Jury selection in the Michael Jackson molestation case will be delayed for a week because of a death in the family of the pop star’s attorney, a judge said Monday.
Monday’s scheduled questioning of prospective jurors had been postponed last week because Thomas Mesereau Jr.’s sister was gravely ill. Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville said jury selection will resume on Feb. 14.
In another development, Melville also agreed to a request from various news organizations, including The Associated Press, to see the questionnaires filled out last week by prospective jurors.
A pool of about 250 prospective jurors was formed after the first round of questioning by the judge to determine which people would be able to serve on the expected six-month trial. The next round of questioning will involve defense attorneys and prosecutors.
Prosecutors had agreed to the release of the completed questionnaires, but defense attorneys argued that jurors might be less candid if they knew their answers would be made public.
The judge said he would edit the questionnaires to remove sensitive information at the request of prospective jurors. He said the questionnaires will be released sometime this week.
The latest delay slowed what had been a fast-paced start to the trial. Last week, Melville ended the first round of jury screening a day earlier than planned, saying the pool of 250 prospects should be large enough to find 12 jurors and eight alternates.
A copy of the questionnaire given to potential jurors was released to the media Wednesday. Prospective jurors were asked if they have ever had cancer, whether they followed similar 1993 allegations against Jackson and whether they could fairly judge people of other races.
Jackson, 46, is charged with molesting a 13-year-old former cancer patient. He is also charged with giving the boy alcohol and conspiring to hold him and his family at Jackson’s Neverland ranch. The pop star has said he expects to be acquitted.