Attorney Mark Geragos speaks at Watertown event

Attorney Mark Geragos, the featured speaker on Monday, May 6, at the monthly dinner meeting of the Men’s Club of St. James Armenian Church of Watertown, MA drew an audience of over 500 men and women. The noted criminal defense attorney spoke about his new book, Armenian heritage, current events and the successful lawsuits against New York Life Insurance and AXA Corp. for claims on insurance policies issued to Armenians before the Armenian Genocide.

To help raise funds for their non-profit group, SOAR (the Society for Orphaned Armenian Relief) volunteers set up an informational booth and sold scores of copies of Mistrial: An Inside Look at How the Criminal Justice System Works…and Sometimes Doesn’t, a new book co-authored by Mark Geragos and Pat Harris.

From covering current events ranging from the Boston-Watertown area to those in California, Mark Geragos covered a lot of ground. He shared his thoughts on the mysterious Mischa – described by a relative of Marathon bombing suspects as an Armenian (Christian) who converted to Islam – and the insensitivity of such a statement coming to light during a time when Armenians commemorate the Armenian Genocide, and where so many Armenians live in Watertown where the bombing suspects were caught.

As he grew up, Geragos was surprised how little people knew about the genocide. Geragos shared the influence of William Saroyan’s meaningful words about Armenians that are printed in a poster in his office.

Regarding recent lawsuits relating to insurance policies issued to Armenians before the Armenian Genocide, he described the great effort and steps involved in documenting the insured, finding heirs, and how one insurance company marketed to Armenians and Syrians; his research found that about 40 percent of policies issued to Armenians had no claims at all since no descendants were left.

The word “genocide” is controversial, Gergaos stated, and he spoke about the importance of reparations. During the question and answer period, he suggested a few ideas for creating awareness of Armenians and issues of importance: developing candidates for political office, and engaging the media.

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