US & Canada

Jurors quizzed for Conrad Murray trial in Jackson death

Copy of juror questionnaire in Conrad Murray trial
Image caption Nearly 200 potential jurors completed the questionnaire for Dr Murray's trial

Potential jurors in the upcoming trial of Michael Jackson's personal doctor have been asked about their attitudes to celebrity and whether they have ever bought any of the star's music. The questions are part of the process to select a fair panel ahead of the trial of Dr Conrad Murray, the BBC's Rajesh Mirchandani in Los Angeles reports.

"Have you ever considered yourself a fan of Michael Jackson?" reads question 97 on a 30-page list that potential jurors have had to complete.

Question 99 asks: "Did you ever watch 'This Is It' (the documentary of Michael Jackson's concert tour prep)?"

The next one seeks to examine the contents of a juror's music collection and - with poetic irony, for those familiar with George Orwell's 1984 - Question 101 goes right to the heart of the matter: "Have you already formed an opinion about the guilt or innocence of Conrad Murray?"

Dr Murray has pleaded not guilty to the charge of involuntary manslaughter.

It is alleged he illegally gave Jackson an overdose of the hospital drug propofol, which led to the singer's death in June 2009.

Dr Murray's lawyers have argued that Jackson's poor health contributed to his death.

Wisp of speculation

The trial is due to start in early May, nearly two years after Jackson's sudden demise.

Image caption Dr Conrad Murray, who denies the charges, faces four years in prison if convicted

In that time every twist and turn, every scrap of evidence or wisp of speculation, has been reported on, blogged about and retweeted.

And the once-obscure specialist anaesthetic propofol has become virtually a household name.

The drug is included in a list of medications that potential jurors were asked about on the questionnaire.

They were also asked to state if they knew any of a long list of people who may be called as witnesses or who may be referred to during the case.

Thirteen members of the Jackson family are named, including the singer's children - listed as Paris, Prince and Blanket.

Question 88 asks for more than a simple yes or no.

Image caption Some of the questions focus on jurors' attitudes to celebrities and the law

Would-be panellists are required to state to what extent they agree with certain statements such as: "Celebrities and high-profile people in Los Angeles get away with crimes because of their status."

Later, they are quizzed about how closely they have followed the case and if they would be affected by the undoubtedly intense media scrutiny.

Such is the high-profile nature that court officials called nearly 500 people to attend the preliminary jury selection process.

Of those, nearly 200 completed the questionnaire, and may now be considered for the jury.

Their answers will be scrutinised for any sign of bias, as the authorities work to ensure Dr Murray gets as fair a trial as possible.

More on this story