Conrad Murray’s conviction and bail revocation provide important glimpses into the criminal justice system, beyond the case’s high profile
Michael Jackson’s private life was punctuated by remarkable highs and lows, while apparently all the time finding a way to give his live, video and audio audience their full money’s worth. The names are legion of great musicians and entertainers who met their ends with drug abuse.
Had Conrad Murray — convicted yesterday for involuntary manslaughter of Michael Jackson — declined to be hired by Mr. Jackson, would there have been a line of plenty of other medical doctors ready and willing to be hired, and at such significant dollar sums? Would a different doctor have been tempted to risk Jackson’s life with such dangerous chemicals, to help him sleep? Would a different doctor have been more vigilant over Jackson’s health? Discussions of these questions could fill volumes.
A local newspaper reporter called me recently for my thoughts about the high-profile Lululemon murder case. I declined to comment, because I had not been following the case much, and was not interested in catching up on the case merely to provide a few soundbites. Certainly, when a case interests me enough to comment to a reporter, I will read up on it. I told the reporter that the public is disserved when the media focuses attention on cases involving privileged people (alleged victims, perpetrators, or both, and in the case of Lululemon, a fancy retail block), and ignores those who are not privileged. I congratulate the reporter for her candor in having told me that she knows of this problem and regrets it.
The Conrad Murray case is noteworthy beyond Michael Jackson’s fame, to look into the criminal prosecution risks doctors take when engaging in risky procedures. His case only would have arisen from having a privileged patient, because it took substantial sums to hire him. Sometimes, though, doctors engage in risky actions with full ability, skill, caring and informed consent of their patients, to rectify severe health problems that have so far found insufficient solutions.
Murray, though, was difficult to paint as a sympathetic character to the jury, because inducing sleep for Michael Jackson with dangerous drugs did nothing to improve his health. Jackson was driven to get sleep while driven to prepare for a successful concert tour at a time that he should have been doing the opposite of resting and rejuvenating.
Mr. Murray’s bond revocation yesterday also highlights the bond aspect of criminal cases, which so often is overlooked by the mass media and the public. Here are some thoughts on that:
Murray’s bond was revoked after the guilty verdict and before sentencing. Trial judge Michael Pastor said Murray is a flight and danger risk. Too many trial judges are too quick to classify criminal defendants as danger risks. Murray’s conviction equates him, in the jury’s mind, to having been a danger by the time Michael Jackson died. However, Murray is unlikely to be hired as anyone’s round-the-clock doctor pending sentencing.
Mr. Murray’s flight risk is doubtful. Today, the globe has shrunk so much and so quickly that there are few places to successfully hide too long, other than in such places as North Korea and Cuba (and before this year I would have added Libya). However, he would not last long as a visitor to either country, because their governments would not want him.
Whatever really caused Michael Jackson to pass away, I wish him peace. If he has been aware of the happenings since his death, he would have dealt with the pain of so many people dissecting his life without end, and comforted by those who have shown him true caring not only after his death, but before.
For Dr. Murray, he must not be sent to the wolves for sentencing. No matter what one thinks of him and his actions, all of our rights are protected when each criminal defendant’s rights are fully protected.