March 31, 2004

Geragos & Granny Stealth - Juror 29308

On Tuesday, March 30, Scott Peterson's defense attorney Mark Geragos opened fire on a San Mateo senior, Juror 29308, whom he loathingly called "a stealth juror". In defense of the mustachio'ed Uber Lawyer, I must say he is only doing his job. No juror who has a deliberate and preconceived scheme to lie in order to be seated on a jury and assure their notion of a verdict, should be allowed to succeed. Geragos would be derelict if he did not try to ferret out these people, as would Distaso and Harris from their end of the table.

grannystealth.jpg
That said, I still find little to laud or like in the demeanor of Mark Geragos. Ever the showman, reminiscent of a ringmaster in a second rate circus or a snake oil salesman, Geragos revelled in his performance in court yesterday, skewering the brightly garbed senior lady. Several media reporters described it as a "Perry Mason" like performance with Geragos peppering the woman with questions that obviously showed he had knowledge of her recent activities on a Reno bound bus to the casinos. "Granny Stealth", sat calmly through his barrage, I was told by a friend in court yesterday. This observer said Geragos seemed quite confident in his accusations and feels he does indeed have the goods on this woman and maybe a couple of other prospective jurors if they try to claim they are not biased.

My friend further described the woman as nearly as "cool and controlled" as Scott Peterson himself and went on to say that she "glared" at Scott several times and looked Geragos in the eyes unflinchingly while answering his bellows. Some controlled ire or aggravation seemed apparent from her though when the Judge told he she must return later, after the "tipster" had appeared in court as ordered. Prosecution attorney Rick Distaso was described by my friend as being for the most part, "docile" throughout the voir dire process thus far. You have to wonder at the strategy at work here. Voir dire is an important time to establish a rapport with the jurors who will eventually hear your case. Geragos has been said to have been fairly cordial throughout the process himself, until he lowered the boom on Gran yesterday.

The San Mateo Journal describes a "stealth juror" in the following manner:



QUOTE: A stealth juror is someone who lies or is intentionally vague during questioning to get picked for a panel because they have a hidden agenda, such as convicting someone they already believe is guilty.

http://www.smdailyjournal.org/article.cfm?issue=03-31-04&storyID;=29428


To listen to Geragos you would think the phenomenom of the "stealth juror" is exclusive to persons who want to "fry" someone or "give them their due", in other words someone "pro prosecution". Witness the book STEALTH JUROR by Trent Hammerstein, subtitled; The Ultimate Defense Against Bad Laws and Government Tyranny. It's publisher's site, Paladin Press, describes a stealth juror as:



QUOTE: (emphasis added) A stealth juror is an ordinary citizen serving on a jury who understands and is not afraid to exercise his right to judge not only the evidence in a case but the very law upon which the prosecution is based. If the law itself is bad or unfair, he secretly works to acquit any defendant being persecuted for a nonviolent, victimless crime. He must remain undercover because he represents a direct threat to the power of the judges and prosecutors. This book will tell you how to get yourself seated on a jury where you can do the most good for just causes (from preserving gun rights to opposing the War on Drugs), secretly win over your fellow jurors in the deliberation room and work to reestablish the power of the ordinary citizen in an out-of-control U.S. court system.

http://www.paladin-press.com/detail.aspx?ID=764


Did this "tipster" from the Reno bound busload of senior citizens just call Mark Geragos' office out of the blue and entirely of his own volition? Or was this the result of some digging and prodding by the trial consulting firm of Jo-Ellan Dimitrius? The New York Post may not be your best source of reliable info, according to some detractors, but this quote from it gave me pause to consider that "research" may indeed be afoot here, else why did the "tipster" contact Geragos' office? Wouldn't the proper person to report this to be Judge Delucchi?



QUOTE: A source close to the defense said it intends to show that other prospective jurors are also hiding their bias against Peterson,

http://www.nypost.com/news/nationalnews/17835.htm


Regardless of the outcome of what the "tipster" reports regarding the gambling "stealth juror", she will not likely be retained as a possible juror. Just the fact that she revealed she may be a juror should prompt Judge/Lifeguard Delucchi to blow the whistle on her and oust her from the pool.



QUOTE: But jury consultant David Graeven of San Francisco’s Trial Behavior Consulting, said keeping the woman would be inappropriate.

“If she was overheard talking about the fact that she could be a juror, she’s out, no matter what she said,” Graeven said.

http://www.smdailyjournal.org/article.cfm?issue=03-31-04&storyID;=29428


Juror 29308 was described as having been a former City of San Mateo government employee, possibly in her 50's, gray haired, wearing a pair of fuchsia knit pants, a floral shirt and pearl-drop earrings, carrying a copy of the romance novel "Key of Light by Nora Roberts and according to the "tipster" said to have followed the Peterson case for over a year. Under questioning by Distaso, she admitted to having seen the movie, The Perfect Husband. She volunteered at the Redwood City Veterans Memorial Senior Center, who apparently were the sponsors or origin of the Reno bus trip but volunteers at the center denied knowing the juror. The center's director none of the many volunteers at the center had to her knowledge spoken of being a possible juror.

It was a fortuitous day for Juror 29308 to show up for the grilling... Geragos' 12 year old daughter, Teny was in the courtroom to watch the Uber Lawyer twirl his mustache and strut his stuff.

Additional links:
http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/news/8318876.htm

http://www.modbee.com/local/story/8368477p-9189700c.html

------------------------------------------------
Read related Laci Peterson Case entries:
Click here Laci Peterson Case past entries
Scroll to bottom of page to read earliest entries.
-----------------------------------------
As always, any comments I make on the Peterson case and the persons involved is opinion and speculation on my part based on media reports and conversations with Modesto friends which must be construed as rumor until and unless proven otherwise.

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March 30, 2004

"Well... How's About This One?"

Scott Peterson's defense team, also known as "Geragos the Magnificient and the Flying Figs", have already floated a number of "theories" of the "real killers" These trial balloons have included Donnie, brown vans, Satanists, witches operating out of furniture stores, artists of meager talent, expectant mother snatchers, serial killers and combinations of any of the above. It's easier to keep track of how many variations on a cup of coffee can be ordered at fivebuckacup shop. Since the Flying Figs have yet to blow enough hot air into a pair of clown's pants to make them float, offbeat news might offer them some fresh ideas for their next flights of fancy, although some must be reserved in case they feel the need to try for a deal for Spotty in the end.

  • Leaping sturgeons! Giant fish injuring boaters - Laci walked to the warehouse that morning, hid in the boat to follow Scott. As Scott backed the boat into the water at Berkeley Marina, a leaping sturgeon knocked Laci right out of the boat. Scott had no idea. Still doesn't.
  • trapeze.jpg

  • Oven Gets Hot, Woman Gets Shot - Scott hid his bird hunting arsenal in Laci's oven. She preheated to 350 degrees for the gingerbread. End of story. Oh yeah... Scott was too embarassed to tell anyone about this Amana Rifle Range incident so he covered up the whole thing. Once Geragos explains the possibilities for suing the oven company, he'll be on board.
  • Pets May Have to Buckle Up - With a dog, two cats, a wife and a baby, there wouldn't be enough seat belts to go around. Somebody had to go. Get a jury with a few animal lovers... Scott's walks, like a dog with no leash.
  • Wife-Poisoner Hired as Ethics Lecturer - Tired of peddling crap, Scott hoped to move up to teaching crap... along side Professor Schithauler, no doubt. Can you punish a guy for being ambitious?
  • Boar Goes Hog Wild - Uh huh, coulda happened.
  • Couple Stranded On Unstable Ice While Fishing - Laci, while ice fishing in Dry Creek for a fish entree for Christmas brunch rode an "unstable block of ice" all the way to the Bay, where it melted. What a coincidence that Scott was fishing there.
  • Girl Threatens Mom with Knife for Taking Cell Phone. - Laci's cell phone was dead. Scott had three but each had it's own special purpose and Laci wasn't one of them.
  • Male 'mistress' gets many bad names - Scott... still looking for a new career. (You have to read this one)
  • Feeling shut in, court witness gets hearing moved outdoors. - Just for laughs and diversion during the trial, Scott might try a variation on this, with Judge Delucchi. Claiming he too was "gripped by feelings of "deep agitation," and his blood pressure shot up, whenever he was inside the court building", Scott could request the proceedings be moved to a strip bar, because he always felt relaxed in them and his blood pressure was always low... at least during the intermissions.

NOTE: If you still can't get with the program here, try the "6 Second ABS Program" (Anyone But Scott). Two easy payments of $29.95 each, available in VHS or DVD. Includes the Incarceration Diet & Yoga Plan.

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Totally tongue cheek with no basis in reality. Opinion, speculation, hoohah.

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March 25, 2004

My Name is Mark J. Geragos

asparagus.jpgMy name is Mark J. Geragos,
It rhymes with green asparagus.
If people do not say it right,
I stomp my feet, I get uptight.

I pound the table, face gets red,
Asparagus! Hear what I said?
Listen closely! Say it with me!
GAIR-UH-GUS... see it's so easy!

You may recall my own selective
Name for a certain detective.
Might have helped me with Brocchini,
If I'd thought of ripe zucchini.

But who cares, he's just a copper,
I'm the star, the big showstopper!
As Scott would say "Go fly your kites",
My name should be displayed in lights!

One more time, it bears repeatin',
Like the veggie you've all eaten,
Nasty, vile asparagus,
My name is Mark J. Geragos.

--------------------------
The much maligned Mr. Geragos has requested his name be pronounced correctly.




JUST GET MY NAME RIGHT: Peterson attorney Mark Geragos interjected as Karl Olson, an attorney representing a coalition of newspapers, repeatedly mispronounced his last name. "Geragos," Peterson's attorney mumbled loudly enough to be heard in the fifth row of the courtroom.

http://www.modbee.com/reports/peterson/trial/story/8330424p-9161970c.html

I guess this means he won't appreciate all the other pet names he's acquired on the 'net?

Geragassy - Geragreedy - Geragross - Gagmegross - Geragoogoo - Guffleupagus

That name, that face.... such rich fodder for the disrespectful among us. Feel free.

asparagusger.jpg

~~~~~All of the above is my OPINION. Eat it and weep.~~~~~

ADDENDUM - 3/25/04 at 6:36pm -- Be sure to check the comment section for this entry, as Golden Girl has posted a list of Gera-AKA's along with their definitions, that is hilariously witty!

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March 24, 2004

Peterson Case - Like a Snake Sheds It's Skin

Call it acrimonius analogy. Call it unfounded hyperbole. Call it acidic opinion, because that is what the following is... my opinion.

'Ecdysis'... it's the five dollar word for the process by which snakes discard their outer skin, revealing a new one underneath. It usually takes a snake around one to two weeks to work it's way out of that old skin and slither off to new horizons in a fresh suit of scales. Scott Peterson is bigger than your average snake, he apparently estimated it would take him about a month for his ecdysis.

Scott's old skin had become cumbersome, dry, boring, pinched and suffocating. It bore annoying tattoos... 'husband', 'father', 'son-in-law'. A milestone birthday of 30 years may have accentuated the staleness of the old skin and heighten the desire for a the new one. Impending fatherhood may have tightened the perceived chokehold his old life had upon him. Meeting a new female enflamed the desire to move on to a new life even more. She was a spark, surely, but not necessarily the whole bonfire.

It is my opinion that Scott Peterson killed his wife and unborn son. Whether this was a premeditated act or not, I waver on from day to day. Perhaps Peterson did the same, planning, wavering, reconsidering, until finally on the night of December 23rd, he thrust his head free of the old skin and began the process of wriggling out of the rest of the binding sheath of his old life.

snake.jpgHe disposed of the body of the unwanted wife. He reported her missing. He apparently thought a missing adult would draw only laconic and short lived attention from police and investigators. Sorely thwarted in that aspect by the efforts of Laci's family and the sharp noses of the media, this snake nonetheless continued his ecdysis, slowing the pace of the process slightly from it's original plan, but continuing on most definitely. Once the process had started, this vile reptile could not stop it... not even to save himself.


He inquired about selling the house where the old skin had resided. He sold the Land Rover the emerging new skin had no use for anymore. He shoved boxes and unwanted items into the no longer needed nursery, offering it's trappings to a family member. He entertained his visiting boss with public dinners and laughter. He golfed. He went to Mexico. He ordered adult TV channels and Viagra, the better to stroke those exciting, new, emerging scales.

Ah, but a new skin wasn't enough for this reptile though. The enticing female was a 'fitness nut', into bodybuilding and health, lean, toned, tanned. Scott had grow a bit pudgy, possibly from Laci's culinary talents. But less than a month after her disappearance, his family frequently made mention of poor Scott being so despondent he was losing weight rapidly. Not so.

He wasn't despondent. He was dieting. He was jogging. He was losing weight and toning up to impress Amber when all the hullabaloo blew over. He wanted to show up at her door after his month in 'Maine' and 'Europe' and surprise her with his thinner, improved body. This disgusting snake was not looking for his 'missing' wife. He was concentrating on shedding his old skin, his old life, his old appearance. He all but booked a trip to Canyon Ranch for a makeover in his desire to get on with his new life.

That's just my opinion. Call it what you want, but I call it as I see it. He was a vile snake shedding it's skin eager to be somebody new. But a snake is a snake, is a snake.

------------------------------------

A sidenote.... just for the ironic laugh:

The word ecdysiast, is derived from ecdysis. An ecdysiast is a euphemism for a stripper.

------------------------------------------------
Read related Laci Peterson Case entries:
Click here Laci Peterson Case past entries
Scroll to bottom of page to read earliest entries.
-----------------------------------------
As always, any comments I make on the Peterson case and the persons involved is opinion and speculation on my part based on media reports and conversations with Modesto friends which must be construed as rumor until and unless proven otherwise.

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March 20, 2004

Peterson Case - Pg 5 of Court Doc. & Geragos at Covena House

spring.jpgGood morning! A somewhat quickie entry today. I heard most of the court document filed by the prosecution on February 23, 2003, titled "Opposition to the Defendant's Motion Re: Statements to the Media" had been posted at this webpage:
http://www.paloaltodailynews.com/peterson/briefs/PRM_02-23-04_DA_Media.pdf

But I learned yesterday that pages 2, 3 and 5 had been omitted from that site. I am posting a watermarked copy of pg. 5 here. You need to first click on it to open the thumbnail, then run your cursor over the upper left corner of the page and a small colored box will appear in the lower right corner. Click on that and it will enlarge to a readable size. Pages 2 and the first half of page 3 were just the opening parts of the motion explaining why they were filing an opposition and citing a number of other cases for reference. The last half of page 3 is also thumbnailed here, follow the same instructions to enlarge it. PLEASE DO NOT COPY THESE JPEG'S ANYWHERE





PAGE 3 - Last half - DO NOT COPY courtdoc3marked.jpg











Page 5 - DO NOT COPY courtdoc5marked.jpg














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In addition, I wanted to pass on that last night I heard that Geragos visited the Peterson house on Covena for about a half hour or so, then went to the Medina house across the street and was said to have shown a poster sized item to them, approximately 3' x 4' or so. I haven't a clue as to what it was, but it almost sounds like something you would use in a courtroom presentation?

One or both the Medina's are under the gag order, so that would seem to indicate one of them will be a witness. That was almost certain anyway, since their's is the home that was burglarized by Todd and Pearce. One of those men is free, the other is still incarcerated and filings were made by the prosecution to have him brought to court to testify if called. So this poster sized item may be something to do with a presentation to be used in court when one of the Medinas is on the stand?

Geragos still had not filed a Change of Venue motion on Friday at the deadline. It will be interesting to hear what the reason for this was, on Monday. I have to wonder why, when the extra days off from court were added last week specifically because of that ballyhoo'ed COV motion, why was Geragos instead handling some detail on Covena? Curious.

------------------------------------------------
Read related Laci Peterson Case entries:
Click here Laci Peterson Case past entries
Scroll to bottom of page to read earliest entries.
-----------------------------------------
As always, any comments I make on the Peterson case and the persons involved is opinion and speculation on my part based on media reports and conversations with Modesto friends which must be construed as rumor until and unless proven otherwise.

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March 16, 2004

The Luck o' the Scott


Happy St. Patty's Day!

We're celebrating the day with limericks for Scott... OK, bad limericks, very bad limericks. But come on, does Scott & crew deserve good limericks?

Limericks by Golden Girl, Bebe, and Psyche

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
kissscoo.jpg There was a young man from Modesto
Who made tortellini with pesto,
While he was out fishing,
His wife, she went missing,
It’s a criminal manifesto.

by Golden Girl
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ninety miles to the Berkeley Marina,
Then came home, crying "have you seen'uh"?
Did some interviews too,
Crying boo hoo hoo hoo,
Stinking worse than a fat ballerina.

by Psyche
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

irishger.jpg There once was a young man named Scotty,
With the women he thought he was hotty,
Did away with his wife,
No more married life!
Now he sits in a cell by his potty.

by Bebe
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There may be a good explanation,
Justifying Scott’s destination,
Did he go to Berkeley,
Just to fish in the sea,
Or for marital liquidation?

by Golden Girl
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


irishscoo.jpg To listen to Mister Mark Geragos,
You'd think it was talking asparagus,
For he drivels obscene,
And he sounds awful mean,
I think he just wants to disparage us.

by Psyche
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There once was a business named Tradecorp,
Where manure piled up on the floor,
So they hired a skunk,
Just to peddle the junk,
It's precisely what he was paid for!

by Golden Girl
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
WARNING... "dirty little limerick" ahead. If you've a prudish soul.... turn back now!

Now this is the tale of Scott's peter,
Which is quite apropo for a cheater,
Shawn sent him to Fresno,
Where Frey was no lesbo,
And it quite pleased his peter to meet her.

by Psyche
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now if you hearty souls made it this far, I'm sure you could use a green beer or two!beers.jpg
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This whole entry is tongue in cheek, punnery, funnery and opinionated idiocy by all who contributed. We don't nothin' 'bout nuthin' honey.

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OK ... this part is not in fun. Looks like Geragos has his fat finger in yet another pie of a case... "The Body Parts Industry" as his firm calls it.
LA Times article link

QUOTE from the article:



The attorneys at Geragos & Geragos, who filed the lawsuit, said that their litigation would extend beyond UCLA and take on the body parts industry,

More like the law firm of Garish & Ghoulish.


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March 15, 2004

Peterson Case - Scott & Kristen Rossum, Convicted Spouse Murderer

A short entry today but an interesting one I think, at least it was to me. A good friend and Knot poster, alerted me this morning to a recently published book titled Deadly American Beauty that contains the following quote:

"During the summer of 2003, there were reports that Kristen had started corresponding with accused killer Scott Peterson in a bizarre jail romance. Peterson is said to find hope in Kristen's letters."

Yes, I find that interesting. This quote links up rather nicely with a CBS report and a Modesto Bee article. A quote from the ModBee article:

"One was written by a female inmate who had murdered her husband, Young said, and is incarcerated at one of two prisons for women in Chowchilla. He said a guard read the letter aloud.

It's fairly certain that quote is referring to Kristen Rossum.

lettersks.jpgResearching Ms. Rossum, I found an extensive article from CourtTV's Crime Library titled Perfect Poison

In addition, some good media articles from the case include:

Guilty verdict in 'American Beauty' murder

Good Morning America report

Rossum's Parents Believe Victim Commited Suicide

Key figures in the Kristin Rossum case

And here's a very interesting little link. Kristen wants pen pals... I guess Scott is not enough?
PrisonLife.com - Kristen Rossum

My random thoughts:


  • Another Kristen/Kristin in this case? Is every other person in California named "Peterson" or "Kristen"? I'm just waiting for a "Kristen Peterson" to pop up.
  • Kristen's parents, having deep pockets, bought her clothes for her court appearances, as did Scott's for his.
  • Both Kristen and Scott had spouses who told friends and family how happy their marriage was and that they wanted to start a family, both blissfully unaware apparently of their spouse's desire to be free of them.
  • Both Kristen and Scott were involved in adulterous relationships.
  • Both claim to be innocent of course and both of their respective parents publicly espoused their child's innocence, offering alternate theories for the deaths.
  • Both Laci and Gregg deVillers seemed to have fallen in love at first sight with their future spouses and alledged murderers.
  • Both Scott and Kristen were San Diego residents at one time. The "rose connection", tenuous, but still... Kristen sprinkled her husband's body with rose petals to mimic a suicide scene in the movie American Beauty, while Scott gives roses to Laci and her mother at their first meeting.
  • Timed store receipts and credit card purchases give lie to some of both Scott and Kristen's statements.
  • Laci had a brother named Brent, but conversely it was the accused, Kristen, who had a brother named Brent in the deVillers murder case.

  • Both the Rocha and the deVillers families have filed civil suits.

Many thanks to my friend, (who just asked to be nameless) for the email alert. I surely would have missed this one, today was hectic. Said friend also just posed the question .... Could Rossum be the "mystery witness" whose six pack photo was blacked out? Intriguing thought... but surely Scott wouldn't be THAT stupid ... to write anything incriminating to her, and even if he did, his mail is read coming and going. So why would they need her?

------------------------------------------------
Read related Laci Peterson Case entries:
Click here Laci Peterson Case past entries
Scroll to bottom of page to read earliest entries.
-----------------------------------------
As always, any comments I make on the Peterson case and the persons involved is opinion and speculation on my part based on media reports and conversations with Modesto friends which must be construed as rumor until and unless proven otherwise.

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March 09, 2004

Peterson Case - Howard Varinsky - Jury Consultant

He has used his knowledge and skills to help prosecutors obtain convictions for such high profile defendants as Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel, the defendants in the infamous dog mauling case, and most recently, the crafty, culinary queen, Martha Stewart. But he does not limit the benefit of his expertise to helping prosecutors, his assistance has also been seen in action for Bernhard Goetz, the "subway vigilante" and Dr. Jack Kevorkian, known as "Dr. Death" for his role in assisted suicides. His name is Howard Varinsky, a psychologist, a lecturer, a television commentator... and a jury consultant aiding the Stanislaus D.A.'s office in their prosecution of Scott Peterson.

justiceblue.jpgFresh from the high of the Stewart conviction, Mr. Varinsky, a psychologist, appeared at the elbow of prosecutor, Rick Distaso to whisper in his ear as the process of jury selection continued on Monday. Although this is his first appearance in the courtroom with the prosecution, it seems he and his firm have been on the team since at least January.

Since I make no secret of my belief that Scott Peterson is guilty, I am bound to consider Mr. Varinsky a "good guy" in this legal saga, but with the proviso that I continue to have a lot of reservations about the use of these jury consultants. I still feel it is in effect "stacking the deck" in your favor, no matter which "side" is using their services, be it defense or prosecution. It does not seem, to me, like a jury of the accused's peers with no preconceived notion of guilt or innocence, but rather a carefully culled and cultivated group, predisposed to give the verdict the payor desires.

That said, I will go on to admit, I am very glad that since the defense hired former O.J. Simpson jury consultant, Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, I am very relieved to see the prosecution's retention of Mr. Varinsky. These two may be set for a Clash of the Titans of Trial Consultants in the Peterson trial arena. Although on the surface Ms. Dimitrius may be the better known... or more notorious may be more apt, Mr. Varinsky is a definite heavy weight in the jury consultant world, with an impressive pedigree of cases to peruse.

Expanding my knowledge of what trial consultant firms actually do, I have adjusted my opinion of them somewhat, actually acquiring oddly conflicting feelings of admiration that war with my previous sense of disgust for their practices. It seems these firms do far more than sit in the courtroom "reading" the prospective jurors like tea leaves and divining who the attorney should choose or excuse.

Savvy lawyers, usually defense lawyers, bring these firms on to the team, early in the case. They can provide a variety of services almost akin to a Hollywood director and his production staff. Trial consultants may formulate pre-trial questionnaires, conduct mock trials, set up "focus groups", advise clients, witnesses and attorneys on what to wear, how to sit, stand, speak, and act, coach attorneys on opening statements and closing arguments, witness preparation to improve their performance and much more. Varinsky Associates "services" page explains much of this in good detail.

Trial consultant firms may also provide something called "Development and Analysis", in efforts to educate or sway jurors. Elaborate graphics, displays, even videos may be produced by consultant firms that can do much to clarify a complicated point to a jury. One example is a digital animation film used in the Michael Peterson trial, illustrating the defense's theory of how his wife Kathleen "fell" down the stairs. It was unconvincing, but creative, I suppose. Perhaps if they had added some animated owls attacking her, as some of the defendent's friends later claimed were the real killers, the animation might have worked... OK maybe not, but still... creative.

Varinsky Associates has published a number of papers online and opinions from Howard Varinsky on a variety of cases abound. They are well worth the time it takes to read them and I recommend you do. Some of the firm's publications can be found here. A few excerpts from these publications:


  • Jurors decide which witnesses to believe based on what we term a witness’s "aura of credibility," which breaks down into six components: self-confidence, relaxation, mastery of the material, communication skills, emblematic congruence and character trait projection.
    from: What Makes Jurors Tick? The Expanding Role of Jury Consultants \
    I highly recommend you read the definition of those "six components" and consider their task with Amber Frey in regards to those components.
  • If a case involves inflammatory or divisive issues, has engendered media publicity, or involves a well-known client, a community attitude survey may be useful to measure community sentiment and how various segments of the community will view the case. They also provide an opportunity to test several themes and theories, so attorneys can get a preview of community reaction to alternative strategies.
    from: Directing Voir Dire
  • Celebrity trials are very different from routine criminal trials. The most earnest juror cannot help being affected by previous media exposure to the person on trial. Consequently, how jurors treat a celebrity defendant corresponds in large measure to the public image he or she projects. Jurors bend over backwards to be fair to celebrities they like, but they convict people such as Mike Tyson, a tough kid who parlayed his aggressiveness into a world heavyweight boxing title.
    from: Celebrity Trial Juries Pose Selection Problem
    A must read, since obviously this has become a "celebrity trial".
  • Stories provide the listener the opportunity to visualize, experience and organize the information the trial lawyer is attempting to convey. Intellectual property cases, by their very nature, are arcane with complex technical evidence. The task of the trial attorney is to reduce this science into understandable elements, giving the story a heartbeat so that jurors can relate to its logic, consistency, themes, and characters, along with their motivations.
    from: Putting Persuasion to Work in Highly Technical Cases: a Jury-Centered Approach

    This publication refers not to a criminal cases but rather to highly technical litigations, where understanding the complexities and science can be very difficult for the jury. Telling a story can help them understand. I reference it here because I think this is what must be done by the prosecution when they counter the defense's claims that Conner was older than expected. The medical and forensic science that will explain the impossibility of this may be dry and unpalatable to the jury. A well told story of babies, ultrasounds, what happens when a fetus dies in utero may be crucial. That was part of my point in an early entry here on Psyche's Knot; "What the Jury Needs to Know" .

  • A theme should be able to be delivered to the jury in no more than three sentences. If it takes longer, the persuasive point is being over-intellectualized or over-explained and should be made more concise. Attorneys often make the mistake of giving the jurors too much unnecessary information, which clouds or interferes with the essential message being delivered.

    The best way to arrive at a simple, clear theme is to pretend you are telling a ten-year-old child about your case. To explain the dispute to a child, one needs to reduce it to its barest elements. This exercise helps cut through all the verbiage and get to the core of the matter.
    from: Persuasion in the Modern Courtroom: How to Sell Your Case to a Jury
    Again, a must read, very well written.

  • Along the same lines, attorneys frequently try to get jurors to commit to certain things during voir dire — for example, to keep an open mind until the defense puts on its case, to follow the judge's instructions, to bring in a verdict for the defense if the plaintiff doesn't put on enough evidence to meet its burden of proof. Virtually all jurors answer "yes" to these questions, which they consider meaningless and promptly forget. Meanwhile, the attorney has wasted valuable time that could be better spent building rapport with the jurors and eliciting information about their demographics, experiences and attitudes that will result in the effective use of peremptory challenges.
    from: Trial Myths and Misconceptions
    Very pertinent to what is occuring now in the Peterson courtroom.
  • I repeat I am still uneasy at the thought of "stacking the deck" by using these trial consultants, but I cannot help feeling a good measure of admiration for these articles and insights from Varinsky Associates. And of course, I sincerely wish them a victory in this case.

    -----------------------------------
    Other links and observations:

    • Almost a year ago, before Howard Varinsky was hired by the Stanislaus D.A., he commented on the Peterson case :
      But Howard Varinsky, a trial consultant for San Francisco prosecutors in the dog-mauling case, said the Peterson case should be moved to ensure a fair trial.

      "The argument is that it's saturated everywhere, but it's usually more saturated locally," he said. "Remember the crowd that gathered when he was arrested? You can see that this is a highly charged local population."
      from: SignOnSanDiego.com

    • Varinsky Associates is based in Emeryville, California, a tiny town on the San Francisco Bay and a scant few miles over the water to where the bodies of Laci and Conner washed ashore.

    • Jury consultants routinely advise clients on how the wife of a high profile defendant should dress, when she should appear, and how she should react to her spouse and the proceedings. Both Varinsky and the defense's jury consultant, Jo-Ellan Dimitrius offered comments in a New York Times article on strategies for the wife's role. Obviously this particular area of expertise won't be required of Mr. Varinsky in the Peterson case, as there is no wife to stand by her accused man. But an accused man must have a female at his side through his travails. It softens him, it is meant to create the thought in the minds of the public and most importantly the jury that... "how can he be guilty? His wife (mother, sister, aunt, grandma) believes in him?"

      One might surmise that without a player for the role of sympathetic and supportive "wife" , it has been replaced by staunch and supportive "mother" played, in earnest of course, by Jackie Peterson in this case, and therefore Ms. Dimitrius might be choreographing her scenes in this drama. A friend cynically speculated to me that Jackie's recent absences from court might be more for sympathetic effect than actual necessity due to health. After reading of all the various stagings effected by jury consultants, one might even wonder if the defense's focus groups have shown a marked dislike for the Peterson matriarch that may be causing them to advise a little less Jackie may make some hearts grow fonder or at least not as negative toward her and therefore her son.

      Certainly one might also suspect that the recent San Francisco Chronicle article with an extensive interview with Jackie and Lee Peterson was a bit of image rehabilitation done with the encouragement of Dimitrius and seal of approval of Geragos.

    • ------------------------------------------------
      Read related Laci Peterson Case entries:
      Click here Laci Peterson Case past entries
      Scroll to bottom of page to read earliest entries.
      -----------------------------------------
      As always, any comments I make on the Peterson case and the persons involved is opinion and speculation on my part based on media reports and conversations with Modesto friends which must be construed as rumor until and unless proven otherwise.

      08:17 PM in Weblogs, h)Peterson Case 2004 Mar., r)Peterson Case - All | Permalink | Comments (36) | TrackBack

      March 08, 2004

      Peterson Case - Courtroom Notes, Tidbits - March I

      I finally managed a call long enough in duration to ask a few questions of a friend who has been a great source of bits of info on the Peterson case. Between the time zone differences and our different work/life schuedules, this is not easy. There was little to report from the courtroom events of last week, that had not been already commented on in media reports. The friend did add the following though:


      • Scott appeared shocked or stunned when the judge announced he was allowing the dog trailing evidence of Trimble picking up Laci's scent at Berkeley Marina. I questioned my friend why he would be upset about this, and said wouldn't the admission of the wiretap evidence be more upsetting to him? The friend said maybe, but all they could see was that Scott seemed stunned at the news and then Geragos stood up and put his hand on Scott's shoulder as if to comfort him.
      • After the first group of jurors had been identified, a media personage was heard to say to others something along the lines of "Where did they get these people? It looks like they cleared out a trailer park". My apologies to anyone that insults, but it wasn't my comment. It does tell you though, that even though San Mateo County was touted by news reports as having such a high percentage of well educated, upper income citizens, they did not seem to have been caught in this first fishnet call to jury duty. A comment was also heard, to the effect that this first group seemed to be more likely to be the sort traditionally considered more favorable to the defense. That all reeks of snobbery to me, the notion that lower socioeconomic groups would distrust police, prosecutors and authority, but many experts on juries apparently concur.
      • After the first group of jurors had been identified, a media personage was heard to say to others something along the lines of "Where did they get these people? It looks like they cleared out a trailer park". My apologies to anyone that insults, but it wasn't my comment. It does tell you though, that even though San Mateo County was touted by news reports as having such a high percentage of well educated, upper income citizens, they did not seem to have been caught in this first fishnet call to jury duty. A comment was also heard, to the effect that this first group seemed to be more likely to be the sort traditionally considered more favorable to the defense. That all reeks of snobbery to me, the notion that lower socioeconomic groups would distrust police, prosecutors and authority, but many experts on juries apparently concur.
      • A woman was seen with one of the Petersons outside the courtroom briefly and overheard to say something like "Here are the pictures". That was considered pretty curious at the time, but now it seems likely these were the photos from Sunday's San Francisco Gate article being returned.

      • A funny bit... Geragos was seen drinking from a can or container kept inside a paper bag. Nothing to that, I'd imagine. Maybe he just didn't want to be seen to be advertising some brand of drink, or didn't want condensation on his hands? Just a funny little tidbit.

      • Another funny bit... I asked my friend if Judge Delucchi seemed aware of his double entendre when he said the bumper sticker on his car read "Bear Backer". They laughed and reiterated once again what a sharp, witty man the judge is, so he probably knew just exactly what it meant in it's other spelling and context, and that could be why he made mention of it, as a little joke. Or maybe not.

      chat.jpgOther gleanings from this conversation....
      I have to be vague and cryptic, and I apologize for that. I know it is annoying, but it's necessary, so again I apologize.

      • There may be yet another witness to Scott loading something heavy into his truck. Not one we have already heard about, i.e. Kristen Dempewolf. There was an early rumor that somewhat fits what my friend says, but some details differ. Sorry, that is cryptic, best I can do. I am calling this possible witness, tongue in cheek, "Curious George", although that does not necessarily indicate the sex or name of the person. If this info comes to pass, I'll let you know why I called this witness that.

      • Did you notice there were a number of questions for the jurors about their experience in chat rooms? I was told we may hear testimony of Scott perusing some curious websites and/or chat rooms on his computer. My friend described them as sort of S & M sites. Maybe even sites or chat rooms with a more explicit connection to the crime of which he is accused and I don't mean the tidal charts. Keep in mind, this is info filtering and trickling down, you just never know for sure until you hear it in court... but this won't surprise me a bit if it comes out.

        Remember Westerfield and his cyber rambles? Wouldn't you think that any old idiot these days would realize that nearly everything you look at or do on your computer can be retrieved if need be? Then again, some people think they are so clever, convincing and appealing that they will be believed by anyone and everyone, including the police. Of course, some people also think that the disappearance of one everyday, adult, female will not become a national cause celebre.

      --------------------------
      Post Script.... My, my... I do believe the jury consultant working for the prosecution in the Peterson case is the very same one who consulted for the prosecution on Martha's case.... and helped them win, it would seem. Howard Varinsky.

      Also note... there were a number of questions for the prospective jurors about psychology. I am not sure which side is concerned with this... or is it both for different reasons? Is the prosecution going to introduce psychologists to pose that Scott is a narcissist, a sociopath, that some people just have an aversion to producing children of their own? Or is the defense going to claim his odd behavior was perfectly understandable?

      ------------------------------------------------
      Read related Laci Peterson Case entries:
      Click here Laci Peterson Case past entries
      Scroll to bottom of page to read earliest entries.
      -----------------------------------------
      As always, any comments I make on the Peterson case and the persons involved is opinion and speculation on my part based on media reports and conversations with Modesto friends which must be construed as rumor until and unless proven otherwise.

      06:01 AM in Weblogs, h)Peterson Case 2004 Mar., r)Peterson Case - All | Permalink | Comments (32) | TrackBack

      March 02, 2004

      Peterson Case - Opposition to the Defendant's Motion 2/23

      On February 23, 2004, the Stanislaus Co. district attorney's office filed a document titled:

      "Opposition To The Defendant's Motion Re: Statements To The Media"

      This document created quite a stir in the media, fostering headlines such as:

      • Prosecution contends affair with Frey is at heart of murder case


      • Prosecution: Scott Peterson a liar who had motive to kill his wife
      • Prosecutors: Affair triggered Laci’s murder
      • Peterson characterized as liar

      The Modesto Bee and Merced Sun articles made one statement that really caught my attention. Both articles included the following excerpt:

      QUOTE:

      "Also, Peterson “covered up the murder” in the couple’s Covena Avenue home by concealing his wife’s body in large blue “market umbrellas” which he carried to his pickup, according to the document."

      CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
      courtdoccropped.jpg
      While many people have theorized for months that Peterson had concealed the body between those large umbrellas, wrapped in a tarp, I had never heard even a hint that the prosecution thought that. I was curious.

      I finally managed to get a hard copy of this ten page court document, but I am not allowed to publish it on the internet.

      I disagree strongly with this, but have no choice. I am showing a jpeg of the front page, which shows it's filing, but nothing of the district attorney's argument as apparently that is considered intellectual property. I will hand type and quote any portions of sentences that refer to the umbrellas or the blue tarp, because nowhere in this document do I see the prosecution stating Peterson concealed the body in the umbrellas.


      Excerpts pertaining to the umbrellas or tarp:

      • Pg 6 - "The defendant also admits that he loaded large market umbrellas into his truck 'that morning'. He stated that he was going to put the umbrellas into his shop for the winter, however, when the police got to the house on the evening of the 24th, they were still in the back of his truck."
      • Pg 9 - "The defendant repeated his story that he put market umbrellas into his truck wrapped in a blue tarp to take to his warehouse for the winter."
      • Pg 10 - "The defendant's statements regarding carrying out a large item covered in a blue tarp support how the defendant covered up the murder."

      Those are the only times the umbrellas or tarp are mentioned in that document. Why did the Modesto Bee and the Merced Sun say... "Also, Peterson “covered up the murder” in the couple’s Covena Avenue home by concealing his wife’s body in large blue “market umbrellas” which he carried to his pickup, according to the document." ?

      Other points from this filing that I did not find in the media reports I myself read:

      • All four reporters and their interviews are mentioned in the filing; Diane Sawyer, Gloria Gomez, Jodi Hernandez, and Ted Rowlands.
      • Pg 2 - The People intend to introduce only the defendant's actual statements made to those media personnel, not the reporter's comments.
      • Pg 4 - Diane Sawyer interview - Scott never told the police of his relationship with Amber Frey and denied that relationship on December 30, 2002.
      • Pg 5 - Diane Sawyer interview - Scott told Sawyer that he informed Laci about the affair in "early December" (2002). But, he told Amber Frey that he confessed to Laci in November, 2002.
      • lies.jpg

      • Pg 5 - Diane Sawyer interview - Quote: "He further stated that Laci was 'at peace' with the affair." I have to be fair and say I believe this is a mistake on the DA's part. As I recall, Sawyer brought up the phrase "at peace" and Scott replied he wouldn't say she was "at peace" with it. ??
      • Pg 6 - Diane Sawyer interview - Quote: "The defendant states that he hasn't taken any medication regarding Laci's disappearance because he 'needs to experience it' (the disappearance)." No further explanation of how this is a lie is given in the document. I am wondering if it will eventually be referenced to Scott ordering Viagra after Laci disappeared?
      • Pg 7 - A sentence in the filing confirms Scott did not see Amber physically after Laci's disappearance.
      • Pg 8 - Scott stated that he kept a public silence about the case as a "strategy" to keep the media's interest.
      • Pg 9 - Ted Rowlands interview - Commenting on Scott looking directly into the camera whenever he proclaimed his innocence... Quote: "This happened enough so that the reporter stated that it was 'kind of bizarre' the way he would direct his conversation to the people watching".

      There is of course a great deal more included in these ten pages, but most of it was conveyed in the media reports in small detail, of course.

      ------------------------------------------------
      Read related Laci Peterson Case entries:
      Click here Laci Peterson Case past entries
      Scroll to bottom of page to read earliest entries.
      -----------------------------------------
      As always, any comments I make on the Peterson case and the persons involved is opinion and speculation on my part based on media reports and conversations with Modesto friends which must be construed as rumor until and unless proven otherwise.

      07:14 AM in Weblogs, h)Peterson Case 2004 Mar., r)Peterson Case - All | Permalink | Comments (50) | TrackBack