June 18, 2010 – A Los Angeles judge on Monday rejected calls for Michael Jackson’s doctor to be suspended from practicing medicine in California, saying he did not have authority to act on the request.
The California Medical Board had requested that Conrad Murray — who is accused of involuntary manslaughter in the pop icon’s death — should be suspended pending the outcome of his criminal trial.
However Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor said he did not believe he had the authority to sanction the request, noting that another judge had already placed restrictions on Murray at an earlier hearing.
Murray, 57, is accused of wrongly administering multiple sedatives, including the powerful surgical anesthetic propofol, which contributed to Jackson’s death at the age of 50 on June 25 last year.
“I simply do not have authority to reverse the decision of one of my colleagues,” Pastor told the court.
“I simply do not have authority to suspend Dr Murray’s medical license or order him to cease and desist practicing medicine.”
Earlier bail conditions — allowing Murray to practice medicine but forbidding him from administering any sedatives such as propofol — are to remain in place ahead of a preliminary hearing on August 23.
Murray’s lawyers had argued that revoking the doctor’s license in California would have a domino effect of forcing medical authorities in other jurisdictions — Nevada and Texas — to follow suit.
Attorneys for Murray argued a ban in California would be “financially and personally devastating” to their client.
“Dr Murray’s financial difficulties as a result of the investigation into this case have already been well publicized,” lawyers Ed Chernoff and Joseph Low wrote in a court filing.
“He is, without fear of overstatement, hanging on by a thread.”
Murray spoke only three times during Monday’s hearing, answering “Yes, sir” when asked by the judge if waived his right to speedy preliminary hearing.
California’s Deputy Attorney General Trina Saunders said the request to suspend Murray was a “condition of bail, not a disciplinary measure.”
“We do have a right and obligation to protect the public,” Saunders said.
Murray was the last person to see Jackson alive when he died last year and had administered drugs to him in the final hours of his death.