The death of the beloved pop singer, Michael Jackson, shocked the entire world and still is being dealt with in courts today. Specifically, there’s been a lot of buzz in the media lately regarding the sentencing of his personal doctor, Conrad Murray. Jackson’s death was caused by a drug overdose of propofol, prescribed by Dr. Murray so the pop singer could fall asleep. This past Tuesday a judge sentenced the doctor to the maximum four years behind bars because of his “horrific violation of trust” in the care of Michael Jackson.
Although his sentence sounds very serious, there are a few exceptions that have recently occurred that are in favor of Dr. Murray. There has been a new law created in California that requires the doctor to serve his sentence in county jail rather than state prison. Also, the Sheriff’s Department, not the original judge, determines the time actually served in the jail. It is likely that Dr. Murray will serve a lighter sentence for good behavior… maybe even half of the original sentencing.
In addition, it’s important to remember Michael Jackson wasn’t only a pop icon; he had a family including three young children. Dr. Murray, due to his irresponsible use of the drug, has split this family apart. Jackson’s family released a heart wrenching statement to Dr. Murray: “As his brothers and sisters, we will never be able to hold, laugh or perform again with our brother Michael,” the statement said. “And as his children, we will grow up without a father, our best friend, our playmate and our dad.” Jackson’s family has said they are happy with the four-year sentence of the doctor and are planning to move forward.
Is this fair? Should Dr. Murray be allowed to serve in county jail? Should he be able to serve less time in jail? As a political philosopher, what would Thomas Hobbes think of the sentencing? Would he simply agree with the laws of California even though they are weakening the government’s power over Murray? Since Hobbes is in favor of social contract theory, he believes we should abide by rules of those in power or else there will be chaos. I think he would support the sentencing of Murray even though it is not as harsh as it should be.
Or is this not Murray’s fault at all? Dr. Murray has stated to court that Michael Jackson was “a drug seeker” and requested propofol nightly. I would imagine that a celebrity doctor would acquiesce with the requests of their clients simply due to their large job income. Murray took the job after being in severe debt. As Michael Jackson’s personal physician he earned $150,000 or more a month. Also, if Jackson really was a “drug seeker” it is likely the singer would get them somewhere else if Murray denied him proposal. What do you think? Is Murray getting what he deserves?