Michael Flanagan, Conrad Murray’s attorney thinks that his client will receive the full 4 years for his guilty verdict for involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson. Of course, Flanagan will be asking for probation but expects the worst for his client. And he knows that under the facts of the case, despite this being Murray’s first involvement with the law, he caused the death of Michael Jackson. He did it while playing God…or anesthesiologist, neither of which he was qualified to be. Should Murray get jail time? Many argue that Murray was just the final pawn in Michael Jackson’s weave of health care professionals.
Under the law, Murray could receive probation or up to 4 years in jail. Judge Pastor sent Murray straight to jail after the jury came back with the guilty verdict. This is highly unusual in a case of this type. A judge would ordinarily have the defendant come back for sentencing while still remaining on bail. Murray was ordered to go immediately to jail. That’s a clear sign of what the judge is thinking in terms of a sentence.
At Murray’s sentencing, Jackson family members may testify about the impact of Jackson’s death on his family. Murray may also provide witnesses to lessen any sentence. Murray may also speak before his sentencing. If he does, it will not be any major concession. And the judge may give his reasoning for the sentence that he imposes on Murray.
Regardless of the amount of time, Murray’s attorneys are now more focused on his appeal. His attorney, Michael Flanagan spoke on televised CNN stating there are at least 3 grounds for appeal, according to the defense. He stated the judge should have sequestered the jury as it was a high profile case. Sequestration means the jury would have been kept in a hotel and not allowed to go home. It would ensure that they did not have access to the Internet, news accounts nor family and friends for consultation. This ground is likely to fail on appeal. An appeal is successful if there is a legal error by the judge that would likely have resulted in a different verdict. A judge is not required to sequester a jury; it is left to the judge’s discretion.
Second, Murray’s attorneys state they should have been allowed to provide information about Michael Jackson’s financial situation. Well, again, no harm no foul under the law. There is no correlation between Jackson’s financial situation and what caused his death. The defense claims that Michael was financially desperate for the concert. And he would do anything in support of his concert, including giving himself the final death drugs. Lastly, the defense asserts they should have been allowed to provide testimony about dermatologist Dr. Klein. Dr. Klein’s treatment of Jackson was not allowed in part because the drugs that Klein may have given Jackson were not in his system nor caused his death, according to the autopsy report.
If Murray who is already in jail is sentenced to jail time, he may have to serve his time in jail pending his appeal. As a former prosecutor, I have said that Murray should get jail time–the maximum 4 years allowed under the law. He was found guilty of criminally taking a life. Probation or a lesser sentence does not take into account the severity of the crime nor circumstances surrounding it. No matter what happens at his sentencing, we have probably not heard nor seen the last of Conrad Murray. For Michael Jackson, this is it.
Debbie Hines is a lawyer, former prosecutor and legal commentator appearing in national and local media including CNN, the Michael Eric Dyson Show, XM Sirius radio, NBC , ABC and CBS -Washington, DC affiliates, NPR, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, Black Enterprise among others. She founded LegalSpeaks, a progressive blog on women and race in law and politics. She also writes for the Huffington Post.