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Robin Sax

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This Is It: Opening Statements in Conrad Murray Trial Begin Today

Posted: 09/27/11 09:50 AM ET

So to quote Michael Jackson, THIS IS IT. Prosecutors David Walgren and Debra Brazil are ready to go with opening statements in case number SA 073164, the People v. Conrad Murray. Everyone is gearing up for the main event. Pundits and legal blah-blah-blah-ers are predicting who is going to be called to the stand (NOT the Jackson kids, in my opinion), how the prosecution is going to prove their case, how the defense is going to defend, and more importantly, how will the prosecution handle the defense arguments we already know of -- that Michael Jackson drank, shot up, or ingested the powerful sedative Propofol himself.

Questions have circulated about how much the defense is going to attack Jackson as an addict, whether Jackson's lurid criminal behaviors make it to the courtroom. All of these million dollar questions make one ask, who is going to be on trial anyway -- Michael Jackson or Conrad Murray?

Let's face it, while this is an interesting case there is no way every satellite truck, every network, every celebrity lawyer and pundit would be here if the victim wasn't Michael Jackson.
So even in death, Jackson will have the spotlight -- a fact that presents challenges for both sides.

The prosecution and the defense need to deal with both the legend of the King of Pop, as well as the all-too human Michael Jackson. The prosecution will try to humanize him, make him a victim who relied on the advice and care of Dr. Conrad Murray to help him achieve one of the most basic necessities of life -- just getting a little sleep. If they take this strategy too far, they risk exposing Jackson as an addict, desperate to do anything for his Propofol "milk."

Don't forget the defense will try to humanize their client -- the tall, dark, and handsome Dr. Murray. While many predict the defense strategy will be to paint MJ as a victim of his own crime, I say this is a very dicey road. Just like in sexual assault cases where it's simply bad gamesmanship to beat up the victim, making MJ out to be a drug addict, a criminal -- pressured by fame and greed -- will likely backfire.

Some of you may be wondering how Michael Jackson can be on trial at all if Judge Michael Pastor made very explicit rulings about what is relevant and what is not. While Jackson's sexual history probably won't find its way in, I believe MJ's drug use and abuse will. There are at least two ways this testimony can come in -- one is called "opening the door" and the other is a play on words, or semantics.

Opening the door could go down something like this: Testimony comes in as to why Michael Jackson was on Propofol. It will have to be stated that he asked for it, or knew that it helped him sleep. There are certainly enough reasons from rumblings in the media as well as what we have seen in the preliminary hearing that will suggest Michael Jackson ingested the medication himself. So, this begs the question how many "recreational" users push in the bulbous of a syringe or take a swig of Propofol? Perhaps we won't hear if Jackson was addicted to other drugs, but we will hear a ton about Propofol. And I have to ask, who other than an addict uses Propofol, not for surgery, but nightly to sleep?

So here's where semantics come in: while they may not be able to call the King of Pop an addict, I guarantee we will hear about his use and abuse. The jurors are not dummies (although many are going to think they are). The prosecution will stay away from the word "addict" and perhaps even the words "drug user" and "abuser," but they will certainly paint a picture. And as we all know a picture is worth a thousand words.

 

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