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Would-be Jackson jurors asked about race, abuse

Jury selection in Jackson trial set to resume on Monday
/ Source: Reuters

Would-be jurors in the Michael Jackson trial were asked in writing if they knew about past or current accusations of child sex abuse against the pop star and for their feelings about people of different races.

A copy of the 41-question, seven-page questionnaire that was given to jury candidates earlier this week was made public Wednesday by Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville.

Melville ended the first phase of jury selection Tuesday after finding a pool of 250 people willing to serve on Jackson’s trial. From that pool he will ultimately swear in 12 jurors and eight alternates to sit on the case.

Jackson, 46, could face more than 30 years in prison if he is convicted on all 10 counts of a Santa Barbara County grand jury indictment that charges him with molesting a 13-year-old boy and conspiring to commit extortion, child abduction and false imprisonment. Jury selection is set to resume Monday.

Melville, who has sealed many of the key documents in the case in order to protect Jackson’s right to a fair trial, did not make public the answers supplied by prospective jurors.

The judge crafted the form out of questions supplied to him by Santa Barbara prosecutors and Jackson’s lawyers and it contained questions mostly asking for such background information as age, gender, marital status and occupation.

The jury candidates were also asked if their feelings about people of different races might affect their ability to be fair or if they had ever worked for a group dealing with child safety, abuse or mistreatment.

They were asked to inform the court if they or a friend or relative had ever been accused of “inappropriate sexual behavior” or had been the victim of such acts.

Only five questions referred directly to Jackson, one asking: “Have you ever known anyone who has met Michael Jackson or spent any time at Neverland?” A second question asked for knowledge of the current case.

Another asked if they knew of child abuse accusations leveled against Jackson in the past. It said, “Do you know or have you read, seen or heard ANYTHING about the publicity regarding the 1993-1994 investigation against Michael Jackson?”

A young boy accused Jackson of molesting him in the mid-1990s, but the performer and the accuser’s family settled the case out of court. Jackson was never arrested or charged in that case.