Saturday, January 22, 2005

Jackson judge censors landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions

By LINDA DEUTSCH, AP Special Correspondent

Last Updated 7:13 pm PST Friday, January 21, 2005

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Michael Jackson's judge blacked out the words "obscenity," "pornographic" and "sexual conduct" from the text of landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions in releasing a legal motion filed by the pop star's lawyers.

The motion seeks to bar references to those words during his trial in describing materials seized from Jackson's Neverland ranch. The judge's action appeared designed to keep secret what the motion was all about, but the document filed by Jackson lawyer Brian Oxman cites some of the most famous landmark decisions on obscenity by the high court.

"I thought we had seen it all in this case," commented Loyola University law professor Laurie Levenson. "But this is absurd. We have now begun censoring Supreme Court decisions. It is absolutely unprecedented."

Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville has imposed extensive secrecy provisions in Jackson's child molestation case, many of which have proved useless due to equally extensive leaks of information. He sealed the entire grand jury transcript in the case only to have it leaked to an Internet Web site and a TV network last week.

"These are the most extreme acts of secrecy ever used and they're not effective," said Levenson.

In the redacted motion released Friday, it was easy to decipher the contents by reading the landmark decisions cited.

For instance, in the 1973 case of Miller v. California, the high court stated, "... no majority of the Court has at any given time been able to agree on a standard to determine what constitutes obscene, pornographic material."

The judge blacked out the words "obscene" and "pornographic."

Read the remainder of the article here.

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