Michael Jackson Swaps Lawyers

New counsel lined up prior to arraignment

April 26, 2004 12:00 AM ET

Days before he's expected to be arraigned after a grand jury indictment on child molestation charges, Michael Jackson has cut loose his two attorneys and hired Thomas Mesereau Jr., who initially represented actor Robert Blake in his murder case.

Mesereau replaces Mark Geragos, who is also handling the high profile Scott Peterson murder case, and Benjamin Brafman, who represented Sean "P. Diddy" Combs in a 2001 nightclub shooting incident.

"It is imperative that I have the full attention of those who are representing me," Jackson said in a statement. "My life is at stake. 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 also clarified that he hadn't replaced his entire defense team, as his longtime attorney Steve Cochran and Santa Barbara lawyer Robert Sanger, would both remain on board.

Jackson was arrested last November and accused of molesting a fourteen-year-old boy. In January, he pleaded not guilty to seven charges of committing lewd acts on a child and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent. He's currently free on $3 million bail. A grand jury was conducted in private this spring to determine if there was sufficient evidence to take the case to trial. According to reports, the grand jurors found sufficient evidence to hand down an indictment, and Jackson is expected to be in court on April 30th for an arraignment.

"The allegations contained in the indictment will be shown to be patently false," a statement from the Jackson camp read. "Michael is looking forward to his day in court and wishes to thank the millions of fans throughout the world who continue to support him during this difficult period."

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