Judge fines Michael Jackson's lawyer

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The Independent US

The psychologist who told police of a 12-year-old boy's claims of being molested by pop singer Michael Jackson had patients on both sides of the case, a defence lawyer indicated in court yesterday.

The psychologist who told police of a 12-year-old boy's claims of being molested by pop singer Michael Jackson had patients on both sides of the case, a defence lawyer indicated in court yesterday.

Besides his ties to the child, the psychologist had as a patient an investigator who once worked for one of Jackson's attorneys, the lawyer said.

Psychologist Stan Katz declined to discuss his relationship with private investigator Bradley Miller, claiming doctor-patient confidentiality.

Defence attorney Brian Oxman persisted: "Bradley Miller is a very special patient of yours, is he not, Dr Katz?"

"If he were a patient, I could not disclose that because of the privilege," Katz replied.

After Oxman again questioned Katz about Miller, Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville ruled that the therapist could not be forced to answer and ordered the lawyer to drop the subject.

After a number of additional questions in which Oxman referred to Miller as Katz's "patient" or "client," the judge interrupted and fined the lawyer 1,000 dollars (£543).

In raising the issue, the defence was seeking to show that the psychologist probably knew that the investigator worked for Jackson attorney Mark Geragos - and probably told authorities.

The defence is trying to convince that judge that evidence seized during a search of the investigator's office should be barred from Jackson's trial. If authorities knew of the investigator's link to Geragos, the search violated the attorney-client privilege, the defence maintains.

Authorities - including Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon, who conducted surveillance at the office - deny they were aware of any link between the investigator and Geragos.

Jackson, 45, is charged with committing a lewd act upon a child, administering an intoxicating agent and conspiring to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion. He has pleaded not guilty and is free on 3 million dollars (£1.63 million) bail.

Later yesterday the judge ruled against a defence effort to attack the validity of a police search of Jackson's Neverland Ranch.

"There was probable cause to believe that Michael Jackson had committed the offences based on the statements of the minor witness," the judge said, adding that that was sufficient reason for authorities to enter Neverland and search computers and written documents for information.

The judge did allow the defence to go ahead with a challenge of specific areas of the search, granting a one-day break in the proceedings for Jackson's lawyers to compile a list of all evidence they believe should be suppressed.

The hearing resumes tomorrow.

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