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Judge questions lawyer choice in Murray trial

February 15, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
A new controversy in the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray: This one centers around an attorney Murray wants to hire. That attorney once worked for one of Michael Jackson's lawyers. There was a court hearing on the case Thursday.

Accused in the death of Michael Jackson, Murray has 30 days to be ready for trial. His defense team has reached out to another attorney for help. It is a choice questioned by the judge.

Lawyer Nareg Gourjian used to work with Mark Geragos. Geragos defended Michael Jackson in the lead-up to the pop star's trial on molestation charges.

The question for the judge in Murray's trial is whether Gourjian might have confidential information about Jackson that could now be turned around to defend Murray.

Both the judge and Geragos are concerned about a potential conflict of interest.

"It's a very difficult situation. I love Nareg like a son. He used to work for me. But my duty as a lawyer is to protect my client, even after his death," said Geragos.

Geragos was joined in court by former O.J. Simpson attorney Howard Weitzman, who now represents the Jackson estate.

"I'm told that a conflict does exist. If that's the case, then the judge will make a decision, but we're not about to waive any conflict," said Weitzman.

The judge wondered out loud why, out of 51,000 attorneys in Los Angeles County, Murray invited Gourjian to help in his defense. The judge will hear from all attorneys in chambers next week.

Meantime, in court there were bristling arguments about the exchange of evidence between attorneys in the Jackson involuntary manslaughter case.

The defense says they have a witness who will say that Jackson was addicted to Demerol and that Murray is not responsible for Jackson's death.

But to the irritation of the judge, the defense has not provided the prosecution written statements regarding witness testimony required by code.

The judge admonished the defense, saying that while Murray is entitled to a speedy trial, he is also entitled to competent counsel.