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Michael Jackson death: Potential jurors questioned

September 23, 2011 | 11:39 am

Conrad Murray and attorney
Potential jurors on the involuntary manslaughter trial of Michael Jackson’s physician were questioned Friday morning on what they knew about the singer’s life, personality and about the doctor charged with causing his overdose death.

Among the first 27 prospective panelists questioned was a veteran civil rights attorney, a secretary to an appellate justice who ruled on an appeal in the case and a man who said he had “brief interactions” with Jackson during his career.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor asked attorney Connie Rice, whom he referred to as an “advocate” working in the legal system, if she felt she would have to act as an advocate for one side or the other.

Rice, a longtime advocate for police reform who has filed class-action lawsuits over law enforcement misconduct and racial discrimination, responded no.

Ed Chernoff, Murray’s lead attorney, was allowed about 25 minutes to ask questions of the first set of jurors. He asked the jurors if anyone could honestly say they didn’t know anything about Jackson’s life or Murray’s.

None of the jurors raised their hands.

Chernoff asked one woman how she would describe Jackson’s personality.

The woman responded: “I think of him as a child, his dancing, his music.”

Chernoff followed up by asking if Jackson seemed particularly child-like, and incapable of making his own decisions. She said no.

“Does anybody think that Michael Jackson should be held to a different standard of responsibility?” Chernoff asked the group.

No one raised their hands.

Also among the jurors questioned was a secretary to an appellate justice who weeks earlier handled an appeal by Murray’s attorneys asking for jurors to be sequestered. (That appeal was denied.)

In her questionnaire, she wrote, mistakenly, that she saw Murray “convicted” on television, Chernoff noted. The secretary said she meant she saw him charged, not convicted.

Outside the courtroom, one of a throng of sheriff’s deputies standing watch in the hallway cautioned Jackson fans about their attire.

The deputy told two women wearing red T-shirts with the words “JUSTICE 1958-2009” that they would have to cover it up.

“You can’t have shirts that say ‘Peace,’ ‘Justice’ or anything like that,” the deputy told the women.


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-- Victoria Kim and Harriet Ryan at Los Angeles Hall of Justice

Photo: Michael Jackson's personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, right, with his attorney Edward Chernoff in court. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times