How do you commit a Geragos? To answer this question, we first need to define what a Geragos is.
A Geragos is a humanoid who:
- Possesses a piece of paper (technically referred to as a “law degree”) that gives him the right to participate in a monopoly known as the “practice of law.”
- Passionately believes in the timeless maxim: first and foremost, feed the ego.
- Has never met a television camera he didn’t love.
- Is cursed with a mouth that can overwhelm logic and rational thought.
- Is shameless. (For example, willing to represent a client even after repeatedly proclaiming him to be guilty on national television.)
Perhaps the most powerful group of Geragoses ever assembled was the team of lawyers who represented O. J. Simpson. Because of the awesome job they did, all Americans now clearly understand that a trial is not a search for truth. Rather, it is a contest of cleverness.
It isn’t as easy as it looks to convert your client’s trial into a trial of the detective who found the most damning evidence against him. Yet, the O. J. team managed to pull it off with style and grace, and without even a trace of a smirk on their faces.
The problem for future Geragos superstar teams is that the O. J. circus led them to believe that by being just as outrageous as Johnny Cochran and Friends, they can achieve the same results. But the bar the O. J. team set was so high that, without a racial component to tap into, it’s become increasingly difficult to clear.
So, how do you commit a Geragos? You do it by becoming intoxicated by numbers 2-5 above. When you are devoid of shame and your ego is salivating to be fed, you jump in front of every television camera you can find. Then, once your mug is staring into the camera, you simply put your mouth on autopilot and let it drown out any hint of logic or rational thought.
In my first book, Winning Through Intimidation, I offered a solution to this neurotic condition. I referred to it as the Bluff Theory, which states: The secret to bluffing is to not bluff.
In other words, never lay down an ultimatum unless you’re prepared to follow through with it, and never say anything that you can’t back up. You may occasionally get away with a hollow bluff, but it’s unwise to count on this tactic if you’re interested in long-term success.
In the case of Mark Geragos and his handling of Scott Peterson’s defense, all he needed to do was hammer home to the jury the theme of “reasonable doubt.” Instead, he chose to fill the courtroom and airwaves with bluffs.
Scott Peterson‘s idiotic behavior was bad enough, but at least he has an excuse: He’s not part of the legal monopoly. Geragos, however, is.
Like most people, I tend to believe that Peterson is guilty, but the reality is that his was a slim case based entirely on circumstantial evidence. If the evidence against Peterson was enough to earn him the death penalty, or even life in prison, then, on a pound-for-pound evidence basis, O. J. Simpson should have been sentenced to share a cell with Charles Manson for life.
Apparently without regard for his client’s welfare, Mark Geragos committed one Geragos after another during the trial. There are far too many of them to list here, but following are three that managed to confound even his fellow criminal defense attorneys who appeared on talk shows. And all three hurt, rather than helped, Scott Peterson.
- Geragos waved aside the notion of showing reasonable doubt, instead promising to prove Peterson’s innocence. (By making this promise, he also violated a principle taught in Negotiating 101: Never promise more than is required of you.) Result: zero.
- Geragos said he would produce five eyewitnesses to the crime that would support promise No. 1. Result: zero.
- Geragos said he not only would prove Peterson’s innocence, but he would find the real killer or killers. (This one went down the drain with his satanic-cult theory, which was his version of Johnny Cochran’s drug-dealer hit theory in the O. J. Simpson case.) Result: zero.
Finally, after destroying a potentially winnable case through his ego-driven, outrageous statements, Geragos went one step further and managed to clinch a spot in the Legal Hall of Shame. To everyone’s amazement, he set up a boat display (which included a dummy portraying Laci Peterson) across from the courthouse.
The idea was to demonstrate to the world that it would have been impossible for Peterson to throw his wife’s body overboard without capsizing. Some might attribute this to insanity, but I believe it was nothing more than an insatiable ego.
As a side note, I had a dream last night that a new law was passed that gave juries the choice of sending either the defendant or his attorney to prison after hearing all of the evidence. Unfortunately, when the jury foreman rose to read the verdict in the Scott Peterson trial, I awoke from my dream.
What a relief, though! The thought that the jury might have let Peterson go free and instead incarcerate Geragos left me shaken. It took two cups of Chinese green tea to calm myself.
So, now that you know how to commit a Geragos, my advice to you is straightforward: Don’t do it! If you want more wins and fewer losses in your life, be vigilant about never promising more than you are required to produce. Instead, always strive to produce more than you promised, better than you promised, quicker than you promised.