire grand-jury indictment describing the singer's alleged crimes.

Lawyers for media organizations including CNN, ABC, The New York Times, The Associated Press and others will move to lift the gag order that restricts attorneys from revealing details of the Jackson case, and will ask that the hearings for the case be made public, according to the AP.

The judge in the Jackson case, Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville, wants to keep certain information and documents from the public in an effort to keep potential jurors unbiased about Jackson and the trial.

Media organizations have been battling the court for access to case details for some time, but in early June 2004, Melville ruled that the court would not release grand-jury materials and would not honor requests for the release of unspecified evidence, explaining that "the integrity of the jury pool is threatened if extensive disclosure of evidence ... takes place before the jury is selected" (see "Jackson Charges To Remain Secret, Judge Rules").

Attorney Theodore Boutros, who also represents CBS, FOX News, Los Angeles Times, NBC, USA Today and The Washington Post has reportedly said that the media's limited access to information about the trial has prevented the public from telling whether or not the case is proceeding justly.

Following a request from the media, Melville recently ruled that reporters will be allowed to view the questionnaires filled out by prospective jurors later this week (see "Michael Jackson Trial Delayed A Week").

When he goes before a three-judge panel of California's 2nd District Court of Appeal today, Boutros will press the court to allow his clients access to the grand jury indictment, as well as a series of motions and search warrants including the warrant for the November 2003 search of the singer's Neverland Ranch.

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