Peterson Defense Can't Put Judge on Stand

Scott Peterson's (search) defense lawyers lost a bid Monday to put a judge on the stand to testify about his decision to let investigators tap Peterson's phones.

Judge Alfred A. Delucchi (search) said it would be "contrary to public policy" to force his colleague, Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Wray Ladine, to testify.

Defense lawyer Mark Geragos (search) had subpoenaed Ladine on Friday, according to Ladine's lawyer, Franklin Gumpert.

"Could you imagine what it would be like if every time warrants were issued, the judges who issued those warrants would be called to testify?" Gumpert said.

Geragos wants Delucchi to toss out all wiretap evidence gathered in the weeks after the December 2002 disappearance of Peterson's pregnant wife, Laci, saying investigators violated Peterson's attorney-client privilege when they listened to snippets of conversations with his first attorney.

Steven Jacobson, a district attorney's office investigator, testified last week that he was following procedures Ladine laid out when he bugged Peterson's phones.

Geragos said Monday that because a court reporter wasn't present at Ladine's regular updates on the wiretaps, he should be able to question the judge directly.

"This whole motion revolves around what the judge instructed the officers at the time to do," Geragos said in court Monday.

But Delucchi wasn't swayed.

"This issue has been explored thoroughly in chambers," Delucchi said before rebuffing Geragos' request.

During the first months of 2003, investigators monitored thousands of calls Peterson made or received, including 76 between the former fertilizer salesman and his first attorney, Kirk McAllister. Peterson was arrested shortly after the bodies of Laci Peterson and her unborn son washed up on a San Francisco Bay shore in April.

With both sides bound by a gag order, it's not clear what evidence prosecutors want to use from the wiretaps. After a half-day of public testimony from Jacobson last week, Delucchi went behind closed doors with the lawyers to listen to the recordings and further question Jacobson. They returned to private meetings after Monday's brief session in open court.

Also Monday, the judge scheduled the opening stages of jury selection in the murder case for early next week. If convicted, Scott Peterson could face the death penalty.

An unspecified number of potential jurors scheduled to show up next Monday will be handed a questionnaire designed to probe their attitudes on everything from the death penalty to how much news they've absorbed about the case.

Other questions will touch on extramarital affairs -- before Laci Peterson disappeared, her husband allegedly told a mistress that his wife was dead -- as well as whether potential jurors have lost a child.