Published October 03, 2011
If you step away from the witness stand and from the parts of the courtroom made available to the TV cameras covering the trial of Michael Jackson's doctor, you can see the throngs of supporters and hangers-on.
They wait in an otherwise drab ninth-floor corridor for the emergence of Michael Jackson's family, who with their own security detail have the very capable Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies escorting them every step of the way.
"Please clear the hallway," one deputy shouts as an instruction to the crowd gathered near the courtroom door.
Sure enough, the sea of humans collected outside room 9-312 part to either side and witness the procession.
With the majesty of a royal family, the Jacksons move slowly down the hall not for a coronation but the trial of the man accused of facilitating Michael's 2009 death.
"We love you!" one woman says to the entourage often led by family heads Joe and Katherine. "Janet!" another screams. Sister LaToya, who's been taking copious notes inside the courtroom, also draws some attention. Brothers Randy, Jermaine and Tito have also been part of the scene.
It happens four times each day, as the family emerges from a secure door next to the men's bathroom. Deputies block the hallway and instruct everyone to move aside as the family travels the couple hundred feet to the courtroom door.
Anyone who enters the building and passes through two security checkpoints can witness the spectacle. Some are lawyers and others who have business going on in the floor's nine other courtrooms. Most are fans of Michael who've come to support the Jackson family. Some have been here each day and have on occasion been lucky enough to secure one of the handful of daily seats reserved inside the courtroom for the public.
The family, which has never been at a loss for attention -- wanted or not -- seems to enjoy the affection. They willingly extend hands for handshakes or smile when addressed by name.
Reporters covering the trial are also forced to watch the arrivals, as they're prohibited from entering Judge Michael Pastor's courtroom until the Jacksons have passed by. Photos are strictly prohibited. Signs are posted up and down the hallway expressly prohibiting any photography, especially from cellphones.
The routine plays out each morning and afternoon following lunch. Plus two more times for the short breaks to keep everyone fresh -- especially the jurors, who have been paying close attention to the testimony. They arrive and depart through their own door in the rear of the courtroom. Most seem fully attuned to the proceedings, and beyond an occasional glance to the famous family in the second row of the courtroom, they do not appear to be in awe.
The Jacksons aren't the only ones who get the security attention. For five days now, at least four deputies surround the very tall defendant, Dr. Conrad Murray. Each morning Murray is the first to arrive and he's escorted into an adjoining courtroom. He's eventually joined by his legal team and a handful of others close to him.
For all of the attention the case has received, the denizens of the hallway are less interested in the accused than they are with the victim's family. Either way, the deputies stick to their routine and protect them both just the same.