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by Barry Burch Jr.
It took six months to receive a verdict in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial; and now, three months after that the four jurors involved are saying they feel cheated. Why? The outcome is not to their liking. They claim to have been misled by the verdict form.
When the trial came to a close in November, it was AEG Live, a concert promoter hired by Jackson’s family that was victorious. His mother and children are claiming the company is liable for Jackson’s death because it hired, retained or supervised the doctor convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death, as reported by CNN.
A motion for a new trial filed on Thursday by Katherine Jackson’s lawyers has with it attachments, including sworn statements from the jurors suggesting their intentions were to find AEG Live liable in the King of Pop’s 2009 death.
Lawyers for Jackson also argue that outside of the issue-ridden verdict form, the judge erred in that he did not allow their independent negligence case.
In June of 2009, Jackson overdosed and died. He was using the surgical anesthetic propofol, administered by Dr. Conrad Murray, who told police the drug was used to treat his patient’s insomnia while preparing for a AEG Live produced tour.
The jurors are using words such as “stunned,” “upset” and “shocked” when discussing how they felt when they were ordered to immediately halt deliberation following their answer of “no” to the question of whether or not Dr. Conrad Murray was “unfit or incompetent to perform the work for which he was hired?”
The jurors feel as if the question was some sort of set-up. One juror referred to it as “a trap that prevented us from deliberating on the real issues of the case.”
“After sitting through almost six months of the trial in this case, I believed that Mrs. Jackson had proven her case against AEG Live,” another of the jurors explained. “Despite this fact, I had no way of voting in favor of the plaintiffs because of the way that the verdict form was worded.”
Jackson’s lawyers argue the question should have included the words “at any time,” and that Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazeulos erred by turning them down the first time they offered the suggestion.
The four jurors seem to be in total agreement with Jackson’s attorneys.
“I would like the judge to know that we did not have the opportunity to deliberate or render a verdict on the plaintiffs’ claims that Dr. Murray did not become unfit or incompetent until after the conflict of interest was created, Dr. Murray’s duties were changed, pressures were mounting, or even after the contract was prepared and signed by Dr. Murray,” a juror said.
Another explained, “During our deliberations, I asked to send a question to the judge to explain Question 2, but by then the foreman had already answered ‘no’ and followed the instructions to sign the form,” one said. “I feel so cheated because I sat through five months of trial and listened to a lot of evidence on the ethical conflict created — yet I never got to even deliberate at all on that issue or even review the hundreds of exhibits that had been brought in.”
“I do not think that justice was achieved in this case,” another said.
Jackson’s attorneys are scheduled to present their arguments for a new trial to Judge Palazeulos on January 3.
Barry is a scholar, who enjoys writing, arithmetic and politics. Reach him @ Barryburchjr@gmail.com