The California district attorney prosecuting Michael Jackson on child molestation charges is “blinded by zeal” and “personal animosity” and must be removed from the case, lawyers for the performer charged in court documents made public Thursday.
Jackson’s attorneys argue in the papers that what they called Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon’s vendetta against their client had made him insert himself into the investigation improperly, act unprofessionally before a grand jury and leak information to reporters.
“(He) is blinded by zeal to convict Michael Jackson,” the pop star’s attorneys said in a 40-page motion unsealed by the court on Thursday, adding: “Mr. Sneddon has abandoned his role as public prosecutor and is motivated by his personal animosity toward Mr. Jackson.”
A spokeswoman for Sneddon was not immediately available for comment.
The motion asks Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville to remove Sneddon from the case. Melville is expected to rule on the request in the coming weeks, though legal experts say such maneuvers rarely succeed.
Jackson’s lawyers said Sneddon overstepped his role as lead prosecutor when he drove to Beverly Hills to personally conduct surveillance on the offices of an investigator working for the pop star’s then-attorney.
After taking pictures of the building, Sneddon met with the mother of Jackson’s teenage accuser and put evidence she gave him into the trunk of his car.
Defense lawyers also pointed to Sneddon’s “jovial” manner at a news conference to announce the charges and his “bullying” behavior before a grand jury that indicted Jackson on 10 counts of child molestation and conspiracy.
“This type of behavior not only demeans the office of the district attorney but in a grand jury setting makes it impossible for grand jurors to remain impartial and perform their duty as an independent body,” Jackson’s lawyers said. “In short, Mr. Sneddon transferred his bias to the grand jury, thus irreparably tainting the entire process.”