LOS ANGELES — Attorneys quizzed prospective jurors in the Anna Nicole Smith drug conspiracy case Monday, probing their views about psychiatry, prescription drugs and a separate case involving Michael Jackson’s doctor.
Many panelists voiced strong feelings about doctors and prescription medications.
Under questioning by lawyer Ellyn Garafalo, who represents defendant Dr. Sandeep Kapoor, several said they had suffered from chronic pain and taken medications with varying results.
One man said he was in such agony with back pain that he would swallow 12 to 16 Tylenol pills at once.
An issue in the case is whether Smith was prescribed too many drugs for pain by Kapoor and defendant Khristine Eroshevich, a psychiatrist.
One jury prospect said she was an avid fan of Smith’s TV reality show and disliked defendant Howard Stern, the boyfriend-lawyer of Smith. The prospect felt Stern didn’t do enough to help Smith with her drug problem.
“Can you put all that aside and give him a fair trial?” Stern’s lawyer Steve Sadow asked.
“I’ve been asking myself that,” she said. “To be honest, I have a strong opinion about him.”
Almost all of the jury candidates raised their hands when Garafalo asked if they knew about the case of Dr. Conrad Murray, the personal physician of Jackson who has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of the pop star.
Authorities say Murray provided Jackson with a mix of sedatives — including a powerful anesthetic that killed him.
The jury prospects indicated the case against Murray would not affect their ability to be fair.
One prospect was asked about his written statement on a jury questionnaire that “the field of psychiatry is a fraud.” He said that opinion was partially based on his religion, The Church of Scientology.
Attorney Bradley Brunon, who represents Eroshevich, noted that actor Tom Cruise, also a Scientologist, had spoken publicly against psychiatry and psychotropic drugs.
“Are your beliefs as strong as Mr. Cruise’s?” Brunon asked the young man.
“He speaks out a lot, but yes, I guess I feel the same as Mr. Cruise,” said the prospect, adding his belief might interfere with his ability to be fair to Eroshevich.
Kapoor, Eroshevich and Stern have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to get massive amounts of opiates and sedatives for Smith, a former Playboy model and reality television star. They are not charged with her 2007 overdose death in Florida.
Superior Court Judge Robert Perry hopes to seat a jury by Wednesday.