By Dianne Lipson
Prominent attorney Robert Barnes has a low opinion of Mark Geragos.
Geragos is the celebrity attorney who represented Seagrams’ heiress Clare Bronfman through her indictment and subsequent plea agreement last year.
At approximately 19:00 in the “Viva and Barnes” vlog below, Barnes was asked on a Super Chat, “Hi guys, did you hear Mark Geragos re Flynn? unbelievably TDS in his analysis. [Podcast and radio show] Legal Eagle levels of subjective reasoning.”
Barnes responded, “Mark Geragos is a moron! Here’s my mantra, my advertising pitch for Mark Geragos, ‘If you want to lose, hire Mark Geragos.’ Nobody loses like he does . . . The guy’s just not smart, I mean, he was about to get Michael Jackson convicted, until Michael Jackson figured out the guy was a moron. He did get Scott Peterson convicted. I mean, name a big case where the guy wins . . . He’s defended Jussie [Smollet] . . . He was connected to the Avenatti case, and I’ll give him credit for dodging indictment, congratulations on that. He’s not a bright lawyer. He’s very good at working the media. Lousy at defending people at trial.”
As readers of this blog know, celebrity attorney Mark Geragos represented Clare Bronfman in the NXIVM case that was litigated last year. The case had everything:
Celebrity: Smallville actress Allison Mack.
European Royalty: India Oxenberg, daughter of Dynasty actress Catherine Oxenberg and granddaughter of Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia;
Money: Seagrams’ heiresses Sara and Clare Bronfman were both members of the self-help group/cult NXIVM that was created and led by Keith Raniere.
Sex: Raniere had a harem of women available at his beck and call, including Clare Bronfman.
Bizarre Rituals: Women in DOS, a secret inner cell of NXIVM, were being branded in their pubic area with a cauterizing pen.
Clare Bronfman claimed to be unaware of the branding ritual. This is entirely plausible as these activities were kept highly secret and compartmentalized. I speculate that Clare may have felt hurt and insulted at being left out of the secret group, and excluded from the horrifying branding ritual.
Central to the story of the NXIVM cult is leader Keith Raniere. Revered by NXIVM members as the “smartest man in the world” who had dedicated his life to solving the problems of humanity, he was a smooth and manipulative talker who convinced his acolytes to act in ways both illegal and against their own self-interest.
Both Clare Bronfman and her sister, Sara, lost tens of millions of dollars in schemes dreamt up by Raniere.
Geragos may be a more skilled and talented lawyer than Robert Barnes gives him credit for. Geragos’ website cites many high-profile clients, and I am inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.
But in his work on behalf of Clare Bronfman, Geragos may have validated Barnes’ viewpoint. As readers of this blog know, under Geragos’ representation, Clare Bronfman accepted an open-ended plea agreement, which gave Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis the option to sentence her above the 21 to 27-month guidelines for her charges.
In December of last year, Judge Garaufis indicated to prosecutors that he is considering doing just that. This has to be bad news for Ms. Bronfman. She had already agreed to pay a six-million-dollar forfeiture. At the time, many saw this payment as a way to allow Clare to buy her way out of a long sentence.
In March of 2019, I attended a Curcio hearing that was held regarding a conflict of interest on the part of Clare’s attorney Mark Geragos. (The conflict was that Mark’s daughter, attorney Teny Geragos, was part of the team that represented her then co-defendant Keith Raniere.) As we waited for the hearing to start, Geragos kept up a steady banter with Clare. It was like he was keeping her entertained and amused. He seemed quite the raconteur.
The proprietor of this, blog Frank Parlato, who broke the story of the branding ritual, seems to have been no fan of Garagos as far back as last March.
In his blog post here, https://frankreport.com/2019/03/28/court-hearing-clare-wants-to-keep-geragos-avenatti-fired/ ,
Parlato captioned a photo of Bronfman and Geragos, “Clare Bronfman being led to slaughter by Mark Geragos.”
At that Curcio hearing, which took place after it was disclosed that Michael Avenatti had secretly negotiated for Clare Bronfman behind the scenes, Clare voiced her decision to continue to retain Geragos as her lawyer.
Afterward, speaking to reporters outside the courtroom, Geragos said, “It’s good to have a client who is that satisfied with me.”
Standing near Mr. Geragos, I couldn’t help but respond to the charisma that the man radiates, like an aura. You want him to be your favorite uncle or your kind grandpa.
As Robert Barnes said, Geragos is great with the press.
Michael Jackson ostensibly fired Geragos because Geragos had too many other big cases going on at the same time.
Jackson stated, “it is imperative that I have the full attention of those who are representing me.” However, according to the LA Times article, “Sources close to the Jackson family said one factor that contributed to the showdown was the grand jury indictment. While most legal experts saw an indictment as a foregone conclusion, the decision came as a surprise to some Jackson intimates.
“I think it was a denial factor,” said Los Angeles lawyer Melanie Lomax, a friend of Geragos and former member of the Los Angeles Police Commission. “I think they got a huge dose of reality when there was an indictment.”
As Michael Jackson had done before her, Clare Bronfman eventually fired Mark Geragos. Perhaps she also got a huge dose of reality when the judge declared he might sentence her above the guidelines.
In the video linked above, Robert Barnes goes on to say, “I used to tell people, the reason I opened an office in LA , in California, I figured if an idiot like Geragos could get big cases, then this is open territory.’”
Did Mark Geragos represent Clare Bronfman in the best possible way under the difficult circumstances he was given? Or did hapless heiress Clare Bronfman simply fall under the spell of another glib, smooth-talking man?