Lawyer maintains Peterson's innocence
By Kristin Moritz, Desk Editor

Stanford Daily
Feb 28 2005

Mark Geragos, the prominent criminal defense lawyer who recently
represented Scott Peterson, who was recently convicted of killing his
wife, Laci and their unborn son, spoke Friday about his career and
defending clients in highly-publicized trials.

According to sophomore Seepan Parseghian, president of the Armenian
Students Association, which sponsored the event, the group asked
Geragos to speak in order further its goal of "contributing the
Armenian perspective to the Stanford community in an academic and
social context."

"I am well aware of [Geragos's] charisma and vibrant personality when
in the spotlight," Parseghian said. "But I give more emphasis to his
dedication to the Armenian-American community. He has taken on
numerous cases involving a wide range of Armenian issues."

Geragos, an Armenian American who attended Haverford College and
Loyola Law School, founded a private law firm with his father in 1983
and has specialized in criminal defense work ever since. Geragos said
it is becoming increasingly difficult to defend accused criminals due
to wide-spread media coverage.

"What's happened with cable TV is that you have a 'Foxification' of
criminal law," Geragos said. "You get these high-profile criminal
cases and the mainstream media covers them in the most sensational
way possible. With the internet, any rumor is quickly picked up and
once it is on cable TV mainstream media feels compelled to run with
the story."

This "Foxification," said Geragos, was especially prevalent during
Peterson's murder trial.

"So many times during the case people were bringing up rumors about
evidence that was not even presented," he said.

Although jurors convicted Peterson of murdering his wife Lacy and
their unborn son, Geragos maintains Peterson's innocence. He said he
took the case originally because he felt moved by the scene that he
observed when Peterson was initially brought into custody.

"I became so incensed when he was arrested," Geragos said. "There was
a throng of people outside holding up signs that he should die. I
never thought that in this day and age that I would see anything like
that. It was a very troubling thing for me to see -- someone being
railroaded and confronted by a virtual lynch mob."

Geragos did not speak specifically about the trial because he is
under a gag-order until Peterson's sentencing in March. He did,
however, say that much of the press coverage did not accurately
represent the evidence or facts of the case. He attributed much of
this misinformation to the fact that the judge did not sequester
jurors.

"During the course of the case we were able to expose three separate
stealth jurors who lied in order to try to get on the jury," Geragos
said. "There was so much community fervor against Scott that many of
the jurors wanted to be on the jury because they had their own
private agenda."

Geragos called what happened on the day of the verdict -- thousands of
people lined up outside of the courthouse and cheering the outcome --
"one of the sickest things [he had] ever seen."

"There is truly nothing worse than to see a guy you believe is
innocent get sentenced to death," Geragos said.

Although Peterson has not yet been sentenced, upon his conviction,
jurors recommended that he receive the death penalty. Geragos called
capital punishment "abhorrent."

Junior Louise Nutt is taking a class on the death penalty and came to
the talk specifically to ask Geragos about his opinion on the
subject.

"He brought up a lot of points about the death penalty that I think
are very important, but that people outside of the law don't usually
hear about," Nutt said.

In addition to defending Peterson, Geragos has also been involved in
numerous other high-profile cases. In the late 1990s, he represented
Susan McDougal, a close friend of former President Bill Clinton, when
she was tried and convicted on fraud charges related to the
Whitewater scandal.

Despite his role in criminal cases, Geragos called a class-action
lawsuit that he filed for survivors of the Armenian genocide one of
his biggest successes. The suit, which was filed against New York
Life Insurance on behalf of 2,300 Armenian Americans who purchased
insurance policies when they immigrated to the United States during
the genocide, resulted in a $20 million settlement for the thousands
of people who were originally denied the right to collect on their
policies. Part of the settlement was also earmarked for Armenian
charities.

Mazi Pielsticker, a first-year law student, said he enjoyed Geragos's
speech and appreciated the opportunity to hear such a prominent
lawyer speak.

"I thought he was awesome, very charismatic," Pielsticker said.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress