Doug Gamble- Contributor
Gamble is a former writer for President Ronald Reagan and
in Carmel. [go to Gamble index]
Geragos is the loser…
[Doug Gamble] 1/5/05
customary at the end of an old year for some pundit to select
winners and losers over the preceding 12 months. I haven’t
compiled a list of each, but I do have an opinion about the
top winner and leading loser in California in 2004.
winner was justice, as dispensed to double-murderer Scott Peterson
a Redwood City courtroom in the form of a guilty
verdict and the death penalty. The big loser was arrogance, exemplified
by Mark Geragos, the publicity-seeking, swaggering Los Angeles
lawyer who made promises to a jury that he couldn’t keep.
also a loser myself, as a prognosticator, having predicted
after the Peterson trial began that he would
be acquitted, based on the shaky performance of a prosecution
team that eventually recovered from its slow start. I not only
underestimated its ability to bounce back, but also the common
sense of 12 dedicated jurors who were able to take pieces of
a jigsaw puzzle and piece them together.
affair did not end with the old year, of course. A book by
star witness and Peterson mistress Amber Frye hit
the bookstores yesterday (Tuesday) and formal sentencing is scheduled
for February 25, followed by appeals, more books and probably
another made-for-TV movie.
will be efforts by Geragos to rehabilitate his tattered reputation
by pretending to search for Laci Peterson’s “real” killer
or killers. Perhaps at some point he’ll cross paths with
O.J. Simpson who has been on a similar mission since 1995, fruitlessly
so far, although I’m not sure if the attorney plays golf.
When Peterson was under investigation, Geragos suggested in
TV appearances that all signs pointed to the fertilizer salesman’s guilt. He says he
later decided to defend Peterson when he saw what he called “a lynch
mob” outside the Modesto jail the night he was brought in for booking.
More likely it was seeing a mob of media.
Yes, every accused is entitled to a defense. But what turned
off most Californians was having their intelligence insulted
by the preening pronouncements of a lawyer who vowed not only
to prove his obviously guilty client innocent, but to actually
solve the case himself.
lacked in defending Peterson he more than makes up for in chutzpa,
now soliciting check and credit card donations
on his web site to help finance an on-going investigation. If
things really get rough for him personally he could always stand
on a street corner with a sign saying, “Will tell more
fairy tales for food.”
But as satisfying as it was to see a big ego brought down a
peg or two, what distinguishes the Peterson case is the feeling
it was, for once, a clear cut victory for the good guys over
the bad guys, in a culture where the search for justice is often
futile. Whether in business, government, consumerism or our daily
lives, many of us seldom get the uplifting satisfaction that
real justice has been done. This time it was, and it felt great.
It was, in a sense, a vindication for California following the travesty of
the Simpson trial where the nation saw an L.A. jury incapable of convicting
a man who had murdered his ex-wife and her friend. The Peterson jury also exploded
the image of most Californians as flakes, showing the country six women and
six men who comported themselves with admirable wisdom, grace and commitment.
When court-watchers nationwide expected the jury to deliver
a quick verdict in the penalty phase to avoid a weekend in a
hotel for a return to surfing, chanting or whatever else all
Californians are thought to do, the panel hung in to make sure
it got it right.
juries will be in the spotlight with the current murder trial
of actor Robert Blake and the upcoming child-molestation
trial of singer Michael Jackson. Perhaps the justice achieved
in the Peterson case will mark the beginning of a trend. CRO
California-based Doug Gamble contributed speech material to
Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and writes a twice-monthly
column for the Orange County Register and CaliforniaRepublic.org.
2004 Doug Gamble