Judge issues gag order in Jackson death trial

Fri Sep 30, 2011 5:25pm EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The judge in the manslaughter trial of Michael Jackson's doctor issued a gag order for attorneys on Friday after a defense counselor appeared on a television show telling details about the case.

The judge's order came at midday on Friday, the fourth day of the widely-watched trial in which prosecutors are trying to prove that Dr. Conrad Murray is responsible for the drug overdose that led to the pop star's death on June 25, 2009.

Prosecutors brought to the courtroom paramedics who responded to the call for help, as well as other witnesses, to try to prove that Murray was negligent in his care and covered up Jackson's use of the anesthetic propofol, which is the principal cause of Jackson's death.

But the day's bombshell came with Judge Michael Pastor's gag order, which followed an appearance by defense attorney Matthew Alford on NBC's morning chat show "Today."

"The attorneys for the parties in this case ... are ordered not to comment to anyone outside of their respective teams either directly or indirectly regarding any aspects of this case, whether orally or in writing," Pastor said in court.

Alford said on "Today" that one witness had changed his testimony several times and declared Jackson was addicted to propofol.

In Friday's testimony, paramedics who rushed to the singer's bedside told jurors they were optimistic he might live because they arrived within five minutes of being called. But they soon saw Jackson was unresponsive.

"I knew that we got there very, very quickly. It meant we'd have a good chance of restarting the heart if that was the issue," said paramedic Richard Senneff.   Continued...

<p>Deputy District Attorney David Walgren (R) holds a bottle of propofol introduced as evidence as he questions Alberto Alvarez (L), one of Michael Jackson's security guards, during Dr. Conrad Murray's trial in the death of pop star Michael Jackson in Los Angeles September 29, 2011. REUTERS/Al Seib/Pool</p>