Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Los Angeles Michael Jackson dropped the two high-profile lawyers leading his defense in a child molestation case, declaring on Monday that his life is at stake and that he deserved their full attention.
The pop star's announcement came in a statement issued a day after attorneys Mark Geragos and Benjamin Brafman said they voluntarily "stepped down" from the case for reasons they would not discuss publicly.
"I have not replaced my defense team," said the statement, which was issued by Jackson's spokeswoman, Raymone K. Bain. "I have replaced the lead attorneys. And, contrary to reports, this is a decision that I have personally made."
The statement suggested that Jackson was concerned because Geragos was also representing Scott Peterson, who is accused of killing his pregnant wife, Laci.
Brafman, a top New York attorney, was working with Geragos on the Jackson case but had to travel cross-country for court appearances.
"It is imperative that I have the full attention of those who are representing me. My life is at stake," Jackson said. "Therefore, I must feel confident that my interests are of the highest priority. I am innocent of these false charges, and will aggressively seek to clear my name."
Jackson, 45, is free on $3 million bail. He originally was charged with seven counts of lewd or lascivious conduct involving a child under 14 and with administering an intoxicant, reportedly wine, to a child under 14.
Thomas Mesereau Jr., Jackson's new lawyer, represented actor Robert Blake in his murder case until they recently parted company, citing irreconcilable differences.