View Full Version : Trial of Michael Jackson's doctor nears, but defense seeks delay

6th September 2011, 07:59 PM
The doctor charged with causing Michael Jackson's death returns to a Los Angeles courtroom for a pre-trial hearing Tuesday, just two days before lawyers begin choosing his jury.

Dr. Conrad Murray's lawyers are waiting for a response to an emergency petition asking an appeals court to delay the trial so the decision not to sequester the jury can be reconsidered.

While it is unclear when the appeals court may respond, Murray and his lawyers will attend a hearing to deal with issues remaining before hundreds of potential jurors assemble for the jury selection process starting Thursday.

The judge and lawyers will sift through their answers to a questionnaire to determine which could withstand the financial and family hardship of sitting through the trial.

Dr. Conrad Murray

The defense wants jurors kept in a hotel, sheltered from the influence of news coverage during the trial, which is expected to last five weeks.

"Petitioner only asks that measures be put in place so that the jury is not poisoned by the mass of information and opinion that will be generated from the reporting," the defense argued in its petition.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor ruled last month that sequestration was not needed because he had faith jurors would follow his orders to avoid news reports and commentary about the case.

Keeping the jury separated from the rest of the world during the trial would "make them feel like inmates," Pastor said.

"This was, with all due respect, abuse of discretion," defense lawyers said in their 28-page petition.

Murray's attorneys, Nareg Gourjian and Edward Chernoff, had contended in court papers that "there is reasonable expectation that Dr. Murray's trial will be the most publicized in history."

They argued that Pastor did not fully realize the amount of media attention the trial was going to get.

"There is not one place a juror will be able to go where she will be free from seeing coverage of this case," the defense said. "Every restaurant, bar, gym, supermarket or coffee shop will become a potential source of information for a juror."

They compared the upcoming trial to the recent coverage of the Casey Anthony murder trial and said Murray could not get a fair trial if the jury was not isolated.

"Because of the international notoriety of Mr. Jackson, it would be impossible for a juror to browse any news source on television or the Internet, without seeing a boldly printed headline discussing the trial."

While Pastor said his decision against sequestration was not based on the estimated $500,000 cost, the defense noted that he said at a hearing in July that the court and state government "simply do not have the funds in any way to engage in this kind of procedure."

The Los Angeles coroner has ruled that Jackson's death on June 25, 2009 was caused by an overdose of the surgical anesthetic propofol, combined with other drugs.

Prosecutors have accused Murray, one of the pop star's doctors, of having a role in the overdose. Jury selection is set to begin next month in his trial.

Opening statements are set for September 27.