Attorneys for Michael Jackson were dealt a setback Friday when a judge ruled that police investigators can obtain information gathered by the attorney for the 13-year-old boy who is suing the pop star.
Jackson’s lawyers had tried to block Larry Feldman, the attorney representing the boy who claims he was sexually molested by Jackson, from providing authorities info obtained during the pretrial discovery phase of the civil suit. However, Superior Court judge David K. Rothman denied the request.
Information such as depositions of past and present employees of the singer, several of whom have already spoken with Feldman, as well as Jackson’s own deposition — scheduled to be taken Jan. 18 — will be provided to Los Angeles and Santa Barbara authorities.
The judge also refused to issue an order that would have prevented both sides from discussing the case publicly.
Jackson is expected to make a statement, which could come as early as today, but it is not clear what the singer will say or how it will be delivered.
But it is the availability of the Jackson deposition that is of concern to Jackson attorneys Johnnie Cochran and Howard Weitzman.
If the singer submits to the civil case deposition, it could provide police with a glimpse of his criminal case testimony or be compared with any statement Jackson might give to investigators. It could also give investigators additional leads that could aid their probe.
Several people have been deposed by Feldman, including Jackson’s security consultant Anthony Pellicano and a former housekeeper who said she observed the singer naked in the shower and jacuzzi with young boys.
But prosecutor Lauren Weis, the L.A. assistant district attorney assigned to the Jackson criminal case, assured the court that there is an ongoing investigation and they are not relying on information gathered in the civil case. A decision to file criminal charges against Jackson is not expected to be made until February.
Rothman also refused to grant a motion by Weitzman barring Feldman from publicly airing or characterizing statements from witnesses.
In seeking the “gag order,” Weitzman told the court that remarks made by Feldman to reporters could prejudice potential jurors, and hurt Jackson’s ability to get a fair trial. The civil case trial is set to begin March 21.
But Feldman said he would continue to speak out, as long as those associated with Jackson also continued to do so.
The lawyers agreed among themselves not to release testimony given by minors, medical or psychiatric reports or details about Jackson’s private security. They also agreed not to release videotaped deposition sessions.
The Jackson camp is still smarting over the release Friday of a videotaped deposition by the singer in an unrelated copyright infringement lawsuit given just days before he canceled his world tour.
The videotape shows Jackson, lethargic and with slurred speech, struggling to answer simple questions. The entertainer aborted the tour to seek treatment for an addiction to painkillers.