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Michael Jackson doctor's lawyers want to isolate jurors

September 3, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Attorneys for Michael Jackson's doctor Conrad Murray filed an 11th hour appeal to keep jurors in isolation during the involuntary manslaughter trial.

In their late Friday appeal, attorneys sought to overturn a judge's refusal to sequester jurors, arguing they would be "poisoned" by publicity unless they were kept in isolation. Lawyers also asked to halt the start of jury selection until Sept. 8 until the issue of sequestration is decided by California's 2nd District Court of Appeal.

Murray is accused of giving Jackson an overdose of a powerful anesthetic in the pop star's home just before his 2009 death.

Jackson was said to be suffering from insomnia and was desperate for sleep. Murray has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and could face up to four years in prison if convicted.

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

Attorneys Nareg Gourjian and Edward Chernoff argued that it would be impossible for jurors to avoid media reports unless they were placed in a hotel during Murray's trial.

The attorneys 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 will be inundated with reports in supermarkets, bars, gyms and coffee shops and on the Internet.

"News organizations have planned sets overlooking the courthouse as if they were preparing for the Rose Bowl," the attorneys said in 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 attorneys said campaigned for Anthony's conviction. Defense attorneys predicted similarly opinionated commentary on the Murray trial.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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