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Jackson Has New Legal Eagle

Michael Jackson is replacing high-profile attorneys Mark Geragos and Benjamin Brafman in his child molestation case, the lawyers told The Associated Press on Sunday.

Jackson's new lawyer is Thomas Mesereau Jr., who represented actor Robert Blake in his murder case until quitting his case in February - the third lawyer to part ways with Blake, who goes on trial in September.

"Based on recent developments and discussions with various persons in the Jackson camp, it became clear that it would be best if Mark and I decided to step down," Brafman said. "And that's what we elected to do."

Asked why, Brafman said, "For reasons we choose not to discuss publicly."

He added, "We both wish Michael well."

Thomas Mesereau has been meeting with Jackson in the Orlando, Florida, area.

Jackson is preparing for a pretrial hearing on Friday in Santa Maria, Calif., at which time he is expected to be arraigned.

Mesereau, reached as he was leaving Florida, declined to comment immediately but is expected to make a statement early this week.

Jackson's spokeswoman, Raymone K. Bain, said she was unaware of the change when asked about it by a reporter.

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