Michael Jackson Would Have Been 53 Today

Michael Jackson would have turned 53 today. Dr. Conrad Murray, facing trial for involuntary manslaughter over Jackson's death was in court today. The Judge rejected his request to introduce evidence concerning Jackson's molestation case. Good decision, Jackson was acquitted and it seems like an attempt to change the subject.

Murray wants to argue Jackson was a long time drug addict. Even if he was, how does that exculpate Dr. Murray, who had been treating Jackson while living in his house, if his actions resulted in Jackson's death? [More...]

The judge also barred the defense from introducing evidence that Jackson's dermatologist prescribed demerol for him.

The defense claims [Dr. Arnold] Klein was giving Jackson the painkiller Demerol for long periods and Jackson was withdrawing from it when he died. Jackson died in 2009 of an overdose of the anesthetic propofol complicated by other medications.

Nor would the judge rescind his order allowing the trial to be televised. The defense claims commentators portray Murray as guilty:

[Murray attorney] Chernoff, referring to widespread media coverage of the Casey Anthony trial, called the commentary "a problem."

"Is the problem you're referring to the exercise of the First Amendment?" asked the judge. He added, "I decline, at this point, to amend my ruling. The First Amendment is one of our most cherished principles and the right to comment is part of that."

Trial starts September 8. The jury will not be sequestered.

I think Murray has some good defenses and the manslaughter charge is a stretch. But his attempts to deflect from the singular issue of whether he "did unlawfully, and without malice, kill Michael Joseph Jackson" by administering a fatal dose of propofol makes it seem like he's trying to put Jackson on trial. The prosecutors argue:

"The current case should focus on the events surrounding the medical care provided to Michael Jackson by Conrad Murray... "The case should not be allowed to deteriorate into an unfair, unwarranted and irrelevant attack on the deceased victim."

Of course it hasn't yet been determined Jackson is a crime victim. I wonder if the defense has filed a motion precluding the prosecution from calling Jackson a victim. Why can't they just refer to him as Mr. Jackson?

The coroner's report, which presumably was relied on in filing the manslaughter charge, concluded Dr. Murray did not meet the standard of care for administering propofol, with respect to recommended equipment for patient monitoring, precision dosing and resuscitation. The autopsy did not reveal a lot of other drugs in his system,and no Demerol.)

Accidents happen. Dr. Murray needs to focus on his own conduct -- not Jackson's past or even chronic drug use. It also seems counter-productive to me. By focusing on other people who knew Jackson used drugs and seemed dependent on them, wouldn't the jury conclude as his live-in doctor, he should have known it as well -- and not administered the propofol in the first place?

Sometimes simpler is better. Why not simply argue Jackson died from a combination of medications, that he wasn't aware Jackson had taken the other medications, and that the state hasn't proved beyond a reasonable doubt that it was the dose of propofol that he administered that killed him? And that his actions in the aftermath of administering the propofol were reasonable?

Update 8/30: I see now that Dr. Murray is planning on a defense that he didn't inject Jackson with propofol at all -- that Jackson injected himself without his knowledge. He argued this in motion to disimiss the civil suit:

[p]apers filed by lawyers for Dr. Murray claim Jackson was taking the drug without the medic's knowledge, and on the day of his death he "clandestinely self-administered or self-ingested such medications" and "is comparatively responsible for his own death."
According to CBS News this morning:
Murray admits giving Jackson the drug, but his defense team plans to argue that Jackson injected himself with the lethal dose.
The testimony at the preliminary hearing established that Murray had purchased 155 vials of the drug in two different doses in the months before Jackson's death. Some vials were found in Jackson's bedroom closet. He apparently told investigators he was trying to wean Jackson off the drug.

I think we need to wait and see exactly what his defense will be. If anyone finds the pre-trial pleadings in the case on line, please let us know where. It's always better to read the actual pleadings than go off news accounts, especially those written by non-lawyers. Federal pleadings are online for a small fee through PACER but most state case documents are not.

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    Thank you (none / 0) (#1)
    by andgarden on Mon Aug 29, 2011 at 08:30:38 PM EST
    I love it when you write about what you know so well.

    I loved Micheal Jackson (none / 0) (#2)
    by loveed on Mon Aug 29, 2011 at 10:07:32 PM EST
    I've probably seen him at least 20 time.

     I have no opinion about the fate of Dr. Conrad. Let the jury decide.
     I still can't understand why a heart surgeon would do CPR on a bed?

    Why Not Argue... (none / 0) (#3)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 09:58:05 AM EST
     ... Michael Jackson was a grown man and in control of his own life.  Putting a doctor to the flame for a man who obviously liked drugs, especially the strong ones, is non-sense.

    This doctor simply had the misfortune of being the one in the wrong place at the wrong time.  MJ was destined for trouble, if it wasn't this time, it would have been another.  And some other doctor would be held to the flame because their famous patient died on their watch.

    I'm not suggesting the doctor not be held accountable for his misdeeds, but holding him responsible for a death in which the actual 'victim' was guilty of doctor shopping is bad policy.

    This isn't someone who was in the hospital and was giving the wrong meds.  This is a guy with a history, which I think is relevant, of seeking out and hiring doctors that were liberal with the prescription pad.  He wanted Murray, or any other doctor with Murray's lack of sense, to give him lots of very strong drugs.

    Pull Murray's license and let MJ's death rest on the person truly responsible, MJ.  If this was any other person that is exactly what they would do.

    But (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 10:32:33 AM EST
    the doctor was in a position to make a whole lot of cash for "being in the wrong place at the wrong time".  He knew what he was doing when he did it.  He knew he was working with a long-term addict.  If he were anything but a quack, he knew the risks.  But the greed kept him there.

    The very idea of making such huge load of cash by feeding an addict is sick.

    IMHO: He should take his share of the blame.  


    Maybe not criminally (none / 0) (#4)
    by jbindc on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 10:06:21 AM EST
    But there is an argument to be made for civil liability. Murray was in MJ's house and saw him more than just a 5 minute appointment once a year.  As a doctor, he had a higher duty of care to MJ than a regular person and should have seen at least some of what was going on.

    MJ, as an alleged drug addict, is ultimately responsible for his own death, but Dr. Murray certainly has some culpability.


    No, doctors are meant to be gatekeepers. (none / 0) (#5)
    by Fabian on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 10:28:27 AM EST
    They are meant to prescribe and administer drugs specifically to improve and maintain the health of a patient, and never to endanger it.

    When I had read up on MJ's drug use and general state of health, my reaction as a layperson was: "I'm very sorry but what you need, Mister Jackson, is an inpatient stay at a quality drug rehab facility.".   I couldn't treat mere symptoms when the disease was ignored.

    Just because MJ looked for, found and employed a pet physician to give the drugs he wanted, when he wanted them doesn't absolve the physician from being civilly and criminally liable for any actions that led to MJ's death.  In fact, it makes him MORE culpable because with his training and education above and beyond that of a layperson, he should have know exactly how dangerous those actions were.  


    I Understand What You are Saying (none / 0) (#7)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 12:26:15 PM EST
    This isn't just MJ, this is all the people who go from doctor to doctor, refining their craft and figuring out how to get one doctor to give them what they want.  It only take one, and the pool is virtually unlimited.

    I'm not saying what he did was right, just that he shouldn't liable for the death for someone actively seeking dangerous medications he did not need.

    What's next, drug dealers being held to the flame for an OD, because that is what this case is, a junkie, a drug dealer, and and overdose.  MJ didn't bring this guy in because of his impeccable credentials, he brought him in to get his fix.

    When all this is said and done, it's helps no one, and ultimately will make doctors even more skittish when prescribing dangerous medications to legitimate people.

    It's just another round of blaming everyone and everything, the doctor and the drugs, and not holding the person who willingly took and sought out dangerous drugs.  He had to know they were dangerous, that they could kill him, and like every junkie, he himself decided the risk was worth taking.  MJ made that choice.


    I understand what you are saying (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by nyjets on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 12:44:32 PM EST
    However, one point. As a medical doctor, MJ doctor should of known what was going on. We are not talking about a single presecription. We are talking multple perscription over a length of time. That is one reason why an argument could be made that the doctor crossed the line. That is why some drugs are and should be adminstered ONLY via a doctor care. It is the doctor job to make sure that the pills are administered for a legit medical reason.

    Furhtermore, I do agree in no way shape or form should this be murder. THe involuntary manslaughter charge is probable how high it should go criminally.