US judge fines Jackson doc witness

2011-11-17 14:22
Los Angeles - The star witness for Dr Conrad Murray, the physician convicted of causing the death of Michael Jackson, was fined $250 on Wednesday for disobeying the judge during the six-week case.

But judge Michael Pastor ruled that Dr Paul White, an expert on propofol, an anaesthetic given to the late pop star, faces no further action after he reportedly called the prosecution's main expert witness a "scumbag."

Murray was found guilty on November 7 of involuntary manslaughter over Jackson's death in June 2009, from an overdose of propofol which the medic administered to help the singer sleep.

The 58-year-old's lawyers presented White in the last week of the trial, to counter evidence given by the prosecution's main expert witness on propofol, Dr Steven Shafer.

During testimony on October 31, the judge ordered jurors to leave the court while he admonished White for talking in front of the jury about conversations he had had with Murray.

Shortly after the jury was brought back into court, White mentioned in his testimony that the judge had ordered him not to talk about certain things in front of the jury, triggering Pastor's anger.

Contempt of court

"I find that there was a violation of a lawful court order in this case," judge Pastor said on Wednesday, ordering White to pay a $250 fine.

The judge however said he would take no further action over the alleged "scumbag" comment, which White reportedly made on October 20 in reference to Shafer, according to celebrity website E! Online.

White admitted to making critical comments about Shafer - a professional colleague, who was a student at Stanford Medical School when White was a professor -but denied having used the word "scumbag."

Pastor said that the reported comment was not direct contempt of court, and dropped the case.

Murray, an experienced cardiologist, is due back in court on November 29 for sentencing. He faces up to four years in jail and risks losing his right to practice medicine.

A lawyer from the firm of Murray's attorney Ed Chernoff, is due in court on the same day to answer contempt of court charges for having discussed the case in a TV interview during the trial.

Lawyer Matt Alford failed to turn up for a scheduled court hearing on Tuesday.