Michael Jackson, immortalized by music videos, will be the star of closing arguments by his mother’s lawyers in the civil negligence case against concert giant AEG Live LLC.
The videos have been shown frequently during testimony in the 21-week trial to remind jurors of Jackson’s musical triumphs as well as the rehearsals for his ill-fated “This Is It” concert tour when some witnesses claim he was ailing.
The lawyers who brought the suit on behalf of Katherine Jackson and the superstar’s children are scheduled to speak on Tuesday and have been allotted four hours for their initial presentation. Attorneys for AEG will speak on Wednesday, also for four hours. The plaintiffs, who have the burden of proof, get to speak a second time. In that grand finale, probably on Thursday, they are likely to tell jurors how much money the Jacksons are seeking for the loss of the world famous pop star.
They are expected to ask for more than $1 billion, citing testimony of experts who said Jackson had a long lucrative career ahead of him when he died at the age of 50.
Final arguments are likely to draw a crowd, leading the judge to move proceedings from her tiny courtroom to a larger courtroom that can accommodate media, spectators, lawyers and Jackson fans who line up daily for a lottery to win seats in the courtroom.
The fans huddle and discuss the case in the hallway and wait to see Katherine Jackson enter the courtroom. Some wear T-shirts emblazoned with her picture and messages of support.
AEG Live is accused of negligently hiring Dr. Conrad Murray, who was convicted in 2011 of giving Jackson an overdose of the anesthetic propofol as he tried to sleep during preparations for comeback shows in London.
The company claims it was Jackson who insisted that Murray treat him because the former cardiologist was giving him propofol as a sleep aid.
AEG Live drafted a contract for Murray’s services, according to testimony, but it was never signed by anyone except Murray before Jackson died.
On Monday, members of the jury heard Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos gave them legal instructions. Everyone has biases, she said, but they must not be swayed by prejudice, sympathy or public opinion while deliberating. They also were told how to evaluate evidence and witnesses.
If the jury finds that damages should be assessed, the judge said they must not consider such issues as the grief endured by the Jackson family or the wealth of both sides in the bitterly fought case.
The instructions lasted about 30 minutes, a relatively short time because there is really just one central issue in the case: Who hired Dr. Conrad Murray? Was it AEG Live or Michael Jackson?
A unanimous verdict is not required. Only nine of the 12 jurors must agree.