American TV host Jay Leno is appealing for the judge in Michael Jackson's child molestation trial to lift or clarify a gagging order, following the comedian's subpoena to speak in court.

The Tonight Show host filed a motion on 18 February (05), asking Santa Maria, California, judge RODNEY S MELVILLE permission to makes jokes about the case and the singer during his NBC show.

Melville's media gagging order banned anyone involved in the high-profile trial from discussing it outside the courtroom and Leno's attorney claims it "could be interpreted to limit Mr Leno's ability to publicly speak about the trial".

The funnyman's lawyers THEODORE BOUTROUS and MICHAEL H DORE wrote, "This motion was made on the grounds that this court could not possibly have intended its gagging order, which was issued more than a year ago, to limit public personalities like Mr Leno from commenting on public proceedings in this case."

The motion appeals for Melville to clarify if the order "only limits Mr Leno's ability to disclose evidence of which he may have direct, first-hand knowledge, assuming only for the sake of argument that any such evidence exists".

Jackson attorney THOMAS MESEREAU JR has previously told the jury the ARVIZO family, who are accusing Jackson of molesting their son GAVIN, sought money from Leno, who was so suspicious he called Santa Barbara, authorities to report that "something was wrong. They were looking for a mark."

03/03/2005 14:06