The Santa Barbara County district attorney began questioning potential memebers of a Grand Jury in the Michael Jackson criminal case.
Over 100 Santa Barbara County residents met inside the jury assembly room early Thursday morning, 19 of which will be chosen to serve on the Michael Jackson Grand Jury. If 12 jurors believe there is enough evidence to support the charges, then Jackson will face a trial in Santa Maria. It's an unusual move by district attorney Tom Sneddon, but one that may be advantageous to the prosecution in such a high-profile trial, according to former Santa Barbara County Sheriff Jim Thomas.
"I had a feeling Tom would do this," says Thomas. "It just makes sense. There are more pros than cons. It allows you to bring in witnesses and put them in a court-like proceeding without having a defense cross-examination, so it at least gives them some experience with that," inform ksby.com
Media access in the Michael Jackson child molestation case came to the forefront again as prospective grand jurors arrived at court.
An attorney representing news organizations, including The Associated Press, called on Superior Court Judge Clifford R. Anderson III to vacate or modify his order banning journalists from photographing or speaking to prospective grand jurors.
As prospective jurors headed into the assembly room Thursday, reporters and photographers zeroed in on the jurors' spouses - not mentioned in Anderson's ruling. Sheriff's officials in turn handed the media copies of the order, which warned that violations may be contempt of court, a misdemeanor, report miami.com
Jackson has pleaded innocent to seven counts of committing lewd or lascivious acts upon a child under age 14, and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent to the child.
The oddity in the Jackson case is the grand jury hearings are being held four months after District Attorney Tom Sneddon filed charges - rather than as a prelude to the filing.
Normally, the filing of charges would lead to a public preliminary hearing. With a grand jury, all testimony is given behind closed doors; defense attorneys do not get to cross-examine witnesses and the public and press are absent, according to salon.com
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