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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 April, 2004, 23:08 GMT 00:08 UK
Michael Jackson replaces lawyers
Mark Geragos
Geragos has represented several high-profile celebrities
Michael Jackson has replaced the two lawyers representing him in his child abuse case.

Mark Geragos and Benjamin Brafman have given no reason for the decision but said they "both wished Michael well".

The singer will now be represented by another well-known criminal defence lawyer, Thomas Mesereau, when he appears in court on Friday.

Until recently Mr Mesereau represented the 1970s TV star Robert Blake in his murder case.

But they parted company in February, citing "irreconcilable differences".

Star lawyers

The BBC's Peter Bowes in Los Angeles says Mark Geragos and Benjamin Brafman have a reputation for being the best in the business.

Both lawyers have worked with high-profile entertainers before but they say they will no longer be representing Michael Jackson.

"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," Mr Brafman said

Mr Geragos stood for Robert Downey Jr on drugs charges and was thought to have been instrumental in Winona Ryder escaping jail at her high-profile shoplifting trial.

The lawyer has also acted for former US President Bill Clinton's brother Roger in a drink-drive case, and had kidnap and arson charges dismissed against hip-hop star Nate Dogg.

Mr Brafman has represented US rap Sean Combs, aka P Diddy.

Charges

Mr Jackson was arrested last November amid accusations that he molested a 12-year-old boy.

In December he was charged with seven counts of lewd acts on a child under the age of 14 and two counts of plying the boy with alcohol in order to seduce him at his Neverland ranch.

The case moved into a new stage last week when a grand jury in California secretly indicted the singer, 45, on child abuse charges.

The new charges will not be revealed until he appears in court.

Jackson has dismissed the accusations as "a big lie" aimed at extorting money from him and he is expected to enter a "not guilty" plea at Friday's court hearing.




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