Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Dr. Conrad Murray Gets License Suspended

I remain intrigued with the reality that when a person is accused of a crime, almost instinctively both the criminal justice system and the public treats that person as GUILTY until proven innocent. This is a direct contrast to the presumption of innocence a criminal defendant is legally entitled to.

Dr. Conrad Murray’s case serves as an illustration of this point as have many other high profile cases; including the late Jackson’s trial for allegedly sexually molesting children.

Regardless of your ultimate conclusion regarding Dr. Murray, our legal system rest on this doctrine that an accused defendant is innocent until proven guilty. But, every player in the system with the exception of defense counsels, acts in the opposite manner.

I am really trying to understand why a judge would suspend Dr. Murray’s medical license before he is tried and convicted by a jury of his peers.

Judge Michael Pastor just ordered the suspension, as a condition to Dr. Murray’s bail in the Michael Jackson manslaughter case.

The Medical Board of California has asked the court twice before to yank Murray’s license, to no avail. But minutes after ordering Murray to stand trial, Judge Pastor granted the request.

Dr. Murray has 24 hours to notify the medical boards in Texas and Nevada of Judge Pastor’s decision.

It’s a devastating blow to Murray, because he needs to practice to make enough money to pay his legal team. Murray’s team believes the move is designed to take away his right to defend himself in the manslaughter trial.~ TMZ 1/11/2011

The video clip below adds more facts, prior to the hearing above that resulted in suspension. It tells us the State of California’s Attorney General urged the court to suspend Murray’s license because according to him, the Coroner’s office concluded Michael Jackson died of Propofol intoxication. Isn’t that why we are having a trial??

I expect the public to think Murray is guilty. Many easily judge and make conclusions until they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. When they do, they expect that in a society like ours, we legal practitioners (defense attorneys, prosecutors, judges etc.), and especially Judges, follow the constitutional mandates afforded them to help preserve their legally entitled rights.

Judge Pastor in the past had turned down the two requests to suspend Murray’s license saying he did not have the legal authority to do so. What changed? What legal standing or authority does the judge now have to do so? Where is the presumption of innocence? Isn’t this judicial activism?

Dr. Conrad Murray might very well be guilty. The alleged facts, so far, point to that conclusion. But, that is besides the point. The point is our constitution, to preserve the integrity of our criminal justice system, guarantees Murray as a criminal defendant a right to a fair trial. If the judge is suspending his license based on the arguments set above, it is implicitly and explicitly saying “I find you guilty” before you are even tried by a jury of your peers.  Last I checked, the Prosecutor, not the Defense or judge, is responsible for making their case, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Dr. Murray is guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter.