Saturday, July 11, 2009

Retrial: Jury Selection Begins - Geragos Bows Out

Yesterday's Daily Breeze reported that the biggest change from Brown's first trial, other than the change of venue to Los Angeles County Superior Court, is that Brown will no longer be represented by Mark Geragos.

Torrance Judge Mark Arnold appointed an associate of Geragos, Pat Harris to represent Brown. Pat Harris, you may recall, was co-counsel and the only Geragos & Geragos attorney present during the jury verdict reading at the Scott Peterson trial.

Eugene Patrick (Pat) Harris is a mellow country boy from Arkansas who has never chased the spotlight like his boss, Mark Geragos. During the Peterson trial, he seemed genuinely concerned about the defendant. He refrained from grandstanding and positing bizarre scenarios as an affirmative defense. However, his cross-examination tactics were somewhat incoherent. Perhaps because Harris is a nice guy, he may elicit more sympathy for Brown from the jurors than Geragos was able to muster. He may be less likely to alienate the jury (or the press).

Jury selection began Friday, July 10. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor presides.

Our thoughts are with Sarah and Lauren's family.


loretta said...

Gee. I'm shocked GerEgo bowed out. It's so out of character.


Well, the Kaldis Kids must have run out of money.

Any news from Sarah?

Ronni said...

Any news on the jury selection?

CountryGirl said...

Nope. Should take a few days. I twittered Denise to ask if she was covering the trial since it's downtown and her beat is Torrance.

Ronni said...

I have twitter, but don't know what it's for...I'm such a dork!

Ken said...

This wasn't news. Geragos has been out of the picture for years, with the current game plan being that Pat Harris of G&G would take the center seat.

Ronni said...

I wonder how they're coming along with jury selection.

loretta said...

GerEgo has bigger fish to fry - he's neck-deep in the new manslaughter suspicion of Michael Jackson's doctor.

CountryGirl said...

Ah, but Ken, remember his words after the mistrial? How he said he's never left a client yet?

"He's relieved there was no conviction and we're hopeful we can prevail and bring him home," Geragos said, adding he plans to return for a second trial if there is one. "I've never dropped a client on a mistrial and I'm not going to start now. ... The case does not get any better for the prosecution."


ken said...

Interesting new facts, embedded in this exchange (split into two posts to fit here):

anony: For more than the last year that Cam was incarcerated, Cam was forced to waive his right to a speedy trial, because he was told that if he did not consent, his case would go back to Judge Arnold, and since Judge Arnold was so manifestly unfair to Cam (for instance, the trial transcript is full dialogue were Judge Arnold stated that he felt all kinds of laws do not apply to this case) Cam really had no other choice but to consent.

Every jurisdiction has a procedural remedy for judicial bias; the federal remedy is 28 U.S.C. §§ 144 (allegations of actual bias) and 455 (appearance of bias). IIRC, California has a provision enabling a defendant to exercise one peremptory challenge against a judge, though it has to be exercised early (If Geragos knew that Arnold was a pro-State asshole -- that's the benefit of having local counsel -- why wasn't it?) On top of that, there is the all-purpose remedy of habeas corpus. Whenever you complain about alleged unfairness -- never mind that your brother has exactly no problem with a judge deciding a case wherein she is the defendant in tort (well, perhaps he would do so in private, but the average Christian is a sociopath, and Ted would rather gnaw his arm off than confess that I have been treated unfairly) -- I keep asking myself why an attorney with the putative stature of Mark Geragos hasn't availed himself of these remedies.

anony: As this was going on, the top of Inspiration Point was changed drastically - so much so that it is very scary now. You can't even access the place where Cam and Lauren were now. Yet there will still be a jury view of the new Inspiration Point. There were also changes made to the path that Cam and Lauren took that day. Some of those changes require a dump truck and a front end loader to accomplish. And there is no reasonable explanation for why such changes should have been made to public lands. But we're just paranoid, aren't we Ken?

And here, I thought we were playing by Kaldis Rules™: One can never question the motives of public officials (and particularly, state Bar officials), no matter how objectively questionable they are on their face. This is what infuriates me about you two, and your brother in particular: If we used the same rules of procedure to judge Cam that Ted has invoked to excoriate me, Cam would have been hanging from a noose a long time ago. Why is there ALWAYS a "baby-killin' brudder-in-law exception" to those rules?

Assuming that what you claim is true and I am Cam's defense counsel, I am smiling from ear to ear. If material changes to the alleged crime scene were made, they had to be authorized and justified, and the particulars become relevant to his defense. They get to show the purported crime scene to the jury, and you get to show that they changed the crime scene for no good reason. This is a bad thing?!?


ken said...

cont. from previous post:

Let me play devil's advocate here. Life just doesn't stop for a murder (except, obviously, for those directly affected). The girders of the WTC were melted down and made into Toyotas. If the DPW decided that improvements to the site were in order, approval had to go through a process that leaves a paper trail.

Defense counsel has an array of remedies. First and foremost, the fact that you know about this means that you were entitled to discovery on this point. Second, you had a right to object to the field trip in a motion in limine, and if the changes were such that to show the purported crime scene to the jury would be unfair or prejudicial, a scrupulously fair judge (i.o.w., the one you have been waiting years for) would have denied the prosecution's request. Third, even if the field trip was approved (iirc, Harris' motion was denied), you get to cast all sorts of aspersions upon the State's actions.

In this case, the State did you a favor and yes, you probably are being paranoid. But remember that just 'cuz you're paranoid doesn't mean that they ain't out to get you.... 8)

And even if you have reason to be paranoid, so what? Under Kaldis Rules™, power will do what it will do. You have no right to object; all you can do is try to keep a low profile and hope that you don't become a target. Well, like it or not, Cam became a target -- we have to demonstrate that there are laws in our society, even if public officials are entirely immune from prosecution -- and under Kaldis Rules™, sacrificial lambs do tend to get slaughtered. There is nothing that we can do about it, and more importantly, nothing that we should do about it:

Ted: I counsel that you should maintain a low profile while you are without power, instead of making yourself a target. If you would have done so while you were a law student, you would be a lawyer today.

"But he's my baby-killin' brudder-in-law! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!" As Ted would say, life is unfair.

Have either of you read Ayn Rand? Hobbes' Leviathan? Are you familiar with the Randian concept of the "sanction of the victim"? Forgive me if I have precisely zero sympathy for hypocrites.

ken said...

Loretta: GerEgo has bigger fish to fry - he's neck-deep in the new manslaughter suspicion of Michael Jackson's doctor.

Probably not. Defense counsel isn't likely to be commenting openly to the press; he's merely identified as an "expert."

ken said...

CG: Ah, but Ken, remember his words after the mistrial? How he said he's never left a client yet?

I reminded the Kids this morning. :)

ken said...

And of course, they don't like it very much:

Ted: You have absolutely NO idea of what you're talking about. So STFU and GTFOOH.

Since when has that ever stopped you?

Just another one of those Kaldis Rules™, where there is ALWAYS a "baby-killin' brudder-in-law exception."

CountryGirl said...

Will be interesting to see what Harris presents about the changes at IP.

Sarah is the one who petitioned to have warning signs, etc put at IP:

At the February 20, 2001 City Council meeting, Sarah Key-Marer addressed the Council regarding the death of her four-year old daughter, Lauren Key, at Inspiration Point on November 8, 2000. She noted that Portuguese Point has fencing along the bluff edge and warning signage, but that Inspiration Point, which is immediately adjacent, is not similarly improved. Ms. Key-Marer requested that the City take measures to prevent future tragedies on City-owned coastal property. In response to the issues raised by Ms. Key-Marer, staff visited each City-owned property along the coastline to determine which ones have bluff tops improved with warning signage and/or guardrail fencing.

Wonder why Cameron didn't?

You can see pictures from 2002 and 2008 here:

ken said...

If there were changes, they should be obvious to all in a comparison of the photos.

Perhaps it's just me, but I don't see material changes to the crime scene. It looks as if they plowed a road alongside a drainage tube close to Portuguese Point (on the face of it, an innocuous and arguably necessary improvement), but that's about it. No changes to IP and its environs, except for the addition of structures to the southeast.

There still doesn't appear as though there is any kind of easy access to IP from the park and playground. PP is closer and affords the same view, but it is fenced off, and an "accident" could not credibly be staged there. Add that to the new evidence and de-emphasize some of the unnecessary (but arguably problematic) stuff, and you still have a pretty good case for murder.

There is so much for Craig Hum to work with here....