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KENT

Magnotta to have 'super-sized' trial: Lawyer

Simon Kent

By Simon Kent, Special to the Toronto Sun

Luka Magnotta is picture in June 2012 at Mirabel airport following his arrest. (SERVICE DE POLICE DE LA VILLE DE MONTREAL)

Luka Magnotta is picture in June 2012 at Mirabel airport following his arrest. (SERVICE DE POLICE DE LA VILLE DE MONTREAL)

His time is coming. Fast.

Alleged killer Luka Magnotta will have his date with destiny announced Monday.

Magnotta, 30, is to face first-degree murder charges in the slaying and dismemberment of Chinese exchange student Jun Lin and the timing for that criminal trial will be determined by a Court of Quebec judge.

The Toronto-born defendant will also face four other charges stemming from his May, 2012 arrest.

These include causing indignity to Lin’s body, broadcasting obscene material, using the postal service to send obscene material and harassment of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament.

Although it may well be at least a year until Magnotta stands in a courtroom to hear his fate, American criminal trial lawyer Mark Geragos says Canadians should be prepared for what lies ahead.

“There was plenty of publicity around the world when this case first came to light,” Geragos said. “From body parts in the post to grisly videos and then an overseas arrest, it struck a cord with the public imagination.

“Don’t for one minute think that is where it will end. Trials like this have a power to fascinate and when Mr. Magnotta finally takes the stand, the whole world will bear witness.

“There will be a whirlwind of media interest that has the capacity to sweep up everyone associated with it.”

Geragos knows what happens when infamy, the media and a sensational criminal trial collide in the public domain.

In his new book, Mistrial, written with partner, Pat Harris, Geragos recounts his appearances on behalf of high profile clients including Chris Brown, Winona Ryder and Michael Jackson. To name a few.

He gives insights into how the criminal justice system still works — and just as importantly where it fails.

It’s all based on solid experience.

In his 30-plus year career, Geragos has appeared in over 300 cases and serves as a regular legal analyst on CNN, Fox and ABC news programs.

The Los Angeles-based attorney marvels that a system created more than 230 years ago, when horses and carriages ruled our streets and the telegraph was the principal mode of communication, can survive today.

He points out that the modern courtroom has DNA testing and fibre matching as well as access to digital records and video surveillance unheard of centuries ago.

For all that, the law still adheres to the ancient code of precedent. It is the media as much as anything else that has twisted our courts into a new public image.

Geragos fights the common myth that jurors are impartial arbiters of the truth and prosecutors are super ethical heroes of divine creation.

All that and more will be highlighted in Quebec.

“Our most common preconceptions about a modern trial will be challenged when Luka Magnotta’s case is heard,” Geragos cautions. “It will be what I call a super-sized trial.

“Claim and counter claim, sensational assertions and public speculation. It will all be there.

“Every day, you will have the media camped outside the courthouse like they did whenever Michael Jackson was making an appearance.

“There will be endless attention paid to words and evidence and the way the defendant reacts to what is being said and heard in the courtroom.

“Justice will be on very public display — as it should be.”

Ultimately Geragos cautions that he is no sainted Atticus Finch. The public should not expect those involved in the criminal proceedings in Quebec to be either.

They will be humans. They will be tested. Hopefully, the mistakes made will be few, because mistakes will be made when people are involved.

Canadians will just have to be prepared for what lies ahead.

 


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