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Judge Denies Jackson Request

Defense had sought psychological exams of the pop star's accuser and the boy's family.

November 30, 2004|Steve Chawkins | Times Staff Writer

SANTA MARIA, Calif. — Michael Jackson's attorneys on Monday failed in their effort to force the pop star's accuser, and the boy's brother and mother, to undergo psychological evaluations.

Without comment, Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville denied the defense request for the examinations. In an unusual move, Melville prevented attorneys from arguing the motion at a pretrial hearing, choosing to base his decision on legal briefs that had been submitted earlier.

By skipping oral arguments, Melville limited potential jurors' exposure to one of the defense's key contentions: that the boy's mother boy is a chronic liar and emotionally unstable.

Jackson, who has been charged on suspicion of molesting the 12-year-old boy and conspiring to cover it up, is to face trial Jan. 31.

In their written arguments, prosecutors contended that airing allegations of the family's psychological quirks would be prejudicial.

"It is not unreasonable to suppose defense counsel will be eager to rehearse all of those 'facts' ... in the presence of media representatives," prosecutors wrote.

They asked the judge to warn Jackson's lawyers not to use inflammatory material in court and to remind them that penalties would be "swift in their coming and biblical in their severity."

In court documents, defense attorney Brian Oxman argued that psychological exams of the boy and his family members would be only fair. Los Angeles psychologist Stanley Katz had examined them and independent exams would be necessary for defense attorneys to cross-examine Katz, Oxman argued. Katz had earlier alerted authorities that Jackson may have molested the boy.

Oxman has subpoenaed medical records concerning the boy and his family. In court Monday, prosecutor Ron Zonen criticized the defense effort as a fishing expedition.

"They are simply not entitled to the gynecological records of the victim's sister, or mother," Zonen said. "That constitutes harassment."

In court papers, defense attorneys have claimed such records could be relevant because they might point to drug use.

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