It was kind of overshadowed by the President’s State of the Union Address Tuesday night, but Dr. Conrad Murray, the late Michael Jackson’s personal physician at the time of his death, pleaded not-guilty to involuntary manslaughter and requested that his trial be fast-tracked in California earlier Tuesday. The doctor is alleged to have been grossly negligent in his care of Jackson, resulting in the singer’s death. Specific allegations include administering a surgical-strength sedative to help Jackson sleep and then not acting quickly enough to save Jackson’s life when he stopped breathing. If convicted, he could spend up to four years in prison and lose his medical license. I gave an interview to CNN last year about out-of-control doctors. If you’re interested, you can find it at http://articles.cnn.com/2010-02-11/health/michael.jackson.doctor.manslaughter_1_state-medical-boards-manslaughter-doctors?_s=PM:HEALTH.
Also in California, a few weeks ago, 23-year-old Andrew Gallo was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences, meaning that he won’t be eligible for parole for until he’s 74, after being convicted of second-degree murder for killing three people while driving drunk. Some pundits are now saying that his sentence is too harsh. No, it’s not. His victims won’t ever get “paroled.” Why should he? Yes, there are premeditated murderers who don’t get sentences as long, and yes that’s wrong. Their sentences should be lengthened; this guy’s shouldn’t be shortened. Yes, the sentencing in this case may have been affected by the fact that one of the victims was a major-league baseball player, and yes, if that’s true, it’s wrong — the loss of a professional athlete is no greater loss than the loss of any other innocent person. Again though, other drunk-driving murderers’ sentences should be lengthened, no matter whom they kill; this guy’s shouldn’t be shortened. Anyone still think the 51-year minimum sentence is too long? Well, guess what else? It was this guy’s second time — he’d been caught driving drunk before and had been put on probation for it. Maybe if he’d been made to serve a year in jail back then, when he hadn’t killed anyone yet, he would’ve taken the law more seriously the next time, if for no other reason than to avoid more time in prison, instead of expecting another slap on the wrist. We’ll never know. The bottom line is, he’s shown repeatedly that he doesn’t care what the law says; that he’ll do what he wants to do regardless, even if it puts other people’s lives at risk. That’s a dangerous person, and that’s why you and I and the people we love and care about are better off with him off the streets.