Jackson Judge: Booze Ruling Stays

Gregory Isaacs, the Jamaican reggae singer whose smooth style earned him the nickname ``Cool Ruler,'' has died at the age of 59.
Agency Group
Jurors in the Michael Jackson child molestation trial were to return to court briefly Wednesday to listen to the judge read their instructions.

First, however, attorneys for both sides continued to wrangle over those instructions.

Judge Rodney S. Melville decided Wednesday not to change an instruction that would allow jurors to find Jackson guilty of a misdemeanor count of giving alcohol to a minor.

The allegations that Jackson gave his accuser wine will be under a separate category called "lesser included offenses," which would allow jurors to find Jackson guilty of a misdemeanor of giving liquor to a minor, even if he were acquitted of molestation. That could help head off a hung jury.

"The fact there is a punishment here that's less serious, and shows more sympathy, is an out for the jury," says Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen.

But a source close to the defense tells CBS News they don't want a compromise vote from the jury, they want Jackson totally acquitted, so Wednesday the defense attorneys tried to have the lesser-charge option dropped.

Once the instructions are set, Melville will explain to the jury what reasonable doubt is, what evidence they can consider, the specific charges against Jackson, and what must be proven in order to find Jackson guilty, reports CBS News Correspondent Steve Futterman.

Many of the instructions are complicated, so Melville will give each of the jurors a copy they can follow along as he reads it. That should take about an hour.

The judge said jurors may consider allegations of past wrongdoing against the pop star as long as they conclude the allegations are true.

The decision was one of several reached Tuesday by Melville as he and lawyers in the case tried to work out instructions the jury will receive before beginning deliberations, likely this week. Jackson was not in court.

Melville planned to bring the jurors back into court in the afternoon to give them their instructions. He scheduled closing arguments to begin Thursday, and the jury is expected to get the case Thursday. Opening statements in the trial started on Feb. 28.

A few fans gathered outside Neverland Ranch Tuesday, reports CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales. Some sent flowers to the compound where Jackson waited in seclusion as his attorneys and prosecutors argued over the jury instructions.

Another instruction approved by the judge addressed the importance of the TV documentary "Living With Michael Jackson," in which Jackson's future accuser appeared with Jackson and the pop star said he allowed children to sleep in his bed in an innocent, non-sexual way.

  • David Hancock On Google+»

    David Hancock is a home page editor for