Dr. Conrad Murray won a legal skirmish Friday when a child support hearing master denied a prosecutor's push to suspend his Nevada medical license for failing to pay $16,000 in child support.
Murray, the doctor accused of playing a role in the death of pop icon Michael Jackson in June, could dodge the license suspension if a California judge allows the mother of his child to waive the back payments at a hearing later this month.
"Because the arrears are approximately $16,000, that triggers a potential professional license suspension," said Clark County Chief Deputy District Attorney Gerard Constantian.
Accompanied by five attorneys, including three from Texas who will defend him against involuntary manslaughter charges related to Jackson's overdose death, Murray remained silent during the hearing.
Chris Aaron, his Nevada child support lawyer, advised Hearing Master Elliott Yug that the doctor has made regular and full payments of $1,003 per month as ordered in November.
At that time, Nenita Malibirin agreed to waive the multiple thousands of dollars Murray owes in back child support.
Aaron and Constantian were at odds over whether Murray has paid any arrears. Aaron told Yug that $203 of Murray's monthly payments goes to child support.
Constantian disagreed. "He has not paid one iota," he said. "His current child support obligation is $1,003."
Aaron said Murray has never been disciplined as a doctor or been accused of malpractice. He indicated Murray, a cardiologist, is working in Texas.
"He wants to work," Aaron said. "He wants to resolve this."
Exactly where Murray is working was not indicated.
A judge in Santa Clara County in California did not accept Malibirin's waiver and set a hearing for May 27. Constantian said there is no guarantee the judge will grant the waiver. He said Murray would not be harmed if Yug moved to suspend the license before the California hearing.
Constantian said it would be two weeks before the suspension became an order, and Murray then would have a month to appeal the decision.
Aaron disagreed, saying it is the policy of Texas to suspend licenses in tandem with other states, such as Nevada.
Citing judicial economy, Yug denied the request pending the May 27 hearing.
After the hearing, when asked how Murray could be expected to pay child support or arrears if his medical license was suspended, Constantian said the Legislature enacted laws to allow the suspension because it is a proven motivator.
"It could be a driver's license, a barber's license. It could be any license," Constantian said. "We don't want to harm Doctor Murray. We want to be fair to him as we would any noncustodial parent."
California is the original jurisdiction of the child support case involving a son, now 12.
Constantian said Nevada became involved when Murray moved his practice to Las Vegas and the case transferred to Nevada.
Yug set another hearing for June 25.
Contact reporter Doug McMurdo at email@example.com or 702-224-5512.