Jackson doctor asks to sequester jury during trial
LOS ANGELES – The doctor charged in Michael Jackson's death has asked a judge to sequester jurors in the physician's upcoming involuntary manslaughter trial, citing coverage of the Casey Anthony case and the threat of information leaks on social media.
The filing Thursday by attorneys for Dr. Conrad Murray said information from those sources could interfere with the right of Dr. Conrad Murray to receive a fair trial.
It cited the increased ratings for CNN Headline News and commentator Nancy Grace, who featured the Anthony case on her show on a nightly basis and believed Anthony was guilty.
It also said her show and others are likely to include discussions of Murray's case that aren't limited to testimony or evidence presented in the courtroom, along with expert commentary and information.
Jurors will be prohibited from accessing those media reports, but the defense fears the coverage will be so pervasive that exposure to some of that information is unavoidable.
"There is sincere danger that a well-meaning juror will be more impressed with an 'expert' on television than one presented by the parties at trial," the filing states.
A Florida jury that was sequestered acquitted Anthony of killing her daughter.
Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor has been reluctant to sequester the jury in Murray's case, saying it is an extreme measure last used in Los Angeles during O.J. Simpson's 1995 murder trial.
District attorney's spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons declined comment, saying prosecutors would only respond to the motion in court. A hearing on the issue is scheduled Thursday.
The filing also cites the danger of jurors learning about the case through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Both sites are blocked by the court's public wireless network inside the criminal courthouse, but the motion notes that jurors could access the sites on their phones or outside the courthouse.
"The possibilities are endless for jurors to find and communicate information from the many websites on the Internet such as Facebook, Twitter and Google," the motion states.
Murray has pleaded not guilty. He could face up to four years in prison if convicted.
The Houston-based cardiologist is accused of giving Jackson a lethal dose of the anesthetic propofol and other sedatives in the bedroom of his rented mansion in June 2009.
Jury selection in Murray's case is scheduled to begin on Sept. 8, with opening statements slated to begin on Sept. 27.
Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/celebritydocket