Thursday, March 24


Los Angeles (CNN) - The judge in the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, accused of involuntary manslaughter in Michael Jackson's death, will launch an investigation into how celebrity news websites obtained questionnaires being used to select a jury.

Still, Judge Michael Pastor said Thursday one website that has a "banner, bold headline indicating it has a copy of the questionnaire" does not have the real thing.
"Not one of the questions posted online is part of this court's questionnaire -- not one," Pastor said. "It is bogus."
As lawyers in the case gathered in his courtroom Thursday morning to begin jury selection, Pastor said he would meet with them later in the morning to start his inquiry into the potential leak of the questionnaire.

He had ordered the document sealed until all potential jurors had filled it out and handed it back to the court. The judge said he was concerned about "the potential for mischief that happens, and the real potential for skewing information and impacting juries with areas of concern that they feel they might have to answer a certain way."
Elevator troubles in the aging courthouse delayed the start of jury selection, with the judge moving his court to the jury assembly room on another floor.
"Because of the elevator situation, we had a lot people running late," Pastor said.
When the judge asked the 159 potential jurors to raise a hand if they have never heard of the Murray case, two indicated they had not.
Pastor then introduced Murray to the jury pool.
"Good morning, ladies and gentleman," Murray said as he stood before the people who will decide his fate. "Good morning," many of them said in response.
The potential jurors were given a three-page form to complete to determine if they are "hardship qualified."
Those who swear that their jury service, which is estimated to last 45 days, could cost them their jobs or otherwise be a hardship will be excused, the judge said.
The judge wants to select a pool of 85 to 100 "hardship qualified" potential jurors who would return on May 4 for the final jury selection process. Until then, lawyers will pour over their answers to the 160 written questions to decide which potential jurors they would want -- or not want -- to decide the case.
Opening statements and testimony are expected to begin around May 4, with the trial estimated to conclude around July 1, Pastor said.
Murray was Michael Jackson's personal physician when the pop star died on June 25, 2009, from what the coroner ruled was propofol intoxication. Murray has acknowledged administering propofol, a surgical anesthesia, to Jackson to help him sleep as he was preparing for his "This Is It" comeback tour, which was set to start in London in July 2009.
Murray, who remains free on $75,000 bail, entered a not guilty plea at his arraignment in January.
"Your honor, I am an innocent man," Murray said at the time.


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