LOS ANGELES (KABC) — The Michael Jackson wrongful death trial is in its eighth week, and it appears the attorneys are having a tough time controlling their tempers. Hostilities between the battling attorneys erupted during a sidebar conference with the judge in her chambers Monday.
The attorney representing AEG, Marvin Putnam, said that he was repeatedly flipped off by the attorney for the Jacksons, Brian Panish. Panish denied making any gestures.
According to court records, Panish says, “I don’t think I’ve even gestured anything to Mr. Putnam today.”
“You’ve given me the finger twice,” Putnam said.
“Judge, if I want to give him the finger, I know how to give him the finger,” Panish responded.
“And you did it quite well twice,” Putnam fired back.
The judge said simply that if the gestures were going on, they need to stop.
In the courtroom, a music industry expert paid to testify for Katherine Jackson took the witness stand. The testimony centered on AEG creating an alleged conflict of interest in the hiring of Michael Jackson’s physician, Conrad Murray.
According to testimony, the entertainment company AEG promoted thousands of concerts annually, but rarely did it produce the shows staged in its many arenas.
Former record executive David Berman testified that in his opinion, AEG’s lack of production experience paved the way for a series of negligent decisions. Murray’s fee, he testified, was out of whack and should have been a red flag. He said the doctor first asked for $5 million, finally agreeing to $150,000 a month.
Berman says such a deal was also inappropriate, highly unusual and set up an inherent conflict of interest. He stated the physician had an obligation to both the person he’s treating and to the entity who would be paying him.
The lawsuit pits Katherine Jackson against AEG, claiming that it hired Murray and should have conducted background checks on the doctor and supervised Jackson’s care.
Jurors reviewed emails of AEG attorneys discussing a contract with Murray, but not with Michael Jackson’s managers or attorneys. Berman says the emails show that AEG wanted to control the services of Murray.
Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after Jackson died in June 2009 from an overdose of the surgical sedative propofol.
The defense questioned Berman’s qualifications to assess this case. Under cross-examination, Berman told jurors he had never produced a concert tour, never managed a concert tour and never hired a concert tour staff.