Unsurprisingly, Michael Jackson fans were baffled by the jury’s verdict in the AEG wrongful death lawsuit, but AEG says the case shouldn’t even have gone to trial. Jurors took several days to render their verdict. For those people who gathered outside of the courthouse day after day, their chosen side could do no wrong. Many wore T-shirts expressing love for the pop legend. One fan even brought flowers for Katherine Jackson. Wednesday, a judge announced that the jurors had decided that AEG was not responsible for Conrad Murray killing Michael Jackson. Many fans were not just stunned, but angered. Fans saw the five-month trial as definitive proof that the corporation didn’t care about the singer’s well being.
“My heart is broken,” said Barbara de L’Orme, 42, “…The evidence was right there.”
As Marvin Putnam, AEG’s lead attorney, stood in front of the droves of TV cameras, microphones, and journalists, fans could be heard chanting, “Michael Jackson!” Putnam told reporters that AEG never considered settling, which could have cost them hundreds of millions of dollars, maybe billions in damages, “They wouldn’t allow themselves to be shaken down.” He also said that the judge should have dismissed the case early on. Shawn Trell, AEG’s general counsel, was asked if the promoter and producer would negotiate a deal with a doctor again if an entertainer requests it, he answered, “I think that answer is self-evident.”
Several jurors said they answered ”no” to the verdict question, asking whether Conrad Murray was “unfit or incompetent to perform the work for which he was hired.” Once they reached that conclusion, they didn’t need to answer the other 14 questions. Gregg Barden, the foreman, told the media that the verdict was not vindication of Murray, who is currently serving a sentence for involuntary manslaughter, “Conrad Murray had a license; he graduated from an accredited college…It doesn’t mean we thought he was ethical.”
Kevin Smith, another juror, said he loved Michael Jackson’s music and his dancing, but “Murray was fit and competent for the job he was hired for…Michael Jackson thought he was competent…”
He told the media that AEG executives tried to convince Jackson not to bring Murray, who was being paid $150,000 a month, on tour, but “Michael Jackson was very used to getting his own way…If anybody said no, he would find somebody else.”
Barden said that when jurors were given the case after five months of testimony, they just spent several hours “letting off steam…” They then took three or four votes on whether AEG hired Dr. Conrad Murray, and finally decided unanimously that it had. Originally, some people thought that both Jackson and AEG hired Murray, but “minds were changed.” On the next question, about whether Murray was competent, there was confusion, but after several tries they took a unanimous stand, according to the clerk. However, according to Barden, the jurors started out at 12-0, but changed to 10-2. Jurors in civil cases only need a majority 9-3 vote.