Michael Jackson’s family says jury form flawed, wants new trial

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Brian Panish, attorney for Michael Jackson's family, during closing arguments in the Jackson family's wrongful-death trial.

Brian Panish, attorney for Michael Jackson’s family, during closing arguments in the Jackson family’s wrongful-death trial.

Michael Jackson’s mother and three children have filed a motion for a new trial in their wrongful-death case, which ended 2 1/2 months ago when jurors found concert promoter AEG Live not liable for the singer’s overdose death.

Much of the Jacksons’ motion, filed in Superior Court on Thursday, relies on sworn statements from four jurors who indicated that they found the verdict form confusing.

The 12 jurors had to answer yes to five questions in order to find AEG liable.

PHOTOS: Michael Jackson | 1958-2009

Jurors agreed that AEG Live had hired Dr. Conrad Murray, who administered the fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol to Jackson.

But they rejected the second question, which asked whether Murray was unfit or incompetent, ending deliberations.

The Jacksons’ attorneys argue that the verdict form only allowed jurors to focus on Murray’s fitness when he was hired, not “during the course of the relationship” with the pop star

MICHAEL JACKSON: Complete trial coverage

“There is no question in my mind that AEG Live was liable,” one juror said in a declaration filed with the motion.

Another juror said, “…I believed that Mrs. Jackson had proven her case against AEG Live. Despite this fact, I had no way of voting in favor of the plaintiffs because of the way the verdict form was worded.”

“A third juror wrote, “some of the jurors were stunned and upset after learning that we had to stop deliberations after answering `no’ to Question 2.”

Following the announcement of the verdict, the jury foreman said panel members were somewhat confused by the question about Murray’s competence but understood its ramifications.

“We felt he was competent,” Gregg Barden said.

“That doesn’t mean we felt he was ethical. If ethical was in the question, it might have been a different outcome,” the foreman said.

The Jacksons argued during the five-month trial that AEG Live negligently hired and supervised Murray.

AEG said that Murray worked for Jackson and that any money the company was supposed to pay the doctor was an advance to the singer.

A hearing on the motion is set for Jan. 3.

Courtesy of Los Angeles Times

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