Attorneys on all sides of the Peterson
double-murder case are set to be busy in Stanislaus County Superior Court today arguing issues that include autopsy reports, wiretaps and a potential gag order.
Prosecutors are expected to ask Judge Al Girolami to unseal the autopsy reports for Laci Peterson and her unborn son, Conner.
Peterson's husband, Scott, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and faces the death penalty if convicted.
Girolami today also is scheduled to hear arguments regarding wiretapped calls between Peterson and his defense team and between Peterson and journalists. The judge also is scheduled to consider whether to impose a gag order on participants in the case.
And Girolami is expected to hear a request from the Contra Costa County coroner's office for permission to file death certificates for Laci and Conner. The coroner also is seeking clarification on Girolami's order sealing the autopsy reports.
The bodies of mother and son washed ashore in mid-April about a mile apart along the eastern shoreline of San Francisco Bay. Peterson's arrest came days later.
Girolami last month ordered the coroner to keep any reports involving the bodies under wraps. He allowed the reports' release only to prosecutors, who would give copies to the defense.
Evidence on 'real killers'
Judge Roger M. Beauchesne has scheduled a closed hearing this afternoon to review defense arguments favoring continued sealing of eight prearrest search warrants.
Defense attorneys have said they will present evidence pointing away from Peterson and toward the "real killers." It was not known Thursday whether defense attorneys would object to prosecutors sitting in.
Prosecutors also want the warrants to stay sealed. The Bee and other newspapers, along with television stations, are seeking to have the warrants opened -- which is the norm in other cases.
In Girolami's court, the defense is seeking a closed hearing to question investigators and prosecutor Rick Distaso about the wiretaps.
Investigators have said they mistakenly monitored one call and portions of two others between Peterson and members of his defense team. The investigators contend that information monitored during the calls was "not substantive."
In court filings, defense attorneys indicated that they may seek a range of sanctions against prosecutors, including asking the judge to have the district attorney's office removed from the case.
Prosecutors maintain they followed the law when intercepting 3,858 calls over about 30 days. Further, prosecutors have said that they have not listened to the tapes.
The prosecution is asking Girolami to review all the recordings, which are being kept under seal at the court.
Twenty-two journalists have filed requests to listen to their calls monitored during the wiretap operation. Prosecutors maintain that the calls could be used as evidence in the case, while attorneys for the journalists say the calls are protected under California's shield law.
Debating a gag order
Attorneys for the defense and media have filed documents opposing a gag order. So has Fresno massage therapist Amber Frey, who had a romantic relationship with Scott Peterson and is a likely witness in the case. She has retained attorney Gloria Allred to represent her in the proceedings.
Prosecutors support a "limited" gag order.
Lead defense attorney Mark Geragos wrote that Peterson deserves a chance to counter "the prior avalanche of disinformation disseminated in the four months prior to his arrest."
Bee staff writer John Coté can be reached at 578-2394 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
AT A GLANCE
Today's calendars for two Superior Court judges include matters in the Scott Peterson double-murder case.
At 8:30 a.m., Department 2, Judge Al Girolami is scheduled to hear arguments on:
Whether to unseal the autopsy reports for Laci and Conner Peterson.
Wiretapped conversations between Peterson and his defense team.
Wiretapped conversations between Peterson and journalists.
Whether to impose a gag order.
At 1:30 p.m., in Department 5, Judge Roger M. Beauchesne is scheduled to:
Meet behind closed doors with defense attorneys who say they have evidence that points to the 'real killers.'
The evidence may figure into the judge's decision on unveiling documents relating to eight prearrest search warrants.