How Did the Jury Find Conrad Murray Guilty?

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on November 07, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Conrad Murray is guilty of involuntary manslaughter. The Michael Jackson death trial ended when Conrad Murray's verdict was announced this afternoon.

Seven men and five women took 6 hours on Friday and three hours Monday to find Conrad Murray guilty in the much-publicized manslaughter trial. Michael Jackson's fans had been following every movement of the trial for weeks.

Murray was accused of administering a fatal dose of propofol, a powerful anesthetic, to Jackson. The singer was said to have difficulty sleeping without the drug. The guilty verdict means Dr. Murray could face up to four years in jail.

So, America, we know what you are wondering now: 

What exactly goes into a jury verdict?

There's an old saying in legal circles: Jury verdicts are like sausage, you don't want to know what goes into making them. Jurors could conceivably use any number of different factors in reaching a verdict -- like whether they liked a particular attorney or not, for instance.

Legally speaking, however, the jury is governed by the jury instructions given to them by the court.

Jury instructions describe what legal standards the jury needs to apply. Here Judge Michael Pastor decided what specific instructions to give, with both the prosecution and defense's input. It surely included information on the elements of the crime of involuntary manslaughter. And, what burden of proof the prosecution must have met.

After the jury instructions are given out, the jury is sent to deliberate. Members discuss the case in private. No one else can speak to the jury at this point. Some juries ask the court questions, others just promptly come back with their decision. You would expect voting of some kind to go on, but it's completely up the jury as to how they reach their verdict.  

In a perfect world, the jury will adhere completely to the jury instructions handed to them and apply only the facts a judge has ruled admissible. Whether or not a jury does so is completely up to them. In fact, there is such a thing as "jury nullification," where a jury believes a defendant is guilty but renders a not guilty verdict because they believe the law is wrong.

So what exactly went into Conrad Murray's guilty verdict? Curious minds may never be satisfied. But with the intense media scrutiny, you can expect at least one juror (if not more) to speak about their deliberations.

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