The Web      Powered by
powered by Yahoo!


Return to Transcripts main page


Interview With Mark Geragos

Aired June 6, 2005 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, exclusive. Scott Peterson's defense attorney, Mark Geragos, finally breaks his long silence. It's his first live, in-depth interview since Peterson was sent to death row, and since he testified for his former client, Michael Jackson. Mark Geragos for the hour with your phone calls exclusive, next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Continuing our 20th anniversary extravaganza of great guests, Mark Geragos joins us tonight. This is not the LARRY KING LIVE setting. We are in Costa Mesa, California. Why are we here?

MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Because I'm in trial here, and I said if you want me to interview -- and I wanted to be on your 20th anniversary week -- so we agreed to come down here to the Marriott.

KING: Because you couldn't have made it up the 405.

GERAGOS: We were just discussing it. To try and get from here to there by 6:00 o'clock, we never would have made it.

KING: Is this a murder trial here?

GERAGOS: No, this is a fraud case, a 57-count fraud case. We've been down here for there months; we're going to be down there a couple more months.

KING: Talk some about Jackson later, but let's -- first things first. How did you take -- how did you get the Peterson case?

GERAGOS: I originally got a call from Lee Peterson. And Lee wanted to talk. Came up to the office. Talked to Lee and Jackie, and after talking for a while, it kind of evolved, I suppose. And talking to Jackie, you've spoken to her before, she's an amazing woman. And I agreed after talking with them, and my first instincts were, look, I'm probably not the right guy for you, but after talking to her for a while, decided that I'd go up and I'd talk to Scott.

KING: True, they had seen you on this show?

GERAGOS: Probably had seen me on this show or some others, yeah.

KING: What were your impressions upon meeting Scott?

GERAGOS: I was very favorably impressed upon meeting Scott. I thought he was a highly intelligent guy. I thought he was a -- you know, somebody who I thought had a lot more emotion than the way he had been portrayed. I mean, that was my first -- I think, I, like everybody else, when you saw him and you see kind of that B-roll of him, and that there's always this idea that he's arrogant or that he's cocky or this or that. In knowing him, I didn't see any of that.

KING: What is your rule? Do you have to believe in your client, or do you -- or is your role to see he gets a fair trial?

GERAGOS: My role, as a criminal defense lawyer, as all criminal defense lawyers, is to see that a client gets a fair trial. And tat's -- and what goes into that is that you must test the government's case or the people's case or whatever it is, at every possible turn. And I suppose sometimes it's an added bonus and sometimes it's a detriment, depending on whether or not you believe in the client's innocence.

I mean, a lot of lawyers have said, and I think Edward Bennett Williams, who is somebody that you knew well...

KING: Very well.

GERAGOS: ... is quoted as saying a lot of times, God save me from the innocent client. Because there is no greater pressure for a defense lawyer than somebody that you truly believe is innocent who you're defending.

KING: Was that the case here?

GERAGOS: Well, it became the case here.

KING: You began to truly believe?

GERAGOS: Right. I, like a lot of the pundits I think and a lot of the public, had initially thought that, you know, it looked bad and it was not a case. And I had made statements, I think even on your show.

KING: Here's what you said on this show.

GERAGOS: I figured you would have that.

KING: On January 24th, you said: "At the end of the day, they may find some evidence this guy might be a sociopath that everybody is painting him out to be." On the day of his arrest, on this program, you said: "The most damning piece of circumstantial evidence, the marina receipt, comes out of his own mouth and his own hands. This is just a devastating thing. A damning circumstantial case. The man is a sociopath if he did this crime. This is a guy who has from day one not helped himself in any way." So you had a radical change?

GERAGOS: Well, you know, I don't know that it was so much a radical change. I still think that the -- at the end of the day, you go through that case, we spent, I don't know, maybe a year and a half on that case. And in trial, when you are there for nine or 10 months, the same -- and you hear some of the jurors talk when it came down to it at the end of the day -- all they said was, if the bodies had not floated up where they did, some of them said, we could not have convicted. At the end of the day, that was the most devastating piece of evidence.

There isn't -- I think if you go through everything else that was produced in that trial, there was either an answer for it or an explanation for it, or it was not what it appeared to be. That was the only thing. That was the only thing that I think ultimately was the ultimate piece of circumstantial evidence.

KING: Was there a con to taking it? We know the pros of taking it.

GERAGOS: Oh, well, I also told you this. I don't know if you've got it in your quotes, but I also said at the time, there would be a mutiny in my office, which there was to some degree. Most people said, why take it? Because what happens in high-profile cases, every time I have taken one of these cases where it becomes a media frenzy, is generally, your clients think you don't have time for -- your other clients think you don't have time for them. A criminal lawyer exists on a kind of a 30/60/90. You've got cases that come in; you either dispose of them or you try them, on a fairly quick basis. It's not like a civil case that may take years to get to trial.

So clients tend to not want to be with you, because they figure you're concentrating all of your time on the other case. No matter how much somebody pays you, it can't make up for the amount of time, effort, and anxiety that goes with it.

KING: Did you lose money on this?

GERAGOS: Well, yeah. I mean, ultimately at the end of the day, it's not a money-maker, no, in any sense of the word. I mean, at a certain point, whether you're fighting for funds between the various counties, which we were, San Mateo didn't want to pay for experts. And Stanislaus didn't want to pay. We had to go back and forth. I had go to the administrative office of the courts and -- I don't want to get into the particulars of that, but that was a problem. A lot of my fees, I ended putting back in to pay for experts, and still trying to clean up those things as well.

So at the end of the day, there -- it's infinitely easier to just not take a case like this, to have stayed on TV, I suppose, or become a consultant.

KING: You would have been on this show forever.

GERAGOS: Oh, I could have done -- I could have done 90 shows. Every night, doing that, you could have, as you know, lawyers are paid, if they want, to be consultants. Could have made more money.

KING: You never got paid from CNN.

GERAGOS: No, because CNN said the only way they would pay is if you don't do anything else.

KING: Oh, and you did other things?

GERAGOS: I did. KING: But we were your primary.

GERAGOS: Yes, that's why I'm here on your 20th anniversary.

KING: If you look back, what went -- is there anything where you say, should have, would have, could have? You're a (INAUDIBLE).

GERAGOS: Always. I mean, always. Look, there isn't a single case, and as you know, when you have any kind of adversity, you always look back and try to figure out what it was that may have gone wrong. I think one of the things that if I had to do it over again, is I was against having cameras in the courtroom. I thought, given -- I mean, this was a case where everybody, it seemed, coming into it, had a presumption of his guilt. I mean, we used it laugh. We'd go through 1,600 jurors, and you would -- even the guy who was completely illiterate, on the 23-page form, he could find the one spot that said, "Scott Peterson guty," g-u-t-y. You had even the Buddhists, who were against taking a life, said they would make an exception for Scott Peterson. So I mean, there was a presumption of guilt in this case.

KING: Should have had cameras?

GERAGOS: It was overwhelming. I think we should have had cameras. And the reason was, I thought at the time that maybe we could damp down the interests, but it had the opposite effect. It kind of increased it. And people were -- you know, it was kind of a -- it would be a public lottery every morning, which was mind- boggling. People would travel from all over the country. And then as you walk into the courtroom, down the hallway, there would be people lined up on both sides, begging you, give me a defense pass, give me a prosecution pass, wanting to get in.

It created more of a circus-like atmosphere. I think that would have been relieved as a safety valve.

KING: Would you have changed your opening statement?

GERAGOS: No. Not for...

KING: Stone-cold innocent?

GERAGOS: Not for a minute. Because I don't think that for a second that had anything to do with the jurors' decision. I don't think that the opening statement -- a lot of the things that had been attributed to being in the opening statement were not in the opening statement. So that's part of the reason that I think, if there had been cameras in the courtroom, that would have been something that would have been...

KING: So you're saying the reason you lost that case was where the body came up?

GERAGOS: I think that that was the -- and it's not just my opinion on that; the jurors have said that. Because if you listen to what the jurors say, they really can't articulate when this happened or how this happened. And the prosecution couldn't. I mean, the prosecution got up in the closing argument and just also for the first time, speculated as to what transpired, and that was belied by what the evidence was. I mean, we tried this case on the basis of a prosecution theory that Laci had died the night before on the 23rd or in the wee morning hours. Midway through this case, on cross- examination of the computer expert, all a sudden, lo and behold, what do we find, the computer expert says at 8:45, somebody is on that computer, looking at umbrella stands with sunflowers on them. Laci has got a sunflower tattooed on her. Somebody's looking at the weather, somebody is going to these various locations for other kinds of scarves and things like that, which clearly wasn't Scott, and if it had been Scott at 8:45, why didn't he tell somebody so that he had that as an alibi?

KING: When we come back, we'll ask Mark, what is it like to be the lawyer for a man condemned to death? How do you react emotionally? We'll be right back.


KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE with Mark Geragos. What is it like emotionally? You believe in your client?

GERAGOS: I believe in all my clients. I mean, I go to trial. And it's -- there's no...

KING: You think Scott Peterson didn't do this, right?

GERAGOS: I went in there, and I took that case, and I became convinced. And it is -- and I told the jury during the penalty phase. I talked from the heart to the jury. And said, look, there's no harder thing for me to do than have to sit here and beg you to spare his life, when I believe this, and that I felt, you know, as a -- as a lawyer, you cannot feel any lower than in a death penalty case to have somebody that you truly believe is innocent, to be convicted and then be sentenced to death. I mean, there is bar none, at least for me professionally, nothing worse than you can experience than that.

KING: You ever lost one before?

GERAGOS: I've never -- I've never lost a death penalty case. In fact, I have probably handled 50-some-odd murder case. I've never had a client convicted of first-degree murder before. Closest I have ever come before was about 10 years ago, I had a client where a jury came back on a first-degree, but I'd convinced the judge to throw it out, and we tried it twice more after that, and then came back with the second. I've never had a client convicted of anything higher than a second.

KING: So what was it like for your gut when they announced the verdict?

GERAGOS: Well, the biggest problem, and one of the things that I regret, is that I wasn't there. I had...

KING: Ah-huh! GERAGOS: Yeah, I had asked the judge the week before, because I had another case in L.A., and I said, the following Friday, that judge wanted me down -- the L.A. judge -- wanted me down there to do a case. And Thursday before the verdict came out was a holiday, a court holiday. So the jury was not going to deliberate. I was up there on Wednesday. And on Wednesday, we had one of the brouhahas with the jurors, and we replaced it and put in a new juror. And we did that in the afternoon.

So I talked to the judge, and he said, go down there, there's not going to be a verdict. And Judge Delucchi and I agreed, there's no way that just putting somebody in, the jury getting the instructions, you have got to start anew, not deliberating on Thursday. And then Friday, what most people don't know, is that he had already told one of the -- promised one of the other jurors that they were going to get off, and it was only going to be a half-day. Plus, in addition to that, the jury had asked that a priest be sent in, because they were sequestered. So all indication were they were going to deliberate through until the following week.

I went down there. Then out of nowhere, we get the verdict.

KING: You were shocked?

GERAGOS: Yeah, we were as shocked as you can believe. But one of the things that the judge had indicated, I said, look, I can try and get a private jet up there or scramble some way to get up there. And he had indicated, look, the sheriff does not want to hold on to this, because as you probably saw, the courthouse had become encircled with people. They were afraid from the public safety standpoint there was going to be a problem, and I wasn't going to create a public safety problem by saying, hey, hold it for me, I got to get up there.

KING: How did you hear the verdict?

GERAGOS: Turned on -- I think CNN. And did it in the office. Pat Harris, who tried the case with me, was there. One of the other lawyers from the office was there as well.

KING: What was your feeling?

GERAGOS: I mean, it was a kick in the gut. I mean, I did not expect it.

KING: You thought he would get not guilty?

GERAGOS: I -- well, I thought it would hang. All indications were that this case was going to hang going into it. I think prior to all of the problems inside of that jury room, this case would have hung.

The -- one of the -- and I, you know, we have attempted to interview the jurors, but did not, but when you read what the jurors have said afterwards -- one juror in particular says that if the foreman, the first foreman had not been removed, there never would have been a verdict in the case. That was my read on it, based upon the kinds of questions they were asking and the exhibits that they were asking for.

KING: You think they're going to write books or try to?

GERAGOS: Well, apparently -- see, and I only know what I read in this particular instance and what I've heard. Apparently, collectively as a group, they've been shopping a book with ironically one of the pundits who was up there second-guessing me most of the time outside of the courthouse. So he's been trying to sell it. I don't know if it's sold.

KING: You know who it is, or...?

GERAGOS: I don't know who they -- no, they were -- collected and gathered...

KING: Who's the pundit?

GERAGOS: Oh, the pundit was one of the local yokels who was up there, who was commenting.

KING: Have you -- have you talked to Scott?

GERAGOS: Yeah, oh, frequently. We talked to Scott frequently. Pat sees him and has visited him in San Quentin...

KING: How is he living with it?

GERAGOS: I mean, he has been throughout all of this, I think, enormously resilient. And -- and one of the things, you know, without breaching confidentiality, because he's said it to others and not just to me, but he has said, look, after my family was killed, the fact that they're blaming me for it, it pales in comparison with losing Laci and Connor. So, as I'd indicated before, either the guy's the greatest sociopath of all time, or he's innocent.

KING: And he's handling death row OK?

GERAGOS: Well, you know, as well as anybody...

KING: Some people emotionally could?

GERAGOS: You know, I don't know that anybody handles death row, and I don't know how anybody gets through that. I don't know how anybody, when they've suffered a loss and if they are innocent and if they are on death row -- and you know, we've had somewhere in the neighborhood of about 100 some-odd convictions that have been overturned in people who were on death row, exonerated. I don't know how any of them handle it. I have read things that they have written. I've listened to people who have been exonerated later on talk, and nobody ever says, boy, that was a great experience, I'd do it again if I could.

KING: We'll be right back with Mark Geragos on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The state of California versus Scott Peterson. We the jury in the above-entitled cause find the defendant, Scott Lee Peterson, guilty of the crime of murder of Laci Denise Peterson, in violation of Penal Code Section 187A.



KING: We're back with Mark Geragos. Why didn't you call Dr. Henry Lee, a renowned expert, defense witness?

GERAGOS: Henry there was. We talked for -- all night, practically. And finally made the decision not to. I think at that point, we figured that what he was going to bring was not anymore than we'd already proven. Made a decision. I don't think it would have mattered if we had called him or if we hadn't called him, ultimately. I mean, the feeling was at that point, jointly, that it wouldn't have made any difference, that the case had not been proven, and that we felt that we could stand on where we were at that point.

KING: Even though his reputation proceeds him?

GERAGOS: Well, Henry, look, Henry is one of the greatest, and Henry's got a fantastic ability to be able to communicate and to communicate in simple form, things that are generally more complex and make it understandable.

But at that point, we had jurors that were tired and had been there for a long time, and we didn't know that putting on for another three or four days at that point stuff that would have -- that I thought we had gotten out all throughout the cross-examination. I mean, during the cross-examination, I thought we had used their experts to prove that there was no forensic evidence. And if there was no forensic evidence, that you would expect that there would be in this case, and since there wasn't, that you couldn't make that leap to say, well, I'll just speculate as to what happened. I'll just fantasize as to what happened.

KING: Are you handling the appeal?

GERAGOS: Well, right now, we've interviewed a number of appellate lawyers.

KING: That's a specialty, right?

GERAGOS: It is a specialty. And especially, because it's a death penalty case, I always want to leave open the option for whoever the appellate lawyer is if they want to take a shot at me for ineffective assistance of counsel, I'd be more than happy.

KING: You would go with that?

GERAGOS: Absolutely. KING: If they argued ineffectively assistance, you would have said...?

GERAGOS: Absolutely. I don't have -- I don't have ego when it comes to that. I mean, one of the things -- if I was worried about that, I never would have taken this case in the first place. I mean, there are lawyers who are more worried about their reputation than the case. And this case, when this case came in, I was counseled by virtually everyone not to take the case. Maybe with the exception of you. And one of the reasons was that you had somebody who was literally one of the most reviled guys in the country. I mean, he was hated, overwhelmingly. And that tends to -- people tend to associate the client with the lawyer. And virtually everybody said, why did you do it?

KING: Why do they do it? They don't associate the doctor with the patient.

GERAGOS: No, and you have that often, that's kind of the fall- back position as well. You don't tell the doctor in the operating room, look, you are not going to operate on that guy because he's a bad guy or this or that, but that tends to be the case with a lawyer.

You know, there has been kind of a transformation in the last 25 years, at least since I started practicing law, as to what a criminal defense lawyer is, and how they're portrayed. When I first started, I mean, I followed my father around who was a county prosecutor. And then he left the office and became a defense lawyer. And to my mind, that was the most glorious thing in the world, to be a criminal defense lawyer. And I grew up reading "To Kill a Mockingbird" and to watch the movie, and identifying with Atticus Finch, and watching "Parry Mason," the TV series, and thinking that was the greatest thing in the world.

That's kind of morphed at this point, for a variety of reasons, into this caricature of what a defense lawyer is. It's Bobby Donnell on "The Practice," it's the James Spader character on "Boston Legal," where it's people who are shaving the corners and rounding edges, as opposed to what I have always thought being a criminal defense lawyer is, which is being the last kind of bulwark against an attack on the Constitution.

KING: What about the whole system of pundits, lawyers on television? Conviction before the case is over? Innocence before the case...

GERAGOS: Well, what's happened is, you've taken what started off as the ESPN model as I call it. You've got the ex-jocks, and now you've got either the lawyers who are not practicing or whatever, and they get up there. And that model has morphed into what I call the FOX-ification of the legal system. And what has happened is, you notice that, as cable TV started to expand, one of the first stories that came out was the impeachment story, and that kind of drove ratings, and that really drove ratings and the various competitions amongst the channels. And so you had the prosecutors versus the defense during impeachment, and that was also a Republican versus Democrat, and that kind of morphed into now this idea of prosecutors being the right or the good guys, and defense lawyers being the bad guys. And that's kind of where you have it now, and that's what's happened. And it's really a shame.

KING: Is it bad?


KING: To go into television, forecasting a case or having an opinion on a case without having heard every minute of the trial?

GERAGOS: Well, no, I don't think that's bad. What I think is bad is when you go out and you deliberately either don't know anything about the case, or you have abandoned the presumption of innocence, or you mislead the public. When you mislead the public about what actually occurs in the courtroom or what happened in the courtroom, or what the standard of proof is or what a defense lawyer's supposed to do, and you start talking about oh, defense lawyer's job is to lie -- the defense lawyer's job is not to lie. Or you talk about the prosecution during this, that, or the other thing, and that somehow that's more noble -- it isn't. There is a role. It's an adversary system, it's the system -- the best system in the world. And historically, the best system that's ever been devised.

KING: Right back with more of Mark Geragos. We'll include some of your phone calls too. We're in Costa Mesa, where he's in trial. Don't go away.


SHARON ROCHA, MOTHER: Soon after Laci went missing, I made a promise to her, that if she's been harmed, we will seek justice for her and Connor and make sure that that person, responsible for their deaths, will be punished. I can only hope that the sound of Laci's voice begging for her life and begging for the life of her unborn child is heard over and over and over again in the mind of that person every day for the rest of his life.

RON GRANTSKI, STEPFATHER: Our friends, family, country searched for Laci everywhere. There wasn't one place that wasn't searched. They had no reason to doubt that it was Scott who did what he did, and he got what he deserved.



KING: We're back. The anti-Scott sentiment, did you ever see anything like that?

GERAGOS: No, nothing even close. I mean, when I represented Gary Condit, I thought that I had seen probably the most virulent reaction against somebody. But the -- Scott, it just pales in comparison with anything I have ever seen.

KING: How did you react to Amber Frey?

GERAGOS: Well, I didn't have a real problem with her as a witness, because I didn't think that she brought anything to the case for the prosecution. I did have a problem, obviously, with what I considered to be kind of a violation of the restraining -- or the gag order by proxy, by her lawyer.

KING: Gloria Allred?

GERAGOS: Yeah, and I thought that that was something that one of the judges should have reigned in. And I always thought that based upon what I heard, the only way that her book or her movie would have sold is if there was a conviction. I thought that there was something that was just fundamentally wrong with the idea of somebody who's a lawyer for a witness -- and I didn't understand why a witness needed a lawyer -- if the witness is gagged, why isn't the lawyer gagged? You know, one or the other, when you asked before, what is one of the things you might do differently? At some point, some lawyer, I don't know if it's me or somebody else in one of these cases, when they're gagged, I think at a certain point may have to weigh whether or not the order of the court trumps their obligation to represent their client.

KING: And so they ungag it and face contempt.

GERAGOS: Yeah, you're going to face the contempt in the face of what they think is an onslaught of misinformation, especially if you believe that that information seeps back to the jury.

KING: Would you agree if Scott is the culprit, he is a sociopath?

GERAGOS: Look, if Scott did it, there is no question. The problem is every piece of evidence that they put on there I think was effectively the -- dealt with.

KING: You said where the body turns up is key?

GERAGOS: I said that, that's a key, and if you've got...

KING: That's an extraordinary coincidence.

GERAGOS: Except the problem was, you know, we spent day after day after day with witnesses who searched that place and didn't find anything, and they searched it repeatedly, and they had the most sophisticated equipment in the world, and they mapped the bottom of the bay. And they didn't find anything. They found Snapple bottles, and found six-inch sticks, and they found tires, and they found every conceivable thing in the world except anchors.

KING: If he didn't do it, there's a killer loose?

GERAGOS: That's, you know, usually the case. Anytime you have got somebody who's exonerated off of death row for a horrible crime, and the only way you make it to death row is on a horrible crime, means that there is somebody else walking around.

KING: Let's take a call. Phoenix, Arizona. Hello.

CALLER: Hi. I had two questions for Mark Geragos.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: Other than...

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: Hello? Other than the jury foreman, did the change in jury composition change the outcome?

GERAGOS: Well, I would -- it's been my read on what happened is that there were three different jurors who were removed in this case. The first one was Justin Falconer, who was juror number five. Justin Falconer, I believe, was removed -- and that was -- and at the time, I made a record of it, and I think it'll be something that's dealt with on appeal -- was because of the media insinuating themselves into that jury box, and there were some commentators in particular that were mischaracterizing what happened with Justin and Brent Rocha at the front of the courthouse, and saying that there was some kind of, "you're going to lose today," when in fact that's not what was said. Brent testified to that. Justin testified to that. Justin was later removed.

I thought that that was frankly outrageous, that he was removed, and I didn't think there was good cause. I think the record shows that there was not good cause. And Judge Delucchi and I probably -- a man who I have the enormous respect for, and actually have a great deal of affection for as well, that -- we disagreed most strongly on that.

Second, to answer to her question, was, during deliberations, another juror was removed, prior to the foreman. And that juror was juror number seven. She has a Web site, and if you go to her Web site, she will describe that she was one of the people who supported the jury foreman, the man who became known as Dr. Lawyer.

Well, the same juror who complained about Justin Falconer complained about juror number seven. And juror number seven, who's then removed, and that changed, when they substituted somebody else in, apparently is how they removed juror number five as a foreperson, and juror number six became the new foreperson.

KING: And it's appealable?

GERAGOS: All of that stuff is on the record. All of that stuff was subject to the motion for a new trial, and all of that stuff will be part of the appeal.

KING: Why did you take the Jackson thing in the middle of all of this?

GERAGOS: Actually, the Jackson case I was on well before I ever had Scott. I just...

KING: It was not publicized?

GERAGOS: It was not publicized. In fact, my feeling at the time was that I didn't want it to be publicized. I didn't think it would make any sense. But I'm still under the gag order on that case, not only as a lawyer but now as a witness. So I have got a double whammy...

KING: Well, what do you make of the prosecution including you in his final statement to the jury, lambasting you?

GERAGOS: I would love to respond to that, and I will wait until after a verdict comes down and the gag order is lifted. And I will have, I suppose, something to say about that.

KING: (INAUDIBLE). Will they be out a long time, that jury, just as a reportorial guess, that's not something to do with the gag order?

GERAGOS: I think the jury will be back this week.

KING: You do?


KING: Chico, California, hello.

CALLER: Thank you for taking my call, Mark.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: You said it was where the body came up that convicted Scott. How about Scott didn't know what he was fishing for, and what bait he was using. Then he said...

GERAGOS: Scott did...

CALLER: Wait a minute. My husband, when he goes out fishing, he knows what he's fishing for and you only catch sturgeon at night.

GERAGOS: Well, that's not what -- they put on a gentleman by the name of Angelo Kong (ph), who was a sturgeon fisherman, who said the opposite. He did not say -- he testified, that was their witness.

Number two, he did say, the reason he didn't know what bait, they asked him what bait -- is he wasn't using bait. He had he was using a silver lure, approximately that large. And the idea that somehow he wouldn't go there -- he said he wanted to put his boat in the water. That's what he told the detective that night in the taped interview. That's what was there.

Once again, if there had been a camera in the courtroom, some of these urban myths, so to speak, wouldn't be out there.

KING: Did you ever consider putting Scott on? GERAGOS: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely, I considered putting Scott on.

KING: And?

GERAGOS: Ultimately at the end of the day, I didn't think they proved the case.

KING: Did Scott want to go on?

GERAGOS: I think Scott would have welcomed going on. I think he wanted to talk to this jury. I think he wanted to express...

KING: He could have overruled you then.

GERAGOS: Absolutely. Ultimately, it was my advice that he not take the stand, that we stand pat.

KING: We'll be back with more of Mark Geragos. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Mark Geragos. What about the controversy over the boat? The judge permitted the jury to see the boat. One juror got into the boat. You wanted to show it...

GERAGOS: Actually, two -- what actually happened is I think on the third day of deliberations, they asked to see the boat. We had previously done a demonstration, because the whole idea was, the theory of the prosecution was, Scott had taken Laci into the boat and then dumped her overboard. It was this 14-foot aluminum game fisher. I actually had somebody get into a -- we bought a 14-foot game fisher, put somebody in it, had him be the approximate size, had a demonstration done, shown -- showed that when that was done, if you pushed somebody over the side, the boat would capsize. Tried to get that introduced. The judge wouldn't do it. He wouldn't allow it in.

KING: Reason?

GERAGOS: Then -- well, he said that -- he gave us an explanation that it wasn't the identical boat. I said, well, the boat that's there is in evidence.

So then during deliberations, he comes down, and the jurors say we want to see the boat. Which is fine and dandy. We go down into the garage. The boat's on a trailer. Two of the jurors get in. And after they get in, they start rocking around and they start doing their own demonstration on the trailer. I kind of come unglued, run over to where Delucchi is, Judge Delucchi is, and tell him, you can't do this. This is a demonstration. This is prohibited. And he said, I didn't know they were going to do this, basically. I'll give them an admonition. I said, an admonition is not good enough, they're conducting an experiment.

We then renewed our motion to have our demonstration shown to the jury, because we felt -- because it's clear in the jury instructions in California, caljic (ph) instruction says you shall not conduct any experiments, visit the scene, do anything like that. He denied it. And I would expect that that would be further grounds of appeal.

KING: So, you think there are a lot of appealable grounds?

GERAGOS: Well, not just me. Judge Delucchi was quoted as saying in open court on the record, "this case is an appellate lawyer's Petri dish." So if he thinks it's an appellate lawyer's Petri dish, and he's the trial judge, that tells you all you need to know.

KING: And you would go so far as to say -- I want to reiterate this -- if the appellate lawyer wants to say you did a bad -- malfeasance...

GERAGOS: Look, if they...

KING: ... you'd accept that?

GERAGOS: Look, I don't have a problem if they find something that they think they want to challenge, I mean, what am I going to do? I'm going to stand on ceremony? If it's a legitimate criticism? You know, I'm a big boy. I'll take it.

KING: What was the motive?

GERAGOS: Gee, you got me. That was one of the questions we had all along.

KING: I mean, as everyone kept saying, what about divorce?

GERAGOS: It morphed -- it morphed, I think. The prosecution's original theory I think was for Amber, that he was in love with Amber. When it became apparent that that wasn't going to fly, then it became, well, he wanted to be footloose and fancy-free. I don't think for a second that either of those make any sense, but like I say, we'll have to wait and see how it plays out on appeal.

KING: What's your read of the crime? Like who do you think did it?

GERAGOS: I have got -- I have got various theories. I don't know yet. It's still under investigation, and I certainly wouldn't at this point speculate on it, but it's still under investigation. There's tips coming in all the time. There's people who are investigating it, and rightfully so. So I'm not going to get in the way of that.

KING: How has it affected your business?

GERAGOS: I don't think that it's affected business at all.

KING: Still clients coming in?

GERAGOS: Clients -- I've got more clients than I know what to do with, and I have hired a couple of lawyers recently. So it hasn't killed business, so to speak. It has a -- I mean, there are people, who, as I indicated before, can't get past the fact that you could represent somebody who is that reviled, and that is troublesome to me. I mean, there is -- there is a -- every lawyer who is sworn in in this state, in California, takes an oath that says, you're not going to let your personal opinion or reputation get in the way of who you're going to represent.

KING: A rogue is in trouble in a court then, right? Scott was a rogue?

GERAGOS: Well, you have a situation where we have reached the point where the media has, in what I call these supersize cases, they decide or they champion the idea of the conviction. They want to kind of try and convict the person prior to there actually being a trial.

That's a problem. You know, part of what's happened is this kind of -- the Internet, where you don't have to source, and it jumps over to cable, and once it's on cable, it goes to broadcast media, and then certain things become fact that are not fact. You may get to a point in America where we have to do what they do in England, which is shut it down as soon as the case -- as somebody gets filed on, so that you don't get to a point where the media convicts the person.

KING: They can't cover the trial, right?

GERAGOS: Right. They can't cover it, and you wait and you see later on. It's not a blanket elimination of the media, but it delays what it is, and it's only in -- you know, the criticism, at least from my standpoint, is not across the board. You can go into the courthouse in any courthouse in this country, and 99.999 percent of the cases are never covered by the media, have no affect whatsoever. Or if they are covered, it's on a one-day or a two-day blip. It's only in these kind of super size cases, where you have jurors who -- where it affects jurors. You get what I call stealth jurors.

KING: You think if this were not supersized, Scott would be not guilty?

GERAGOS: I think that if this case were tried and it was a reasonable doubt standard, yes, I think he would have been found not guilty.

KING: And reasonable doubt (INAUDIBLE). And by the way, we have standing invitations out to the prosecutors of the Peterson case, and to Laci's family as well, the Rochas. That invitation stands. We'll be right back.



GREG BERATLIS, JUROR, PETERSON CASE: If those bodies had never been found, or had been found in the desert, or let's say in Yosemite National Park, we wouldn't be here. But those bodies were found in the one place he went prior to her being missing by anybody else -- or knowing when she was missing. That was the one place. And I played in my mind over and over, conspiracy, was somebody trying to set up Scott? Was somebody after Laci? It didn't add up for me.


KING: How are Scott's parents doing?

GERAGOS: It's tough on them. I mean, Jackie is incredibly strong, as is Lee, but it's tough. I mean, there's -- when they see him, and they visited him...

KING: How often can they see him?

GERAGOS: Well, they can set up appointments and get up there, and they have done it on a number of occasions, and they do it as often as they can. And I think they -- the family tries to see him at least once a week.

KING: Is he isolated?

GERAGOS: Well, everybody on death row is isolated in a certain sense. He's in a kind of a preliminary stage, and then he gets reevaluated at a certain point, and then he gets certain other kinds of freedoms, in terms of associating -- or having a larger area in which to go into. But it's a fairly isolated lifestyle.

KING: Everyone in his area is on death watch, right?

GERAGOS: Yeah. This -- well, you say death watch; they're all on death row. There's very little -- especially the situation he's in right now, very little human contact and human interaction other than the visits.

KING: And he can go out and exercise?

GERAGOS: Well, occasionally, and that gradually happens the longer you are there.

KING: Define reasonable doubt.

GERAGOS: Well, that's a good question. The jury instruction says it's an abiding conviction. Something I often talk to jurors about it, is it's that state of mind where you can wake up every morning of every day for the rest of your life and say, yeah, I'm sure I don't have any doubts about this.

KING: That juror typified that, right?

GERAGOS: Well, that's -- they nicknamed -- we nicknamed him Coach. And he looked torn, as you could see. There was somebody who'd struggled. I've seen other interviews with Coach, and he legitimately looked to me to be torn up by the process. I don't think anybody who could go through this on any side or be affiliated with this wasn't affected. I mean, there was kind of a siege mentality.

The first couple of months, the prosecution was rocked unmercifully by the media in this case. The last couple of months, it was the defense who was rocked by the media in this case. It was constantly a state of siege.

But that, you know, notwithstanding, there was a couple of families that were in there. I mean, there was the Rocha family in there, dealing with the death of their loved ones. There was the Peterson family in there, dealing with -- you know, they considered Laci a daughter and Connor their grandson as well. I mean, the raw emotion that was in that courtroom was palpable, and it wore on people.

You take that and combine it with the fact that it's a death penalty case, where they're trying to take somebody's life, the state is trying to take somebody's life, and the fact that the families at one point were so close and so united, you don't get -- at least from my standpoint -- more of an emotional cauldron than what we had in that courtroom. And it was tough, it was wearing.

KING: Do high-profile people, Simpson, Michael Jackson, have an edge?

GERAGOS: Without a doubt. Without a doubt. You have a constituency. No matter who you are, there are people out there who want to be predisposed to give you a presumption of innocence because of your celebrity. That is not the case with most people who go through the criminal justice system. Most people who go through the criminal justice system suffer from what I always say, the presumption of guilt, which is, you ask jurors, when we do jury voir dire here, in cases where there's not this kind of coverage, do you believe where there is smoke there is fire? Most jurors will tell you, you know what, I actually do. He wouldn't be sitting here, you know, the police wouldn't have arrested him, they wouldn't go through this much trouble unless he did something.

So if he did something, yeah, I'm kind of predisposed to that, and that's the way that most people think, and it's not that it's a wrong way to think. I suppose in some ways, that's a common sense way to think about life and how you approach life. But when you get into a courtroom, the presumption of innocence is the one thing that separates us from other civilized societies, or uncivilized societies.

KING: Take a break, and when we come back in our remaining moments, I'll ask Mark about his plans. Don't go away.



BERATLIS: For me, Mr. G. would be a person I would want to represent me in any situation. I thought that he was very thorough. I think that there was no stone unturned, that he didn't -- I mean, I think he did a very good job of presenting his side.


KING: A plus for Mr. Geragos, another plus. Earlier this year, a judge approved a landmark $20 million settlement in a class action lawsuit against New York Life, for unpaid life insurance benefits to the descendants of Armenians killed 90 years ago in the Turkish -- Ottoman Empire.

GERAGOS: Yeah, in the span of one year, I had probably the low in my career and the high in my career. I mean, I'm Armenian 100 percent, Armenian. This case was a class action that we filed, and New York Life stepped up to the plate and settled this case for $20 million, and it's the oldest case from inception to resolution. 1915 is when the Armenian genocide was.

KING: But did they have the policies?

GERAGOS: And they had the policies. We were able to show that, through discovery, we got the policies. We've showed it. We've actually set up a Web site. People have made claims; over 3,000 claims have been made. And we've now moved on to another company, AXA, which used to be the Old Equitable (ph), and we filed suit against them. They have, based on our research, almost 5,000 policies during the same time of the Ottoman Empire.

KING: Death of Johnnie Cochran?

GERAGOS: Oh, I have known Johnnie -- Johnnie was in the DA's office with my father. They were -- all three of us are what's called Old Bailey members, and I've known him since I was a kid. And I saw him three days before he went into the hospital with Ben Brafman and Michael Jackson up in the Beverly Hills house.

KING: And what are you going to do? You're going to come back regularly on this show now? You're going to write a book? What are you going to do?

GERAGOS: Well, I was thinking maybe you and I would write a book. What do you think about that?

KING: Let's write a book.

GERAGOS: I want to write a book...

KING: What else you want to do?

GERAGOS: I probably want to try -- I have got a couple more cases I need to try. I got a backlog. When you're out of commission for a year...

KING: Do you want to return to media?

GERAGOS: I probably do. I think that there is -- I think that the pundit world is overrepresented by the prosecutorial side, and so I think there needs to be some kind of balance.

KING: So what are you saying is you want to come on as Geragos for the defense?

GERAGOS: I don't -- you know, I could never be a DA. Could you? Could you be a prosecutor?

KING: It would be hard. GERAGOS: It would be hard, wouldn't it?

KING: Thank you, Mark.

GERAGOS: OK, Larry, good to see you.

KING: Mark Geragos, we thank him very much. We've had quite a week, and into tonight, celebrating our 20th anniversary at CNN.

Old friend of yours, Nancy Grace, will be here tomorrow night. She's got a book coming out called "Objection!" -- with an exclamation point.

We always have an exclamation point when we turn things over to Aaron Brown, do we not? In fact, it should be "NEWSNIGHT" with an exclamation point. What do you think of that, Aaron?

AARON BROWN, HOST, "NEWSNIGHT": I think that's a fine idea, but you know what? I hope you get 20 more good ones.

KING: Thank you, Aaron.

BROWN: Twenty more good years. I do.

KING: Thank you, baby. Go get'em.

BROWN: Thank you. I shall.


International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
   The Web     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.