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Journalist fights subpoena to testify at trial

D.A. wants Bashir to discuss outtakes of Jackson documentary
/ Source: The Associated Press

A television journalist has asked a judge to deny a request by prosecutors for him to testify at Michael Jackson’s child molestation trial.

Martin Bashir’s 2003 documentary prompted an outcry after Jackson said on camera that he continued to sleep in the same room as young boys. Bashir, who now works for ABC News, was called by prosecutors to testify about other things the pop star said that may not have made the two-hour documentary’s final cut.

But Bashir said in a motion filed Tuesday that his work “speaks for itself” and that under California’s shield law, journalists cannot be forced to testify about what they observe while reporting a story.

He added that ABC, which aired his report in the United States, can verify any part of it that is used as evidence in court. ABC officials have also said they will fight the prosecutors’ request.

Bashir’s motion is to be considered at a Jan. 28 hearing.

Meanwhile, a brief order issued by Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville indicated that prosecutors are asking that testimony from child witnesses be conducted in secret.

The judge’s order makes mention of “plaintiff’s motion for order directing that the testimony of child witnesses be closed to the public” in ruling that the motion be sealed until the Jan. 28 hearing. Melville indicated he would consider both the motion and requests to unseal it in some redacted form.

Attorney Theodore Boutrous, who has represented the news media in legal battles to keep as much of the trial as possible open to the public, did not immediately return a call for comment late Tuesday night.

Jackson, 46, is charged with plying a boy with alcohol and molesting him. He has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to face trial Jan. 31.