This ought to make 12 people—and a few alternates—very happy.
The judge who will preside over Dr. Conrad Murray's manslaughter trial announced today that the jury deciding the fate of Michael Jackson's personal physician will not be sequestered, noting that the last time a Los Angeles jury was stashed away was during O.J. Simpson's murder trial.
But this is going to be a super high-profile trial, too, right?
Yes, and that's exactly why the judge doesn't want to treat the jurors like prisoners and have their attitude and flagging resolve affect the verdict.
A number of studies have shown that sequestration "interfered with their fair assessment of the evidence and the law," said L.A. Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor at a hearing with prosecutors and defense counsel today.
"Jurors want to do the right thing," he added. "Jurors have lives. We remove them from their lives in these horrific economic times." And though the media coverage will be difficult to ignore, "I have more faith and respect for jurors than others do," Pastor said.
Murray's attorney, Edward Chernoff, objected, saying if this visible a case wasn't cause for sequestration, then nothing was. He also requested that Pastor rethink his decision to allow cameras in the courtroom, saying it would fuel a Casey Anthony-type media frenzy.
"I decline, at this point, to amend my ruling. The First Amendment is one of our most cherished principles and the right to comment is part of that," Pastor said, refusing the request.
After a months-long postponement, jury selection is scheduled to begin Sept. 8, with opening statements set for Sept. 27.
Murray has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter after being accused of administering what turned out to be a fatal dose of the powerful anesethetic propofol to Michael Jackson. The singer died June 25, 2009.