Speaking Point: As the world awaits the results of the toxicology reports on Michael Jackson. Rumors are flying about whether there was foul play and whether Michael Jackson’s doctors committed criminal acts. To answer that we need to take a look at some of the legal questions which are circulating.
Dr. Sheila Forman is both a clinical psychologist and attorney who comments on the psychological and legal issues affecting our society today. She is the author of several self-help books, a radio host, and is on the faculty of Loyola Marymount University.
Speaking Point: o The LA County Coroner's Office is the agency responsible for investigating reportable deaths in LA County. The office performs medico-legal investigations for legal and public health purposes under the authority of state law. Just because the Coroner investigates a death does not mean there is a belief that a crime has been committed. It is the Coroner's legal responsibility to identify the deceased, to notify the next-of-kin or legal representative, and to protect the estate of the deceased until it can be turned over to the legal heirs.
Speaking Point: o It is the legal duty of the Coroner to determine the cause of death. Autopsies are not always necessary. The Coroner's Pathologist generally makes the determination after a review of all supporting records whether an autopsy is needed to establish the cause of death.
Speaking Point: o A central question in the Jackson investigation is who provided Jackson with the prescription medications found at his rented Beverly Hills mansion.
Speaking Point: o Investigators are talking to doctors who treated Jackson. At least nine doctors from California, New York, Nevada, Texas and Florida are being investigated as part of an extensive prescription drug probe as police try to piece together Michael Jackson’s medical history to aid the investigation of the death of Michael Jackson.
Speaking Point: o When there a death and drugs in large quantities, murder or manslaughter charges could be brought up
Speaking Point: o Involuntary manslaughter (aka “criminally negligent homicide") usually refers to an unintentional killing that results from recklessness or criminal negligence, or from an unlawful act that is a misdemeanor or low-level felony (such as DUI).
Speaking Point: o Voluntary manslaughter is commonly defined as an intentional killing in which the offender had no prior intent to kill, such as a killing that occurs in the "heat of passion." The circumstances leading to the killing must be the kind that would cause a reasonable person to become emotionally or mentally disturbed; otherwise, the killing may be charged as a first-degree or second-degree murder.
Speaking Point: o Murder: CA Penal Code Section 187 – murder. In most states, first-degree murder is defined as an unlawful killing that is both willful and premeditated, meaning that it was committed after planning or "lying in wait" for the victim
Speaking Point: § Second-degree murder is ordinarily defined as 1) an intentional killing that is not premeditated or planned, nor committed in a reasonable "heat of passion" or 2) a killing caused by dangerous conduct and the offender's obvious lack of concern for human life. Second-degree murder may best be viewed as the middle ground between first-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter.