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Michael Jackson's mom to seek control of estate

  • Story Highlights
  • Katherine Jackson looking for some control of her son's estate.
  • Lawyers' petition accuses executors of keeping Katherine Jackson "in the dark"
  • Jackson wants executors to answer questions about business arrangements
By Alan Duke
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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Katherine Jackson's legal battle for some control of her son's estate returns to court Monday in front of the same judge who is expected to award her permanent guardianship of Michael Jackson's children.

Katherine Jackson has accused the executors of her son's estate of "keeping her in the dark."

Katherine Jackson has accused the executors of her son's estate of "keeping her in the dark."

Dozens of lawyers are expected to pack a Los Angeles courtroom where a judge will consider the Jackson family matriarch's challenge of the lawyer and former music executive who were named as executors in Michael Jackson's will.

Katherine Jackson's lawyers filed a petition last week accusing the men who now control the estate of being "intent on keeping her in the dark" about deals they've made or are negotiating.

Londell McMillan, Jackson's lead attorney, raised questions about "a suspicious circle of relationships" involving John Branca, the singer's longtime personal attorney, and John McClain, a music industry executive and longtime friend.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff gave Branca and McClain temporary control of the estate until Monday's hearing.

Katherine Jackson is asking the judge to order Branca, McClain and others to answer questions under oath about their business agreements to determine if they are "fit and able" to administer the estate. The men also were served with a 19-page demand for documents.

Branca has refused to let Katherine Jackson see Michael Jackson's contracts with AEG -- the company that was organizing and promoting his planned concerts -- unless she agrees to keep them confidential. Branca's lawyer argued in a court filing that he has no choice, since the contracts have a provision requiring confidentiality.

Branca's lawyers also argued that Jackson's demand for documents was too broad and burdensome.

"Such measures will not be necessary if Mrs. Jackson is appointed a co-executor of the estate," McMillan said.

McMillan, in an interview with CBS Thursday, estimated the Jackson estate was worth $2 billion, while the executors have estimated in court that its value is around $500 million.

The will written in 2002 places all of Michael Jackson's assets into a family trust benefiting his mother, his three children and unnamed charities.

Judge Beckloff will consider at Monday's hearing who will have permanent control of the estate.

The judge is also expected Monday to finalize Katherine Jackson's guardianship of her son's three children. An agreement between Jackson and Debbie Rowe, the mother of the two oldest children, cleared the way for an uncontested custody hearing.

Rowe, who was briefly married to Michael Jackson, agreed not to fight for custody in exchange for visits with the children as recommended by a psychologist.

The agreement does not involve any financial payments to Rowe "apart from the continuation of spousal support payments" that Michael Jackson personally agreed to make to Rowe after their divorce, their lawyers said in a joint statement.

Jackson's children have been living with their paternal grandmother at her Encino, California, home since their father's death.

The oldest child -- Michael Joseph Jackson Jr. -- was born in February 1997. A daughter -- Paris-Michael Katherine Jackson -- was born the next year. Details of how the children were conceived -- and who was the biological father -- have been closely guarded amid much public speculation.

The couple divorced in 1999 with Rowe giving Jackson full custody while she got an $8.5 million settlement, according to court documents. Jackson later agreed to additional support.

Rowe gave up parental rights to Jackson in 2001, but she changed her mind more than two years later and sought temporary custody of the children. A California appeals court later ruled her rights were improperly terminated, opening the door to a possible custody battle.

While the coroner's report on what killed Michael Jackson has been delayed indefinitely, new evidence emerged that the singer shopped for a doctor who would give him the drug investigators suspect led to his death.

Dr. Allan Metzger, whose name appeared on a search warrant served this week, refused Jackson's request in April for the anesthetic propofol -- commonly known by the brand name Diprivan -- Metzger's attorney said.

Investigators suspect another physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, gave the drug to Jackson in the 24 hours before he died, according to a source, who asked not to be named because the individual was not authorized to speak to the news media.

Metzger, who practices in West Hollywood, California, told Jackson during a visit to his Holmby Hills home that the drug was "dangerous and potentially life-threatening and could not be used outside of a hospital," attorney Harland Braun said.

Metzger's medical records for Jackson, whom he treated until 2003, have been given to the coroner, Braun said.

He said Metzger prescribed drugs for Jackson under the alias Omar Arnold and Michael Jackson, which was not illegal since he used both names together. The doctor did that because he thought it was "his duty to protect the privacy" of his patient, Braun said.

Omar Arnold is one of 19 aliases listed in the warrant used by Los Angeles police and federal drug agents Tuesday to search the Las Vegas office and home of Murray, a Texas-based cardiologist.

The warrant also mentioned Cherilyn Lee, a nurse practitioner who treated Jackson earlier this year. Lee told CNN Jackson begged her for the propofol to help him get a good night's sleep. She said she refused, telling the pop star that if he took the medicine, he might never wake up.

The same warrant, signed by a Las Vegas judge, implied that investigators suspected Jackson was a drug addict.

Dr. Deepak Chopra told CNN in a recent interview that when Jackson asked him for a narcotic, he told him absolutely no. "I said to him, 'Michael, you're going to die one day from this,'" Chopra said.

During a world tour in the mid-'90s, sources close to Jackson told CNN, the pop star suffered from insomnia and traveled with an anesthesiologist who would "take him down" at night and then "bring him back up." According to a report on a 2004 Santa Barbara police investigation, security guards in Jackson's inner circle said he traveled the country getting prescriptions from doctors.

The Los Angeles County coroner, who must rule on the cause of Jackson's June 25 death, met Thursday with the Los Angeles District Attorney, who must decide if anyone will be prosecuted for his death.

During the meeting, it was decided that an announcement of the coroner's findings would be delayed indefinitely, according to a source close to the investigation. An official in the coroner's office had previously indicated to reporters that the findings would be made public within days.

CNN's Randi Kaye contributed to this report.

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