- Associated Press - Friday, September 30, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The judge overseeing the trial of the doctor charged in Michael Jackson’s death told the lead defense attorney Friday that he found an interview his law partner conducted on the case “shocking” and possible grounds for contempt.

Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor told attorneys he watched the interview during a break with his mouth open because attorney Matt Alford is identified as a member of Dr. Conrad Murray’s defense team and criticized a key prosecution witness.

The judge noted that Alford used the pronouns “we” and “our” to describe decisions about the doctor’s defense.

Alford, a partner of Murray’s lead defense lawyer Ed Chernoff, was interviewed outside the courthouse by “The Today Show.”

“I sat there with my mouth open” while watching the interview, Pastor said, because Alford was identified as a member of Murray’s defense team, according to court transcripts. He also called the interview shocking.

Attorneys and the judge huddled in several sidebar conferences throughout the day on the issue.

Alford criticized a key prosecution witness, Alberto Alvarez, in the interview. Alvarez, a bodyguard for Jackson, testified Thursday that Murray scooped up vials of medicine and placed them in a bag before telling him to call 911.

Pastor ordered Alford to appear in his courtroom on Nov. 15 for a contempt hearing. At the end of a heated conference on the issue, Pastor said Alford was considered a witness.

That came after Chernoff told the judge to hold him in contempt and not punish Alford.

Prosecutors complained about the interview Friday morning.

The interview with Ann Curry came hours after the judge warned defense attorneys not to comment on the case out of court.

“I am serious about interviews and about commenting on the state of the evidence or on credibility or on the overall issues in the case,” Pastor told the defense team Thursday afternoon, a transcript shows.

Alford is not one of the attorneys representing the doctor in court in his involuntary manslaughter case.


Associated Press Writer Greg Risling contributed to this report


Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP

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