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Conrad Murray case: Judge rips attorney for 'Today Show' interview

September 30, 2011 |  3:38 pm

Dr. conrad 
A judge barred attorneys at the trial of Michael Jackson’s personal physician Friday from speaking publicly about the case after a Texas attorney associated with the defense criticized a witness and discussed trial strategy on the "Today Show."

Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor said he found the television appearance by Matthew Alford, a law partner of the lead defense attorney, “shocking,” given his previous entreaties not to try Dr. Conrad Murray’s case in the media.

“I sat there with my mouth open,” the judge said.

Defense attorney Ed Chernoff, who shares a Houston practice with Alford, protested that Alford was not an official part of the defense team and had a right to speak freely.

“He is a private citizen. Any private citizen that gets a phone call to go on TV…should be allowed to do it,” Chernoff said.

Watch live: Full coverage of Conrad Murray's trial

But the judge noted that Alford was repeatedly identified as a member of the defense team on the broadcast.

In the "Today Show" interview, the lawyer described the testimony of key prosecution witness Alberto Alvarez as contradictory and answered questions about the defense case, including whether Murray will take the stand in his own defense.

“If we feel the state hasn’t proven their case, there’s not a chance we’re going to subject him to the skilled cross-examination of the D.A.’s in L.A. County,” he told anchor Ann Curry.

Pastor told lawyers he was ordering them and their employees not to comment about the case.

A defense attorney, J. Michael Flanagan, described the order as “a gag,” prompting the judge to reply: “I do not characterize it that way.” He ordered Alford to appear before him later next month for a hearing to determine whether he or any other attorney was in contempt of court.

“Are you saying there is an allegation of wrongdoing on my part?” he asked the judge.

“I don’t know,” Pastor replied.

When testimony resumed, jurors heard yet another account of the attempts to revive Jackson.

Paramedic Martin Blount, the second emergency worker to testify, said Murray appeared “flustered” and was sweating profusely as he stood over the pop star.

Testifying as he did at a January pretrial hearing, Blunt said that Murray never mentioned giving Jackson propofol, a surgical anesthetic. He said Murray told medics that his patient was healthy and being treated only with a saline drip for dehydration.

“He stated that Michael Jackson was rehearsing for 16 hours. He came home. He was very exhausted,” Blunt testified.

But later, he said, Murray picked up three drug vials off the floor near Jackson’s body and scooped them into a black bag.


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--Harriet Ryan

Photo: Dr. Conrad Murray, right, with attorney Edward Chernoff. Credit : Irfan Khan