Tag Archives: Don West

Scoring Geragos, Snarky or Not

A friend sent me the following message the other day commenting on noted criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos (Scott Peterson, Winona Ryder and, briefly, Michael Jackson) who is a CNN commentator on the George Zimmerman trial.

 “Jerrianne, in “Anatomy of a Trial” you quote celebrity attorney Mark Garagos as ripping the media for focusing on the “who’s winning, who’s losing” angles in trial coverage. But he’s doing exactly the same thing every day on cable TV coverage of the Zimmerman trial. Would be good if he could walk his talk. Hypocritical not to do so, don’t you think?”

Here’s my reply:

Sure seems so …. I haven’t seen his Zimmerman punditry, but someone else remarked at how snarky he is. Disappointing. Although he came across to me as passionate about his work as a defense attorney, he was always a gentleman with me.

Here’s the Geragos reference in my book my friend was talking about:

And if a high-profile case is in the spotlight, defense attorney Mark Geragos says in a Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review article, reporters “discuss the case as if they observe minute-by-minute action. The news story begins to take on the ESPN sports model, where journalists report that the prosecution had a good day, the defense is playing catch up, the witness took a beating, etc.”

I hadn’t seen Geragos on CNN, so I went through a few of his appearances that CNN has archived.

He’s pretty strident, that’s for sure.

In one he gets into a back and forth with another commentator about the appropriateness of Zimmerman lawyer Don West’s daughter’s post on Instagram and whether it does or should affect the trial in any way.

In another he’s more than a little critical of the prosecution and how it’s presenting it’s case.

I didn’t view them all, so possibly missed the one or more that my friend referred to. Maybe I’ll try again. If you want to, here’s the link to the archived segments:

http://www.cnn.com/search/?query=Mark+Geragos&x=25&y=13&primaryType=mixed&sortBy=relevance&intl=false

Scales of Justice Don’t Balance Camera Access

When I read this, “…the arguments against having a camera in the courtroom for the James Holmes trial could outweigh the arguments in favor.” in NBC’s 9News.com story about the trial of the accused Aurora, Colorado, movie theater killer, I wondered about how often that appears to be the case — or at least those who argue against cameras so often seem to have the most weighted arguments.

Will cameras be allowed in theater shooting trial?

http://www.9news.com/news/article/343818/222/Will-cameras-be-allowed-in-theater-shooting-trial

9News.com writer Chris Vanderveen is predicting that will be the case this time, too.

“There will be the potential of a witness grandstanding for the cameras. There’s a potential of problems with jurors, problems with witnesses,” Vanderveen quotes 9New legal analyst Scott Robinson as saying.

Given that there are some 3,500 potential witnesses, according to Robinson, possible contamination might present a problem. But grandstanding? That poor excuse of a reason is frequently trotted out by anti-camera factions. But really, given all the high-profile trials that have included camera access, how often has that happened? Has it happened in accused Trayvon Martin killer George Zimmerman’s trial? Defense attorney Don West perhaps, but any of the witnesses who have been questioned so far? And even if that were a possibility, doesn’t the trial judge have the duty and authority to stop it in its tracks?

Barring Trial Witnesses as Spectators is SOP

Why should anyone — particularly George Zimmerman Jr.’s father who is a judge, or was before he retired — be surprised or outraged that witnesses in the trial are barred as courtroom spectators until after they have testified?

“In a statement released by Zimmerman’s family his attorney Don West ‘made it abundantly clear to the jury the limitations the rule of sequestration places upon Mr. and Mrs. Zimmerman’s ability to support their son George with their presence. Our parents were in the courtroom and determined to support their son, but the State of Florida prevented them from doing so. George can count on his parents’ and his family’s unwavering and unconditional support, as he has throughout this ordeal, until he is acquitted.’

“Robert Zimmerman, Sr. had mainly stayed out of the media spotlight until recently releasing an e-book titled Florida v. Zimmerman: Uncovering the Malicious Prosecution of my Son, George, which attempts to uncover the injustice of his son’s murder trial and labels organizations like the NAACP and the NBA America’s ‘true racists.’

George Zimmerman’s Parents Barred From Courtroom, Trayvon Martin’s Family Allowed To Stay

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/george-zimmermans-parents-barred-from-courtroom-trayvon-martins-family-allowed-to-stay/

“Zimmerman’s family was barred from the courtroom as the state claimed they may be witnesses later in the trial. Under Florida state law, Martin’s family was permitted to sit in the gallery as relatives of the alleged victim. Robert Zimmerman Jr. issued a statement to The Huffington Post on behalf of his family.

“’Mr. West made it abundantly clear to the jury the limitations the rule of sequestration places upon Mr. & Mrs. Zimmerman’s ability to support their son George with their presence. Our parents were in the courtroom & determined to support their son but the State of Florida prevented them from doing so. George can count on his parents’ & his family’s unwavering & unconditional support, as he has throughout this ordeal, until he is acquitted.’”

George Zimmerman Trial Live Updates: Testimony Continues In Trayvon Martin Shooting Case

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/25/george-zimmerman-trial_n_3495266.html?1372170554&ncid=wsc-dl-cards-readmore

What is surprising to me is that Zimmerman’s attorney indicates that his parents being barred is related in some way to the jury being sequestered. My understanding is that they would be barred even if the jury weren’t sequestered. And if Zimmerman’s attorney, Don West, is implying that if the jury weren’t sequestered the jurors would somehow know by media reports or otherwise that the elder Zimmermans were barred from the courtroom and why. If jurors were to learn something like that other than via on-the-record statements made in their presence in the courtroom, they would be violating the trial judge’s admonition to not read, listen to or watch any thing related to the case not presented to them in court.

While the news media have an obligation or responsibility to explain to their consumers why the Zimmermans are barred from the courtroom, I question reporting it as if it were unusual or that the Zimmermans think it’s unfair without  accurately and objectively contextualizing it.