Peterson Trial: Did an Expert Prep Scott?

10/19/2004 at 09:00 AM EDT

Peterson Trial: Did an Expert Prep Scott?
Mark Geragos and Scott Peterson
Al Golub/REUTERS/Landov
Controversy emerged at Scott Peterson's double-murder trial on Monday, when it was revealed that NBC Today show legal commentator Michael Cardoza, a former prosecutor and defense attorney, interviewed Peterson in what was being called a "mock cross-examination."

Cardoza interviewed Peterson on two occasions, most recently for several hours on Sunday. He said he was doing it as a courtesy to the defense, which asked him to cross-examine their client to prepare him to possibly take the witness stand.

On Tuesday's Today show, Cardoza, confirming that the sessions with the murder suspect had taken place, said he could not divulge what took place during the meetings.

Besides, Cardoza, a former Alameda County prosecutor, had already said that he was taken aside by Judge Alfred Delucchi and instructed not to discuss what transpired inside the San Mateo jail.

Cardoza said it's not uncommon for defense attorneys in a major capital crime to invite outside attorneys to cross-examine their client. He said he had done this on several occasions.

However, his role as a commentator on Today and his appearances on CNN raise the issue of whether he has joined the defense team. He insists he has not taken sides, and adds that neither news organization had problems with his cross-examination.

Outside of court on Monday, Cardoza also defended himself against Gloria Allred, who's representing Peterson's former mistress Amber Frey. Allred confronted Cardoza and asked him point blank if he were a member of the defense team.

Cardoza, who pointed out that he is not gagged in the case, has been highly critical of the prosecution throughout the trial, and some have claimed he's become too close to Peterson's attorney, Mark Geragos.

Peterson, 31, is accused of murdering his pregnant wife Laci in their Modesto home and then dumping her remains into San Francisco bay. He has pleaded not guilty.

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