UPDATE (Thursday, April 4, 9:25 a.m.): "omg! Insider" has confirmed that Sharon Osbourne has been added as a witness for the plaintiff. Radar Online first reported the news, following Osbourne's revelation on her morning talk show "The Talk" earlier this week that she had conversations with "certain people" that work at AEG Live that they had knowledge that Michael Jackson "was not well," but pushed forward anyways because "they didn't care, because it's business," and that they'd "still make money."
Jackson family matriarch Katherine Jackson's $40 billion lawsuit trial against AEG Live kicked off with jury selection on Tuesday in L.A. Superior Court, with no members of the Jackson family present during the routine first day of proceedings.
The family is suing the concert promoter for negligence in the improper supervision of Dr. Conrad Murray over the health of Michael Jackson during preparation for his "This Is It" tour prior to the singer's death in 2009.
As of late Tuesday afternoon, two groups of 35 prospective jurors had been taken in and each asked to answer a 24-page questionnaire of around 120-questions to determine their knowledge and bias surrounding the case.
Once the selective jury pool is whittled down to 100, those folks will be asked to return to court on April 10 so lawyers on both sides can continue with the final jury selection. Jury selection is expected to take a lengthy amount of time, due to widespread media reporting and strong opinions surrounding the late King of Pop.
"omg! Insider" was inside the courtroom today and snapped these photos of the prospective juror questionnaire. As you can see from this example of just a few of the questions being asked, the line of questioning is quite extensive.
So, what else do you need to know regarding this huge development in the ongoing saga of Michael Jackson's death? Let omg! break it down for you!
Wasn't there already a huge Michael Jackson trial?
Yes. That was the criminal trial of Dr. Conrad Murray in 2011, in which he was sentenced to four years in jail for involuntary manslaughter.
So, how's this trial different?
This trial is a civil lawsuit. It was filed by Katherine Jackson in 2010 against AEG Live, and was initially more broad but eventually trimmed down to a single allegation of negligence … albeit, for a very large sum of money.
What’s the most important news coming from the trial right now?
Well, there are two major battles playing out regarding the role of the media in this trial. Judge Yvette Palazuelos denied a request from CNN to broadcast the trial. However, lawyers for NBC and CNN requested a reconsideration, which was taken into submission today. "They want to control the way the information is given out, and that doesn't serve the justice system," attorney Kelli Sager said on behalf of the networks. "It's like the man who kills his parents and then asks for mercy because he's now an orphan."
The defendants, AEG Live, have also asked the judge to consider a gag order, disallowing lawyers for both sides from speaking with the media during the trial.
Will Michael Jackson’s kids take the stand?
That's one of the big questions. Prince Michael, Paris, and Blanket are older (and more articulate) now than they were a few years ago and the defense is concerned that the children may be used on the stand to gain an unfair sympathy factor from jurors.
What about Dr. Conrad Murray? Might we hear from him?
Dr. Murray gave two interviews to CNN which aired Tuesday, marking his first time speaking since his manslaughter conviction. First, he spoke live with Anderson Cooper, to whom he explained that he hasn't been subpoenaed to testify in the upcoming AEG Live trial yet, but that if he is called, he will plead the fifth so as not to incriminate himself.
He also gave an interview to Don Lemon, which was pre-taped last Friday, in which he said that, "I have taken the front of the storm for the entire life of a man 50 years old, who has had a monumentally destructive, painful life that has been so damaged it is of huge proportions." He went on call himself a scapegoat, continuing that he believes he was convicted, "because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, then here I am." He added in the interview with Lemon that he considered Michael Jackson to be a "great friend."
Which other celebs might be forced to testify?
Reportedly, Prince, Quincy Jones, and Spike Lee could all be asked to take the stand.
$40 billion?! That seems like a lot!
Yup! It sure is. It's a tactic both for attention and for the plaintiff to negotiate down from. Katherine is asking for all of the money that Michael would have hypothetically earned over the course of the rest of his lifetime. That's enough to fix up Neverland and then some!
How long could this trial last?
Two to three months, which means you won't be hearing the end of this anytime soon. Get ready to settle in for the long haul this spring.
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