Victims' Rights Lawyer: TV Fixture

gloria allred CBS/The Early Show

Scott Peterson's one-time lover, Amber Frey, is one of many big names represented by victims' rights attorney Gloria Allred.

Her clients' notoriety has earned Allred a name in her own right, as well as lots of time on the tube, notes The Early Show national correspondent Hattie Kauffman.

Allred has had a role in just about every major celebrity trial of late, Kauffman points out.

Recently, Allred was up at 3 a.m. in Los Angeles to appear live on The Early Show.

"So," co-anchor Hannah Storm asked Allred, "should Jennifer Wilbanks be punished?"

"Do I think she's a danger to the community? That there's going to be an epidemic of runaway brides?" Allred responded.

Then she went directly to CNN's studios to comment on the same story: "Are you gonna prosecute her, and then convict her, and then sentence her to 20 years of married life? I don't think so!"

She also goes from one celebrity case to another, Kauffman observes.

On MSBC, Allred said, "A number of these people may very well have been in the employ of Michael Jackson."

On CNN: "The real issue is, did he molest children?"

Allred told Kauffman, "I love my work. I have a passion for it. I have a passion for justice. …Generally, we don't represent celebrities. We represent typical people who have been hurt by celebrities."

She's represented the family of O.J. Simpson's murdered wife, a former accuser of Michael Jackson, a woman who claimed she was groped by Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Frey.

Allred brought Frey to the set of the CBS TV movie, "Witness for the Prosecution," tailored after Frey's book of the same name. In the movie, Allred is played by Nora Dunn of "Saturday Night Live."

What's an attorney doing on a set?

Allred is a co-executive producer.Asked by Kauffman is she's a "control freak," Allred said, "Uh, no. I'm a protective person. That's my strength; maybe that's my weakness. But I just want to make sure that things go right for my clients."

Allred says she's first and foremost a civil rights attorney, representing women and children. Her work has been recognized by Presidents Reagan and Clinton.

"There is still too much child sexual abuse, and rape, and violence against women, and economic discrimination," Allred laments. "We still have a long, long way to go."

Kauffman remarked, "I'm hearing two different things here. I see the Gloria Allred, kind of a celebrity, and yet you're describing something different."

"In a way," Allred said, "we're almost like the court of last resort for many cases. We take cases that some people think are impossible to win. We win them. We win multi-million dollar verdicts."

Such as a $5 million dollar verdict for the "Melrose Place" actress who was fired after becoming pregnant.

If it was a victory for women's rights, commentator Arianna Huffington didn't buy it. She wrote Allred "is a most disturbing symbol of what has gone wrong with our legal system."

People love Allred, or hate her, Kauffman noticed.

"There are some people who still feel threatened by strong women," Allred retorted. "That's their problem. It's not mine."

Allred seems to relish a fight, Kauffman says.

After Michael Jackson dangled one of his kids from a hotel balcony, she demanded that he lose custody.

Jackson's response?

"One day," Allred recalled, "when he was walking into a civil case in Santa Barbara, Calif., in December 2002), a reporter asked him, 'What do you think about Gloria Allred."

Jackson answered, "Ah, tell her to go to hell.'"

On KCBS-TV, Allred shot back, "While Michael Jackson wants me to go to hell, I want him to go to parenting class."

On CNN's "Talkback Live," during a discussion of whether child protective services should investigate Jackson as rumors about him were spreading, former basketball star Charles Barkley quipped, "Every time some high profile case breaks out, you jump on television and act like you're God! Only God can judge other people. Why don't you just go back to your office, wait on another case, and shut the hell up?"

She was treated more kindly in another appearance, during Jackson's trial, hosted by Allred's daughter, Court TV anchor Lisa Bloom: "Welcome, defense attorney, and yes, my momma, Gloria Allred."

"I have two grandchildren," Allred says, (including) a granddaughter who was born on Women's Equality Day."

Allred claims she never solicits clients; they come to her, like the couple injured this year when chimpanzees went on a rampage.

Chimps victim LaDonna Davis says, "She calls me at night and asks how I'm doing. 'Are you sleeping OK?' …Way beyond being just an attorney. …She needs to be cloned."

"With all that camera time," remarks Kauffman, "it looks as if she has been cloned!"

"Do you have a life?" Kauffman wondered.

"This is my life," Allred says. "I actually feel most relaxed when I'm working."

Which means, Kauffman says, Allred will be on the job, and fighting her critics, for some time to come.

"They can't buy me, they can't rent me, they can't lease me, they can't silence me. All they can do is give me justice," Allred insists.

  • Brian Dakss

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