The Talent

September 29, 2011 2:51 PM

Luce Forward Partner Takes Stand at Trial of Michael Jackson's Doctor

Posted by Brian Baxter

The trial of Conrad Murray, the cardiologist charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the 2009 death of legendary pop star Michael Jackson, got off to an emotional start this week before shifting to testimony from an Am Law 200 partner about her dealings with the defendant.

Kathy Jorrie, partner-in-charge of Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps's Los Angeles office, took the witness stand Wednesday, the second day of Murray's trial, to testify about her interactions with Jackson's personal physician.

Jorrie—whose practice includes transactional and litigation work on behalf of entertainment industry clients—testified that she met Murray after being hired by concert promoter Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) to negotiate a contract with the doctor, who had been hired by an AEG subsidiary acting as the promoter of Jackson's scheduled "This Is It" concert series in London. 

AEG Live executive Paul Gongaware testified Tuesday that Murray had requested $150,000 per month to serve as Jackson's personal doctor. Prosecutors from the Los Angeles County district attorney's office are expected to argue during the trial that Murray was motivated by greed in administering drugs to Jackson, who died from an overdose of propofol, a powerful anesthetic.

In her testimony, Jorrie said that Murray also requested a cardiopulmonary resuscitation machine and additional money to hire another doctor to help with Jackson's care. Murray was concerned that Jackson's age (50 at the time he died) and physical state, combined with the rigors of live performing, would  require giving him extra medical attention, Jorrie told the court. (Click here for video of Jorrie's testimony, courtesy of TMZ.)

Jorrie testified that she met with Murray on June 24, 2009—the day before Jackson died—and that he told her the singer was in "perfect health." Jorrie added that AEG never paid Murray nor honored his requests because the parties had not signed a contract by the time Jackson died.

Jackson's mother sued AEG a year ago, claiming that the company was liable for Murray's actions by failing to provide him with the life-saving equipment that could have kept Jackson alive. A Los Angeles superior court judge denied AEG's motion to dismiss the wrongful death suit in February, but held that Katherine Jackson's lawyers would have to show evidence of fraud and conspiracy by the company. (An O'Melveny & Myers team led by partner Marvin Putnam in Los Angeles is representing AEG in the suit.)

Edward Chernoff, a founder of Houston's Stradley, Chernoff & Alford, has passed the California Bar exam in order to represent Murray at trial. Chernoff, who is being assisted by J. Michael Flanagan of Glendale, California-based Flanagan, Unger, Grover & McCool, is expected to argue that Jackson self-administered certain drugs without Murray's knowledge and claim that witnesses for the prosecution are biased against his client because of their past allegiances to the pop icon.

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