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Jackson ‘wants his stuff ’ returned

Lawyers ask court to return items seized in 2003 raid
/ Source: Reuters

Three days before they acquitted Michael Jackson, jurors asked to hear all testimony from the boy who accused the pop star of molestation, newly released documents showed Thursday.

A handwritten note from the jury foreman and Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville’s response that the request would be granted was one of six notes released at the request of the media.

On the day they returned their verdicts, jurors were briefly deadlocked on two lesser charges that accused Jackson of furnishing alcohol to a minor, the documents also showed.

“We cannot agree on the lesser counts of seven and eight,” said the note which was quickly superseded by another note saying, “Please disregard our prior request with counts 7 and 8.”

A short time later, jurors acquitted Jackson of all 10 charges.

The judge, who placed a tight lid of secrecy on evidence in the trial, said at a hearing earlier in the day that he intends to release virtually every sealed document and also ordered that authorities return the pop star’s passport.

Melville, who said he accomplished his goal of providing a fair trial to both sides, was still considering a request to release videos shown during the trial. He delayed the release of many items to give attorneys time to object to unsealing specific documents. He told lawyers to submit any requests to keep matters sealed by June 23.

“I have no intention to keep anything sealed except something that might involve privacy matters of a juror,” Melville said.

On Monday, Jackson, 46, was acquitted on all charges that alleged he molested a 13-year-old cancer survivor in 2003, plied the boy with wine and conspired to hold him and his family captive to get them to make a video rebutting a damaging television documentary.

Jackson, who surrendered his passport after his arrest in 2003, has not appeared in public since the verdict. His brother Jermaine said Wednesday on CNN that he was resting, and, on the issue of whether he might move away, said that “we’ve always had a love for places outside the U.S.”

Material that was sealed included search warrants, sections of motions that were blacked out, questions asked by the jury during deliberations and transcripts of hearings in the judge’s chambers.

Melville said the material was so voluminous it probably cannot be released for about a month.

The judge initially refused to allow the electronic media to copy videos shown during the trial after Jackson defense attorney Robert Sanger argued there was no legal right for the media to be allowed to sell evidence in the case by broadcasting it worldwide.

Sanger said that the videos included pictures of Jackson’s home, which he said have privacy interests.

“There’s no right to sell those around the world. This is not a public-interest issue,” he said.

Media lawyer Theodore Boutrous Jr. argued that certain videos, primarily the so-called rebuttal video, had been a focus of the trial and “we think there’s a public interest in that.”

Boutrous said the judge should release those videos that were central to the case.

The judge acknowledged that he had clashed with the media over First Amendment issues before and during the trial.

“The issues are very important issues,” Melville said. “I had issues to protect, things that needed to be done to create a fair trial for both parties.”

On another issue, the judge agreed to return Jackson family memorabilia that had been seized from a New Jersey man who bought the items at an auction of a commercial storage locker’s contents. None of the items were used as evidence in the Jackson case.