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Michael Jackson's father hires lawyer

He wants Debra Opri to be ‘an extra pair of eyes’ on his son's case.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Michael Jackson has juggled lawyers as his child molestation case moves forward. Now, his father wants his own attorney to be an “extra pair of eyes” in court.

Joseph Jackson hired Debra Opri, who frequently appears on TV as a legal analyst and has represented music legend James Brown, to represent his interests in the case.

“I’m not participating in the case at this point,” Opri said Monday in a phone interview. But she said Joseph Jackson wants her to attend court hearings with him “to tell him what’s going on.”

Jackson attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr., who replaced Mark Geragos last month, said he knew about the arrangement with Opri but has not met or spoken with her.

Opri said she hopes that will change. Opri, who heads a Beverly Hills law firm, said she attended Jackson’s arraignment in Santa Maria with Jackson’s parents on April 30 and plans to be in court Friday for another hearing in the case.

“At this point I’m representing family interests,” she said. “Joseph loves his son and wants to be kept updated on everything.”

“I am a person who believes in justice and I believe Michael Jackson is innocent,” she said. “I don’t believe that he has the capacity to formulate a criminal intent. ... I just think I can help.”

Attorney Brian Oxman, the longtime Jackson family lawyer, said he was aware of Opri’s new role but refused to comment other than to say it would not interfere with Mesereau’s representation of Jackson.

Also Monday, Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville ordered unsealed a motion by Jackson’s attorneys to reduce his $3 million bail.

Melville’s action came after protests from media attorney Theodore Boutrous Jr., who said in a motion that the parties in the Jackson case should not be allowed to keep sealing every legal brief that mentions witnesses or matters of substance “and then to place the burden on the press and public to seek to unseal the records.”

Such a practice, he said, imposes a presumption of secrecy in violation of the First Amendment.

Melville gave attorneys until 10 a.m. Tuesday to respond to his order.

Major arguments are expected Friday regarding the lid of secrecy clamped on most important documents in the case.