Lawyer to Stars Leads Peterson Defense

Lawyer to Stars Leads Peterson Defense
By BRIAN SKOLOFF, Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, June 1, 2004

May 31, 2004, 2:52 PM EDT

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. — The attorney who is Scott Peterson’s best
hope of not being convicted of murdering his pregnant wife and their
fetus is a lawyer to the stars, a man who charms jurors, attorneys
and judges with an easygoing style. Mark Geragos says he is committed
to fighting for underdogs.

“The whole idea … is to defend people and to fight for their rights
and their liberties,” Geragos said.

Geragos has said police and prosecutors did all they could to convict
Peterson in the court of public opinion before a gag order was imposed
on the case.

That’s one reason why he is so chummy with reporters, in stark contrast
to prosecutors in the case. “What drives me just crazy is when I think
that somebody is getting a raw deal,” he explained in an interview.

Geragos gained public attention after he secured an acquittal for
Whitewater figure Susan McDougal and took on the cases of actress
Winona Ryder and former congressman Gary Condit.

Beyond the cameras’ glare, Geragos is committed to his job, his family
and his Armenian-American culture.

“Being Armenian and having all four of my grandparents who fled
genocide, I have a great and deep and abiding appreciation for what
it’s like to be the subject of tyranny,” Geragos said.

One of his proudest achievements is a settlement in January that
went mostly unnoticed. The descendants of some 1.5 million Armenians
who were killed nearly 90 years ago in the Turkish Ottoman Empire
will share in a $20 million settlement for unpaid life insurance
benefits. The class action took four years of work.

Married with two children, Geragos, 46, is managing partner of a Los
Angeles law firm that includes his father and brother.

He had been defending both Peterson and Michael Jackson, until the
pop star complained his child molestation defense wasn’t getting
enough attention. Geragos shrugged off his firing, saying only that
“I truly, truly wish him well and am hopeful for a favorable outcome
for Michael.”

Geragos has lost his share of cases, but even the best lose some, said
Shepard Kopp, a lawyer at his firm. “That’s the ultimate challenge. As
a trial lawyer, you take cases that appear to be unwinnable and you
find a way to win.”

Copyright © 2004, The Associated Press