Testimony starts today in the preliminary hearing for Dr. Conrad Murray, charged with manslaughter in the death of music icon Michael Jackson. On June 25th, 2009, Jackson died of a overdose of propofol, a prescription anesthesia drug normally used in hospitals during surgery. Jackson suffered from severe insomnia and Dr. Murry told LE he administered a standard dose of the drug to help Jackson sleep. The autopsy revealed there was a much larger amount of this drug in Jackson that Dr. Murray stated he administered. The prosecution contends all the drugs were administered by Dr. Murray. It has been reported in the media that the defense does not plan on presenting any theory (or witnesses) as to what happened the night of Jackson's death at this hearing.
The hearing will be held in Judge Michael Pastor's courtroom, Dept 107 of the Criminal Courts Building in downtown Los Angeles. A large media and public turnout is expected. It is my understanding that there are only 10 media seats inside the courtroom and 20 public seats available via lottery. There will be a media overflow room in another courtroom.
I've covered a trial in Judge Pastor's court, the Cameron Brown retrial for first degree murder. I really respected Judge Pastor. It was interesting to note that when media requested to take photographs of the Brown opening statement (and later, during the reading of the verdict (hung jury) Judge Pastor informed the media not to take any photographs of him, just the defendant and counsel. At the time I thought that was very interesting, so it comes as no surprise that Judge Pastor ruled there would be no video or media transmitting from inside the courtroom. Computers and blackberries can only be used for note taking. All media reporting must be done from outside the courtroom. This rule also applies for the media overflow room.
I'm honored to report that the Court's PIO has recognized me as a member of the media and that I will be allowed a seat in the media overflow room (if I don't make it into the public lottery). To give you an idea how many media have requested courtroom seats, In Sessions correspondent Beth Karas has told me she is #72 on the list for one of those 10 seats, and I registered for a seat long after she did. There will be many reporters vying for those 20 public seats as well as the general public. I will try to report from the hallway who has arrived until I'm allowed inside the courtroom. Look for a short update around 1:30 pm PT.