Speculation may turn to Jackson's doctor Conrad Murray, who is reported to have been prescribing various medicines and painkillers. If he is in jeopardy of being criminally prosecuted, this may become yet another case where a professional is charged with a crime for essentially being negligent. Are we going too far in second-guessing our professionals? What is the "mens rea" element needed for a crime? Is it the doctor's "intent" to proscribe a certain drug? Over a certain amount (which prosecutors and expert witnesses can second-guess and disagree upon)? Or -- is a mistake by a professional a crime? If you are in a car accident and someone dies, will some young prosecutor looking to make a name for himself -- or build that resume to shop for a law firm job -- try to find fault (bad judgment) in how you were driving as a basis for a murder rap? And in these cases, don't hesitate to think that the investigation starts out with the conclusion first and works its way backward; there's no pretense of using the scientific method (proposition > procedure > testing > result > conclusion).
Many facts have yet to come out. But this could be among the growing list of cases which cause many in our medical professions to practice defensive medicine. And don't for a moment think that this "defensive" mentality does not extend to other professions like law and accounting.
Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer and strategic analyst who engages in crisis management and other matters. Mr. Dixon cautions readers that this article is not legal advice. Mr. Dixon may be contacted for further comment through edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com, or at 917-696-2442.