Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Conrad Murray trial - a brief comment

I’m not really all that interested in the trial of Conrad Murrray. I know a lot of people are; after all, we're talking about the death of Michael Jackson.

The reason I’m not that interested is that, whichever way you look at it, the answer’s the same. Michael Jackson killed himself. It doesn’t much matter whether you feel his doctor was the one who actually gave Jackson a lethal dose of Propofol, or Lorazepam (or whatever drug in may have been); even if that were the case, it would still have been Jackson who hired that doctor and effectively told him what to do.

I will, however, make one comment on the trial. Today, both the prosecution and the defense made their closing arguments. The prosecution’s case was dealt with by David Walgren, who did what was expected of him. He presented a strong and convincing case, and that was about it.

The defense however, was another matter. The closing arguments were handled by Edward Chernoff, a lawyer from - of all places - Houston, Texas.

Throughout the case, Chernoff, ably helped by his associates, made more or less a mess of things. It was very difficult, at times, to even try and figure out where they were going.

Today, however, all that changed. Chernoff gave a blistering closing. It probably won’t wash - Murray will be convicted for involutary manslaughter (it’s Michael Jackson, after all) - but boy, did he do well.

“There is no perfect villain”, Chernoff said, “and there’s no perfect victim”. And that pretty much sums up the case. Murray was hardly a perfect doctor; but then, Jackson was hardly the ideal patient either.

As I said, Jackson killed himself. There is, in this trial, only the question to what extent Murray’s accessorial role is actually criminal. It makes the case, viewed from a broader perpective, more or less trivial, but watching Chernoff today, one has to admire what some lawyers can make of such trivialities.

Well done, Chernoff!

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