Prosecutors said on Friday they have evidence that Michael Jackson’s legal team organized rallies for the pop star shortly after he was charged with child molestation.
Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen said that during a raid on the home of Jackson’s personal assistant in September, authorities found material showing the defense had coordinated the demonstrations in a bid to “generate crowds, publicity and media coverage.”
But Jackson lawyer Robert Sanger said during a hearing in the case that none of the entertainer’s current attorneys had anything to do with such activities and added that it was difficult to tell from the documents what the plans involved.
“There is some indication that someone in January is planning to come to court and demonstrate in front of Sneddon’s office,” Sanger said in reference to Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon.
The exchange came as lawyers for the entertainer argued that the documents should be barred from his upcoming trial because they were not properly seized under a search warrant.
Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville agreed, saying organizing rallies on behalf of a defendant was not improper.
The discussion offered a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the public relations battle in the Jackson case, which has attracted worldwide media coverage because of the 46-year-old entertainer’s fame.
Jackson is charged in a 10-count indictment with child molestation and conspiracy and is set to stand trial next January. He skipped the two-day hearing with Melville’s permission.
Prosecutors and Jackson’s lawyers spent much of the day arguing over the search, which the defense contended was improper.
Melville said he was not inclined to agree, but would issue a formal ruling on Wednesday.
The judge also said that he was determined to see that the trial begin as scheduled on Jan. 31, despite hints from the defense that they may need more time to prepare.
The judge has imposed strict secrecy on the case and sealed most substantive court documents, so lawyers were left speaking largely in code about evidence taken in the raid.