August 13th, 2009
06:35 PM ET

Michael Jackson's 'very unusual problems' surprised his new doctor, lawyer says

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/SHOWBIZ/Music/08/12/jackson.pharmacy.doctor/art.conrad.murray.undated.jpg caption="Dr. Conrad Murray, Jackson's personal physician, has had his home and office searched."]
Alan Duke

Michael Jackson had "some very unusual problems" that Dr. Conrad Murray did not know about when he was hired to be Jackson's personal physician as the singer prepared for his comeback concerts, Murray's lawyer says.

Attorney Ed Chernoff - in comments published in the Los Angeles Times and confirmed Thursday by his spokeswoman - said his client did not know what drugs Jackson might have been taking or if he was addicted.

"When he accepted the job, he was not aware of any specific requirements regarding medications that Michael Jackson was taking or any addictions that he was suffering from," Chernoff told the Times.

Chernoff, in a quote confirmed by his spokesman, said that it was only after Murray moved to Los Angeles in May 2009 that "he realized that Michael Jackson had some very unusual problems."

Murray did not conduct drugs tests on Jackson and had no way of knowing, other than from Jackson's words, if he was taking other drugs, Chernoff's spokeswoman, Miranda Sevcik, told CNN.

Investigators, trying to determine if anyone should be charged in Jackson's death, have searched Murray's home and two clinics for evidence of drugs he may have given the singer.

One search warrant implied that police suspect Jackson was a drug addict. It said there was "probable cause to believe" the searches would uncover evidence of excessive prescribing, prescribing to an addict, prescribing to or treating an addict and manslaughter.

It also cited "probable cause to believe" that the premises contained "records, shipping orders, distribution lists, use records relating to the purchase, transfer ordering, delivery and storage of propofol (Diprivan)."

Chernoff told the newspaper that he believed investigators expected to find evidence that Murray prescribed drugs other than the anesthetic propofol to Jackson.

"I have no doubt they came up completely empty in that regard," he said.

A source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN that Murray gave propofol - commonly known by the brand name Diprivan - to Jackson in the 24 hours before he died.

Chernoff has refused to confirm or deny if Murray administered propofol to Jackson, although he denied "unequivocally" that Murray gave Jackson painkillers.

The Los Angeles County coroner's office said Monday that it has completed a "thorough and comprehensive" report into what killed Jackson, but police have requested that the report not yet be released because of the ongoing investigation.

A former prosecutor who has also defended doctors in medical malpractice cases involving anesthesia said prosecutors would face "a very, very severe uphill battle" when charging a doctor with manslaughter.

"You have to prove gross recklessness in the prescription of drugs," Paul Callan told CNN Wednesday. "That's really hard with a doctor because doctors are always prescribing drugs; patients occasionally die from them, that's not criminal conduct. But here, you have to show that this doctor should've known Jackson was an addict and that he could've died from these drugs."

In addition to the local probe, federal drug investigators have focused on Murray, according to a law enforcement official. DEA agents have accompanied Los Angeles detectives during the searches of Murray's Houston, Texas, clinic and his home and clinic in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Michael Jackson
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Debra, Vancouver B.C. Canada

    It sounds like MJ may have been suffering from and trying to treat a very serious sleep disorder. As a sufferer myself, I can only imagine the pressure and responsibility he was under. All those upcoming shows-it could only have made his condition worse, those many people whose jobs depended on him to get up and perform. It seems that he was a sensitive person who would not want to let any one down, including his fans and himself. From accounts, it sounded like he was a creative perfectionist demanding a lot internally.

    Chronic lack of sleep is debilitating. I can't imagine being expected to perform at peak in what amounts to a constant state of exhaustion.

    I think the pressure pushed MJ to use this drug propofol that he'd used on tour in the past, used in such an unorthodox way to gain relief and achieve sleep.

    I don't think Dr. Murray is to blame, if it wasn't him, MJ would have found some other doctor to administer it. In my opinion, taking this drug was an act of desperation by someone in agony and, in the end, very near suicide.

    I am terribly saddened by the world's loss of this uniquely gifted person.

    August 14, 2009 at 7:20 am |
  2. DonJ, TN

    Come on everybody MJ was an drug addict. And have been for some time now. It was only MJ that could pull off something like this. This Dr. was out of control for during what he did. Like everyone is saying he abused his otah and never should be able to practice again no where in this world. Be he just killed someone.

    August 14, 2009 at 6:16 am |
  3. Jessica

    First of all, Dr. Murray was supposedly at Michael's house everynight to administer diprivan, so that he could sleep. It's been reported that a multitude of prescription drugs were taken from his house. Did the doctor not see any of these other prescriptions in his bedroom? Another IMPORTANT question. Today it was reported that Dr. Murray went to another room to make phonecalls. I thought he couldn't find a phone anywhere to call 911. Something is definitely wrong here. Could CNN please address this tomorrow?

    August 14, 2009 at 3:11 am |
  4. Chip- Fl.

    The doc knew what time it was with Michael. It's pretty strange how the world knew MJ used drugs & he did'nt. I really think it was a set up to make money off his death.

    August 14, 2009 at 2:56 am |
  5. Warner Watkins

    I really think Dr. Murray knew of Michael Jacksons behavior. Like the chef said, she seen him removing oxygen tanks from upstairs. If he did'nt know, why get involved with something that was illegal to perform outside a hospital.

    August 14, 2009 at 2:44 am |
  6. Bernadette, Mn

    This Dr. Murray did a bad thing. When he gave Mr. Jackson the Diprivan, it was the same as if Mr. Jackson was on an operating table about to have surgery. If the doctor leaves the patient, unattended, unconcious and is ill prepared for an emrgency...then he should be held responsible if that patient dies because of his neglect.

    Also, I agree with other comments about the lack of a medical history. What doctor in their right mind would give a person heavy duty medication and not check to see if the patient is on another medication that might prove fatal when combined.

    This was a greedy man who was looking out for himself only under the disquise of a friend. What a lousy friend!

    August 14, 2009 at 2:24 am |
  7. Dean Wallis

    With all due respect to Michael Jackson and his wonderful contributions, what does it say about this climate of 24-hr infotainment, special interest groups "emphasizing" the contributions of celebrities, and entertainment companies pulling the strings of the media when we, as a society, focus more on Michael Jackson's doctor than on the passing of Les Paul – a true American Master. Much peace and strength to Jackson's family, but I, for one, would love to see Al Sharpton show up on a TV show singing the praises of Lester Paul. Thanks – Dean (Vancouver, B.C., Canada).

    August 14, 2009 at 2:03 am |
  8. glenn long island

    Ialso belive that money played a mahor rool. Yes, Dr.should have a medical backround on a pqÞient As long as the money was avaliable so were the drugs/medication

    August 14, 2009 at 12:41 am |
  9. Anne

    Dr. Murray was being disingenious. Since MJ asked his former Dr. Metzer if he would give him iv propofol which he declined to do, I am sure he also asked Dr. Murray as well. This would have come up in the job interview. MJ would not have hired him otherwise.

    Also, Dr. Murray didn't not have to leave the room to make phone calls because MJ was unconscious and would not have been able to hear the calls!
    Dr. Murray probably fell asleep himself. $5000 to watch MJ breathe for 8 hours and he could not stay awake??

    Oprah ignoring MJ's death makes me ill. He was totally innocent and deserved to be treated with respect. His insurance settled with that kid's family over a claim of negligence ., Insurance does not do that anymore because it encourages other people to file lawsuits thinking they can also get $ that way. He was a victim of malice and a witch hunt which destroyed an innocent and vulnerable creative genius. I am ashamed of the part that everyone played in his torture life from his dad to the media to the DA Sneddon. It was like stoning ET to death.

    August 14, 2009 at 12:35 am |
  10. carol kesling

    how about negligent homiside ???

    August 14, 2009 at 12:00 am |
  11. carol kesling

    this is pretty bad this excuse he is giving about not knowing michael was taking drugs.... dr. murray needs to be more forthcoming on the time line, i think michael was dead a LOT EARLIER than he is saying... his time line is all too vague according to the the chef about his normal routine !!!!! and i dont think he has a licence to practice in ca. i could be wrong, but things are cool...

    August 13, 2009 at 11:56 pm |
  12. pete

    Nevertheless...Dr Murray shouldn't have been using this type of medication outside a hospital – murder no malpractice yes.

    August 13, 2009 at 11:23 pm |
  13. ROSE from NJ

    Dr. Conrad Murray, is trying to cover his tracks. He killed MJ without no douth. He did it for the money. Michael will have never comitted suicide and leave his children without a father. I belived MJ was long dead before the 911 called. Dr. Murray should go to jail these doctors. think they can get away with alot of bullsh.....He lied in the beginning saying he didn't give MJ anything to kill him, now hes lying saying he didn't know michael had a drug problem .Whats next DR Murray? Stop lying and face the truth. MJ is not here to speak up for hisself, So stop putting words in his mouth, The truth should set you free.

    August 13, 2009 at 11:06 pm |
  14. Daniela Rgz

    Oh yes and he also said that he didn't give MJ the anesthesic that killed him... but then it turned out that he did... this man has no credibility, it doesn't matter if MJ took this drugs time ago, the point is he is dead now that he was under this "doctor's care".

    August 13, 2009 at 11:01 pm |
  15. Persiphone

    He took the job to finance his girlfriend and his baby in high style. As for Michael, my take is that Michael had a serious medical fetish and the ways and means to carry it out. He got off on being put into that helpless submissive position by medical professionals. Medical fetishes are not that uncommon among naturally submissive people.

    August 13, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  16. Claudia

    What Dr. Murray did was irresponsible and he should have never administered Diprivan. He walked away to make phone calls. That is neglect of a patients well-being. So many people are on zanax and still have operations and they are still alive. I hope justice will be served to Michael Jackson.

    August 13, 2009 at 10:13 pm |
  17. lilly

    Whats wrong with this Doctor??? He is just give things out like drugs not knowing about them to a person that he doesnt know what else his taking, that doenst make sence. I thought Doctors have to ask and check your health history. The only way i can put it togather is $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.... and i dont care if you die.

    August 13, 2009 at 9:39 pm |
  18. alice NYC

    Is this guy really a doctor? I work in the health field and I am certified in CPR. I can't believe he didn't know how to do BASIC compressions. He should have known he needed a hard surface and BOTH hands.

    And if he really decided to use that drug on Michael he should have ordered an emergency crash cart, as well as oxygen. Most if not all medical offices have one, all though they are rarely used. I think his credentials should be looked at very carefully. All physicians realize that patients are not always forthcoming, which is why you must be cautious and be prepare for the worse.

    August 13, 2009 at 9:15 pm |
  19. Diane N.

    Don't doctors usually have the patient fill out a form asking what medications they are on or take, and whether they say what meds they are on or not, order blood tests before they prescribe medications to new patients as protocol?? Wouldn't those blood tests reveal drugs in someones system ??? I don't buy what this doctor is selling. I'm sorry.

    August 13, 2009 at 9:02 pm |
  20. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    MJ committed suicide. The doctors just provided the means.

    August 13, 2009 at 8:03 pm |
  21. Heather,ca

    I don't agree that a prosecuter would have a hard time getting a conviction for manslaughter. The drug he gave MJ is only used in surgical settings. If it weren't specifically created for that purpose we all could use it to sleep. Its beyond off label. I don't care how much money he was getting paid. He took an oath and he abused his medical license. Doesn't he have malpractice judgements against himself.

    MJ hiring him only shows drug addicts don't care about anything except the next fix they get. He shouldn't think its a favorable compliment of his medical background that a celebrity with a habit wanted him as his doctor.

    It doesn't matter if any of the drs involved didn't know about each other it just matters how they treated him.

    August 13, 2009 at 7:28 pm |
  22. Annie Kate

    The doctor didn't know what other drugs MJ was taking and yet he gave him other medications without finding out? That doesn't seem kosher. Doctors are suppose to get a history on the patient before prescribing stuff to them and run tests to confirm or find out if they think the patient is not telling them the whole truth of what they are taking as far as drugs go. Although we still do not know what happened until the autopsy report and the police report are released, it certainly sounds like someone did not do due diligence on the medical history before administering a deadly drug that shouldn't have been administered in a home setting anyway.

    August 13, 2009 at 7:00 pm |