LOS ANGELES — Jury selection in the trial of Michael Jackson's doctor is moving forward with 145 prospective jurors cleared for further questioning after answering an in-depth questionnaire probing their views about the King of Pop and the criminal case against his doctor.
Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor decided Friday that there were sufficient prospective jurors available to go on to the next phase — in-court questioning on Sept. 23.
The 30-page questionnaire, which seeks extensive personal information, challenged prospective jurors to share their feelings about the dead superstar and about the fact that his famous family members will be in court every day for testimony.
They were asked whether they have seen the posthumous Jackson concert movie, "This Is It," and whether they have bought Jackson CDs, DVDs or memorabilia.
"Have you ever considered yourself a fan of Michael Jackson or the Jackson family?" they were asked.
They were required to specify how much they know about the involuntary manslaughter case against Dr. Conrad Murray, who has pleaded not guilty in Jackson's death from an overdose of the anesthetic propofol.
Among the questions: Have potential jurors read newspaper stories about the King of Pop's death? Have they followed coverage of legal developments? Did they watch the funeral or memorial service for Jackson who died on June 25, 2009, or did they try to attend the services in person?
The form also gave prospective jurors a warning that publicity about the case will be heavy and they must ignore it.
"There will be cameras, reporters members of the Murray and Jackson families, and members of the public present in the courtroom," said one question. "... Would the presence of cameras and these people affect your responsibility to be completely fair and impartial to both parties in the case?"
One question already answered in court was that every member of the jury pool has heard of the high profile case.
The questionnaire included a list of 27 drugs including the anesthetic propofol. Potential jurors were asked whether they had a familiarity with the substances, whether they or anyone they know has taken them and whether they have ever had anesthetic for a medical procedure.
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Murray is accused of gross negligence in his treatment of Jackson and prospective jurors were asked about their attitudes toward doctors.
The prospects were asked if they followed media coverage on high profile cases including those of O.J. Simpson, Robert Blake, Phil Spector and Casey Anthony.
"Did you form any opinions about the criminal justice system as a result of following these cases?" the form asked.
They are asked to state if they have formed an opinion on Murray's guilt or innocence.
As in a speech the judge gave to them in person, potential panelists were warned on the questionnaire to avoid Internet coverage of the case including posts on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.
Among the 113 questions asked of prospects was whether they believe celebrities receive special treatment in the criminal justice system.
Lawyers will begin studying the questionnaires in which participants also disclose their backgrounds and knowledge of Jackson's career. Some could be dismissed if they expressed extreme bias in the case.
Pastor lectured the jury candidates earlier in the day on the importance of jury service and their duty to insulate themselves from outside information about the trial.
"The electronic age is upon us," said Pastor, "and there are numerous mechanical devices for obtaining information."
He reiterated concerns that the final jury chosen for the trial will be unable to resist the lure of the Web.
"Some of us can't avoid sharing our thoughts with a quarter of a million people every day," he said in a reference to social networking. "We trust them ... but we don't know what their agenda is."
Pastor also stressed the patriotic duty of jury service. And he had everyone rise and face the flag for a moment of silence in observance of the upcoming 9/11 anniversary.
Murray could face four years in prison and the loss of his medical license if convicted. The trial, expected to last about five-weeks, will focus on the Houston-based cardiologist's actions in the final hours of Jackson's life.
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