Prosecutor Tom Sneddon and his entire office should be removed from the Michael Jackson molestation case because he "is motivated by personal animosity" toward the singer, according to newly released court papers filed by Jackson's lawyers.
The motion says Sneddon's handling of the investigation has revealed a conflict of interest that prevents the singer from obtaining a fair trial.
Sneddon's office yesterday filed a notice with court saying that it will seek to delay a 14 October hearing on the matter of disqualifying the office. The notice said the state attorney general's office needs more time to respond to the motion by Jackson's lawyers.
The motion to disqualify Sneddon, district attorney for Santa Barbara County, and his office was filed under seal on Monday by Jackson attorney Steve Cochran, and a redacted version was released yesterday to the media.
It alleges Sneddon has a vendetta against Jackson dating to a 1993 molestation investigation that did not result in charges being filed.
"Mr Sneddon did not hide his anger that he was not able to charge Mr Jackson," the motion said. "This failure fuelled Mr Sneddon's zealousness in this matter."
The motion also alleges Sneddon in June 2003 personally conducted part of the investigation into the molestation allegations against Jackson. Last November, Sneddon travelled alone from Santa Barbara to Beverly Hills to canvass and photograph the building of private investigator Bradley Miller, who was working for Jackson's then-attorney Mark Geragos, the motion said.
Jackson's lawyers also claim Sneddon displayed his bias at a news conference in November 2003 announcing that an arrest warrant had been issued for Jackson.
Sneddon welcomed reporters with a joke and he "bantered with reporters and drew chuckles as he poked fun at Mr Jackson and his music. He smiled and smirked throughout the conference," the motion said.
The motion also claims Sneddon opted to convene a secret grand jury, instead of using a preliminary hearing, to obtain an indictment against Jackson and showed his bias during the grand jury proceedings.
"The prosecutors not only willfully violated the rules of evidence and grand jury decorum but also encouraged witnesses to try to persuade the jurors with impassioned and prejudicial remarks," the motion said.
Jackson's defence team also accuses Sneddon of allowing former Sheriff Jim Thomas to leak information on the case to the media.
"Any fair interpretation of Mr Thomas's role in this case is that he is the unofficial spokesperson for Tom Sneddon," the motion said.
Jackson has pleaded not guilty to child molestation, conspiracy and administering an intoxicating agent, alcohol.Reuse content