Judge refuses to disqualify DA’s office in Winona Ryder case

By Linda Deutsch, The Associated Press
Tuesday July 16, 2002

BEVERLY HILLS — A judge refused Monday to disqualify the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office from prosecuting actress Winona Ryder on shoplifting charges, rejecting her lawyer’s claim that prosecutors have been trying to humiliate her. 

Attorney Mark Geragos specifically accused a prosecution spokeswoman of making inaccurate statements to the press. 

But Superior Court Judge Elden Fox said he would be more concerned if statements were made by attorneys rather than their spokeswoman. 

Ryder did not appear in court Monday. 

The actress was arrested in December at a Saks Fifth Avenue store in Beverly Hills for allegedly possessing painkillers without a prescription and stealing nearly $6,000 worth of designer merchandise. 

Charged with second-degree burglary, grand theft, vandalism and possession of a controlled substance, Ryder could face more than three years in prison if convicted. 

Geragos said that district attorney’s spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons inaccurately described a security videotape from Saks early in the case, alleging that Ryder was seen snipping off anti-theft tags from merchandise. He said there is no such scene on the videotape. 

“You keep referring to a spokesperson. What are you ascribing to the attorneys in the office?” Fox asked Geragos. 

“I’m ascribing to them efforts to humiliate my client and stop her from having the right to a fair trial,” Geragos replied. He then added, “Most people believe the press spokesperson is speaking for the district attorney himself.”