Atty. G. Monty Manibog
(Editor’s note: Former Monterey Park Mayor Manibog is a contributing Journal columnist offering legal tips and perspectives on high profile legal cases and events.)
“Guilty” of involuntary manslaughter, ruled the jury in the case of the People vs. Dr. Conrad Murray for the death of the wildly popular “King of Pop,” Michael Jackson, and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor imposed the maximum four year prison sentence on Jackson’s personal doctor who received $150,000 per month to tend solely to his famous patient.
Medical malpractice cases, many of which we have tried and won, are not criminal cases because they are brought to recovery monetary damages to the patient for a doctor’s falling below the ordinary standard of care expected from the medical profession (such as misdiagnoses, leaving a scalpel in a patient’s body, etc.)
However, when a medical doctor treats a patient in a wantonly negligent manner that clearly threatens grave harm or death, this becomes a criminal act which places the doctor into the criminal justice system.
It was a known fact that Jackson had a sleeping problem and a drug addition as well, continuously asking for sleeping medication, especially since he was preparing for a multiple world tour concert to revive his career.
It was made clear by the prosecutor and medical witnesses that Dr. Conrad Murray so recklessly violated his medical duties by succumbing to Jackson’s continuous demands for dangerous drugs, particularly the anesthetic “propofol” which should normally be administered in a hospital under special conditions. “Providing propofol to Michael Jackson on a nightly basis for almost two months,” contended the district attorney, was so wantonly reckless that serious harm or death was foreseeable, and raised Murray’s conduct to the level of a criminal act (in this case involuntary manslaughter).
The evidence of Conrad Murray’s criminal acts bringing about Michael Jackson’s death was so “overwhelming,” declared the prosecutor, that a verdict of involuntary manslaughter was clearly warranted since an overdose of propofol while under Murray’s care was the direct cause of death, bringing about the unanimous guilty verdict from the jury.
In addition to the criminal penalties, of course, there are civil liabilities involved which subjects Dr. Murray to monetary damages to Jackson’s heirs.
Lastly, dangerous prescription drugs obtained, legally or not, are the cause of many deaths in the US and one should tread carefully in their usage.