Dr. Conrad Murray Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter

Dr. Conrad Murray has been charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson. The press release from the LA District Attorney's office reads:

Dr. Murray "did unlawfully, and without malice, kill Michael Joseph Jackson ... in the commission of an unlawful act, not a felony; and in the commission of a lawful act which might have produced death, in an unlawful manner, and without due caution and circumspection."

It's a media circus in L.A. Michael Jackson's parents, and siblings Jermaine and La Toya are at the courthouse for he brief court appearance, set for 1:30 pm. PT. Dr. Murray will voluntarily surrender and be released immediately on bond. Hopefully no perp walk. [More...]

Given the charge, the case will become about "due caution and circumspection" and acceptable medical standards. In other words, dueling experts.

The autopsy report was released today and TMZ has a copy. It finds Jackson's death a homicide based on:

1. Circumstances indicate the Propofol and the benzodiazepines were administered by another.

2. Propofol was administered in a non-hospital setting without any appropriate medical indication.

3. The standard of care for administering Propofol was not met. Recommended equipment for patient monitoring, precision dosing and resuscitation was not present.

4. The circumstances do not support self-administration of Propofol.

Update: The full autopsy report is here.

Here's the video of his court appearance.

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  • Display: Sort:
    If they release him on bond (none / 0) (#1)
    by jbindc on Mon Feb 08, 2010 at 03:02:45 PM EST
    Do you think his medical license will be suspended (if it hasn't already)?

    Hope not... (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by kdog on Mon Feb 08, 2010 at 03:07:59 PM EST
    for the sake of his low-income patients at his Houston clinic.

    This guy wasn't just Dr. Drug Dealer to the king of pop...according to the link in J's earlier post he's done a lot of good for people with bad tickers/no money in Houston.


    That may not matter (none / 0) (#3)
    by jbindc on Mon Feb 08, 2010 at 03:16:26 PM EST

    Whether or not the case goes to trial, it could have a chastening effect on the doctors of celebrities who sometimes accede to their clients' request for prescription drugs, despite their own medical judgment. It will open to public scrutiny such legal issues as involuntary manslaughter, criminal negligence, and the tactic of using medical experts. It will shine the spotlight on the responsibilities of doctors to act in their patients' best interest, regardless of fame or profession.

    "Because of the fame of Michael Jackson, this case will be scrutinized by medical licensing boards across the country and will help define the terms due diligence, gross negligence," says Pace University professor Elizabeth Fentiman, a fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine and a member of the American Society of Law, Medicine, and Ethics. "It will also say to physicians, you need to be careful not just with the potent effects of these anesthetic drugs, but also with their interactive effects with other drugs."

    That will, in turn, spotlight the medical procedures in determining the use of other drugs, the history of the patient in the use of such drugs, the databases that contain such information, and the interconnectivity of such databases.

    You ain't kiddin'... (none / 0) (#4)
    by kdog on Mon Feb 08, 2010 at 03:27:30 PM EST
    he "broke the law"...who cares what happens to the people of Houston with little money and bad tickers...John Law gotta get his man.

    As you may have guessed, I object to this bit...

    It will shine the spotlight on the responsibilities of doctors to act in their patients' best interest, regardless of fame or profession.


    Criminal prosecution of doctors (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Peter G on Mon Feb 08, 2010 at 08:14:12 PM EST
    often has this awful, disproportionate adverse affect on innocent third parties (their patients).  I have handled the sentencing and/or appeal in five such cases myself, that I can think of, in the last ten years -- four of them tax cases (two for failure to file, two for attempted evasion).  In one, the only heart surgeon in two counties of upstate PA was taken away.  In another, the only Spanish-speaking doc who took Medicaid patients in several counties of NJ.  In a third, the only physician with a lyme disease specialty practice in the region.  The fourth, one of a handful of African American opthalmologists around, with lots of elderly black patients.  The one that wasn't really a tax case involved charges of running an unregistered, religious charity that shipped food and medical supplies (and that's all) to Iraq during and in violation of the US sanctions (i.e., prior to 2003).  (When the feds investigated him they also found Medicare coding violations.)  In that case, hundreds of cancer patients lost their oncologist.  I'm not saying that doctors shouldn't follow the law.  But society did not benefit from any of these docs going to prison, and civil enforcement might have sufficed in every one of the cases.

    Question (none / 0) (#5)
    by jbindc on Mon Feb 08, 2010 at 03:29:22 PM EST
    Do you ever think anyone who breaks the law should be held accountable for their actions?

    Just curious....


    You've asked before.... (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by kdog on Mon Feb 08, 2010 at 03:34:06 PM EST
    of course I do, when we're talking about a real crime...this ain't no farkin' real crime from what I've read.

    Damn, hit post in error... (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Mon Feb 08, 2010 at 03:32:29 PM EST
    meant to quote the last bit and say as far as I'm concerned if my doc is giving me the script I want he's fulfilling his/her responsibility...its this damn permission slip prescription system that turns MD's into drug dealers...under a better system the MD would advise and warn, and the patient makes up there free mind.

    Except (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by jbindc on Mon Feb 08, 2010 at 03:49:11 PM EST
    Doctors take an oath "First, do no harm".  If you want a prescription, but the doctor knows it would be bad for you, not only is it unethical for him to give it to you, it is also more than likely a crime.  So the doctor should go against his ethical obligations and the law to give you what you want?

    No, the doctor... (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by kdog on Mon Feb 08, 2010 at 06:55:02 PM EST
    should not be put in the position to have to grant you "permission" to take substance x in the first place.  I'm not saying forget the oath, I like the oath.  I wish government officials had to take a "first do no harm" oath.  A doctor has an obligation to recommend the best treatment to their knowledge...but the ultimate decision should rest with the patient.  And if a patient wants to take a different course of treatment they shouldn't have to go through this charade of seeing a doc to get permission.

    that's the point (none / 0) (#15)
    by JamesTX on Mon Feb 08, 2010 at 08:01:29 PM EST
    In a really free society, those decisions would ultimately be the patients' decisions. But that's not what's best for the pharmaceutical industry or the medical profession, so that is not how it is. Let me get this right, now. There is no right to health care, but there is no right to treat yourself, either? Tell me how we got here.

    Plus (none / 0) (#10)
    by jbindc on Mon Feb 08, 2010 at 04:15:59 PM EST
    Doctors, like lawyers, and other professionals with specialized knowledge, are held to a higher standard of care than "non-professionals".  They are held to a higher standard.

    JBC, I am getting tired of all your (none / 0) (#12)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Feb 08, 2010 at 06:31:40 PM EST
    pro-prosecution comments. Please limit them to four a day and don't chatter and be a blog-clogger. This is a criminal defense site. You may comment but not dominate the discussion with your views that are completely antithetical to those of this site.

    Please tell me (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by jbindc on Tue Feb 09, 2010 at 09:50:54 AM EST
    How talking about how doctors being held to a higher standard is a "pro-prosecution" comment?  Seriously - I wasn't advocating for the death penalty, but most criminal defense attorneys I know also don't believe that every defendant charged is innocent and everything is a big government conspiracy.

    But your site, your rules - I won't comment on any criminal posts.


    He didn't just give Jackson the scrip (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by ruffian on Mon Feb 08, 2010 at 04:06:47 PM EST
    He administered the drug himself. Maybe he thought that was safer than having someone else do it, but apparently not. If he hadn't wanted Jackson's money, he probably would have walked away, and then those folks in Houston would be losing their clinic because he was in financial trouble, not because he was arrested. I'm sorry for them, but if the fate of the whole clinic rests on this one doctor, it was not going to be stable anyway.

    You make good points... (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by kdog on Mon Feb 08, 2010 at 06:58:20 PM EST
    my main point is doctors shouldn't be put in this position...MJ shoulda been able to get what he wanted without the charade.

    That's an indictment of the whole (none / 0) (#11)
    by jeffinalabama on Mon Feb 08, 2010 at 05:25:50 PM EST
    health care delivery system. I think that's a debate that's long overdue. Doctors in small towns? Not so many... hospitals closing in small towns, a whole lot... these are issues. Few doctors in free or reduced cost clinics? another issue.

    you can bet on it n/t (none / 0) (#16)
    by JamesTX on Mon Feb 08, 2010 at 08:02:35 PM EST