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Analysis on Effect of Geragos on Peterson Case

Aired May 13, 2003 - 20:23   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Far more serious case, in two weeks a California judge will consider unsealing police documents that may shed light evidence in the Laci Peterson case. That may include the contents of phone calls between members of the media and Scott Peterson. The D.A.'s office has notified CNN and other news organizations that police tapped Peterson's phone. The documents may shed light on the prosecution's evidence and witnesses. The defense also says it has a witness, it just can't find her.
So where does this lead the case? Joining me now are criminal defense attorney Mickey Sherman and Court TV's "Closing Arguments" co- anchor Lisa Bloom. Thanks for being with us.


COOPER: Mickey, let me start off with you. All along the defense has been saying and Scott Peterson's parents have been saying, look, the police had blinders on from the get-go. They were only focusing on Scott Peterson as a suspect. Does the fact that the police were tapping his phones early on give credence do to that?

SHERMAN: Yes, I think it does. That may very well prove the point.

And also it shows that if they were tapping his phones and they got a confession of something that was really damning, this wouldn't take this long to get an arrest warrant. So obviously he didn't say anything that was really incriminating himself. I would guess that most of these conversation are the relentless bookers of news networks trying to get interviews.

COOPER: Relentless bookers? I don't know (UNINTELLIGIBLE).


COOPER: There's another way to look at it which is the fact that the police were able to get a judge to approve a wiretap. They must have offered some evidence to the judge in order to get the wiretap?

LISA BLOOM, CO-ANCHOR, COURT TV'S "CLOSING ARGUMENTS": Of course they did. And you know Scott Peterson's worst enemy is himself because early on in the case his statement puts him at the crime scene. He says he was fishing at a location three miles from where those bodies were ultimately found. That's the worst evidence against Scott Peterson and comes out of his mouth. We don't know what the police have. We know that they combed through his house, his truck and his boat. They took boxes of evidence away. And there's 30,000 pages of documents that the police have. We don't know what's in them. But certainly they had enough to do a wiretap of his phone, that's standard operating procedure.

COOPER: But do you agree with Mickey that there's probably not that much on the wiretaps? I mean, it took they quite a while to get the arrest warrant.

BLOOM: I doubt that Scott Peterson made a confession to a member of the press, I really do.


SHERMAN: Or to anybody. To his attorneys or anybody. He could have talked to a friend. He could have talked to Amber Frye. You know, to anyone.

COOPER: Any statement that he made to his attorneys, will Mark Geragos try to just rule that out?

SHERMAN: Yes, but I don't think he confessed, period, and he certainly didn't confess to his attorneys. I think we would have heard about that by now.

BLOOM: well that would be protected by attorney-client privilege. And the police are supposed to not listen to the wire tap or turn it off at that point. If something did spill over, that clearly would not be admissible.

COOPER: At this point, as you look at this, what is the hardest thing that Mark Geragos has to do? The hardest -- the biggest obstacle he has to overcome?

SHERMAN: I think his biggest obstacle is not in court, it's out of court. I think there are (UNINTELLIGIBLE) mountain ranges of bad P.R. and bad spin against him. He's such an unlikable character. His behavior that he's exhibited people hate most, worse than if they had a smoking gun. Just the way he was playing golf while he should have been searching for his wife, the fact he has this girlfriend.

It's the P.R., the negative spin that's out there that is going to absolutely contaminate that jury pool.

BLOOM: I agree with that. And you know, very interesting to watch Scott Peterson at work while his wife and unborn son were still missing. Not participating actively in the search for his own wife and his own unborn son. If he was really so concerned, why wasn't he out there? Why is he having conversations with Amber Frye, allegedly making all kinds of incriminating statements to her?

I think this case is going to rise or fall on the forensic evidence, which we in the press are not privy to at this point. But I think there's going to be a lot of it. And I think a jury is going to want to see that kind of evidence of blood, of saliva, of hairs, of cement. Things there are rumors about but we don't really know about in the press yet. It's going to come out at trial, mark my words.

SHERMAN: If it comes out.

COOPER: Do you think Amber Frye is going to be front and center in this thing and playing a larger role both for the prosecution and perhaps for the defense?

SHERMAN: I think she plays a minor role. I don't even necessarily see her being a witness in here. I don't know what she adds to the case other than being the suspect's girlfriend. And that's not a criminal act as far as I'm concerned.

BLOOM: Mickey, you've got to be kidding me. Amber Frye is the motive. Amber Frye's having an affair with him.


BLOOM: ... watched a case on Court TV, many, many people, sadly enough, do commit murder for the very reason alleged in this case. Because there is another woman, because they're in an affair. He's having an affair with her at the time, telling her that he is a widower. Now maybe that was just prescient on his part, but I think it establishes motive.


COOPER: ... just from an appearance sake in front of the jury, you know, they see the photos of Scott Peterson with Amber Frye...

SHERMAN: The dual shot with the Christmas trees.

COOPER: Right. And his hands all over her.


COOPER: Whether or not it's justified, that has an impact.

SHERMAN: It ratchets up the sleaze factor here. And it makes him even more an unlikable person. But does it get him from point A to point B making him a murderer? No way.

COOPER: What is the defense have to do? I mean is it enough? You know the burden's on the prosecution to prove their case. But a good defense attorney's not just going to rely on that, are they?

BLOOM: You know what, Anderson? The defense needs credibility in this case. And Geragos right out of the box has set up an unreasonable standard for himself by saying we're not into reasonable doubt in this case, we're into factual innocence and finding the real killer.

I can guarantee you at trial he's going to be into reasonable doubt. He's going to be saying his client has not been proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. He needs to establish credibility now and not make these outlandish standards to the media establishing standards that he's never going to meet. COOPER: Mickey, at this point do you think he knows what his defense is going to be? Do you think he has it all plotted out or is he going day to day...

SHERMAN: No. I think he's going day-to-day based upon what he has to work now. And things change. New witnesses come up. Old witnesses go away. New items of evidence come into play when the forensics come back.

And I think he's being -- I don't think he's being outlandish by saying, hey, my client did not do it. In fact, he's more than not, he's innocent. And we think somebody else did it. He's being consistent.

People don't like lawyers who hide behind reasonable doubt saying you can't prove it. They don't like that. They want to hear he didn't do it. And that's what he's saying.

BLOOM: But people don't like lawyers who will do or say anything. And going out of box attacking the police for voodoo tactics while at the same time trying to get documents to sealed...


BLOOM: ... or disprove it, is completely wrong.


BLOOM: ... and some clients don't let their lawyers just do anything and say anything to get an acquittal.

SHERMAN: When you're behind the 8-ball you want your lawyer to do everything possible within the rules to win that case.


BLOOM: ... the Westerfield case when the van Dam parents were attacked. Westerfield was convicted, not withstanding brutal attacks on them. I think it backfires on a defense attorney when they go after people who are innocent.

SHERMAN: Westerfield also had that bug evidence which is not helpful.

BLOOM: And we're going to see forensic evidence in the case too. Mark my words.


COOPER: ... take a look at picture of Scott Peterson sort of then and now, the difference that Mark Geragos has made. There you see him pre-Mark Geragos and post-Mark Geragos.

Do you think we're going to see more changes? Do you think he's going to get rid of the blond hair, by the way? BLOOM: well it's nice to have an L.A. lawyer. I don't think there's any chlorine-filled swimming pools in the jail where he's currently staying. So he probably won't have that blonde hair for...


SHERMAN: It's a good start. Getting him out of that jumpsuit, I think it's a major deal. Perception is reality. People look at that guy and say, God, he must be guilty, he's a prisoner. They look at the other guy and guy and say, he's the stockbroker who ripped me off.

COOPER: All right. Perception is reality. Appreciate you joining us. Lisa Bloom and Mickey Sherman, thanks.


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