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Media attorney wants Jackson order lifted

An attorney for news organizations asked an appeals court to lift a gag order that bars those involved in the Michael Jackson child molestation case.
/ Source: The Associated Press

An attorney for news organizations asked an appeals court to immediately lift a gag order that bars those involved in the Michael Jackson child molestation case from speaking about it publicly.

In a filing before the state Court of Appeals, attorney Theodore Boutrous said the order imposed unconstitutional "prior restraint" on attorneys and potential witnesses. He said it should be lifted immediately.

Boutrous noted Jackson and his attorneys have opposed the order, saying it blocks their ability to address false rumors and news reports, and that Jackson attorney Mark Geragos remained opposed.

Geragos confirmed that Thursday. "Our position remains the same," he said.

The Santa Barbara County district attorney's office, which supports the order, did not immediately return a call for comment.

The order was imposed by Judge Rodney S. Melville, who has resisted changing its terms in the past. At a hearing last week, he made what he said was a final change to the policy. He said attorneys wishing to respond to news reports could submit to him in writing what they wanted to release, and that he would rule on whether the statements violated the gag order.

Boutrous, whose clients include The Associated Press, has been pushing for months for greater public access to information in the case.

Jackson was charged by the district attorney late last year with committing lewd or lascivious acts upon a child and administering an intoxicating agent to the child. Jackson has pleaded innocent. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Friday.