PRINT PAGEConrad Murray: The Opening Arguments

Written by Roy Black

Crowd in front of the Murray Trial Courthouse in Michael Jackson death case

The Prologue:

I switched between CourtTV (sorry, Tru TV) and HLN leading up to the start of court yesterday. They were interviewing right in the middle of the crazies waiting outside for the games to begin. I have been there before and the clients and lawyers have to battle through the scrum to get into the courthouse. It can be unnerving to everyone, let alone the defendant who is scared to death already. I hope Murray has good security because he is going to need it. Jackson collects a lot of fanatics.

The front of the courthouse was jammed with fans with gold “MJ” armbands and T-shirts bearing the silkscreen likeness of their idol. All of them waiting in downtown Los Angeles for a glimpse of courtroom entourage and perhaps an outside shot at one of the few open seats in the public gallery. Bloggers, gossip columnists and news crews also flooded the area.

The Jackson family showed up in force, Jackson’s parents, Joe and Katherine, sisters and brothers, and even his personal magician, Majestic Magnificent. Not a good thing for Dr. Murray. These high profile cases are like tailgating at a football game for the dedicated fans. They remind me of the types of reactions people have to Michael Jackson, dead or alive. If I had a hand in selecting the jury I would have looked for jurors who thought Jackson was a child molester and drug addict. The commentators mention that six of the jurors are Jackson fans, and two even saw the “This is It” documentary.

The judge has excluded all the ugly accusations about Jackson, so Murray needs some jurors who are well aware of them and think Jackson got off in his criminal case by manipulating the system and by paying off the earlier child. I watched my friend Tom Mesereau on the CBS Early Show say it would hurt Murray if Jackson’s children testified at the trial. I think just the opposite. It will remind the jurors how bizarre he was. Such things like hanging a child over a balcony, whether his “marriage” was real or just for show, and raise concern about molestation. Did he “buy” these kids? I want them sitting in the courtroom too.

Beth Karas, who I worked with on several trials, interviewed Murray’s pastor who mentioned an interesting detail. He said Murray had a lot of people there because he saved their lives, including his attorney. No wonder he came from Texas to defend Murray.

At 8:45 am, they announced a delay because a juror was in chambers with the judge and the lawyers. Obviously a problem already. A high profile case has so many pitfalls when the jury is not sequestered. The judge denied it.

If you have read my posts on opening arguments you know what I am looking for. A high profile case like this, especially with the trial on television, where we all have access to the in-court arguments and evidence, is a great vehicle to discuss trial tactics and strategy. Let’s see how the lawyers do.

Here are my rough notes (with a little assistance from CNN) of the arguments with my comments usually in brackets. To get the issues, you need to watch the video because the transcripts or notes will not be sufficient to get the issues I discuss.

Deputy District Attorney David Walgren for the prosecution:

The evidence in this case will show that Michael Jackson put his life in the hands of Murray. The evidence will show he trusted his life to medical skills of Murray. The evidence will show that misplaced trust cost him his life.
[I hate the mantra, “the evidence will show . . .”  Just tell us what happened.]  On June 25th,  Jackson was declared dead. He was just 50 years old.

He asks to dim the lights and turns on a PowerPoint demonstration. It is amateurish.  He used a video monitor with still photographs, charts, extracts from voicemail and other recordings.  He goes through the toxicology. Propofol and a number of Valium-type drugs. All administered by Murray. All led to the conclusion the Propofol level was similar to that used in general anesthesia. Other drugs heightened effect of the drugs combined. Following these findings, the coroner determined a homicide. The coroner found acute Propofol intoxication. After determining it was a homicide, the investigation proceeded. So what happened between June 24 and 25, some 12 hours? What you will learn is that the act and omissions of Jackson’s doctor directly led to his premature death at 50.

[So far he didn’t tell us much. He didn’t tell the story. He didn’t get our attention. He wasted the dramatic power of the first few paragraphs.]

Then he says, “As the judge told you, this is the opening statement. And it is an outline of what we expect the evidence to show. To give you a road map. Witnesses will be called out of order. Not chronological. We present what we expect it to show. [Now I am ready to throw up. Once again the old map cliche. This is the best they can do? Hardly an exciting beginning.]

[Walgren speaks in a monotone and so far he is fairly boring. Mind you it is not easy to make this story uninteresting but he is doing a good job of it. The OJ openings were far more dramatic. So far he makes Marcia Clark sound dynamic.]

Goes through Murray’s deal to handle Jackson for $150,000 per month. Jackson rejected a $5 million offer. But the contract was never signed by the parties. June 24, 2009. The promoter never signed it, nor Jackson. [So what?]

Then he gets into Profopol. [He stumbles around a bit]. Propofol, the drug that caused pop star Michael Jackson’s death, “is a wonderful drug, if used by someone who knows what they’re doing.” It is not a sleep agent. It is a general anesthetic. Have to know what you are doing to use it. He goes through the dangers to it. A narrow margin of safety. The difference between light sedation and full. Have to be knowledgeable. Can lead to death. This is made plain in the text on the package. Continuous monitoring necessary. Read the package insert.  [He is picking up steam and these are good points.]

Then he argues that Murray lied to the pharmacist to get delivery of all these drugs. Murray claimed to have a clinic with large client base in California. However, not an office, but the apartment of his girlfriend.  Between April 6, 2009, and the time of Michael Jackson’s death on June 25th, Dr. Conrad Murray ordered enough Propofol to give Jackson 1,937 milligrams a day. The first shipment was 15,000 milligrams. The second, 45,000 milligrams. In addition, a large load of Valium-type drugs. He adds up all the doses. Shows them on the PowerPoint. [All good points and well made.]

Michael Jackson drug bottles

Then he discusses a tape found on the iTalk app on Murray’s iPhone. May 10, 2009. We hear Jackson and Murray. Jackson is severely slurring his words. Michael Jackson is under the influence of some drug. This is strong proof of Jackson’s state. What he was doing to Jackson? Jackson obviously doped up. He played part of the recording of Jackson made on Murray’s iPhone. The recording appears to feature a drugged Jackson, slurring his words as he says he wants people to leave his show saying, “He’s the greatest entertainer in the world.”

The recording said: “We have to be phenomenal. When people leave this show, when people leave my show, I want them to say, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. Go. Go. I’ve never seen nothing like this. Go. It’s amazing. He’s the greatest entertainer in the world. I’m taking that money, a million children, children’s hospital, the biggest in the world, Michael Jackson’s Children’s Hospital.'”

Photo of Michael Jackson's iTapeWalgren argues the tape proves Murray’s “knowledge of what he is doing to Michael Jackson on May 10, 2009, more than a month and a half before Michael Jackson dies as a result of this very treatment.”
[This is very strong. The tape is amazing, shocking. The big question is why did Murray tape this? It is before he started treating Jackson.]

Walgren displayed the image of Jackson dead, lying on a gurney, several times during a slide presentation highlighting the prosecution’s points.
At one point, a slide showed grim photos of Jackson lying dead in a hospital bed were juxtaposed with a picture of the singer rehearsing the day before his death. Prosecutor David Walgren indicated that the second photo showed Jackson rehearsing at Los Angeles’ Staples Center on June 24, 2009 – the day before Jackson died. The photo of the body was dated June 25, 2009.

Michael Jackson Photos Alive and Dead“The question became what occurred between June 24, 2009, when Michael Jackson, shown in this picture, performing at the Staples Center, singing ‘Earth Song,’ – what happened between that time and approximately 12 hours later when Michael Jackson is dead?”

Murray is at the house every night for 2 months. He points to a diagram and notes it is difficult to see from this perspective. [Are you serious? Why show it if the jury can’t see it?] Showing the house. [I think a number of the slides interferes with the flow of his argument rather than helping it.]

Murray made a bunch of phone calls between 10:20 and 11:51 am.

During a phone call at 11:51 am with a cocktail waitress that Murray regarded as his girlfriend, Murray became silent and the phone went dead, “This is likely the time Conrad Murray first noticed Michael Jackson’s lifeless body.”  Walgren said that the cocktail waitress on the phone noticed that Murray stopped responding to her on the phone and then five minutes later the call went dead.

At 12:12 pm, Murray called Michael Jackson’s personal assistant Michael Williams and left a message saying, “Call me right away, please. Please call me right away. Thank you.” Williams promptly called Murray back and he was told, “Get here right away, Mr. Jackson had a bad reaction, he had a bad reaction.”

Murray discovered Michael Jackson unconscious at about 11:56 am on June 25, 2009, but he did not tell anyone to call 911 until 12:20 pm. When Murray said Jackson had a bad reaction, he had yet to call authorities. Williams, who was not close to Jackson’s home, summoned security guard Albert Alvarez to go inside the house. When he gets inside Jackson’s room, Murray is giving CPR while Jackson lies on the bed.

Murray instructed the security guard to grab a bag and Murray begins grabbing vials and a saline bag hanging from the IV stand to put inside the bag. That bag was later found inside Jackson’s home.

Pointing again to the slide showing Jackson alive and the one with his body on the gurney Walgren argues: “The question became what occurred between June 24, 2009, when Michael Jackson, shown in this picture, performing at the Staples Center, singing ‘Earth Song,’ – what happened between that time and approximately 12 hours later when Michael Jackson is dead?”

On June 19, “Michael showed up for his rehearsal and he was not in good shape, he was not in good shape at all. He had chills, he was trembling . . . he was rambling.”  He went home early that evening and didn’t rehearse because of his physical condition.

Paramedics not told Propol administered. They pronounced Jackson dead at the scene. Murray disagrees. He had been doing CPR. Murray accompanies Jackson to UCLA in the ambulance.

Doctors ask Murray what has he taken. He says Flomax, Valium, Lorazapam. He didn’t tell them about Propofol. ER doctors not told of Propofol.

[Walgren is doing a chronological timeline in his opening. Not a bad way of proceeding. But I note he never mentions any problems with his case. There must be some. And we hear later from the defense there are some real problems, but Walgren never addresses them.]

Walgren goes through evidence collected at the house, some of which irrelevant.

The homicide detectives meet with Murray and his lawyers at the Ritz Carlton. Walgren claims the detectives are largely in the dark as to cause of death at this time. They give Murray his chance to tell a narrative of what happened. [Once again this proves don’t talk to the police. They will twist anything you say.]

He plays a tape of the meeting. [I am surprised the lawyers agreed to this. But surprisingly I find the tape a little hard to hear. I found it annoying instead of convincing. Would have been far more dramatic if the prosecutor repeated the words instead of just playing the tape. Or at least a better recording. At one time Walgren has his team repeat a tape because the jury couldn’t hear it. This is from not practicing in court with the equipment. There is no excuse for a low volume so people can’t hear.]

Prosecutor claims Murray didn’t fully admit how much Propofol was given to Jackson.  Then he hits one of his major themes — that Murray committed medical abandonment.  He goes into the phone calls at this time. It was a deviation from care. Meaning acting with gross negligence. The element of manslaughter. Gross negligence and indifference.

He now begins summing up. He gives his best arguments again in a list. He goes through factors for finding gross negligence.

[This is clearly argument. Proof that this is not a statement. But no objection. No intervention by the court.]

Regardless of what the defense says there are certain facts.

Murray had left Jackson alone for two minutes after he administered Propofol on the day Jackson died;
after emergency personnel were called, Murray told neither medics nor emergency room doctors caring for Jackson that Murray had administered Propofol.

– Murray administered Propofol, a “powerful anesthetic intended for use in highly monitored settings such as a hospital,” in an improper setting – the home where Jackson was staying.
– Murray administered Propofol for insomnia, rather than for what it is meant for, such as “the induction and maintenance of general anesthesia, sedation for mechanically ventilated adults, and procedural sedation.”
– The Propofol was administered without immediate access to standard resuscitation equipment and drugs.
– Investigators have found no written informed consent form signed by Jackson.
– No documentation of vital signs and dosages of Murray’s care of Jackson that night, “crucial in a setting such as this, when emergency personnel . . .  (are) seeking the truth (of what happened) – were found.
– 911 wasn’t called immediately when a problem was discovered.
– After emergency personnel were called, Murray told neither paramedics nor emergency room doctors caring for Jackson that Murray had administered Propofol, according to Walgren.
“His eyes on a $150k contract when he gave Jackson drugs.”
The evidence will remain unchanged. He abandoned Jackson.
He left this vulnerable man filled with Propofol. No monitoring equipment, left him to fend for himself. He violated all standards of care even one human to another.
Whatever theory the defense puts forward, it will be clear he abandoned Jackson.
His gross negligence. His untrained hands. His $150k a month. He abandoned Jackson. His actions and omissions caused his death.

He clearly argued the case. There was no effort to disguise it. He was never called on it. There was no objection by the defense. I think I would have objected to throw him off-balance. It was clearly argument. Forget the misnomer opening statement. Both sides continually argued their case so we need to abandon the objection. It is meaningless. The prosecutor’s last 15 minutes with the list of complaints about Murray was all argument without the batting of an eye.

One HLN commentator called it masterful. He must have been watching on another channel. Masterful? I will give him good. He made many good points and he clearly communicated them. For masterful he needed a couple of more weeks on it. With editing and practicing, this could have been far more powerful. But it was still pretty good.

He hammered his key words, over and over. Abandonment, gross deviation and greed.

The defense has a lot to answer and rebut. Perhaps they have not prepared rebuttal arguments, but they better do it on the fly. Right now the mantra of greed, abandonment and gross negligence is dancing in the jurors’ minds.

Defense Lawyer Ed Chernoff:

The problem is this. At the end of the trial the issue is whether he has committed a crime. Not whether Murray is negligent in the abstract or a good doctor. You will be asked to determine who caused the death. The science will show. During the ten hours Jackson frustrated because couldn’t sleep. Wouldn’t give him drug. He did an act that caused his own death. The science will show you that Jackson swallowed Lorazapam. That is enough to put 6 of you to sleep. He did it when Murray not around. When he left the room Jackson took Propofol. Created a perfect storm in his body which killed him instantly. When Murray came back in no one could revive him. He died instantly rapidly, didn’t even close his eyes.

The defense not required to put on evidence, but we will. Put on the science. We will provide you answers to two questions. How did he get to this point? Then what happened when Murray left the room? Two key questions: How did Michael Jackson get to the point where he was on the day of his death, and what happened to Jackson when Murray was in the room?

[Just like the prosecution, the beginning was slow and unpersuasive. He had some great themes he developed later in the argument that needed to be put right up front. He lost a lot of impact due to poor ordering of his arguments.]

Jackson hadn’t performed for 10 years. He needed to do these shows. His salvation. The prosecution undersold the scale of the “This Is It” concert series Michael Jackson was preparing for, and the stress Jackson was under. The goal of the tour “was to create history, not just for us, but for himself.” “And this particular series of concerts, these shows were going to be his absolution,” “He needed to do these shows.”

“This was how Michael Jackson was going to be remembered,”  “He needed to do these shows.”  If the concerts succeeded, Jackson had plans for four to five movies, including a 3D version of “Thriller,” which would net him hundreds of millions of dollars.

“All he had to do was complete these shows,”  “The problem was he was never going to be able to do these shows. Because Michael Jackson had a problem – he had a problem that no amount of determination, dedication or talent would overcome. And he knew that he needed help.”

[Murray has the worst expression on his face. Mouth down turned. Frown. Very unattractive. Off-putting. Even during his lawyer’s opening.]

Jackson under pressure to do these shows. But he couldn’t do it. He had a problem.

He needed help. He went out looking for help.

Paints a pathetic picture of Jackson. I just want a house for my kids.

He was desperate to succeed. 50 shows. Never done before. This is it. And for him it was.

Paints Dr. Murray. If the prosecution is going to tell you he is greedy, callous and reckless, you need to hear the full story.” Not a celebrity doctor. He had two offices — Houston and Las Vegas. He does angioplasty procedures. They require anesthesia. He literally saves lives. Heart attacks. That’s who he is.

“If you couldn’t pay, Dr. Murray wouldn’t charge you,” Chernoff said. Murray lowered his head and wiped away tears.

[He could have done a lot more to overcome the greed factor and the $150k. Murray gave up his practice. He had two offices he shut down. He let his staff go. Up rooted his life to follow Jackson around the world. To be with him day and night. How much would it cost him to start all over again after the tour was finished?]

Greed. The prosecution kept going on about $150k. Patients of Murray. Tell what the doctor is like. The poorest community in Houston.

Tells how he met Jackson. Not in it for the money.

Murray began crying when Chernoff described how he met Jackson, and how Murray and Jackson became friends as the pop star let him into his life. Murray wiped from his face as his attorney talked about “the real problems Michael Jackson had.”

Murray Crying at Michael Jackson Manslaughter Trial

[I think this was pretty powerful. The combination of the argument with the response by Murray really humanized him. He seems like he really cared about Jackson.]

He goes through the meeting with homicide detectives. He said they were there as long as the detectives wanted. There were no limitations to the questions, and Murray never took a break to consult with lawyers about whether to answer questions. Murray told detectives , “I don’t know what killed Michael Jackson. I want to know also.”

[At the beginning Chernoff said that Jackson had caused his own death by self-administering Propofol and another drug while Murray was out of the room. Now he is trying to counter the prosecution’s argument that Murray’s provision of Propofol to Jackson was negligent.]

Chernoff said Murray – who Chernoff said had become Jackson’s friend and occasional physician after treating one of Jackson’s children in 2006 – agreed to give Jackson Propofol to help him sleep as Jackson prepared for his “This Is It” concert series only after Jackson told him that he used Propofol during his tours. Murray was concerned that Jackson was going to use Propofol “irrespective of Murray.”

Murray saw his role as weaning Jackson off Propofol, and Jackson agreed to let him try. And Murray was in that process on the week that Jackson died, giving Jackson only half the normal dose on the night of June 22, and giving Jackson two other sedatives but no Propofol on the night of June 23, Chernoff said.

“What you will learn from the evidence . . . is this: Dr. Murray provided Propofol for sleep for two months for Michael Jackson,”  “For these two months . . . Michael Jackson slept, he woke up, and he lived his life. He went to work and he continued what . . . he felt he needed to do.”

“The evidence is not going to show you that Michael Jackson died when Dr. Murray gave him Propofol;” Jackson died “when Dr. Murray stopped.”

[Here was a great theme he should have started with “He didn’t die from Murray giving him Propofol, but when he stopped.” Why wait so long to bring this up? This would have been a great mantra to repeat through the argument.]

[The argument seems disjointed to me. Could have been tightened up.]

Jackson would separate people. It was hard to talk to him. Security guards not allowed into the house.    The same situation with his family.

[But then Chernoff drops this. He could have fleshed it out more. That is why Murray didn’t know all the drugs Jackson was taking. It also explains why the state’s witnesses don’t know what was really going on with Jackson. It was all Jackson’s doing. He kept everyone in the dark. He was a fanatic about privacy. Perhaps that is why Murray didn’t call 911 right away. Chernoff never explains why the delay in calling. He should have hit this a lot harder.]

Brings up Dr. Arnold Klein. We can’t call him as a witness. [Clear message to the jury that Klein invoking his Fifth. Great point without invoking an objection.] But his records we have subpoenaed. Treatments in his office. Gets shots of Demerol each time. Along with Botox.

Klein bears some blame for the singer’s death. The Beverly Hills dermatologist addicted Jackson to Demerol, sometimes injecting him with 1,000 milligrams in a single week. It was Demerol withdrawal that caused the crippling insomnia that Murray treated with Propofol.

Just before he died, Jackson swallowed eight bottles of a drug called Lorazepam, enough to knock out six adults. Chernoff also asserted that Jackson gave himself a dose of Propofol on top of that, while Murray was out of the room, creating a “perfect storm in his body that killed him instantly”.

“There was no CPR, no doctor, no paramedic, no machine that was going to revive Michael Jackson,” “He died so rapidly, so instantly, he didn’t have time to close his eyes.”  [This is a good rebuttal to the alleged omissions to the paramedics and ER doctors.]

We will call an addiction specialist. He examined the medical records. Klein addicted Jackson to Demerol. Withdrawal and inability to sleep. An absolute inability. Murray not told of this Demerol. Police asked about the Demerol. And he didn’t know.

What is Propofol? It matters in this case. Paul White the preeminent expert of Propofol. Internationally known. Paints his background. Professor, etc., written or co-authored over 800 books. [Please, no one has written over 800 books. Chernoff lost some credibility with this claim.]

Normally used intravenously. It is not a poison. It has one job. Put people to sleep.

When invasive surgery, when cut a patient open. For 150lbs. Over 130 mgs. With that there is a danger. When given in the amounts to Jackson there is no danger of an airwave restriction. No cardiac effect. It is a matter of degree. [This is also a good theme, but he waited until the end and buried it, so not effective.  Also he could have re-ordered the arguments to be more effective, more logical. Seems chopped up to me.]

June 16 got a shot of Demerol. On June 19 unable to perform. He was sick. Expert explain what happening that week. [Why not tell us? Why do these introductions then fail to explain what the opinions and testimony will be?]  He had an insomnia due to Demerol. Jackson said it was due to his genius, his mind working all the time. [A subtle dig at Jackson for hiding the addiction from Murray.]

Jackson caused his own death by self-administering Propofol and another drug while Murray was out of the room. Murray was sticking to his plan to wean Jackson off Propofol and give him only two other drugs instead, refused to give Jackson Propofol for 10 hours in the night/day leading to Jackson’s death. Murray gave Jackson Propofol only after an upset Jackson begged for it.

Jackson told Murray: “If I don’t sleep, if I don’t get some sleep, I can’t complete my rehearsal. If I can’t complete my rehearsal, I can’t complete my show . . . and I will fail.”

Jackson knew when he asked for Propofol that he already had other medications in his system.  Jackson went to sleep after getting the Propofol, and Murray checked his vital signs, which were good, the lawyer said. Jackson gave himself more Propofol and a dose of another drug when Murray left the room. Jackson was addicted to Demerol.
The 25 milligrams of Propofol that he said Murray gave Jackson on the day of his death would have dissipated within 10 minutes, and that should have happened by the time Murray left the room.

Science will prove that Jackson had to have taken more Propofol when Murray left the room.  “The science will prove that there had to have been more Propofol delivered, provided, taken by Michael Jackson after the period of time (Murray) left that room,” the extra delivery of that Propofol “was through Michael Jackson himself.”  [He gives no explanation why Murray left the room. Why was there no supervision? Perhaps he could have said there was no danger of an adverse reaction because as far as Murray knew the drug was out of his system.]

Propofol works quickly. Its effect disappears quickly. It doesn’t matter how much you inject. With 25 mg within 10 minutes. [Chernoff fumbles with his chart. It falls off the easel.] No matter how much you give there is nothing left. So there is no abandonment. [ He answered an important prosecution theme.] The science will explain what happened.

Their experts will say the amount is larger than 100 mgs and that is usually only for surgery. Coroner investigator tells what found at the scene. Maybe a drip. We will demonstrate improbable not possible a drip. So how did he get more Propofol. This is what we wrestle with scientifically.

[Then he moves to the manslaughter instruction. There is no introduction for this. He assumes the jury knows what he is speaking of.] The act must be a substantial factor. This is the language from instruction. An act has to be a direct, natural and probable cause of death. Likely to happen if nothing unusual intervenes. White will opine that Murray not responsible. The amounts he gave are not capable to cause death; he will describe precautions in offices. Nurses give this drug. Jumps back to 10 minutes no drug left in system.

I will ask all the prosecution experts if the drug Jackson took on 25th what Murray reported would it have killed Jackson? They will say no. So there had to be more taken by Jackson after the doctor left the room.

Lorazapam. High amounts in Jackson. Doctor gave 4 mgs. Have to be every 30 mins for five hours. How did he get it in his system. Stomach contents. They didn’t test it so we did.  Four times greater in stomach. Only way possible. He was swallowing it.

[This is a strong point. His experts did the testing on the stomach contents. But he said it like a throwaway line. This should have been a lot more dramatic. It needed some pictures to help drive it home. It seemed lost here.]

He wanted to sleep. Tried to sleep for 10 hours. The doctor would not give the Propofol that he wanted so he swallowed 8 without permission. Self administered an additional dose. It killed him instantly. No way to save him.
Just before he died, Jackson swallowed eight bottles of a drug called Lorazepam, enough to knock out six adults. Jackson gave himself a dose of Propofol on top of that, while Murray was out of the room, creating a “perfect storm in his body that killed him instantly”.

“There was no CPR, no doctor, no paramedic, no machine that was going to revive Michael Jackson,” Chernoff said. “He died so rapidly, so instantly, he didn’t have time to close his eyes.”

“The whole thing is tragic, but the evidence is not going to show that Dr. Murray did it.” “Dr. Murray is an imperfect man, but in this criminal court we believe he is not guilty.”

“We will ask you to acquit him.”

If my notes of the defense opening seem jumbled it is because the argument was jumbled. It appeared cobbled together at the last minute combined with no real thought into demonstratives to support the arguments. There was no flow, no connection or bridges between the arguments and no real order. Despite that there were several strong points made but done with less impact and drama than could have. His argument needs a complete makeover. It has to be re-edited. Change the order. Start with and repeat the themes. Also it is my impression the defense never practiced the opening. If so would have seen the problems. One thing is for sure, Michael Jackson relentlessly practiced his performances. Both lawyers can learn from that.

Demonstratives: He offered just one low-tech cardboard poster on an easel, with two questions written on it: “How did Michael Jackson get to the point?” and “What happened when Dr Murray was out of the room?” Unfortunately for him, the “Michael” in Michael Jackson was spelled wrong. The prosecution made far more use of slides and evidence perhaps a little too much as I said earlier. But the defense exhibit was pathetic. No planning done with graphics in mind. They missed a great opportunity.

Also he left several of the prosecution arguments left unrebutted. He didn’t explain the tape of Jackson obviously under drugs. A shock to hear it. Six weeks before his death. What drug was he on and why did he tape it?

The prosecution kept hammering the number of milligrams Murray ordered. Why no answer to that? Where did it all go?

At least the greed was partially answered.

It is fair to say the issues were starkly presented to the jury. Now all they have to do is prove them.

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6 Comments to Conrad Murray: The Opening Arguments

  1. Robert Rudolph's Gravatar Robert Rudolph
    September 29, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    You’re staff missed the spell check for “scrum”. Superlative analysis, I have no doubt the defendant would be in infinitely safer hands with you at the helm. I have followed you since the Lozano trial was broadcast while I was studying law at UM. I have learned more from studying your body of work than from anyone, sans one assistant PD I tried the majority of my first dozen trials with. You are an attorney’s attorney.

    Your facebook contributions are a great tool with which I sharpen my sword. I have one comment about the Conrad trial I would appreciate your input on. I once had a trial where my client was reluctantly (behind closed doors) prosecuted by the State. Due to police pressure and paying lip service to law and order the case was tried and I acquitted the accused of both counts. The victory was bitter sweet for two reasons, the client (a lawyer no less) didn’t pay a penny of the 6 figure fee and the prosecutor was no Abe Glaser (sic?). I suspect that the prosecution assigned the mediocre prosecutor as a furtive contribution to the client’s defense. I have seen the same done in a televised trial of a man who is American royalty. The prosecutor is so bad in the Conrad case I would bet money we are seeing the same thing again. I suspect you suspect the same. While this is pure conjecture, a flight of fantasy, what is your opinion regarding my hypothesis?

  2. September 29, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    SCRUM: noun
    (rugby) the method of beginning play in which the forwards of each team crouch side by side with locked arms; play starts when the ball is thrown in between them and the two sides compete for possession
    [Brit] A disorderly crowd of people

    His staff questioned that as well, but looked it up.

  3. September 30, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Maybe his staff missed the spell check for “scrum”, but I’m sure they know the difference between “your” and “you’re”. Your is the possessive. For example “this is your car” or “this is your hat” or “your staff missed the spell check for ‘scrum’.” In these examples, there is no apostrophe and there is no “e” in the word. The word “your” rhymes with “four” and “door”. On the other hand, the word “you’re” is short for “you are”, and the apostrophe replaces the “a” in order to abbreviate the two words. Whenever a person can properly use “you are” in a sentence, the abbreviation “you’re” is correct to use. The abbreviation “you’re” rhymes with “lure” and “pure.” I don’t understand why people make this basic second grade mistake all the time. That is why education is so important.

  4. September 30, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    I learned more about this case from reading your blog than every news cast and print article I’ve seen; combined. Excellent narrative Roy. Now if Murray’s defense team is as good as your narrative, he will remain a free man.

    I suspected that Michael self-medicated as any junky with access to an unlimited supply of drugs would. Now I am convinced.

    The fact that you held my attention throughout this lengthy “blog” is a testament to your world class status as a great story teller and attorney. I knew that there was a reason why you were always a hit at our parties!

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