In court today (Feb 28th), Judge Michael Pastor said that he doesn’t think the Defense are ready for a trial to begin on March 24th, even though it was they who insisted on a speedy trial. “I am extremely distressed about the state of this case and whether the defense is prepared for trial and its obligations to Dr. Murray.”
Prosecutors urged the judge to delay the start of jury selection, and Judge Pastor asked them to present case law on the matter on Wednesday, and ordered Murray to appear.
Murray’s medical license to practice in California has been suspended by Judge Pastor. Defense attorney J. Michael Flanagan told the judge the urgency of getting to trial involves Murray’s fear that if it takes too long, Texas and Nevada will lift his medical license as well. Flanagan also suggested that Murray is running out of money to fund his defense. “We need to go to trial right away,” he said. “We don’t have the budget that would let us draw this out.” Flanagan acknowledged, “We are still preparing this case,” but said it was normal for evidence to develop even after the trial has begun.
Prosecutors objected that they are entitled to receive discovery of defense evidence thirty days before trial starts, a deadline which has already passed. Deputy District Attorney Deborah Brazil said she has received no reports from defense experts or any statements from proposed defense witnesses.
Flanagan angrily complained that the prosecution has not met all of its discovery obligations either.
The judge ordered Brazil and Deputy District Attorney David Walgren to turn over clean digital photos from Michael’s autopsy, as well as all of the surveillance tapes recorded at his Bel Air home on June 25th 2009, the day he died of an overdose of the anesthetic Propofol and other sedatives.
Pastor said that unless both sides quickly meet their discovery obligations, he will begin issuing sanctions of fifteen hundred dollars per lawyer, per day. The judge said he may have to start holding daily hearings in order to compel discovery.
Among the experts Flanagan said he expects to call is a leading authority on the use Propofol. Flanagan said the witness believes Michael Jackson was addicted to the pain killer Demerol and was withdrawing it at the time of his death, which may have complicated his reactions.
(No trace of Demerol (meperodine) was found in Michael’s system at the time of his autopsy).
Outside court, Flanagan said prosecutors had twenty months to prepare their case, while the defense began developing evidence in the past six weeks after a preliminary hearing.
Flanagan said outside court, that he believes Pastor can’t overrule the speedy trial requirement, unless the defense is found unprepared on the day of trial. By then, the judge will have called hundreds of prospective jurors to the courthouse and arranged for extra security. He stressed that arranging for such a high-profile trial is time-consuming and complicated.