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Judge bans cameras from Jackson hearing

Child molestation case hearing to take place on Feb 13
/ Source: Reuters

The judge presiding over the Michael Jackson child molestation case  Friday rejected a bid by news organizations to place cameras in court at a Feb. 13 hearing for the onetime “King of Pop.”

Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville, who last week denied requests by news organizations for a hearing on the issue, offered no reason for turning them down.

His ruling came on the same day that prosecutors, who previously said they would not oppose cameras for pre-trial hearings in the sensational case, filed court papers saying that they had changed their minds and would now object.

News organizations had argued in court papers that cameras should be allowed. They argued that a wild spectacle that erupted around a prior Jackson hearing should be countered by images of the orderly proceedings.

Jackson, 45, sent fans at the courthouse in Santa Maria, California, into a frenzy after a January hearing when he climbed on top of his sports utility vehicle to wave and dance. It was not yet clear if Jackson would attend the Feb. 13 court session, at which Melville was expected to set a preliminary hearing date and possibly rule on other matters.

Jackson is charged with seven counts of lewd acts on a child under the age of 14 and two counts of plying the boy with alcohol in order to seduce him. The singer has pleaded innocent and called the charges a “big lie.”

Most of the evidence in the case has been kept secret at the request of prosecutors and Jackson’s attorneys despite the efforts of news organizations.