Mark Geragos

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Mark Geragos
Born Mark John Geragos
(1957-10-05) October 5, 1957 (age 57)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma mater Haverford College
Loyola Law School
Occupation criminal defense lawyer
Geragos & Geragos

Mark John Geragos[1] (born October 5, 1957) is an Armenian-American criminal defense lawyer. Clients that he represented include Michael Jackson, actress Winona Ryder,[2] politician Gary Condit, Susan McDougal and Scott Peterson.[3] He was also involved in the Whitewater controversy. Geragos represented suspended NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield; Paul and Kulbir Dhaliwal, two brothers injured after a tiger escaped in San Francisco Zoo; and musician Chris Brown, who pleaded guilty in the assault of his then girlfriend Rihanna. In addition, he assisted the family of David Carradine during the investigation of his accidental auto-erotic death.[4] He is considered a "celebrity lawyer".[5]


Geragos was born in Los Angeles, California. He attended high school at Flintridge Preparatory School in La Canada, CA, and graduated with honors. He received his bachelor's degree from Haverford College in 1979, double majoring in anthropology and sociology, and his Juris Doctor (J.D.) from Loyola Law School in 1982.[6] He was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1983.[3][7] Currently, Geragos is the managing partner at The Law Offices of Geragos and Geragos, a 13-person law firm in Los Angeles.[8] Geragos handles criminal defense and civil litigation.

An Armenian-American, Geragos maintains his close relationship with the Armenian community.[9] He has earned praise from the Armenian National Committee of America[10] He serves on the Advisory Committee of Birthright Armenia,[11] as the chairman of armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry,[12] and also is involved with the Armenian religious community.[13] He has been a member of the Armenia Fund International Board of Trustees since 2006.[14] Geragos was one of the lead lawyers in a pair of groundbreaking federal class action lawsuits against New York Life Insurance and AXA for insurance policies issued in the early 20th century during the time of the Armenian Genocide of more than 1.5 million Armenians. The two cases settled for over $37.5 million in 2004 and 2005.[15] The settlement was in 2009 overturned by the US Federal Court, ruling that "No Armenian American can sue foreign insurance companies for unpaid claims because the U.S. government doesn't legally recognize that an Armenian genocide occurred."[16] Geragos represented actor Keith Carradine, actress Hayley DuMond, attorney Stephen Kolodny, designer Donna Dubrow and Lee DuMond in a class-action suit following private eye Anthony Pellicano's illegal wiretapping conspiracy and subsequent conviction.[17]

Notable clients[edit]

Susan McDougal[edit]

Geragos first came to national attention when he began representing convicted Whitewater figure Susan McDougal, the former business partner of former President Bill Clinton.[18] Geragos completed his representation of McDougal by securing a presidential pardon for McDougal by President Clinton on January 20, 2001.[19] Geragos also represented McDougal in a 12-count embezzlement trial in Los Angeles in which the jury returned a not-guilty verdict.

Winona Ryder[edit]

In December 2002, Geragos defended Academy award–nominated actress Winona Ryder on charges of stealing more than $5,500 worth of merchandise from a Beverly Hills, California store in 2001. She was sentenced to three years probation and ordered to undergo psychological and drug counseling.[20]

Michael Jackson and Scott Peterson[edit]

In the early stages of the Michael Jackson molestation case, Geragos handled that case as well as Scott Peterson's death penalty case simultaneously. Though he managed a busy workload since he began working as a lawyer, during this time, he was handling two of the United States's best-known cases. Geragos's "...crushingly busy calendar" in the courtroom earned him a rebuke by a judge in an embezzlement case Geragos was also trying.[21] Ultimately, Geragos failed in both cases, as he was dropped by Michael Jackson and Scott Peterson was found guilty and sentenced to death. On April 26, 2004, Michael Jackson removed Mark Geragos as his attorney, replacing him with Thomas Mesereau. In a public statement provided by his spokesperson Raymone Bain, Jackson stated, "It is imperative that I have the full attention of those who are representing me. My life is at stake..." suggesting that Geragos may not have had enough time to handle his case because of Geragos's workload.[22] Geragos, for his part, later said he was dismayed to see Jackson climb atop a sport utility vehicle to the cheers of his fans after leaving the Santa Barbara County, California courthouse in January 2004 when he was first arraigned on the initial complaint.[23] Geragos's co-counsel Benjamin Brafman also expressed disapproval of Jackson's actions.[23] "Although [in January] the lawyers explained the behavior as 'Michael being Michael,' " The New York Times reported, "they are said to have privately expressed consternation at the display of frivolity in the face of serious charges."[23]

Greg Anderson[edit]

In 2006, Geragos was back in the headlines for representing Greg Anderson, the personal trainer of Barry Bonds. On July 5, 2006, Anderson was found in contempt of court by U.S. District Judge William Alsup, who jailed Anderson for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury investigating perjury accusations against Bonds. Geragos announced he would file an appeal based on his assertion that the subpoena to testify violated Anderson's July 2005 plea bargain agreement in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative case.[24] Anderson was to be held until he agreed to testify or the grand jury's term expired. Geragos has said his client would not testify.[25] The grand jury expired on July 20, 2006, and Anderson was released from prison two weeks later.[26] On August 28, 2006, Anderson was again found in contempt of court for refusing to testify before a newly convened grand jury and sentenced to prison.[27] Anderson was freed on October 5, 2006 after an order from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Trial Judge had committed legal errors and ordered Anderson's immediate release. Anderson was sent back to jail on November 16, 2006.


In other cases, Geragos won dismissal of all alcohol-related counts against former President Clinton's brother, Roger Clinton, Jr.[28] In early 2006, Geragos won the dismissal of a prostitution charge against film director Lee Tamahori.[29]

Geragos was the attorney for Cameron Brown, accused of murdering his four-year-old daughter by throwing her off a Rancho Palos Verdes cliff. The twelve (12) week trial ended in August 2006 without a verdict. The jury deliberated for over nine days but was hopelessly deadlocked and a mistrial was declared by Judge Mark Arnold of the Torrance Superior Court. The case was retried in the fall of 2009 by an associate at Geragos's firm. The second trial also ended with a hung jury.[30]

In December 2007, Amphit Dhaliwal and Kulbir Dhaliwal, the two survivors of the tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo, hired Geragos to represent them against potential criminal charges and in anticipation of filing a lawsuit against the zoo. Despite pressure from city official, the local police inspector made it clear that there were no grounds for filing criminal charges against the Dhaliwal brothers related to the tiger attack. Geragos filed a federal suit against the Zoo and the City of San Francisco for violation of the Dhaliwal brothers' civil rights, including the Dhaliwals' being subject to search and seizure without probable cause, and for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Geragos settled the civil suit in the early phase of the court process for $900,000.

In 2008, he joined the defense of Japanese businessman Kazuyoshi Miura, but Miura committed suicide before his trial.[31]

On February 8, 2009 he brought Chris Brown to surrender to the LAPD. Later Brown was arrested, and his court date was set to be on March 5, 2009. Geragos and Brown attended the court date, but did not plea and asked for arraignment until the next court date, April 6, 2009. On June 22, 2009, Brown pled guilty to one count felony assault and was sentenced to 5 years probation and 6 months community service.

Legal commentary[edit]

Geragos occasionally appears as both guest and legal commentator on the Today show, Good Morning America, 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper 360°, On the Record, and has appeared a number of times on Larry King Live, including its 20th anniversary show.[10][32]

In addition to his role on CNN through Anderson Cooper 360°, Mark Geragos and Sunny Hostin host a legal program entitled "Making the Case". "Making the Case" airs Monday nights on CNN at 10:30pm.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ According to the State of California. California Birth Index, 1905–1995. Center for Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California. Searchable at
  2. ^ Susman, Gary (2002-11-11). "''Entertainment Weekly'', "Shopgirl," November 11, 2002". Retrieved 2013-07-05. 
  3. ^ a b "Legal styles collide in Redwood City". 2004-05-31. Retrieved 2013-07-05. 
  4. ^ "Carradine mystery deepens, family seeks FBI help" By Ploy Chitsomboon and Bob Tourtellotte (Reuters) –
  5. ^ "cebeltrity Lawyers," on MSN, see MSN story. Accessed February 20, 2009.
  6. ^ "CNN, "Famous clients not new to Geragos," November 20, 2003". Retrieved 2013-07-05. 
  7. ^ The State Bar of California. "State Bar of California, Member listing for Mark Geragos". Retrieved 2013-07-05. 
  8. ^ Our Attorneys – Mark Geragos[dead link]
  9. ^ May 7, 2009, 1:35 PM (2009-05-07). "$20M Settlement For Armenians". Retrieved 2013-07-05. 
  10. ^ a b "Armenian National Committee of America news release, "Attorney Mark Geragos To Serve as Master of Ceremonies at ANCA-WR 2002 Annual Banquet," October 10, 2002". Retrieved 2013-07-05. 
  11. ^ Birthright Armenia – Mark Geragos[dead link]
  12. ^ Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry – Board of Directors
  13. ^ "St. Peter Armenian Church Youth Ministries' Center and the In His Shoes Mission". Retrieved 2013-07-05. 
  14. ^ "Armenia Fund". Armenia Fund. 2006-05-09. Retrieved 2013-07-05. 
  15. ^ "''Armenian Daily'', "French Insurance Co. Agrees To Pay $17 Million To Genocide Heirs," October 6, 2005". Retrieved 2013-07-05. 
  16. ^ ", "Court rejects Armenian lawsuit," August 21, 2009". Retrieved 2013-07-05. 
  17. ^ Attorney listing on Kosmix
  18. ^ King of the Tabloid Case[dead link]
  19. ^ "Susan McDougal Speaking Out — Finally". Retrieved 2013-07-05. 
  20. ^ "Prosecutor won't seek jail for Ryder". Retrieved 2013-07-05. 
  21. ^ Judge Grills Geragos On Workload[dead link]
  22. ^ "Jackson says he 'terminated' lead attorneys". MSNBC. Retrieved 2013-07-05. 
  23. ^ a b c Waxman, Sharon. "Jackson Says 'Full Attention' Of Legal Team Was Lacking." The New York Times, April 27, 2004, p. A-23
  24. ^ "sfgate sfgate". 2006-07-06. Retrieved 2013-07-05. 
  25. ^[dead link]
  26. ^ "". 2006-07-21. Retrieved 2013-07-05. 
  27. ^ "sfgate". sfgate. 2006-08-29. Retrieved 2013-07-05. 
  28. ^ Kasindorf, Martin (2005-06-14). "Mesereau new 'go-to guy' for celebs in trouble". Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  29. ^ Prosecutors Drop Prostitution Charge Against Bond Director[dead link]
  30. ^ Altman, Larry (2009-10-05). "BREAKING NEWS: Jurors deadlocked in Cameron Brown case – Crime & Courts". Retrieved 2012-02-10. 
  31. ^ "Japanese businessman accused of conspiring to have wife murdered found dead". The Canadian Press. 2008-10-11. Retrieved 2008-10-11. [dead link]
  32. ^ "Mark Geragos: Sandusky could have a hung jury – Anderson Cooper 360 - Blogs". Retrieved 2012-07-25. 
  33. ^ "Eyewitness to a witch hunt". Retrieved 2013-07-05. 
  34. ^ Awards & Recognitions[dead link]

External links[edit]