Michael Jackson in "This Is It." (Kevin Mazur / Kevin Mazur )
The headline on this post has been corrected, as noted below.
Would-be jurors in the Michael Jackson wrongful death case were asked to review the extensive list of witnesses who might be called to testify, and to let the court know if they recognize any of the names.
Selecting a panel in what’s expected to be a lengthy and potentially sensational trial has been a laborious and time-consuming process since scores of potential jurors were first brought to the downtown Los Angeles courtroom last week to see whether they had the time to even commit to a months-long case.
On Monday, a handful of about 100 possible jurors indicated they know one or more of the witnesses and were then dismissed from jury service.
The wrongful death suit was filed by Michael’s Jackson’s mother and three children who blame entertainment powerhouse AEG for the death of the pop singer. Katherine Jackson and her three grandchildren contend that AEG negligently hired and supervised Dr. Conrad Murray, who gave the singer a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol on the eve of what was to be Jackson’s comeback tour.
The lawsuit alleges that AEG relentlessly pushed Jackson to move forward with the "This Is It" tour, knowing the singer was neither physically nor mentally capable of handing it.
AEG had advanced Jackson "substantial sums of money" and threatened that if it were forced to call off the tour "there would be lawsuits and Jackson’s career would be over.”
AEG, however, contends it was Jackson who insisted on bringing Murray aboard and that the entertainment giant had favored a British doctor instead.
The trial is expected to delve into the sensational – the singer’s eccentric lifestyle, his purported drug use, his enormous debt and his allegedly erratic behavior in the days leading up to his death.
Witnesses in the trial could include celebrities such as Prince, Diana Ross and Quincy Jones, as well as Jackson's ex-wives Lisa Marie Presley and Debbie Rowe.
Director Spike Lee and actor Lou Ferrigno are also among the listed witnesses, as are AEG founder Philip Anschutz and his former chief executive, Tim Leiweke.
Attorneys may add or withdraw names from their initial lists. Some witnesses will appear via deposition testimony.
[For the record, 8:53 a.m. April 16: An earlier headline on this post incorrectly stated that 100 potential jurors were dismissed. A handful of the 100 were dismissed after they said they knew people on the witness list.]