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Michael Jackson's physician fires publicist for leaking jury selection information

March 24, 2011 |  4:37 pm

On the first day of his trial, Michael Jackson’s personal physician fired his publicist for leaking jury selection information to a celebrity gossip website.

On Wednesday, TMZ.com had posted what purported to be proposed defense questions for potential jurors, a leak that Dr. Conrad Murray’s attorney acknowledged came from their own publicist. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor said the questions were “bogus” but that he was concerned about how information on the Internet would affect the answers potential jurors give during jury selection.

Murray is accused of involuntary manslaughter for giving Jackson a fatal dose of the surgical anesthetic propofol.

Defense attorneys told Pastor in chambers that a media company hired by the defense had leaked six questions the company had suggested for the jury pool. None of the questions ended up in the final questionnaire, which Pastor earlier ordered sealed.

“It is an embarrassment,” Ed Chernoff, Murray’s attorney, told the judge. Chernoff apologized and said the company would be fired.

After the hearing, Chernoff confirmed that the employee was Miranda Sevcik, a Houston publicist who began working for Murray and his legal team two days after Jackson’s death.

Sevcik declined to comment, beyond wishing the defense well.

On Thursday, 159 potential jurors were sworn in and screened for financial hardship. Jury selection is expected to continue Friday. Testimony in the case is scheduled to begin in May.

--Harriet Ryan and Victoria Kim