Blame Michael Jackson, Not His Doctors!

Criminal trial on Jackson's death could put Jackson on trial—and why shouldn't it?

By Joal Ryan Aug 17, 2009 1:00 AMTags
Michael JacksonKevin Mazur/Getty Images

Call it the ultimate whodunit twist: Michael Jackson did it.

As famed attorney Mark Geragos told E! News, a Jackson homicide trial in which Dr. Conrad Murray is the defendant may well turn into a forum in which Jackson himself is on trial.

"Ultimately, that may be what the defense is," Geragos said.

Don't go there, you say? Don't blame the victim, you cry?

You may be right. But if a lawyer is potentially going to go there, then we're going to go there first. Just to wrap our minds around the concept: Michael Jackson. Responsible for his own death.

Now, criminally speaking, Jackson, by virtue of being dead, is in the clear. While dead guys are dead, they're also beyond the reach of the law.

But what if Jackson weren't dead?

What if the events leading up to this past June 25 occurred exactly as they occurred with one exception: Jackson doesn't die. Maybe he's revived in the ambulance. Maybe he's revived at the hospital. In any case, he's alive.

And it's his turn to face the music. For doctor shopping, maybe. For filling prescriptions for Call of the Wild author Jack London, perhaps. For dragging one of his own sons' names into the pharmaceutical saga, unbelievably.

Can you blame the victim when the victim isn't blameless?

Ethically, we get it: Doctors are supposed to look out for you. It's like John Michael O'Brien, assistant professor at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland School of Pharmacy, told us: "If Joe Sixpack took his child to the family physician and said, 'I want my child to have HGH or steroids,' a rational physician would say, 'Are you crazy?' "

Legally, we get it, too. It's like California criminal defense attorney Michael L. Crowley told us: "Generally speaking, we put the responsibility on the doctors for prescribing."

And given that Jackson had no prior record, Peter Knecht, another California criminal defense attorney, told us that even if the singer had been charged with criminal wrongdoing, he wouldn't have been treated like a criminal: "He would have been able to take advantage of the civil addict programs."

In the end, his record probably would've been wiped clean. Which isn't necessarily the same as saying his slate would've been wiped clean.

Jackson, for all his Peter Pan ways, was a grown man. And by account after account, he was begging to be given things, to be prescribed drugs that aren't good for grown elephants. According to his former nutrionist, he asked for Diprivan. According to some reports, he died from Diprivan.

The coldest devil's advocate position says Jackson was a wrong-way driver on a one-way street—destined for disaster—and that not any one member of his entourage, not any one doctor on his tab, not any one drug, is to blame for his demise.

There, we said it. Said what a lawyer might one day say in court. (Mind you, no one—not Murray, not anyone—has been charged with wrongdoing in Jackson's death.)

Do we feel better? No.

"If Michael Jackson was suffering from the mental disorder of addiction," O'Brien reminded us, "then I would say Michael Jackson was sick."

And can you blame the sick for being sick?

Fortunately, we're not the ones who may have to answer, or argue, that in court.