Attorneys for Michael Jackson's doctor Conrad Murray asked for a sequestered jury in the upcoming trial for involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's death, court papers revealed Friday.
Their argument is based on the Casey Anthony's murder trial, which was covered heavily by media, and remains controversial until today.
Murray's attorneys insisted that media coverage of high-profile trials like that of Casey Anthony demonstrated the danger that is created to a fair trial when basic information is managed for the purpose of entertainment and television ratings.
The number of viewers for Muray's trial is expected to outnumber that for Casey Anthony's trial, given Michael Jackson's international fame.
There is reasonable expectation that Dr. Murray's trial will be the most publicized in history, attorneys Edward Chernoff and Nareg Gourjian wrote in court papers given to Judge Michael Pastor, calling it Pollyanna to expect the jury members to go home each workday and weekend for six weeks and entirely avoid the mass of exposure this trial will engender.
It is necessary to sequester the jury in order to ensure that it is free from outside influences and guarantee the defendant a fair trial by an impartial jury, the attorneys wrote.
Although there is a cost with ordering sequestration, it is comparatively minimal compared to the costs that would be incurred by a retrial or new trial that would be required as a result of contamination.
After Judge Pastor reviews the request, a hearing is scheduled for Aug. 25.
Originally scheduled in May, the high-profile manslaughter trial has been delayed to September, so that the doctor's defense lawyer can have more time to prepare for cross-examining new prosecution witnesses.
Jury selection is scheduled to start on September 8, and opening statements on September 26.
Murray's attorneys have asked Judge Pastor to reconsider his position in sequestering the jury , asking,
Would [Casey Anthony's jurors] have been so sure of the facts if the 'experts' had informed them on a nightly basis that they were wrong?
Casey Anthony has been out of the public eye since her acquittal in July of the murder charges of her two-year-old daughter, Caylee. Recently, Anthony's name came up in a survey, winning the most hated person in the United States.
The unpopular acquittal enraged many people who had been following the case very closely. Death threats were made against Anthony and people related to her, including her jurors. Only three of the 17 jurors have voluntarily identified themselves, and Judge Belvin Perry Jr. plans not to release jurors' names before October 25.
As Perry announced this decision in July, he lamented what he described as the blurring of lines between news and entertainment, saying court proceedings have become just another form of mindless entertainment and a revenue source for broadcast networks, according to Reuters.
Behind The Most Publicized Trial To Come
Michael Jackson, 50, died on June 25, 2009 at his rented home in Los Angeles from an overdose of the powerful anesthetic drug propofol, according to autopsy reports. The pop star died just weeks before his much-anticipated This Is It comeback tour was scheduled to kick off.
Murray, a cardiologist, was hired as Jackson's personal physician while the pop star prepared for his comeback tour. He became the prime suspect after the Thriller singer died and was subsequently accused of gross negligence for administering Jackson an overdose of the powerful anesthetic propofol and other sedatives, which led to the pop star's death by heart failure.
Later, the doctor was charged with involuntary manslaughter of the pop star.
However, the doctor has pleaded not guilty and his lawyers claim Jackson swallowed and/or injected the lethal dose of propofol by himself.
If found guilty, Murray could face up to four years in prison.