Thursday, October 03, 2013

Michael Jackson: AEG cleared

The procession following the death of Michael Jackson continues to march grimly forward, yesterday reaching a key point where a jury decided that AEG weren't responsible for killing him by hiring Conrad Murray.

The New York Times reports:

A California jury decided on Wednesday that Michael Jackson’s final concert promoter, A.E.G. Live, was not responsible for the pop star’s death.

After a five-month trial filled with gruesome details of Jackson’s last days, the case came down to basic questions of contractual relationships and the professional competence of Dr. Conrad Murray, the cardiologist who gave Jackson a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol four years ago.

After deliberating for about 13 hours over four days, the jury of six men and six women agreed with lawyers for Jackson’s 83-year-old mother, Katherine, that A.E.G. Live had hired Dr. Murray. But they rejected arguments that the doctor was unfit to care for Jackson as he prepared for a series of comeback concerts.
It could have cost AEG USD1.5billion if they'd been found to be culpable. (That's roughly the annual GDP of Belize, if you'd like a meaningless but impressive comparison.)

Refreshingly, the jury decided to treat Michael Jackson as a grown-up who made his own poor decisions.

We're now in a curious place, where Murray is serving a sentence for the involuntary manslaughter of Jackson, but has been found fit to practice. The jury think they can make sense of that, though:
"We felt he was competent," [jury foreman Gregg] Barden said. "That doesn’t mean we felt he was ethical. If ethical was in the question, it might have been a different outcome. In the end, he was very unethical. He did something he shouldn’t have done. "
It's not entirely clear if someone who is unethical is fit to practice, but the jury seemed to think that wasokay.

Barden shakes his head sadly, though:
"There are really no winners in this ... Somebody had to die for us to be here.... It was really a tragic situation."
No winners? As the lawyers pack up and move on to Conrad Murray's appeal hearing, they might disagree, were they not struggling with suitcases packed with money.