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Conrad Murray judge: Did witness call drug expert a 'scumbag'?

October 21, 2011 |  3:28 pm

Jackson case
The judge in the trial of Michael Jackson’s personal physician said Friday that he was considering contempt-of-court charges against a key defense witness for reportedly calling a prosecution expert “a scumbag.”

Dr. Paul White, set to take the stand for the defense next week, denied in court making the remark, which was reported by E! Online Thursday.

He did acknowledge to Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor that he made other critical comments about a fellow anesthesiologist, Dr. Steven Shafer, to E!.

“I am going to take the high road, not the low road with him,” the network’s website quoted White as him saying. “I was his teacher when he was a medical student. The truth will come out. It always does.”

Pastor set a hearing for Nov. 16 for possible sanctions against White and defense attorneys for Dr. Conrad Murray.

The judge, who previously issued a gag order against trial participants, told White outside the presence of the jury: “You have no business making any of those comments.”

 FULL COVERAGE: The Conrad Murray trial

Shafer is the most important medical witness for the prosecution, and White serves the same role for the defense. The men, longtime colleagues who have described themselves as friends, disagree on what scientific evidence shows about Jackson’s death.

In White’s report, he said it was possible the singer caused his own death by drinking propofol, a theory Shafer dismissed as clearly impossible.

On the witness stand, Shafer said was “disappointed” by White, who was sitting in the well of the court behind the defense table.

White and Murray have whispered to each other during breaks in Shafer’s testimony.

White was a professor at Stanford Medical School when Shafer was a student, but in testimony Friday, Shafer emphasized that he did not consider White his teacher.


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Photo: Dr. Steven Shafer empties a bottle of propofol into a saline bag as he demonstrates the use of the anesthetic during his testimony in Dr. Conrad Murray's trial on Thursday. Credit: Reed Saxon / Pool photo