Michael Jackson arrived in court 40 minutes early Friday for arraignment on a grand jury indictment that could move the 5-month-old child molestation case closer to trial. Michael Jackson, who was scolded by the judge for showing up late to his last hearing, smiled and waved to fans as entered the courtroom under an umbrella. Police Chief Danny Macagni said 42 of Santa Maria's 107 police officers were assigned to the courthouse, along with about 50 sheriff's deputies, to handle the throng of fans and journalists. At least 130 members of the media were expected. Thomas Mesereau Jr., a veteran criminal defense attorney, took over the case last weekend after Jackson decided to remove Mark Geragos and Benjamin Brafman, the two high-profile lawyers who had been directing his defense. Michael Jackson said he wanted lawyers who could devote full time to his case. At Michael Jackson first court appearance Jan. 16, Michael Jackson had showed up 20 minutes late after taking time to greet cheering fans. Judge Rodney Melville told him, "you have started out on the wrong foot here. I want to advise you that I will not put up with that. It's an insult to the court." After that hearing, Michael Jackson had danced on top of an SUV for a crowd of 3,000 fans.
Experts said it was likely that Michael Jackson's new lawyer advised him such raucous displays are not in his best interest. "The indictment means things are getting serious," said Loyola University Professor Laurie Levenson. She said Jackson's behavior at the arraignment sets the tone for the rest of the case. "The question is which Michael Jackson are we going to get � the one who says Michael Jackson is serious about saving his life or the one who dances on cars."
The grand jury indictment returned last week was so secret that the court schedule doesn't even list an arraignment. Michael Jackson had already been charged with lewd and lascivious conduct with a child under the age of 14 and giving an intoxicant, reportedly wine, to a youth under 14. Outside the courthouse Friday, some fans waved handmade signs toward the throng of television cameras. A banner reading "Michael � Being here is the least we could do. To all: Through this media circus don't let your ears deceive you" was also draped along the fence. On Thursday night, two to three dozen Michael Jackson fans gathered outside Michael Jackson Neverland Ranch about 30 miles from the courthouse for a candlelight vigil. Some wore black "Free Michael" T-shirts, and one dressed as the singer Michael Jackson. Pedro Rivero, a 22-year-old from Madrid who said he had met Michael Jackson "too many times to count," said he had a feeling he needed to be at the arraignment. "Everything that's happening is so unfair," said Rivero. "Michael Jackson's just so genuine, so pure."