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Criminal attorney added to legal team for Michael Jackson's former physician

January 8, 2010 | 12:20 pm

Michael Jackson’s former personal physician has hired a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney to help his legal team combat a potential manslaughter prosecution in the pop icon’s fatal overdose last summer.

Dr. Conrad Murray hired Glendale attorney J. Michael Flanagan on Tuesday, the physician’s lead lawyer, Ed Chernoff, confirmed.

The lawyer previously won a manslaughter acquittal for a nurse tried in what is believed to be the only other L.A. criminal case involving propofol, the powerful sedative blamed in Jackson’s death.

Sources have told The Times for several months that Murray is expected to face involuntary manslaughter charges. The Associated Press, citing an unnamed source, reported today that prosecutors will seek an indictment against Murray for involuntary manslaughter.

Law enforcement officials have identified Murray as the target of a manslaughter investigation in search warrants filed in court in the months after Jackson’s death, but a spokeswoman for the district attorney said today that no decision had been made in Murray’s case. 

“We have not been formally presented with the case by the LAPD yet.... We do not have a pending case,” spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said. Murray’s lawyers said that if prosecutors had convened a grand jury, they had not notified them or invited the doctor to testify. Flanagan, Murray’s new attorney, said the discussion of an involuntary manslaughter charge was not surprising.

“That is the only thing they could charge him with, but it doesn’t mean that a grand jury would indict him,” said Flanagan. In 2004, the district attorney’s office prosecuted two Burbank nurses for involuntary manslaughter for administering the anesthetic to a cancer patient without authorization of an anesthesiologist.

The patient died. One nurse pleaded no contest to a lesser charge. The other, represented by Flanagan, was acquitted.

-- Harriet Ryan