December 14, 2004
LOS ANGELES - Michael Jackson's lawyers have filed a motion to dismiss the child molestation charges against the pop star on grounds of "vindictive prosecution and outrageous government conduct."
They also want to push back the Jan. 31 trial date that Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville has pressed lawyers to meet for starting jury selection.
The motions, filed Dec. 10 and made available Monday, are scheduled for argument in hearings to begin Dec. 20.
The defense also asked Melville to suppress all evidence seized under the latest search warrants in the case. That motion and the others likely stem from an unexpected search of Jackson's Neverland ranch on Dec. 3 and 4 during which authorities also took a DNA sample from the entertainer.
Legal experts had predicted that the searches, on the eve of a deadline for turning over all discovery materials, would set the stage for defense lawyers to seek a delay in starting the trial.
"How do you go to trial in a case when they are still serving search warrants?" said Loyola University Law Professor Laurie Levenson.
Lawyers in the case, who are abiding by the judge's strict gag order, refused to comment on the new filings.
The 46-year-old entertainer has pleaded not guilty to charges of child molestation, conspiracy and administering an intoxicating agent, alcohol, to his alleged victim.
Jackson's estate was searched in November 2003, shortly before he was charged. In the latest visit, sheriff's deputies stayed more than eight hours one day, then returned the second day to take the DNA sample, which Jackson provided voluntarily.