Jury selection begins for Jackson doctor trial

The judge overseeing the trial, due to begin later this month, started by asking the 160 potential jurors if any of them knew nothing about the case against Conrad Murray -- in theory the ideal scenario for an unbiased juror.

When not a single hand was raised, judge Michael E Pastor of the Los Angeles Superior Court joked: "We didn't expect you'd been living under a rock... or made a pit-stop from Mars."

Murray, attending the first day of jury selection in the downtown courtroom, said "Good morning" when presented to the candidates, but otherwise remained silent.

The possible jury members were questioned initially on whether they were fit and able to serve in the trial, provisionally scheduled to start on September 27. Those deemed able filled in an exhaustive questionnaire.

The judge wants to whittle the 160 candidates, comprising a cross-section of LA's ethnic make-up -- down to around 100. If yesterday's group does not provide enough, more new candidates will be summoned today and Monday, if needed.

The trial, which will be televised, is due to last about 25 court days and end around October 28, the judge said.

Outside the court there were only two demonstrators: one in favour of Murray, one against. In the past large numbers of demonstrators have turned up for pre-trial hearings, and may are expected when the trial actually starts.

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