LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES
Battle of the Lawyers: Geragos vs. Allred
Aired June 16, 2003 - 20:12 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the Laci Peterson murder now. It's never far from the headlines, of course. While the trial may not have started yet, the legal sparring already has. You already know that.
Rusty Dornin has the latest from Modesto, California.
RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson. It's the battle of the celebrity lawyers. The only problem is it's not exactly an even playing field because while one attorney is talking to reporters, the other one says he's bound by a gag order and the only way he can respond is through court papers.
Defense attorney Mark Geragos filed these court papers today, citing Gloria Allred for -- saying that she should be cited for contempt of court for violating a gag order that was instituted last week. Geragos also asked to revoke the gag order completely, saying it's unconstitutional to his client and interferes with his right to get an impartial jury in this case.
But he claims that Allred, by going on talk shows last week, only five hours after the gag order was instituted, that she has violated the order and that she is part of it, that she has no right to express her opinion, and he, of course, says he can't respond.
Now I spoke with Gloria Allred several times today. She claims she is not covered by this gag order, that her client is only a potential witness. But otherwise it could interfere with her First Amendment right to free speech. She says she can talk about this case wherever and whenever she pleases.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLORIA ALLRED, AMBER FREY'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: My guess is he would like me to be gagged. These are desperation tactics, in my opinion, by Mr. Geragos which may be focused on attempting to delay judgment day for his client, Mr. Peterson, who is charged with double homicide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DORNIN: Now, Mark Geragos cannot respond again in public. We understand right now he has filed some supplemental papers to this contempt of court charges about Gloria Allred. We expect that he may be responding to some of the things that she said over the weekend and today.
Meantime, back at the jail, which is behind us, behind the courthouse here, a little clearer picture perhaps of what's been going on with inmate Scott Peterson according to "The Modesto Bee," and an inmate there. He's been playing a lot of chess, watching TV and receiving a lot of mail, and apparently mostly from female admirers.
Apparently security also very tight. He is walked alone up to the exercise yard where he exercises by himself when he's led down the walkway. In the cells, apparently they ask inmates to step back. We did understand in the beginning people were spitting on him and calling him names and things like that. Now early on, the jail folks did tell us he's treated no differently than any other inmate, but obviously they are taking extra precautions here -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Rusty Dornin, thanks very much. Bizarre that he's getting all these letters, according to "The Modesto Bee," from female admirers. But that's a whole other story. Rusty Dornin, thanks very much.
So the question was: was the gag order imposed on the trial of Scott Peterson violated or not?
CNN legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, joins us to take a look at the controversy.
All right, Jeffrey. Gloria Allred says she can talk all she wants. Can she?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think she's right. I think the gag order is very clear that it covers witnesses, but it does not say anything about lawyers for witness. She's a lawyer for a witness.
COOPER: For Amber Frey.
COOPER: Could that simply be an oversight on the judge's part?
TOOBIN: Well, that may be. But, you know, court orders are not read for what the judge meant, they're meant for what was said. And she is, in my view, just clearly not covered by it.
Plus, if you look at what she actually said, I don't think that would be covered anyway because all she was doing was quoting something another judge said earlier this week.
COOPER: Which was reported in the papers on Friday, and explain a little bit about that, because what she said was actually pretty damming to the defense.
TOOBIN: It is damning, but it came from a judge. And what the judge said -- remember, he was evaluating the question of whether the search warrant material should be disclosed, and he said there is no reason to -- you know, to keep this secret because you're not dealing with any other suspects out there. As far as I've heard from the prosecution and the defense, there are no other suspects.
COOPER: That's what the judge. What's so startling about that is because all along, Mark Geragos says we're trying to search for the real killers. We have investigators out there. We're looking for this case and releasing this information would hurt our ongoing investigation.
TOOBIN: And he -- and at least according to this judge, he says as far as I've seen, you're ongoing investigation, Mr. Geragos, has come up with absolutely nothing.
COOPER: And basically, that's what Gloria Allred repeated.
TOOBIN: And she repeated it which, you know, -- as far as I'm concerned, you can always repeat what he said in court. That can't be a violation of the gag order.
But I do think Geragos may have a larger point here.
COOPER: Which is?
TOOBIN: Which is that, you know, he's defending a guy who was on trial for his life. There is a lot of information swirling about this case. There are a lot of people talking about this case. Scott Peterson has no one out there now saying, Hey, wait a minute. Look at this side of the story. Wait a minute, the evidence does not say that. That's why I do think...
COOPER: The only one out there right now is Gloria Allred.
TOOBIN: Well, the only person out there is Gloria Allred, who is obviously very hostile to Scott Peterson. Peterson has no advocate in public, and I think that is troubling from perhaps even a constitutional point of view -- that, you know, here is a guy on trial for his life and his lawyer, his advocate, his spokesman, is not allowed to talk.
COOPER: Won't some TV pundit, some TV pundit lawyer step up and start being the voice of...
TOOBIN: You know, our society has not evolved to the point where TV pundits have a constitutional status. You know, you're not considered protecting your rights...
COOPER: All right.
TOOBIN: ....if Geraldo is speaking for you or even me. So I think there may be an issue there.
COOPER: Thanks very much. All right. This thing just keeps going on and on.
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