February 10, 2004
This Is My First, and Hopefully My Last, Post on Scott Peterson
Can we get Mark Geragos disbarred for sheer stupidity?
Defense lawyer Mark Geragos may have a tough time Wednesday convincing a judge in the Scott Peterson double-murder case that Global Positioning System technology is inaccurate and unreliable.
The decades-old technology developed for the military is now used by everyone from airline pilots to wildlife management officials and weekend hikers to Sunday drivers. The latest devices can pinpoint a person's location within a few feet, using signals bounced off satellites.
Geragos said his client was followed -- electronically -- by GPS tracking devices installed in vehicles he owned, borrowed and rented after his wife disappeared on Christmas Eve in 2002. He wants all the GPS tracking evidence excluded from the trial.
"The GPS technology has not been generally accepted by the scientific community," Geragos said in court papers filed in October. "GPS has inherent inaccuracies. ... Furthermore, there is no case law establishing that GPS technology has gained general acceptance."
He may be right that there isn't any case law concerning the technology, I have no idea. But if that argument flies, I guess we'll never have any case law since every other lawyer can use that same argument forever to prevent any case law from being established. But if the judge needs any evidence concerning the reliability and accuracy of GPS, may I suggest that he check out Northrop Grumman's Global Hawk which manages to take off, fly its mission which requires it to know with great precision exactly where it is, and land without benefit of a pilot.
Somehow, I think the technology can be scaled down to tracking slower moving cars and people without too much trouble.
Posted by Charles Austin at February 10, 2004 11:15 PM
What do you expect? He has an idiot for a client that was caught near the border with facial hair, highlights, and a wad of cash in the trunk. What would you argue? Uh, he didn't do it. On a side note, when are reporters going to start peppering J. Kerry with questions about the double homicide. Apparently he fought legislation that would make it a double-murder when a pregnant woman was murdered. I will be holding my breath.
I agree with David. Some arguments are better than others of course, but you throw 'em all at the judge to see which ones stick (this is California, after all). While you don't want to lose your credibility with the judge, making a stretch to exclude damning evidence against your client is par for the course. Indeed, it's expected. Not to at least try would make it appear that you're not giving it your best effort.
I'm not a trial lawyer, and have only appeared in court a few times on preliminary matters in patent infringement suits, but I too have had to make a less than convincing argument to exclude evidence, because, frankly, there was nothing else to go with and the evidence was just too prejudicial to my client's case to let pass uncontested.
But of course, the grounds that he is asking for the evidence to be thrown out it no longer grounded. It used to be based on what was known as the FRYE test, which is, for a piece of scientific evidence to be admitted, it needed to be generally accepted within the scientific community. That's right out... you need an expert and the jury to believe them.
No Silicon Implant Lawsuits if the Frye test was still in place.
Hopeless. Under any reasonable standard. We'll see.