Lawyer Mark Geragos should go into business with political consultant Bob Shrum and defend Sen. Arlen Specter's claim to the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee. They should advertise exclusively on MSNBC. Maybe they could even get Al Gore to endorse them and hire Howard Dean as their spokesman. Our motto: "A HUMILIATING DEFEAT EVERY TIME ? OR YOUR MONEY BACK!"
Shrum's losing streak obscures the fact that he is also a swine. Among his charming unifying political campaigns, in 1996, Shrum yanked his dripping snout from the political donation trough just long enough to design the commercial against California's Proposition 209 ? which proposed banning racial preferences ? that featured Klansman, burning crosses and David Duke. (Conforming to pattern: Shrum lost, Californians voted for the Proposition 54-46 percent, and then liberals tried to get a court to overturn it.)
This year, Shrum racked up his eighth loss in an unblemished 0-8 record of losing Democratic presidential campaigns. He's the embodiment of the Democratic Party ideal: Screw up, keep getting hired or promoted. One more loss and his last name officially becomes a verb, as in "we were ahead by 6 points but we ended up 'shrumming.'"
At least Shrum's client only has to go back to the Senate. Geragos' client Scott Peterson has been sentenced to death.
This came as no surprise to those who have followed the fate of Geragos' other hapless clients throughout the years. (Or, to be fair, the evidence against Peterson.) Among Geragos' clients are:
- Clinton crony Susan McDougal: spent 18 months in federal prison. In his defense, at least Geragos didn't get Susan McDougal the death penalty. Any additional damage Geragos could do to McDougal's case was nullified when Clinton granted her a presidential pardon hours before he left office. As Susan McDougal assured New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd in 1997, Clinton would never pardon her: "He's not going to wake up one day and confer it on me." As to how McDougal knows the way Bill Clinton behaves when he first wakes up in the morning, I'll leave that to your imagination.
- Gary Condit: suspected (but never accused!) of involvement in Chandra Levy's disappearance. Condit was never charged with any crime. But he hired Geragos to manage a media campaign to defend his reputation. The next thing Condit knew, he was kissing his 30-year political career goodbye when he lost to his Democratic primary opponent by a whopping 18 points. Or as the kids are saying these days, Condit got "shrummed" by 18 points. The only way Condit could have lost by a bigger margin would be if Bob Shrum had managed his campaign.
- Winona Ryder: convicted of grand theft. Instead of having her throw herself on the state's mercy and beg for a plea bargain, Geragos took the case to trial, where the jury had to balance a videotape of Ryder caught in the act of stealing against Geragos' argument that the store security guards were mean to her. (If there was any more to the defense's theory, I missed it.) Geragos boasts that he won a sentence of only community service and probation for Ryder. That might be something to crow about if the prosecutor had asked for anything more than ... community service and probation.
- Michael Jackson: fired Geragos almost immediately after hiring him. Jackson has sterile facial masks that lasted longer than this guy. I guess he figured, hey, it's no skin off my nose. As we go to press, Jackson remains a free man.
And now Geragos' client Scott Peterson has been convicted of first- and second-degree murder in a trial that I believe began sometime in the '80s ? which is good because you can always catch the trial highlights on VH1's "I Love the '80s."
The only reason to hire Mark Geragos is if the only other attorney left on Earth is Mickey Sherman, aka the "Mark Geragos of the East Coast." And that's only if Long Island gunman Colin Ferguson, who famously represented himself at trial, is not taking new clients.
But even Geragos and Sherman would never sneeringly dismiss evidence in a murder trial as "circumstantial evidence." Only nonlawyers who imagine they are learning about law from "Court TV" think "circumstantial evidence" means "paltry evidence." After leaping for the channel clicker for six months whenever the name "Scott Peterson" wafted from the television (on the grounds that in a country of 300 million people, some men will kill their wives), I offer this as my sole contribution to the endless national discussion.
In a murder case, all evidence of guilt other than eyewitness testimony is "circumstantial." Inasmuch as most murders do not occur at Grand Central Terminal during rush hour, it is not an uncommon occurrence to have murder convictions based entirely on circumstantial evidence. DNA evidence is "circumstantial evidence." Fingerprints are "circumstantial evidence." An eyewitness account of the perpetrator fleeing the scene of a stabbing with a bloody knife is "circumstantial evidence." Please stop referring to "circumstantial evidence" as if it doesn't count. There's a name for people who take a dim view of circumstantial evidence because they don't understand the concept of circumstantial evidence: They're called "O.J. jurors."
Speaking of O.J., I keep hearing TV commentators say the Scott Peterson jury was influenced by the O.J. jury. Besides the fact that the jurors themselves say O.J. never crossed their minds until the press started asking them questions, the comparison is absurd. Among the burdens liberals have placed on blacks is the nutty idea that all blacks are obliged to defend the worst elements of their race.
White people don't feel a need to defend Jeffrey Dahmer or Scott Peterson. Go ahead, kill him. If we did, the Judgment at Nuremburg would have ended in a hung jury. In fact, the biggest dilemma we usually face after a case like Scott Peterson's is, "Lethal injection, or Old Sparky?"