He also will be among the few attorneys who have grabbed the spotlight in two high-profile criminal cases that generated intense media interest at the same time, according to experts.
Though all lawyers juggle cases, the idea of simultaneously defending Jackson and Peterson — the Modesto, Calif., man charged with killing his pregnant wife, Laci, and their unborn son last year — is turning heads because the stakes in high-publicity cases are huge.
“With the Peterson jury, you’d have to be careful they wouldn’t identify you with the Michael Jackson case,” said criminal defense attorney Harland W. Braun, who once represented actor Robert Blake and other high-profile criminal defendants. “And with the Jackson jury, you’d have to be careful that they wouldn’t identify you with the Scott Peterson case.”
Geragos will have to delve into those attitudes during jury selection to make sure “an association of one client won’t affect another client’s representation,” said Gordon Greenberg, a criminal defense lawyer.
Potential jurors, he said, could be asked broad questions that might reveal their true feelings, such as, Do you know the lawyers? Do you have strong feelings based on the lawyer’s other clients?
Geragos’ involvement in the Jackson case might cause concern among his other clients, particularly those paying for Peterson’s defense.
“I’m sure the Peterson family is not happy. They must worry that his energies might be deflected toward this even higher-profile client,” said law professor Stephen Gillers of New York University. They also might be asking, “Is his heart going to follow his pocketbook?” Gillers added.