Sept. Date Set For Jacko Trial

Michael Jackson gestures toward photographers as he arrives at the Santa Maria,Calif., courthouse Friday morning, Jan. 16, 2004, for his arraignment on child molestation charges. Jackson is charged with seven counts of performing lewd or lascivious acts on a child under 14 and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent
The judge in the Michael Jackson child-molestation case Friday set a tentative trial date of Sept. 13 over the objection of the pop star's lawyer. The defense also asked that Jackson's $3 million bail be lowered.

Jackson was not in court, and few fans turned out for the hearing.

Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. objected to setting a trial date, saying the prosecution had not given the defense all evidence in the case.

Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville said he understood the date might be changed but wanted to set "a bull's-eye that we're shooting at here."

The judge did not immediately rule on the bail request.

In arguing for a reduction, Mesereau cited his client's charitable contributions and lack of criminal record, and said precedents suggest the amount should be $435,000 at most.

Prosecutors oppose a reduction, saying Jackson might flee the country.

Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen called Jackson's bail "roughly comparable to what he would spend in a weekend in Las Vegas," and noted that the pop star is a self-declared billionaire.

"Mr. Jackson is known and adored — `adored' is not too strong a word — in many of the countries of Europe, the Near East and Africa," the prosecution said in court papers made available Sunday. "Several of those countries do not have extradition treaties with the United States."

Jackson, 45, is charged with committing a lewd act upon a child, administering an intoxicating agent, alcohol, and conspiring to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.

In other matters Friday:

The judge decided not to release the full indictment or grand jury testimony, as requested by news organizations including The Associated Press. Melville excised the names of five alleged unindicted coconspirators from the indictment as well as 28 acts that prosecutors contend are incriminating. The judge set a June 25 hearing on the grand jury transcripts.

The judge said a defense request to order prosecutors to turn over evidence was not necessary. In court papers made public Thursday, the defense demanded access to hundreds of items seized by prosecutors. Prosecutors said they have already turned over almost all the evidence, including 2,202 pages of reports, 69 audio tapes, two videotapes and one CD-ROM of photographs.