Why MJ's doc deserves jail time

Judge Michael Pastor was stern, fair and explicit in expressing the scorn Murray has so richly earned. Though some have described him as noticeably deferential to the Jackson family, I think he's been far more dramatically tolerant of the grumpiness and sheer bad behaviour of the defendant, his lawyers and witnesses.

No lesser sentence could be justified. He demolished the ridiculous arguments that have been made for probation, and rightly ignored the absurd claim he should be sentenced lightly as it was "a first offence". Murray chose to expose his victim to months of high risk, with the possibility of death at many times, and an astounding series of acts of negligence. There may have been only one death, but there was continuing gross and reckless deviation from proper practice. It's really hard to identify anything he did right.

Some ludicrous excuses have been made for him. His mother, ridiculously, pleaded for a trivial sentence on the grounds that he doesn't smoke or drink! She also asked for sympathy because he's lost a friend! This is so like the old joke of the guy who murdered his parents and then claimed clemency because he was an orphan. 

Drawing attention to the possibility that he may have done some good work in the past wasn't at all relevant. No matter how many people he failed to kill in previous years, all that matters is the person he did kill.

Pastor emphasised the extent of the dishonesty involved - lying to the pharmacy to have massive quantities of the deadly drug shipped to his girlfriend's flat, as though it were a clinic; lying to the insurance company, the show's producer and promoters, lying by omission to the ambulance-men and the casualty doctors; deliberately not keeping records (showing he knew how wrong his actions were); letting his personal life interfere with his vitally important duties to his patient - he wasn't dealing with deadly emergencies on the phone at the critical time, but gossiping with girlfriends.

Who is the real victim here?
He also nailed the unmitigated cheek with which Murray has insisted throughout that he was the real victim, going beyond merely blaming his patient-victim, to almost implying that Michael Jackson died deliberately in order to spite his heroic doctor. At no time did he express regret or remorse; his pity was totally for himself. Everything, in his view, was the fault of someone else.

This was the very first time Murray has looked even slightly uncomfortable, in a manner suggesting indignation at the court's lack of respect, rather than embarrassment at his misconduct being revealed. The judge seemed understandably annoyed that during the trial, while refusing to give evidence (as is his right) he had been secretly recording self-serving TV interviews trying to drum up yet more support for his unworthy self. The judge had watched these, and had noticed his comments. "I don't feel guilty".

It's hard to believe Murray wasn't paid, in some way, for the interview. Naïvely, he seems to have assumed the judge and the rest of us wouldn't notice that he contradicted what he had told the police in his statement.

At least some expression of responsibility, regret and remorse is expected when one expects any leniency in sentencing - as the judge pointed out, Murray seemed offended even to find himself in court. Manipulative in every way he can think of, there have been persistent hints of possible suicide, without any actual self-harm.

Pastor emphasised that he considers Murray dangerous to the community. As someone who insisted he saw nothing wrong in anything he did, and who seemed offended that his patient died, who appears totally untouched by any restraints of medical ethics, professional norms, or simple human decency, it's hard to see what might restrain him from further behaviours dangerous to others, if he practised again, anywhere.

He called Murray's actions "medical madness" and an insult to the medical profession. It was suggested that the awful recording Murray peculiarly made of his patient's slurred speech, might have been done as insurance, almost as blackmail material, in case they later fell out.

Doctor playing Russian Roulette
Prosecutor Michael Walgren was eloquent, calling the treatment a "pharmaceutical experiment.", and saying that Murray "was playing Russian Roulette with Michael Jackson's life every single night." 

Murray, cowardly and self-protective to the last, chose not to address the court despite rumours that he might. His persistently unconvincing lawyer Ed Chernoff, praised Murray\s "book of life", reminding us of the creepy patients who testified about how magnificent he was and offering letters from such fans  He thought it was relevant that the defendant had been born "dirt poor". He suggested the bad reputation that will now stick with him is punishment enough - whatever else he does in life, he'll always be known as the man who killed Michael Jackson.

Amazingly, the defence asked for cameras and media to be excluded from the court, because "personal matters" would be brought up and Murray's right to privacy had to be respected. What remarkable rubbish!  Murray hadn't worried about Jackson's right to privacy. As the judge pointed out, Murray was happy to make a documentary without worrying about this. Ah, but his childhood would be raised, his lawyer complained. It wasn't relevant to sentencing anyway, and only raised at Murray's insistence. The judge sensibly denied the request.

There's still the matter of restitution to be settled. The judge was clear that an appropriate sum should be paid. However, faced with their extremely large estimate of financial loss by the Jackson family (peculiarly specific, something like $ 101, 821, 871 and 65 cents!), and perhaps also sceptical about Murray's claims to be destitute, he ordered both sides to provide actual evidence in court at a later date (in January); justifying the amount the Jacksons think he should pay, and clarifying Murray's actual financial situation. Chernoff has just said Murray can't afford to pay.

Pastor was specific, too, ordering Murray to also pay an $800 fine, a $30 court security fee, a $40 criminal conviction assessment; and to provide blood and saliva samples, finger and palm prints, to the police.

As he left the court, for some odd reason not in handcuffs this time, Murray blew a kiss to someone in the audience, it wasn't clear who. It wasn't one of his lawyers.

 (Professor MA Simpson, aka CyberShrink, December 2011)



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