Lawyers seek to isolate Jackson-case jury

Lawyers for Michael Jackson’s doctor Conrad Murray have filed an emergency 11th-hour appeal seeking to overturn a judge’s refusal to sequester jurors in his trial.

They also asked to halt the start of jury selection on September 8 until the issue of sequestration is decided by California’s Second District Court of Appeals.

Murray is accused of giving Jackson an overdose of the anesthetic propofol in his home just before the pop star’s 2009 death. Jackson was said to be suffering from insomnia and was desperate for sleep.

In a 28-page petition filed just before the weekend, lawyers challenged a recent ruling by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor, in which he expressed faith in the jurors’ ability to ignore publicity about the high-profile case.

Attorneys Nareg Gourjian and Edward Chernoff said in their petition that jurors would be poisoned by publicity unless they were placed in a hotel during Murray’s trial. They acknowledged that their request was extraordinary, but said Jackson’s legacy as one of the biggest celebrities in the world would feed extensive news coverage of the trial.

They predicted that jurors would be inundated with reports in supermarkets, bars, gyms and coffee shops and on the internet.

A spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s office said they had no comment on the petition.

Four pages of the appeal were devoted to the recently concluded Casey Anthony trial in Florida and the CNN commentary of Nancy Grace, who lawyers said campaigned for Anthony’s conviction. Defence lawyers predicted similarly opinionated commentary on the Murray trial.

“There is sincere danger that a well-meaning juror will be more impressed with an ‘expert’ on television than one presented by the parties at trial,” the petition said.

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