Sunday, April 17, 2011

Objection! – Nancy Grace's book.

To begin with, I must quote from the cover:
"How High-Priced Defense Attorneys, Celebrity Defendants, and a 24/7 Media Have Hijacked Our Criminal Justice System."

At this point, of course, every irony meter on the planet fused itself and melted through whatever contained it, heading for the planet's core!

Inevitably Grace can't resist riding Scott Peterson one more time. After all, she was the leader of the lynch mob that assassinated him daily on TV or in print. One thing you won't, however, see from her is any proof of his guilt based on evidence. She simply pulls out random but irrelevant factoids and construes them in the worst light possible for him, as if they somehow proved something. In fact, this is one of the themes of this book - that 'behaviour' can be used to judge guilt or innocence. This displays an abysmal lack of knowledge of the US legal system, a lack she continually proves. She also implies that quantity can suffice in place of quality.

Quote: "At the onset of the Peterson trial, no one knew what to expect from [Mark} Geragos, especially in light of his own words about his client before he signed on to defend him. Two days before Peterson's arrest, Geragos stated on air, "(1) You'd be hard-pressed to find a prosecutor who couldn't put together an indictment, let alone a conviction. (2) There are a lot of guys sitting in state prison on a lot less evidence. (3) There is just an over-whelming amount of circumstantial evidence. (4) His defense at this point is, 'Oh, my God, somebody else must have done it and was trying to set me up.'(5) I don't think it's ever going to wash."

This certainly doesn't say much for Geragos, or, for that matter, for Grace who apparently agrees.

1 and 2 are both proof of the shame that is the US legal system.
3 is false. No amount of circumstantial evidence was found or offered.
4 is partly true - someone else did kill his wife. Whether Scott was setup or framed is arguable.
5 was true, Grace and the other furies saw to that. As Delucchi remarked, Peterson couldn't find an unbiased jury anywhere in the state. Too bad Delucchi ensured that with his unwarranted removals of jurors.

Quote: "Ten days later, during another television interview, Geragos was asked why Peterson lied to Amber Frey about being single. His response? "Because he's a cad. When guys commit adultery, guys lie to a single woman in order to get them into bed."

Astonishing! Does Grace really think that every other married adulterer is completely honest at all times? On what planet?

Quote: "A long tug of war ensued between Scott's camp and Laci's camp. Finally, Laci's family went over to the couple's house and collected a few items, including her wedding dress, some of her plants, some watering cans and diplomas. Sharon Rocha went into Laci's room simply to sit in Laci's rocking chair, trying to feel her daughter's presence. And you know what happened that afternoon?"

Oh, what a pretty story. And Grace complains about defence attorneys "airbrushing the truth"!

The version I heard is that Sharon Rocha had requested several items from Scott. He agreed to all of them and they were waiting at his attorney's office for her to collect them. Instead the clan went to Scott's home, smashed in the door, smashed the alarm to stop it sounding, and then looted several truckloads of items, many of which were gifts from Scott's parents to the couple. All of this was accomplished while the MPD stood there refusing to prevent an obvious criminal act. So much for the rule of law.

Quote: "When Peterson was arrested in San Diego, police searched the 1984 Mercedes-Benz 500SEC he was driving. He wasn't traveling light. Among the items found in the car: $15,000 in cash, twelve Viagra tablets, several credit cards belonging to various members of the Peterson family, a water purifier, a knife, a fire starter, and tons of survival gear. The few superficial changes Geragos instigated had somehow managed, virtually overnight, to erase the damaging image of Peterson as a fugitive."

Tons of survival gear? I'm unaware of any such survivalist list that includes items such as dress shirts or shoes. And 'tons' is clearly hyperbole. Grace is unwilling, it seems, to admit what was specified in evidence - that the knife was accidentally left in the car by the previous owner. Once again she construes anything in the worst light possible for Scott.

Quote: "During one of the earliest days of the trial, the defendant went a little too far to win the title of Mr. Congeniality. Entering the courtroom, he lit up a thousand-watt, Hollywood-love-me smile for a huge jury pool. One potential juror summed it up beautifully as she was leaving the courtroom: "It was creepy."

So the jurors were already totally biased against the defendant, such that a nervous smile was misinterpreted as 'creepy'. Some justice.

Quote: "Geragos ... after gauging the pulse of the Redwood City jurors, asked for another venue change. That was denied, so Geragos dug in and the trial commenced. Shrewdly, however, whenever he got a chance, he renewed his dissatisfaction with the venue, announcing often that his client could not get a fair trial."

Which was proven by the verdict, one which cannot be supported by any evidence.

Quote: "Detective Dodge Hendee was on the stand testifying about what he found while searching Scott Peterson's warehouse. During cross-examination, he told Geragos he found what appeared to be cement residue in what looked like five rings, which indicated that Peterson had made five anchors-but only one was found. Geragos, trying to punch holes in Hendee's theory, showed the pictures of the so-called rings and commented that they looked more like light right angles than rings. He mocked Hendee, saying, "Is this a ring? And is this a ring? Is this a circle?" His attempt at witty sarcasm fell flat. Although there were a few chuckles in the courtroom, some of the jurors looked disgusted by the treatment the detective received. He was a credible witness who deserved to be treated with respect. Evidently Geragos thought otherwise."

First, NO anchor was 'found'. EVER. 'Found' implies lost or hidden. Neither is true.

Second, these so called 'rings' didn't exist. There was a cement mess which looked no different from any other. The 'rings' were imaginary. And bringing them up was in complete contradiction to People v. McCall [10 Cal. App. 2d 503]:

"We think that it was highly prejudicial to the appellant to exhibit to the jury all of the implements that were found in the car of the deceased, upon the sole ground that if any one of them had been used, it might have caused the injury which resulted in death. If such evidence were permitted, then in any case where the only witness is the defendant, all of the things which he might have used in the perpetration of the alleged crime could be brought into court and shown to the jury."

At best, all the prosecution could say was that he might have made something which might have been weights which might have been used IF you assume several other unproven things. This is nothing but prejudicial. Since there was no evidence the body was weighted it should never have been allowed.

Even if you believe that there were 5 circles in the mess on the flat bed (and this is arguable), what can be concluded from that? All we could say is that
  • someone, we don't know who,
  • made something, we don't know what,
  • by some method, we don't know how,
  • at some time, we don't know when,
  • for some reason, we don't know why
So far no one can point to any evidence that fills in any of the blanks.

Quote: "There's no doubt Mark Geragos is a talented lawyer. How far can sheer talent take a defense when pitted against the truth? In State v. Scott Peterson, the truth won out."

The truth? The truth never got into the courtroom. The truth was kept well away. The truth was not allowed to be hinted at. This was a truth free zone.

Quote: "In the Scott Peterson trial, Judge Alfred Delucchi had the right idea. Concerned about media taint of the Peterson jury, yet not a fan of jury sequestration, Delucchi allowed the jury to come and go freely during the evidentiary phase of the trial, then sequestered them for deliberations and verdict. It worked!"

It only worked for those who prefer a lynching to a trial. That is clearly what happened here. No person can make a case for Peterson's guilt based on the evidence. They simply ignore it all and vote on their 'feelings'. The fourth jury admitted as much when they could not remember key evidence within minutes of walking out of court and were unable to ever formulate such a case, despite numerous interviews and a book.

Quote: "During Scott Peterson's trial I was concerned Judge Delucchi would allow the jury to go out on the San Francisco Bay, where Laci and Conner were disposed. In my nightmares, they would go out on a bright, sunny day and be surrounded by recreational crafts while imagining Scott Peterson enjoying himself on the water the day Laci went missing. What a miscarriage of justice that would have been. I went onto the bay myself to see where Laci was thrown overboard. In December, the water would have been choppy, the air cold and windy. No way was Peterson out fishing for fun on Christmas Eve. Thank God Delucchi understood the changing nature of a crime scene."

Since Delucchi exhibited considerable signs of senility throughout the trial 'understood' is too much to claim. However failing to take the jury to various places in Modesto and to the bay allowed Distaso to deceive the jury as to the reality of the case. One example was him showing the jury a small photograph of Brooks Island and claiming it 'proved' that Scott could dump a body there in the middle of the day. A trip to the bay and the use of binoculars would have dispelled this fraud immediately.

Quote: "In the Scott Peterson case, there was partial suppression of bloodhound evidence indicating that Laci's body, not Laci in life, had been in Peterson's office storage unit."

No such 'evidence' existed. Grace should read up on "Clever Hans". No cadaver dog ever found anything.

Quote: "During Scott Peterson's trial, I remember how on-air pundits continued their nightly attacks against prosecutors Rick Distaso, Dave Harris, and Birgit Fladager. They were portrayed as bumbling at best, unethical at worst. After I met them and watched them in court, I saw they were nothing of the sort, but instead were excellent, dedicated, and honorable."

What can be honorable about ignoring one's oath and deceiving the court to get a verdict?

DISTASO: Let's talk about the hair in the pliers. John, pull up that picture for me, would you?
Here's the pliers at the, as they were at the search warrant. And when they were pulled out of the boat. Need my laser pointer.
Here's, this is when they were just picked up, and I put this box, and you know what, you really can't see it, but I'm going to talk about it anyway because you can go back there and you'll be able to see it yourself when you look at the actual photograph. But here's where the pliers were. There's really no dispute that Laci Peterson's hair was found in those pliers. It matches microscopically. You heard that from Rod Oswalt and from the FBI expert. I think her name was Karen Reubush. It matches her mitochondrial DNA.
Mark Geragos: Objection. There's a stipulation, there's already been an admonition that he cannot say that matches mitochondrial DNA. Same issue -
JUDGE: I don't believe he said he matched. It was consistent.
DISTASO: That's fine. I apologize.
JUDGE: That's all right. I already admonished the jury this could happen.
DISTASO: Yeah. Well, it was consistent with her mitochondrial DNA. I'm arguing to you that that is more than proof beyond a reasonable doubt that that's Laci Peterson's hair in those pliers.

The point is, of course, (a), it is not 'proof beyond a reasonable doubt' and (b) it wouldn't prove anything if it was. 'Consistent with' means it might be Laci's hair, or anyone else's. But finding hair in a boat (where Scott's jacket was shaken out by the police before the boat was searched) merely proves that Scott had had some previous contact with Laci. Duh!


DISTASO: How many of you sitting on this jury operate pliers on a regular basis, probably most people. Everybody uses needle-nose pliers for something. How many times does your hair fall into the pliers and wrap around through the jaws? That doesn't happen.
GERAGOS: I asked Hendee about it. And you opened it up so the hair would fall out? Yes. When you did that, did you have to shake it or anything like that? Or did the hair just fall out? I don't recall having to shake it. So the hair was not intertwined with the pliers or anything like that? You didn't have to pull the hair off? No. I mean, does that sound to you like that pliers was used as an instrumentality if it wasn't intertwined?
You know, it's been represented that it was intertwined, it was locked in the jaws. The various descriptions.
The guy who found it, Dodge Hendee, Modesto PD, says you didn't have to pull the hair off, it was not intertwined in the pliers.
That's the -- that's the evidence. I didn't make that up.
That's what Dodge Hendee -- I asked him the question, that's what it was.

So why is Distaso telling the court something which is untrue?

Quote: "Evidence exists even when the jury doesn't get to hear it. Evidence exists that Scott Peterson did not want to have a child."

Lie. He wanted his son and his wife very much.

Quote: "He was hiding things from the police and then-girlfriend Amber Frey."

So what?

Quote: "He changed his story about where he was Christmas Eve afternoon."

He never changed it once. The MPD testified to that under oath.

Quote: "Many people know that these things happened."

Many people WANT to believe this. Prejudice won out over truth.


Burkey said...

Quote: "In the Scott Peterson case, there was partial suppression of bloodhound evidence indicating that Laci's body, not Laci in life, had been in Peterson's office storage unit."

VOS, I'm glad you picked up this book and are reviewing it because I don't think my stomach can take it. What in the world is she talking about here? Did she quote references? Does she quote trial transcripts/documents?

A Voice of Sanity said...

Quote facts? She never does that. It's quite beyond her limited skill set.

Burkey said...

Distaso totally said matched, twice! Then the judge goes: "I don't think he said matched."

Good grief.