Jared Loughner took a plea agreement today in Arizona, to spend the rest of his life in jail. Which, under the federal rules, he will. Quite frankly, I say good riddance. But as Loughner’s defense lawyer stood by, it was hard not to think about the Judge Larry Burns’ own defense lawyer cousin, Mark Geragos.
What? You mean the celebrity defense attorney Mark Geragos? Yeah, him. It seems that the Judge Larry Burns and Attorney Mark Geragos, like everyone else, each had a grandmother; and those gals were sisters.
So what if the two of them were involved in a case together. How does that work? Remember in OJ’s trial, when Judge Lance Ito’s wife, a captain with the LAPD, was called as a witness? We all learned a new word “recuse.” Well, that’s what happened in the case of USA v. Brent Wilkes. Before the trial started, cousins Larry and Mark all but held hands as they strolled down memory lane using some crazy Aunt as the pavement.
The team of Assistant US Attorneys (AUSAs) sat quietly and watched as the two bantered back and forth about family lore in a stymied horror. It was like a tennis match at Wimbledon straight out of Twilight, each of the AUSAs trying to determine how badly they were now going to lose. Of course, Judge Burns made the same offer as Judge Ito, but I think he already knew the word. And of course, the AUSAs forced a smile and said, “It’s okay with us, your Honor.”
See, here’s the problem. We were from Los Angeles, defending a case in San Diego. These prosecutors are all from San Diego in front of a Judge they will be in front of again next month. So what are they supposed to say to him, “Yes Judge, we believe you cannot be impartial, therefore we want you to take a powder…nothing personal.” Really bad move for the homies.
So we went forward, Mark and Larry vowing to call Aunt Sophie at the end of each court day. But alas, the gavel is thicker than blood as Judge Burns hammered the defense at every opportunity to insure justice was served. Brent was convicted and the AUSA’s were happy in spite of those tense family moments they were forced to endure. And just to squeeze some sap out of that family tree, Judge Burns denied Brent’s release pending his appeal, contrary to what every other defendant typically receives. Not to worry, Brent was let out of custody when the District Court of Appeals overturned Cousin Larry’s show of impartiality.