By LINDA DEUTSCH, Associated Press Special Correspondent
LOS ANGELES - Michael Jackson's prosecutor is opposing a move by the pop singer to reduce his $3 million bail, arguing the performer might choose to live the rest of his life as "a wealthy absconder" rather than face a life term in a California prison.
The prosecution motion, written by Deputy District Attorney Gerald McC. Franklin, conceded that the county bail schedule calls for a potential maximum bail of $435,000 for the child molestation and conspiracy charges against Jackson, but he argued the performer is no ordinary defendant and the bail schedule does not apply to him.
He cited Jackson's holdings of 2,000 acres in Santa Barbara County as well as other property.
"The defendant here is 'Michael Jackson, international celebrity,' a man whose lifestyle to date would not have prepared him to adapt readily to a prison environment and routine, and whose physical stature will present its own problems for him in making the necessary adjustments.
"Mr. Jackson has doubtlessly given those realities considerable thought," the motion said.
The motion obtained by media lawyers Sunday said Jackson's immense wealth requires at least $3 million bail to insure that he will appear for trial and, if convicted, would be prepared to serve a lengthy prison sentence.
"The temptation to flee must surely be strong for an individual in defendant's circumstances," said the motion. "To suppose otherwise would be to blink reality."
Jackson's lawyer, Thomas Mesereau Jr., did not immediately return phone calls Sunday.
The motion included a footnote alluding to the case of Andrew Luster, an heir to the Max Factor cosmetics fortune who fled from Ventura County to Mexico during his rape prosecution "notwithstanding his $1 million bail bond." Luster ultimately was captured in Mexico.
Franklin posed the likelihood that a number of countries would welcome Jackson if he fled.
"Mr. Jackson is known and adored — 'adored' is not too strong a word — in many of the countries of Europe, the Near East and Africa," said the motion.
"Several of those countries do not have extradition treaties with the United States. ... he may well conclude that life as a wealthy absconder in one of these countries is preferable to what might amount to a life term in a California prison," the motion said.
The motion acknowledged the defense argument that Jackson has made all of his court appearances, but argues that one of the reasons he did so was the $3 million bail.
Jackson has pleaded not guilty to child molestation, administering an intoxicating agent, and a conspiracy count involving allegations of child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.
Many details of the indictment remain under seal, and media outlets, including The Associated Press, have sued to have the indictment and grand jury transcripts unsealed in their entirety. Their lawyers obtained the prosecution's motion opposing the reduction in bail.
The Jackson defense has opposed public access to the indictment.
In a separate motion, prosecutors said they agree with Jackson's attorneys that secrecy should continue.
The prosecutor said jurors "should learn about the evidence while seated in the jury box, not at the breakfast table or from late-night talk shows."
The motions were to be argued at Jackson's next hearing May 28.Posted by MK Magazine at May 24, 2004 10:10 AM