LACI & CONNER
|THE ATTORNEY - MARK GERAGOS
"Me thinks he speaks out of both sides of mouth..."
LA lawyer visits Peterson
By JOHN COTÉ AND PATRICK GIBLIN
Published: April 30, 2003
Los Angeles defense attorney Mark Geragos, whose high-profile clients
have included former Rep. Gary Condit and actress Winona Ryder, was
in Modesto on Tuesday, reportedly to take over Scott Peterson's defense.
According to legal sources, Geragos is in discussions with the Stanislaus County
public defender's office to become Peterson's attorney. Geragos, along with
Peterson's attorneys of record, met with Peterson about noon, legal sources said.
However, no change in Peterson's legal representation has been made officially.
Public Defender Tim Bazar said he conferred with Geragos on Tuesday.
However, he would not detail what those talks were about. He noted that
his office was still handling the 30-year-old fertilizer salesman's defense.
"The court has not relieved us at this point," Bazar said. "We're still counsel of record."
Peterson is accused of murdering his wife, Laci, and their unborn child,
Conner. He faces the death penalty if convicted of murder on both counts.
He pleaded not guilty last week, and Superior Court Judge Nancy Ashley
appointed the public defender's office to represent him.
To take over Peterson's defense, Geragos can either appear at the next scheduled
court date or request that the case be placed on the court calendar before then.
A court official confirmed Tuesday that a request was submitted to Judge Al Girolami
to place Peterson's case on the calendar before next Tuesday's bail hearing.
Girolami, who was assigned the Peterson case on Monday, has not yet issued a ruling on
whether a new court appearance would be set.He would not say who had submitted the request.
In the limelight
Geragos has taken on numerous high profile cases, including defending Ryder in her
shoplifting case last year. He also was one of the attorneys whom Condit enlisted during
the Levy investigation. Levy, a 24-year-old from Modesto, disappeared two years ago
in Washington, D.C.Her body was found just more than a year later in a Washington park.
Geragos has appeared repeatedly on TV news shows to comment on the case
since Laci's family reported her missing Christmas Eve. The 27-year-old Modesto
resident was almost eight months pregnant at the time. Her body and that of her unborn
son were found earlier this month along the rocky eastern shoreline of San Francisco Bay.
Officials described both bodies as badly decomposed.
Police arrested Scott Peterson on April 18, the same day that state Attorney
General Bill Lockyer announced that DNA results from the bodies showed
they were Laci Peterson and the biological child of Laci and Scott Peterson.
Two days before, Geragos appeared on Fox's "On the Record With Greta Van
Susteren" and said the case was strong enough to arrest and convict Peterson.
"They could get an arrest warrant right now. They could indict him right now,"
Geragos said, according to a transcript of the program. "You'd be hard-pressed to
find a prosecutor who couldn't put together an indictment, let alone a conviction."
But on Monday, Geragos defended Peterson on CNN. "I have a real problem with
convicting this guy in the media," Geragos said. "It's a rare, rare case where
the police go in and say, 'Hey, we've arrested this guy, but let's go run down
these leads over here that may show that he wasn't the one who did it.
Geragos also said there were two alternatives for a fair trial in the case: changing the
venue or delaying the case one to two years in the "hope that some of this outrage subsides."
District Attorney James Brazelton has said he will oppose any defense motion to move
the trial. Prosecutors said Tuesday that any attorney switch would not alter their approach.
"We're preparing our case like we would for any another murder case," Chief Deputy
District Attorney John Goold said. "Everybody's got a reputation, but when they get in
court and how that (reputation) actually affects the jury, that's anybody's guess."
Goold said prosecutors had roughly 5,000 pages of police reports they were preparing
to hand over to Peterson's attorneys. Prosecutors gave Deputy Public Defenders
Kent Faulkner and Maureen Keller about 1,000 pages Friday, Goold said.
Tuesday evening, Peterson's parents, Lee and Jackie Peterson,
visited their son in jail. Both declined to comment.
Mark Geragos "Leaning" Toward Representing Scott
Scott To Appear In Court Friday
May 1, 2003 — Prominent Los Angeles defense attorney Mark Geragos
said late Wednesday he "definitely" is leaning toward representing Scott
Peterson, the Modesto man accused of murdering his wife, Laci Peterson,
and their unborn son just beforeChristmas last year. Geragos said
on CNN's "Larry King Live" that he will decide Thursday.
Geragos told The Associated Press earlier Wednesday he was considering representing
Peterson after meeting at his office with Peterson's family. The Modesto Bee reported
Wednesday that Geragos has also talked with Scott Peterson Tuesday at the
Stanislaus County Jail in Modesto. He pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder.
"I've met with his parents on a couple of occasions," Geragos told King. "They called me.
We've had some in-depth discussions. Scott's mother, especially, is a very compelling
advocate for her son. I'm going to sleep on it and make a decision."A court hearing is
scheduled at 8:30 a.m. Friday in Modesto for Peterson to request the new attorney.
Geragos has been a frequent CNN commentator on the Laci Peterson case since it exploded
into a media sensation following the substitute teacher's Christmas Eve disappearance.
The Los Angeles attorney was frequently critical of Peterson's public behavior between
the time of his pregnant wife's disappearance and his arrest. But more recently, he has
also defended him, while telling The Associated Press recently the "absolute, palpable
anger in Stanislaus County" will almost certain cause the trial to be held in another
county. Peterson faces a May 6 bail hearing and May 19 pretrial hearing in Modesto.
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