Jury selection begins in trial of Michael Jackson's doctor

Dr. Conrad Murray sits in court at his arraignment at Superior Court in Los Angeles, California.
Dr. Conrad Murray sits in court at his arraignment at Superior Court in Los Angeles, California.
Ifran Kahn/AFP/Getty Images

Court officials gathered with 160 prospective jurors Thursday for the first phase of jury selection in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Michael Jackson's personal physician.

The prospective jurors underwent an initial screening process that will determine whether they can serve on the case. The trial is expected to last at least a month.

Superior Court spokeswoman Mary Hearn said the judge is hoping to find 100 eligible people to make up the jury pool. Screening is expected to last at least two days, and may be extended if enough prospective jurors cannot be found.

Judge Michael E. Pastor acknowledged to the potential panelists that he expected all of them to have some knowledge of the highly publicized case.

"We didn't expect you'd been living under a rock ... or made a pit stop from Mars," Pastor said.

The judge also admonished the group to avoid any media coverage and to avoid doing any Internet research about Murray or the case. He noted that he had declined to have jurors sequestered during the case, saying he did not want to put them in "prison."

Potential jurors were asked to fill out a 30-page questionnaire probing their knowledge and opinions of Michael Jackson's death in 2009 and of the case against Dr. Conrad Murray. The questionnaire also included questions about potential jurors' opinions about doctors, drugs and law enforcement.

Thursday was the second time a group of prospective jurors filled out questionnaires in Murray's case. The first group of potential jurors -- who had filled out questionnaires in March -- was dismissed May 2 after the judge delayed Murray's trial to give attorneys more time to prepare.

Murray, is accused of administering a powerful anesthetic to Jackson to help him fall asleep, then failing to properly monitor him. Jackson died of propofol intoxication. The Houston-based cardiologist has pleaded not guilty.