A trial in the case could start as soon as September 13, the date that Judge Rodney Melville set during a hearing in Santa Maria on Friday. During the court proceedings, Jackson’s lead attorney, Thomas Meserau, said Michael Jackson’s $3 million bail amount is excessive. However, prosecutors argue $3 million is a fraction of Jackson’s worth, and if his bail is reduced, they fear he’ll flee to a country the United States doesn’t have an extradition treaty with.
While Judge Melville made no decision on the issue, the hearing gave a better perspective on the size of the investigation. So far, 400 pieces of evidence have been collected, and an estimated 100 witnesses are involved with the case.
The hearing was a low-key affair by Jackson standards; there was only a small crowd of fans and media present outside of the Santa Maria courthouse, and Jackson himself was not present at the hearing. Judge Melville declined to release the full trannscript of the Grand Jury proceedings and decided not to unseal the full indictment of the case, in an effort to protect the potential jury pool. Media attorney Theodore Bourtros says that’s not a good enough reason.
“Jurors and people who are called to jury duty will be fair,” said Boutrous. “They will tell the court if they think they can serve as a juror. There’s no reason to expect that of the people of Santa Maria and Santa Barbara County.”
Defense attorneys declined to comment on the case, and the singer’s father, Joe Jackson, was the only immediate member of the family present at Friday’s hearing.